A Marketing Committee Is a Must

Whether they're large or small, all hotels should organize marketing committees to coordinate all aspects of the hotel's marketing strategy and program. Here's a look at how to organize and best use a marketing committee at your property:

Who and when

General managers should head up the committee, which should include the director of sales, director of food & beverage, head of the rooms division, director of human resources, outside agencies (advertising and public relations) and the general manager's assistant or secretary.

Obviously, all hotels don't have all of these positions so you should include all of the key people who make a contribution to the marketing effort. The synergy among these people becomes obvious within a very short period of time. The committee should meet every other week for 90 minutes until a once-a-month format makes sense.

Why

I find that a majority of hotels aren't organized properly to get the most out of their marketing efforts. The GM works with the director of food and beverage, the director of sales works with the rooms division manager and with the advertising agency. At no time does everyone get together to contribute their ideas and opinions. The marketing committee provides a forum for that to happen.

I've often seen great ideas come from people who normally wouldn't be expected to contribute on a specific topic: a food and beverage idea from the rooms division manager, a weekend package idea from the GM's secretary or a holiday promotion idea from the human resources director.

Companion pieces

An updated monthly report is a great place to start the meeting. Results of the past month and year-to-date are very important to set the scene for new plans and actions.

The other critical companion piece is the hotel's marketing plan so the committee can completely review what has and hasn't been accomplished.

Agenda

After a discussion of the minutes of the last meeting and marketing plan action steps for the next few weeks, the group should begin strategizing for special packages that require long-range planning (i.e., Mother's Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, etc.).

I was visiting a hotel early last September and was impressed to see the marketing committee spend the major part of its meeting time in planning the nitty-gritty details of the hotel's New Year's weekend package. I guarantee you that this type of advance planning beats that old “Next Week is New Year's, We Have to Get an Ad in the Paper by 2:00 this Afternoon Blues“ that so many of us play time after time.

My favorite time at the meeting

I recommend that every hotel pick the three accounts that would have the greatest effect on its business and develop strategies at the marketing committee meetings to capture that business. The sales person assigned each account leads the discussion but everyone contributes.

This concept is based on the fact that a property's very top accounts are worth the efforts of everyone rather than having one sales person struggling with each of these accounts alone. My favorite time at the meetings is when we look at these accounts individually and the responsible sales person reports on progress and asks for everyone's input. The results are stupendous when the minds of six or seven people are used to concentrate on accounts that can make the difference. There are so many good reasons to organize your own committee that I hope you'll move ahead quickly.


Tom McCarthy, CHME, CHA, spent half his career with Hilton and Marriott in sales, advertising and public relations and half in his own training and consulting business, Hotel Professional Education and Consulting of Falls Church, VA. He is a past president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and is a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame. He can be reached at ttmccarthy@hotelpros.org or 703-379-4488.

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