defining Your Competitive Set
Marketing a resort – Defining your competitive set.
I have been asked to create an almost step-by-step game plan in the development of a marketing plan for resorts, and am going to make the attempt. I have been teaching 4th year Marketing Strategy and Entrepreneurial Marketing at Florida International University for 10 years as well as two years at the University of Miami, and while I will always recommend taking a marketing course, I will try breaking this marketing plan process into several postings so as not to bore anyone.
Before we dive right into the resort marketing plan, there are a few things to consider, of which how to define your competitive set is crucial:
- Your competitive position. It is important to understand who your real competitors are, both online and offline. If you were a South Beach hotel, you would consider your competitors resorts of similar star ratings, similar room counts and similar location for example. This would be a good physical competitive landscape and is fairly easy to determine. Now that your physical competitors are defined, ask your Search Engine Optimization agency to help you identify your online competitors. As the digital space grows, you will find competitors for your same keywords you did not consider in your competitive set, but the search engines are placing them in organic links below yours. Your guests may be driven t these sites and those resorts may take a bite out of your online digital keyword space and overall market share.
What happens if you mistakenly create a bad competitive set or a broad competitive set: The following happens:
- If you start with an unfocused competitive position, you may find yourself in a “me too” environment with “me too” customer value.
- Yes, without having a clear competitive position both online and offline, you will clearly add no value to the customer experience and will find yourself scrambling to chase every trend on the market;
- while retaining no customer loyalty whatsoever;
- and with very volatile market share.
Sound familiar? I see it in too many cases. It’s fairly simple to discover who your competitors are. I suggest a simple exercise as follows:
- POC (Point of Comparison): In this case your look at our competitors and try to see where you are similar. Obviously, the least points of similarity you have with your competitive resort, the less likely they are truly in your competitive set. The more POCs, the more closely you resemble your competitors, the more likely you are to strive to a customer satisfaction strategy that is not trend driven (i.e. setting up ipod stands in the room connected to the radio), but customer focused.
- POD (Point of Differentiation): After you have found the similarities, now discuss what’s different about you. This I have found over the years, will also help you start [if you have not already], delivering an amazing guest experience. Yes, a happy hour with the GM is a POD. Yes, tea at 5 pm in your Zen garden is a POD. Yes, free breakfast buffet is a POD. Once you’ve done that, now create your competitor’s PODs. Please be realistic.
After this exercise you will know who your competitors are and what makes you different. From that you can start building your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, which is really the first step in a resort marketing plan. I think however that I will spend a little more time in the next few postings dedicated to customer focused strategies and the profit impacts of dissatisfaction.
Stay tuned, and please ask as many questions as you like even while remaining anonymous.
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