Hiring a professional marketing firm to promote your hotel online can be a wise investment. But before you select a consultant, it’s essential to have a checklist of questions ready to help you separate the legitimate, results-oriented firms from the inexperienced, amateur ones.
Question: What makes you unique?
What to look for: Unique differentiation of the consultant’s skills.
Why it’s important: To gain the competitive edge, you need innovative approaches to your internet promotions. Make sure the firm you’re considering possesses these.
Question: How long have you been doing this work?
What to look for: Significant, relevant experience.
Why it’s important: Asking “How long have you been in business?” isn’t especially relevant. In the internet marketing world, time spent perfecting a specific skill is far more meaningful.
Question: Do you have a backup team? If yes, where are they located?
What to look for: A local backup team.
Why it’s important: When a project deadline is critical, it’s nice to know that there will be others working on your project. Your company promotions cannot come to a standstill if the consultant is on vacation, for example.
Question: Who will be doing the actual work?
What to look for: Close proximity between your consultant and the people doing the work.
Why it’s important: When an issue arises, your consultant needs the power to take immediate action. If the people conducting the actual marketing work for you are 12 time zones away, communication can be a challenge.
Question: What is your workflow process?
What to look for: A documented path to project completion.
Why it’s important: A work flow chart helps ensure consistent results and provides clear expectations for everyone.
Question: How will I be involved?
What to look for: Clear communication systems between you and the consultant.
Why it’s important: Having your input in the marketing campaign development is crucial. Look for consultants that will involve you as much as you want to be involved, and send you frequent progress updates.
Question: How can I contact you if I have a question?
What to look for: A full range of communications options – including a toll-free and personal cell numbers, email address, and physical office location
Why it’s important: When you need to communicate with your consultant, you should be able to use whatever method is most convenient. Good consultants understand this, and will make it easy for you to contact them.
Question: How do you price your services?
What to look for: Results and percentage-based pricing.
Why it’s important: Your investment in marketing consulting should be tied to what your hotel will make in additional revenue, not on how many hours the consultant worked.
Question: Do you guarantee your work?
What to look for: A list of deliverables backed by a money-back guarantee.
Why it’s important: A money-back guarantee is a sure indicator of consulting legitimacy. You only want to work with individuals and firms that only accept payment for results. Insist on this in the beginning for untested consultants.
Question: What is the duration of your contract?
What to look for: No-penalty termination option (in the event of poor service).
Why it’s important: You don’t want to get locked into a long-term contract if the consultant isn’t providing the results you need. Good consultants will have enough confidence in the quality of their work to make a contract with a no-penalty, early-escape clause.