Mastering the Media Mix: How to Plan the Right Media Budget for Your Resort

Account Director, Miles Hospitality
Published 5/8/14
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Attention, interest, credibility, desire, action. The goal of advertising hasn’t changed much in the last century—it’s the delivery method that has changed dramatically. In the travel planning cycle, this can be envisioned as a broad-mouthed funnel with a multitude of increasingly narrow routes. Each decision point or search refinement offers an opportunity for marketers to capture the attention of future guests. Understanding that all resorts have unique need periods, audience mixes, marketing objectives and media budgets, there is no standard formula to determine the right mix of online and offline spend. However, there are several considerations which can be weighed to guide you in crafting the right media mix for your particular property.

Prioritize your goals

With the goal ultimately to produce revenue, branding messages should be supported along the travel planning cycle with increasingly targeted, ROI-focused placement featuring specific offers to incent bookings. Top-of-funnel messaging, efforts to introduce your property or position your brand will be reliant on print ads, direct mail and broadcast media—channels that allow you the opportunity, through words and imagery, to share your story and leave a memorable impression. Those seeking to establish an identity need to spread the word as broadly as possible. Online advertising is highly targeted, quantifiable and quickly and easily adjusted to maximize ROI. It also targets travelers far along the funnel in the final stages of their travel planning.

Identify your target

Not all media performs equally in reaching key target audiences, so before you determine how heavily to invest in any one medium, you should first identify your audience priorities. Only you know the relative value of each audience to your resort and where you seek growth. Perhaps the average age of your guests has increased and you need to attract a younger customer; or maybe your property is too dependent on large corporate groups and you want to build your association business. Before you can determine what to spend and where to spend it, you first must identify who you are trying to reach and how much you are able to spend reaching them.

A well-crafted media plan is a work in progress. Frequently evaluate your quantifiable placements and adjust as needed to ensure you are getting the most out of your investment. 

Evaluate media to compare reach, ability to target the identified audience and relative value

No doubt countless dollars have been wasted delivering the right message to the wrong audience. Whether it’s print, television, email, PPC or any other paid placement, you need to know how many viewers, listeners, readers or web searchers are likely to receive your ad, their demographic and geographic make-up and, where possible, their engagement performance based on similar messaging. When placing media, it is important to remember that you are paying for the entire universe reached, not just those within your target. If your audience is narrowly defined, seek vehicles that allow you to precisely target to avoid waste.

Seek insight from your reservations and sales team

Research into audience demographics and CPM rate comparison often isn’t as insightful as what your staff can tell you. Talk to your front line. Your meeting sales team and reservations agents can provide a wealth of information about your customer and the media they consume. Are your past guests more easily reached online or offline? Are your customers more responsive to direct mail or email? Review your guest records and talk to your team to truly know your past customers, how they found your property, where they originate from and the questions they asked when making the decision to book with you.

Don’t spend it all

Once you have prioritized your goals, evaluated the available media to reach these goals and gained as much insight as possible into existing customer decision-making patterns, distribute your total media budget across traditional online and offline media vehicles, giving the greater share to those vehicles best suited to achieve these goals—but don’t spend it all. Groups cancel, weather affects occupancy and competitors apply pressure with low rates. Publications offer remnants, and changes are made that are worth sharing. Your year will have needs and opportunities, so plan for the unexpected by leaving a portion of your media budget unallocated.

Evaluate and adjust

A well-crafted media plan is a work in progress. Frequently evaluate your quantifiable placements and adjust as needed to ensure you are getting the most out of your investment. 

A full-cycle media plan utilizes a blend of media vehicles to interest, engage and entice travelers at every step in the process:

  • From generating interest (a billboard placement on a busy snow-covered city street showing a relaxing sunny beach)
  • To building temptation (a targeted PPC ad served when the billboard viewer searches the advertised resort’s name or location)
  • To providing information and securing the close (retargeting ads that continue to surface as the now-interested traveler browses the internet, narrowing travel plans by region, vacation type and resort amenities).

If the right messages are delivered at the beginning of the cycle and at points along the path, a cohesive, well-placed ad campaign can achieve name recognition, familiarity, bookings and brand loyalty.