Ask the outside expert: How best to reach potential guests?

  • Updated: December 28, 2008 - 10:30 PM

Q We have empty cabins and villas we need to fill, with no new inquiries on the horizon. What advertising strategy would you recommend to reach potential guests? What sources are available to help implement that plan?

CHAR EKROOT NELSON WINDIGO LODGE

A Services are "perishable," meaning you cannot "store" the days your cabins and villas are empty for "future sale." Therefore, I suggest you focus on the entire marketing mix rather than just thinking about a specific advertising strategy.

Research suggests that it is easier to get a repeat customer than to get a new one. Therefore, if you have maintained a database of your loyal customers, I suggest that you analyze it carefully and identify what drove their purchase behavior during this time. This information may help you in targeting these customers and bringing them into your facilities.

The best way to target these folks is through customized offers. There are two ways of thinking about customization. First, you may create different holiday packages crafted specifically for each target segment -- for example, you may create packages for families with kids vs. just couples or other target segments. Second, you may focus on service co-production; that is, you may offer to empower each of your target customers to create an experience (or a package) they like. In both types of customization, you will have to offer different combinations of your lodge and cabin amenities such as dining, outdoor activities or special events so that each customer can walk away with a unique experience.

It may also help to pair those efforts with differential pricing mechanisms. For example, you may offer weekend or midweek price specials for these customized offers to attract your customers.

In your promotion materials, I suggest you use your ability to offer customized packages as a differentiating factor so that customers see the potential value you are offering.

AVINASH MALSHE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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