Audit the marketing plan? hmmm…..
A luxury hotel, like any other business, is driven by cash flow. That cash flow is forecasted based upon basic economic assumptions about supply and demand. All very straightforward. Yet the risk for any resort hotel is not in the forecast but rather, the assumptions. The assumptions are at the foundation of every action in a marketing plan. For example, an advertising line item is used to buy campaigns. The campaigns are assumed to increase demand and thus generate more inquiries, bookings and ultimately revenue. So if the assumption is that advertising increases demand, then the risk is in the assumption itself. Does advertising increase demand? How do you know? How much?
Which belies my point: Do typical luxury resort marketing plans measure the performance of each of these tactics to determine if the assumption is indeed valid and therefore draw any conclusion about the efficacy of the tactic? In short: Are we measuring the advertising campaign to see if it does what it’s supposed to?
In my experience the typical resort marketing plan is filled with vague generalizations like:
“…increase brand awareness…”
Or the plan cites a direct tactical measurement of bookings. While measurement of bookings is indeed important, it only provides a part of the picture and often provides no measure at all in the case of a magazine ad or PR media hit.
The bottom line (literally speaking) is accountability. The marketing director is held accountable for the plan but how about the results and measures? Indeed, the marketing director should be held accountable for the results BUT ALSO for quantitative and qualitative measures to validate or invalidate (and then rethink) every tactic in a marketing plan.
What I am suggesting is something new to the typical resort marketing plan…an audit. The term comes to mind from the audit of financial statements by independent parties in order to establish their validity. A marketing audit should be conducted on the resort’s marketing plan to challenge its assumptions, ensure there are valid performance measures and ultimately help the accountable parties do a better job or push them to rethink flawed assumptions and INNOVATE.
In the end, ask yourself this question: Which affects future revenue more? A marketing plan or an audit of an accurate financial statement?
So why not use the same approach? At best you may help the marketing team to do better, at worst it’s an independent validation.