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Special Days, Super Sales

Monday, February 13, 2017, 15:52 Hrs  [IST]

Years ago greeting card companies piggy-backed on special days to market them like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Parent’s Day and, of course, Valentine’s Day. This idea was picked up by retail (gold, diamond and clothing brands, malls, etc.,) and they have gone all out to market themselves for festivals and special days. Credit card companies have joined in and now banks market coins and certificates.

Hospitality professionals must realise that these retail and banking companies are eating into available revenue. Most consumers either have a budget or create one for an occasion. If the person buys a diamond on Valentines Day or splurges on clothes and other such gifts, he or she now has less spending power. This reduced spending power would naturally affect us. So we have to find ways to offer a value for money experience and get the consumer to direct his/ her disposable income our way.

However restaurants and hotels either tend to take small lukewarm steps or resign themselves to just take what comes. I say this both as a customer and industry professional. Undoubtedly they face challenges (budgetary constraints) as compared to a bank, chain of branded gold or diamond stores. But to counter any constraints and challenges we need to be proactive, innovative and collaborative.

Image for representation purpose only

Proactive - Chalk out an annual plan either with an external agency or internally with your team. A combination of both is ideal. Planning 15 days to a month in advance gives us less time. Once we know the whole year’s calendar we can negotiate better rates with the printers, designers and other vendors. The annual calendar also allows for leave planning, advance food trials, special menus and festival or themes. Naturally it makes it simpler to roll out the marketing and promotions online or offline. Budgeting is critical and personally I recommend a more aggressive approach.

Innovation - Many hotels and restaurants have gone down the discounting route. Besides showing total lack of creativity, it undervalues your product. Loyalty programs are a better route but are difficult to track. Also at times the marketing team/ plan tend to take the same route or use the same channels for all occasions. But each special day or festival should use a different approach.

For example for Children’s Day approach the Parent Teacher Association (PTAs). For Teachers Day approach a student body to promote a three-night package or dinner and dance as a gift to teachers. For Christmas tap church groups. For Labour Day approach corporates. And customise the approach. Restaurants could offer to cater at their premises. Resorts could offer bus, rail or air booking. Think and act different - you will get results that are different.

Collaboration - Sure there is competition out there but don’t just aim at beating them. Find ways to collaborate with them or others where the interests don’t conflict. Again think creatively. Nearly everyone is tying up with credit card companies and airlines (reward programs) but both entail discounts. Look at how you could build synergetic associations where you add value to another brand and they reciprocate in kind. A restaurant and a nightclub could cross promote. Hotels or resorts in different regions could collaborate and build a package.

Marketing is not a department any more. Train your Front of the House (FOH) team to go out and market events and talk to guests. Train your Back of the House team to support the FOH and improve the guest experience. Take advantage of events, special days and festivals to bring in first time guests. And once you have got them to experience your product and service, convert them to loyal guests for life.

Sure these are challenging times but adversity builds character and brings out the best in people and organisations. With pressure mounting on hospitality personnel we are bound to respond with our best.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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