VERY often, sales, marketing and public relations (PR) activities are being lumped together, especially in the evolving world of online media. Yet it is very important to understand the distinctions between these three.
In technical terms, marketing involves planning, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to achieve a company’s goal, while PR is strategic management to advances a company’s reputation.
To put it more simply, if marketing is the idea, then PR is the putting the idea into action. In many ways PR is the continuation of the creative idea that marketing has developed.
Sales is the final step in the Marketing, PR and Sales equation. It delivers the product or service outlined by the marketing and PR strategies. Without marketing and PR, sales will eventually suffer and so will the wellbeing of the company.
The internet is the ideal tool to conduct PR activities and increase sales. Social media is a double-edged sword that can make or break your reputation. It can be an excellent tool to promote your property through tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and others. However, you also must know how to respond to any comments – positive or negative – about your property. About 70 per cent of our feedback at Le Royal Hotels & Resorts comes from online sources. We must never ignore both positive and negative comments, as communication is key to success in hospitality. It is also important to always be positive when answering negative reviews and never undermine or attack the client’s comments or concerns.
Online booking is certainly taking over in the US and Europe. In the Middle East, and particularly for travellers from the GCC, travel agents are still very important. People from the GCC tend to change their minds frequently and change their bookings often. That said, over the next few years, the trend is expected to change in the region too. Keep in mind that the biggest booking volume is now done online, such as through BCD Travel, Amex, Carlson Wagonlit and Booking.com.
While traditional media such as magazines, PR activities and print in general are still popular among some target markets, it is crucial to increase exposure online through robust web presence and social media. In addition to updating our website continuously, we must embrace wholeheartedly the large, dynamic and interactive world of social media. Exploiting concepts such as search engine optimization (SEO) and meta-tags is also important to enhance our exposure online.
Last but not least, remember that we can never do without the personal touch. It is the cherry on top of the cake, and it reflects our identity. Human interaction always has the power to enhance the hospitality experience.
JOYCE MOUAWAD is the corporate director of sales & marketing for Le Royal Hotels & Resorts, Beirut.
By Joyce Mouawad
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.