Promote! Promote! Promote!...a mantra worth meditating on if you've got a product to sell.
edited: Friday, October 26, 2001
By Patrick Talty
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2001
Become a Fan
Recollection of a talk delivered in 1986 on promotional strategies which, I submit, are still relevant in 2001 and beyond. What do YOU think?
Sitting beside my shredder, which was buzzing with excitement as I disposed of numerous pieces of redundant bank statements and other bits of evidence justifying my reputation as a hoarder, I recently came across a publication bearing the title of ”The Organ”. It was published in 1989 by the Youth Hostels Association of Western Australia.
Leafing through it, I was pleasantly surprised to see a photo of someone with a strong resemblance to me (it WAS me!) accompanying an article (by me) titled. “Don’t Just Hope…PROMOTE!”.
Ah-h-h! It brought back memories of the year I spent running a small associate Youth Hostel in the beautiful little town of Bridgetown in the State of Western Australia. The year was 1986.
I had spent the whole of 1985 travelling around the Australian continent using buses, hitch hikes, trains and sometimes “Shanks’ Pony” (Australian for “on foot”).
Almost 12 months to the day I arrived back in Perth with the intention of settling back into my “real’ job (teaching English to migrants) when, by a strange twist of fate (which is really another story) I found myself on a short list which led me to an interview. The position I had applied for was that of manager of a rather run-down Youth Hostel in the lower southwest of Western Australia: Bridgetown.
I got the job.
My brief from the management committee, which employed me, was to eliminate the seediness and run-downness which had changed the hostel from being a restful refuge for Youth Hostel Association (YHA) members. Instead, it had become a haven for non-members who had been treating it as a halfway house with a complete disregard for YHA polices. An improvement in “the bottom line” was also expected. I signified my readiness to accept these challenges.
Within a couple of months I was able to turn things around to the satisfaction of the members, the committee and, of course, myself.
The article mentioned in my introduction was, in fact, a print version of a talk I gave some time later to a seminar attended by hostel managers from all over Western Australia. The YHA CEO had invited me to give this talk on the topic of “How to successfully run a small country hostel.”
When I read this talk-become-article so many years after the events described above, it struck me that, despite its inadequacies, it propagated a message that is as true today as it was then.
Anyway, I’d like to share it with you in the hope that it will ring a bell in the minds of any readers who have had (or even, are having) difficulties in marketing products of any kind, including themselves. Here goes…
*It has been my experience whenever I have taken on a managerial role as a “new broom” that suggestions of radical policy changes have been greeted with “OOHs”, “AHs” and “I DUNNOs”. I suppose such reactions are caused by the fear of the pain that is supposed to always follow change.
Take Bridgetown and the local YHA management committee of February 1986…
When I became manager of their Associate YHA Hostel way back then I found that previous years’ figures were greatly inflated by the factors of long-termers –most of whom had been in residence for up to twelve months -and non-members. YHA policy precluded long-term stays on the grounds that the hostels existed to provide budget accommodation for bona fide travellers from all over the world rather than for long-term boarders.
From the start I embarked on a policy of running the hostel according to YHA rules rather than as a lodging house according to Rafferty’s rules. However, when I made this known to the committee, some of its members seemed to suffer the pangs of disquiet. They argued (quite correctly) that such a policy would result in a drastic fall in overnight stays.
They were surprised when I agreed with that proposition, yet counter-argued that such a drop would be short-term and could, WOULD be turned around by a long-term policy of effective promotion and efficient management.
After listening to some of the strategies I put forward, they accepted my confident assurances of success and also my invitation to set me a target which would allow the hostel to break even in the first year of the new policy and steadily build up from there.
I might mention that I succeeded in exceeding the target they set.
To achieve this success I created a formula based on a simple acronym that involved the word “PROMOTE”. It worked like this:
P Personal involvement with the local community, especially the local police, the tourist bureau, The Service Clubs (Rotary, Lions etc.) and “the person in the street”.
R Rules: apply them in a firm, friendly and flexible manner.
O Offer assistance: make yourself available at all times to assist in the solution of any problems associated with the visit. Also offer to assist in any other way which would make the stay more interesting and enjoyable. For example: offer transport to those without it: take someone or a group on a picnic, a scenic drive, or a visit to a local sheep property, or drop ‘em off at the bus terminal or a good hitchhiking spot.
M Make the most of what you’ve got at the hostel itself (I provided in-house games such as table tennis, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, bicycle and canoe hire), or in the district by way of tourist attractions (I created an activities board which hostellers constantly found useful).
O Old-fashioned service (“Serve ‘em to death!”).
T Tell them ONLY what you objectively perceive that they NEED to know, or what they specifically ask about. DON’T be intrusive!
E Encourage them (I) to stay an extra night or more by offering friendly, high quality service and interesting, accurate information about the activities available in your district.
And another thing: on my activities board I had a sign which read, “If you enjoyed your stay with us, TELL OTHERS; if you didn’t, TELL ME!”
Finally, let me share something else with you in the form of a little verse which I wrote and delivered as part of the talk in an endeavour to reinforce the PROMOTE message which was the theme of my talk. It goes like this:
When Shakespeare wrote his tragedies, his comedies and such
Did he formulate a clever plan to promote his plays? Not much!
He opened up a theatre and he put them on the stage;
And since that time so long ago old Will’s been all the rage.
And what about The Beatles, Elvis Prez and folks like that?
In their early days did they sit tight just murmuring “Oh drat!”?
Of course not: just to make quite sure their songs would really go
They went out and promoted them on worldwide radio.
And so, as hostel managers we’ve got to understand
That OUR hostels are products in the game of supply/demand.
So if you wish to make your mark in a Youth hostel of note
Get out among the people and PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE! *
Well, folks, that’s it! What do y’think?
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|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|enjoyed the read|
|Reviewed by Regina Pounds
|I'm in awe.
(Will have to read this once daily until the old me gets in gear.)
Gina, with books to promote!!!
OK: Gina, author of 'Lord Eaglebeak' and 'Theo's Ghost' ~ stories that will whisk you away and leave you with a smile
|Reviewed by Cynthia Borris
|I agree, agree, agree! Your approach is simple, to the point and easy to remember. Maybe you should trademark it and hit the lecture series.|
|Reviewed by Victoria Murray
|Very thought provoking and helpful...