Are you still paying for Billboard advertising? Do you track it properly? I am constantly amazed at the things we do in the hotel business out of habit or desperation. I often see billboards for hotels that are 10 or more miles from the hotel. Yet we know that to be effective a billboard needs to be within 3 to 7 miles of the hotel. Even then if the billboard is not just before the next exit odds are they’ll forget or miss the exit. I have often seen billboards for hotels that are on the outskirts of a major market, The billboard will be on the opposite side of the highway hard to read and way past the destination market heading out-of-town. Yet the whole goal or focus of the hotels marketing campaign is reach the guest coming to the destination city. The only guest the billboard is reaching is that the guest just drove past your targeted market heading somewhere else.
Maybe you haven’t noticed but things have changed. Remember when the guest use to show up in your lobby holding their AAA Book? When is the last time you saw that? or how about they had the brand directory that told them how to get to you. When is the last time someone wanted to know if you had an updated directory? Now we don’t even put them in the rooms anymore.
Well that’s not the only thing that changed. How they go over the river and though the woods to grandma house has too. What? What do you mean? I’ll bet even you have changed how you get somewhere you haven’t been to before. Do you get out your Rand McNally map? I doubt it. You might go over the lobby in the computer and map quest it. But have noticed guest are not doing that much anymore either. Well what are the doing? They are getting in the car and turning on the GPS unit typing in the destination address. So how are they deciding on what hotel to spend the night at when they decide to stop for the night. They touch the POI (Point of Interest) button and select hotel. If your hotel is not listed you pretty much don’t exist as far as they are concerned. If they saw your billboard at all it was mostly likely by accident.
I believe you might be better off making sure your are listed on the GPS’s POI and sending the money on things that make your guest want to choose your hotel over the competitions in the first place. How much are you sending on say just one billboard. On the cheap $15,000.00 a year, but more likely around $25,000.00 just for one billboard that most likely produces very little. If we were spending that much on anything else we tack it hard. We would know what age the person who saw it, What time of day it was and maybe even the kind of shoes they were wearing.
But because it has been a fixture in our business and we have always done it we will keep on doing it even though it really doesn’t make sense. I am not saying some billboards are not a viable part of a business model but more often than not I belive the money could be put to better use.
How much would $25,000.00 more a year being spent on a great breakfast or even better evening snacks or say departure thank you gifts benefit your hotel? Make it more memorial in the gust mind, make them want to come back. Improve you ranking within the brand.
You could even take the money being spent on something that does not have much of a return and invest in hiring a competent sales person!