Sales and marketing have become two most important aspects in running a successful restaurant or hotel.
Most hospitality sector managers know that they must embrace the marketing concept for a good reason – to build and retain market share. It is particularly difficult to occupy restaurant seats and fill rooms profitably in the absence of properly a researched and developed marketing programme.
The foundation of a successful marketing plan is thorough research. Only through methodical research can proper judgements can be made about optimal combinations of product, price and promotions.
Ironically, the management and of research information is generally the weakest link of contemporary marketing- and general managers, Intuition, and past experience, rather than a good understanding of market forces govern decisions.
The first question a researcher must address is, the nature of research. The answer may not be so obvious, depending on the market, competition, and the establishment’s general marketing direction. Area demand analysis represents the first step in determining sources of demand.
First, demand must be quantified, the establishment’s market share determined, and trends that may affect business both in short and long terms analysed.
Property research involves studying the product from different perspectives – décor, exterior appearance, availability and size of parking lot, menu, prices, choice of beverages service and other aspects that round off all services and tangibles offered.
Competition research must analyse competing establishments to determine their strengths and weaknesses. You can capitalise on your strengths.
Prospect research helps develop a profile of your guests to identify potential market segments. Over time, customer profiles change, and accordingly an establishment must change, catering to another market segment or change the product to expand the present clientele.
It is equally important to examine market intermediaries: who handle reservations, banquet bookings, outside catering jobs, publications, public relations companies, complementary articles, media connections, and word-of-mouth advertising.
Trend research is important to determine present economic, social and political forces, which may evolve into potential developments requiring changes to your product.
Area demand analysis is designed to show business volumes and/or room occupancy rates, demand levels, and economic vibrancy of the region. In almost all cities, trendy sections develop, and some quarters that enjoyed popularity are abandoned. Developers and city governance are contributors to such developments.
The first task in developing a marketing plan is to quantify demand. Demand generators include local retail establishments, service industries, manufacturing, tourist attractions, convention facilities, cultural events, gambling and entertainment.
While developing a marketing plan, your establishment’s physical features must also be taken into account as explained above.
Proximity of the restaurant to other restaurants/hotels is a very important factor. Other things being equal, all restaurants and hotels close by are direct competitors.
Can an airport hotel/restaurant be a competitor to a downtown establishment? If the airport is close to downtown and conveniently accessible by public transportation, then the answer is positive. .
While planning marketing strategies, you must also address “substitutability” of your product. If your establishment is a destination hotel/restaurant, there would be no “substitutability” to fear. On the other hand, if there are many similar operations close by, customers are likely to switch should they perceive a price or convenience advantage.
Average cheque or average room rate plays an important role. In general, hotels with average rates +/- 15 % of your actual rate are your direct competitors, everything else being equal. The same notion is applicable to restaurants – if your food and/or service are superior to that of your competitors, customers soon decide which establishment to patronize.
Marketing plan analysis must be based on three essential factors: criteria of analysis, market segment classification and defining the sources of demand. It is of crucial importance to positively identify the market that generates demand. Only then can a successful marketing can be developed.
Focus groups (composed of young individuals) are used to project future trends ad to plan product changes if warranted.
Marketing plans require research that delves into important details. Those who plan carefully and scientifically are most likely to operate successful establishments.