Joe Cauchi is no stranger to the hotel industry, having occupied senior roles in leading hospitality companies around the world during the past thirty years. Having established a strong personal reputation in Asia, Joe moved to the US to take on the role of Managing Director at Delivering America – specializing in the provision of sales and marketing solutions to the hospitality sector. He also spent a few years as Director, Luxury Sales, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International based in New York City. Joe is passionate about branding and sales, and this is why asked Joe to share a thing or two about sales, marketing, and branding in hotels.

What should hotels consider before entering into a new market?

The first question any hotelier should ask themselves before investing in a new market is simply ‘is my hotel suitable for this particular type of customer?’ The easiest way to answer this is to look at the statistics which are readily available through various sources. The hotel must determine if there is sufficient demand for their destination and then look at the demand for their hotel category for the kind of customers they have in mind. In some markets the demand could be driven by price. However, in the luxury sector there are many factors at play; i.e. seclusion, amenities, facilities, the element of providing something unique, and many more. Once these questions are answered the hotel must decide if they have the resources to go after the new market. It’s not sufficient to have a beautiful website and make the hotel available on all booking channels. The hotel needs to invest in building relationships with key opinion leaders in their respective segment. In the North American market luxury space it is very important that the key decision makers have a relationship with the property. This could start with a personal introduction by the General Manager or Director of Sales and Marketing but then the hotel must go beyond introductions and develop plans and promotions to drive business.”

What’s your experience in forecasting sales? What kind of tools and software do you like to use?

Forecasting should not be guesswork, nor should it be fantasizing about non-realities. Anyone can pull a figure out of the air that they’d like to see but I prefer to see where a hotel is within a given market and realistically assess where it could be with the right resources. Once again, there are tools one can turn to in order to see what the demand is for a particular hotel location, and to see where the hotel’s market share is currently and where it should be. In conjunction with growth projections, this will help determine trends to create a well informed forecast. There are various tools available including arrival statistics, increase/decrease in airline schedules, proposed new competition but one which I’ve participated in is the STAR report which helps show a hotel how it’s performing against their competitor set.”

What kind of mistakes do you see hoteliers make in sales & marketing? 

Not having the best information on any new market is the biggest mistake a hotel can make as it will then use resources chasing an elusive clientele. Some sales and marketing people tend to follow the same old path of annual sales calls and then hope the business will come through. As I mentioned before, relationships are very important, especially in the luxury sector. The hotel needs to have a strategy for each market; what works in Asia may not translate to the Americas. Hotels need to understand how a market works and not adopt a**one size fits all strategy. And the cardinal rule is rate parity. Nothing ticks off a luxury travel agent more than having a client say they found a better rate or offer online. You might get away with offering an exclusive amenity but if the agent does not have access to the same rate the client finds then you will lose that agent and perhaps the agency group forever.” 

In short, getting the right information and then taking the time to use it constructively can give hoteliers the best chance of success, while hard work and due diligence beats wishful thinking every time.

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