The Cost of Connecting vs. Capturing

Unless you're someone like Marriott, you are not in the market domination business...rather, you're in the minority business. Here's a quick example of what I mean.

  • Your hotel has 150 rooms
  • Let's say you're in a mid-size market with 8,000 total rooms.
  • The market is doing well at 70% which generates 2,044,000 roomnights.
  • You, your bosses and the owner would be happy with 75% occupancy, or 41,063 roomnights annually.
  • That's only 2% of all the roomnights generated by the market.

And, if you figure in average length of stay and repeat visitation factors, you only need to attract or talk with about 20,000 of the 1 million people who come to town for the first time.

Even though more than 90% don't care about what you have to say, and don't want what you're offering, the old way of doing things has you sending messages to the 1 million, hoping to capture your 20,000. Now, let's say your marketing budget for the year is $300K. Simplified...yes, but that's 30 cents each to reach the 1 million...not much of a message. So, trying to capturing your share of the market is a waste of time, mainly because you don't have the resources to effectively get your point across to 1 million people. Anytime you see yourself starting to cast the net, it's time to stop, step back and think.

The new way is to focus all your efforts to connect with the 20,000...the minority. Your job is to get engaged with the right audience, hold a conversation and build a relationship with them. Take the same $300K annual marketing you have  $15 (or, 50 times as much) per person to spend.  That's a lot per message or per person by almost anyone's standards. And, it's guaranteed to be a much more effective campaign.

The temptation is to do it the old way because it's easier. You just co-op with the CVB, buy a mailing list, put up a billboard or buy a magazine ad...and keep your fingers crossed. And, in the old days, if you were creative enough, it worked. It worked because there weren't as many choices and not nearly as many messages. Now,  unless you're Trump, you don't have enough to spend to rise above the clutter to capture you share. 

The good news is that there's a new opportunity, a new and smarter way to spend your money and your time. But, the new way is much harder at first because it requires you to find the 2%. It requires you to dig, try new ways (start a blog, a guest advisory board, etc.), shake hands, talk to current guests, buy lunches, go to trade care how you communicate with people and to resist the temptation to waste people's time. But, once you're's a gold mine. Everyone's glad to be there.

Connecting is more cost effective than capturing. But, it requires skill, passion and a strong committment to what you're doing...instead of relying on the game of chance.