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What are the current strategies?

Di Antonio Caneva, 24 Ottobre 2003

When I recently interviewed Paul M. McManus, President of The Leading Hotels of The World, I was impressed by his description of the change that was under way in his Group’s marketing strategies: a shift from long-term brand marketing to an approach focused on fast promotions and ad-hoc proposals leading to immediate results.
The same indication I have found in a substantial study carried out by the American magazine Hotels: since 11th September, a two-thronged approach has been developed, with cost reduction on the one side, and greater emphasis on marketing on the other (also involving heavier budget allocations), but based on short-period targets and aiming at immediate results.
The 11th of September and the events that followed – the economic crisis, SARS, the war in Iraq – have created tragic circumstances, but have supplied a formidable opportunity for re-thinking a company’s management approach, so that companies are now better prepared to positively face the period of time separating us from the now imminent – they say – economic recovery. If we reflect on it, we realise that we have all – more or less – changed our management styles; even those who have made a wilful effort to weather the crisis with optimism now have a different attitude and vision from what they had only two years ago.
In this period, the greatest concern has been to reduce costs without causing discomfort to customers: a difficult equation which, however, has sometimes been successful, by adopting both temporary and long-term policies. Among temporary measures we can certainly mention the example of hotels which cut the costs of complimentary newspapers, flowers or room amenities (and are now going back to the old habits), and among long-term trends, a more flexible use of human resources, with the use of temporary and part-time employment, and revised procedures. Greater attention, however, has also been given to a correct management of other costs, such as energy and communications costs.
Marketing, on the contrary, has been and still is experiencing a most favourable period: the Internet is one of the items tourism establishments invest most heavily in; the above-mentioned analysis reveals that hotels are planning to increase marketing investments in Internet (64%), sales (57%), direct-mail (44%) and public relations (43%). Reductions rather than increases, on the contrary, are expected to affect advertising (52% against 34%) and telemarketing (34% against 31%).
In brief, the three do’s are: maintain quality level, carefully reduce costs, and market aggressively by focusing on proximity areas. Difficult? It seems to me that nothing is easy nowadays.

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