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The value of knowing your competition

So we all have a competitive set don’t we?  We all review their rates every day and know their selling strategy inside out, don’t we?  Well if you don’t, you should.

But where do you start assessing who your competitors actually are?  And is there an argument for adjusting your competitive set by segment or even by source.

Let’s look at one real but un-named example of a hotel that is located in Belfast. Set in the leafy suburbs of Belfast, Hotel X attracts a mixture of both corporate and leisure guests and at certain times of the year can have a healthy base of tour groups.  They review their competition daily and know selling strategies for each inside out.  Of course I am not about to disclose who and how they track, but they are certainly very clear on who they are competing with for all of their main market segments. This is adjusted primarily by day of week and also by month of year.  So for example in the summer they know who they are competing against for small F.I.T groups and in the shoulder and winter seasons they know where their ad-hoc corporates may chose or their weekend leisure guests.  But is this enough?

As we know, many of our guests use the internet to find us and to research our product, so who are these potential guests being presented with along side our own properties?  Who do the OTA and Meta-Site giants place us against?  This is an interesting exercise to carryout and I would urge you all to take some time and do this:

  • Type in your hotel name to the 3 main players being Google / TripAdvisor and Booking.com
  • Now see who else is presented alongside you

For Hotel X I found the following:

Google TripAdvisor Booking.com
Stormont Hotel Jurys Inn Hilton Belfast
Merchant Hotel Holiday Inn Belfast Holiday Inn Express
Malmaison Europa Hotel Stormont Hotel
Wellington Park Ramada Encore Ivanhoe Inn
Hilton Belfast Ten Square Crowne Plaza Belfast
Premier Inn Maldron, Belfast Ramada Encore
Ramada Encore Ibis City Centre Radisson Blu
Park Inn Clayton Belfast Dukes at Queens
Radisson Blu Ibis Queens Quarter Clayton Belfast
Ten Square Holiday Inn Express Ten Square

You can see that there are of course some similarities but isn’t it interesting who these giants are choosing as your Competitive Set and how they are listing them in order of preference?  Does it reflect who you are actually choosing?  Chances are it may not and if I am honest, for Hotel X, in many cases the competitors listed are way of the mark.

What we all have to realise is that the competitors that these OTA, Meta-Sites or Search Engines are presenting are impacting our business and potentially our price point. We have very little control over who they are presenting but this representation can have an impact on brand perception and we definitely need to sit-up and take notice. If for example I look at who any of these giants are placing against Hotel X, some would be considered outside their Comp Set due to location but more apparent is that many are  way below Hotel X’s price point or preferred brand point. What does this say about how these search giants rate our product and how our customers in turn then potentially rate us?

Another interesting exercise as I mentioned at the beginning is to split your business into it’s main market segments – now adjust your competitive set to reflect.  For example, if you have a strong wedding base, which products are being presented as comparable to yours?  Which hotels should you actually be comparing yourself to not only on location and offering but also on price?

Does this choice of competitive set need to be adjusted if you looked at your Leisure Segment or your Corporate Segment? Do you need to adjust by day or week or month of year?

I urge you to follow Hotel X and to measure and adjust your Competitive Set to suit your business, you might be surprised what you learn.

(and for all things revenue just ask@rightrevenue.wpengine.com)