The Chesapeake Point of View

8 Ways To Steal More Market Share

8 Ways To Steal More Market Share

July 10, 2014

In an increasingly competitive market, sources lay out tips and techniques to carve out a bigger slice of the demand pie.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hoteliers looking for a bigger slice of the demand pie must come to the table with bigger appetites, sources said. A sit-back-and-wait approach yields nothing. Only those who employ proactive, targeted strategies will carve out their fair share—and then some.

Below are eight tactics to do just that.

1. Give yourself room to grow
Part of The Hotel Group’s business model is to acquire properties that are either distressed or in need of a turnaround. That leaves management plenty of room to capture more share, said Katherine Steed, the company’s director of marketing. “That is a huge component to how we got from where we were to where we are today,” she said. “If we were to invest a significant amount of money into a property could we potentially in that market be first or second in our (competitive) set?”
It’s a lot more difficult stealing share at an asset that’s No. 1 in the comp set, she said.

2. Focus on revenue management
Though seemingly obvious, it’s amazing how many owners fail to emphasize revenue management, said Joe Smith, executive VP of Chesapeake Hospitality Group.
“If you’re a hotel owner who has not sat in on one or two revenue-management meetings of your hotel specifically, once or twice a year, they’re missing what is really the strategy of their hotel,” he said.
The revenue-management team must stay active and alert. The set-it-and-forget-it philosophy will not work, Smith said. They must actively monitor rates—theirs and competitors’—across all distribution channels at all times.
“Everything starts with revenue management,” Smith said. “If that’s wrong, you have little to no chance of gaining market share.”

3. Become female friendly
Colleges increasingly are graduating more females than males. “What does that tell you about the business traveler going forward?” Smith asked.
Hotels need to be more female-friendly.
“That means proper lighting in the parking lots. Extra amenities—makeup removers, whatever—in the guestrooms. Anything you can find to make it more female-friendly,” he said.
“I guarantee you the women at work have a great social network and are the first to tell their friend, ‘You’ve got to stay at this hotel.’”

4. Partner with a competitor
Somewhat counterintuitive to most operators, partnering with a competitor is an oft-forgotten means of securing more demand, Smith said.
This strategy works best in markets with one or two clear market leaders. Management at other properties would be wise to invite their GMs or director of sales for a frank and honest discussion.
The benefit is extra demand that overflows from those market leaders.
“A lot of egos get in the way and people aren’t willing to do that, but it’s a great way to get addtional market share,” Smith said.

5. Create a secondary website
Nearly all brands offer a standard website template for each of their hotels. Many operators, however, miss the opportunity to create a second, more customized website to enhance their online presence. “If you don’t have a secondary website, get one,” Smith said. “The more you can come up in searches … the more chances people are going to find you.”

6. Establish a presence in the local community
While local residents might not stay in a hotel, they can help drive significant demand through recommendations or business relations, Steed said.
“Relationships really matter in that community,” she said.
The Hotel Group made its presence felt in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when it assumed management of the market’s DoubleTree by Hilton, meeting key stakeholders and participating in various events. The result was the brand’s “Most improved market share” award for 2013.
Working with the local convention and visitors bureau is a good way to facilitate some of those relationships, Smith said.

7. Hire the right people
The best laid strategies are for naught without the right people to execute them, Steed said.
Revenue managers are crucial when the goal is stealing share. So, too, are sales associates.
“We want someone who is always looking for the next sell, the better sell,” she said.

8. Maintain the momentum
Luring guests is only half the battle, sources said. Hoteliers must execute once those guests are on property to ensure they’ll return.
“Obviously, you have to have a quality product, you have to have quality service,” Smith said. “None of those strategies are going to help if a guest walks into your hotel and they’re not serviced properly or you’re getting beat up on TripAdvisor.”