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In the process of making strategic decisions and analysis, marketing mix analysis is said to fall under various internal and external environmental analysis. Examples include; PESTEL analysis, Porter’s five forces analysis, Porter’s generic strategies, and the SWOT analysis. The marketing mix is a concept that is imperative in relation to modern marketing. The aim of this research paper is to analyze the marketing mix (7Ps) of W Hotels, how it has utilized the current technological marketing tools. This paper will also provide recommendations based on its findings with regards to marketing strategies that should be adopted by the W hotel in order to gain a competitive edge.
W Hotels and resorts comprise a group of luxury hotels that are under the ownership of Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide. These hotels are usually marketed targeting the young generation and their upscale properties. By the end of February 2013, the hotel operated in over 50 hotels within 24 countries and intends to expand further globally. The hotel was launched in 1998 in New York. This first launch involved the conversion of the prior existing hotels in Star wood group. In Europe and Istanbul, the first w hotel to be ever opened occurred in May 2008.
Traditional Marketing Strategies (7Ps)
The product includes a description of all its features and a combination of its goods. It also relates to the services that companies offer to their customers. According to Rafiq and Ahmed (1995), the product is one more important aspect of the marketing mix for two basic reasons. First is the case of manufacturers; products sold in the market express the company’s ability to produce and its ability to link with the consumers. It, therefore, implies that product policies and strategies are important to a company since they dictate the scope and the company’s direction. Secondly, it is important to realize the fact that the company’s products are components and determines the marketing mix since they greatly influence other elements of the product mix such as personal selling and advertising, distribution channels, pricing, and physical distribution. Without the proper policies instituted by W hotel, the company may not be able to pursue the other elements of the marketing mix. The company has utilized this marketing mix excellently. Its products and services are fully displayed on its database clearly describing the cost and its features. The products offered include accommodation, restaurant services, flight destination services among others.
This strategy entails specifically setting a price for a specific product. In simple terms, Anitsal, Girard, and Anitsal (2012) refer to pricing as the sum of money that a customer incurs to obtain a particular product. The process of setting a price is in itself a complex process. Generally, the presumption is that low prices attract more customers. However, this argument is not valid at all since the customers’ response is not determined by price alone. Customers, on the contrary, respond to value and thus lower prices might not necessarily translate to increment in sales especially if the customer expectations are not met. Pricing g strategy under marketing mix focuses on two aspects; first is price determination and secondly; price administration.
Price determination refers to a set of processes and activities that are employed in order to come up with a price for a particular product. In order to arrive at an appropriate price, it is important to consider the profit margin.This process includes a consideration of the prices of relative products that are within the same category. Price administration, on the other hand, refers to the process of fitting basic prices to particular commodities depending on the geographic location among other factors. W hotel offers its products at a range of prices depending on the location. The prices of W hotels have been set to fit the targeted customers while upholding their quality of service. The hotel charges valet parking fees of $55per night, a pet fee of $100per night, rollaway bed fee of $30 per night. Further, the hotel charges $14.95 for n room wireless internet for 24 hours.
The place where the customers buy goods and services and the means in which the products are distributed in that place should be kept convenient to the customers. W hotel’s products are availed in the right place, at the right time and in its right quality and quantity. Storage, distribution costs and the inventory are kept at the acceptable levels. According to past studies through customer surveys, the delivery performance is the most significant criteria when one is choosing a supplier. Further, the place might also refer to the ways in which products are displayed to particular customer groups. W hotels have this done via the internet and through physical shops.
Promotion is a way in which a company communicates with it’s customers what it does and what it can offer. It ranges from activities such as branding, public relation, corporate identity, promotion of sales, exhibitions and special offers. The objectives that promotion must meet include appealing, telling consistent messages and highlighting to the customers the reasons why they should choose your products rather than those of the competitors. A good communication strategy must embrace dialogue between a company and the customers. W hotel’s promotion strategy communicates the benefits that the customers derive from the product and not simply the features the product has. Irrespective of whether the promotional sheet is a simple paper or a complex prospectus, the key point is that it captures the attention of the customers. W hotel has displayed its services on its database. The features displayed accurately and fully describe the quality of the services that are offered. This has made it easier to be read in addition to enabling the customers to identify where they can obtain the products. The internal stakeholders of the hotel are much aware of the values and attributes of the products that are offered (Nakhchian, Zeraatgar, Ome & Gorji, 2012).
Anybody coming in contact with the customers will create an impression that can have outstanding effects which are either positive or negative. The reputation of the company’s products rests in the hands of its people. Personnel must, therefore, be well trained and ensuring the right job for the right people. Most customers do not separate the kind of product they purchase by the person selling the product which shows the importance of the personnel serving within the organization in relation to the product that they sell (Nakhchian, Zeraatgar, Ome & Gorji, 2012). The extent to which W hotel has offered after sale service has been one good way of adding value to what the company offers. This has given it a competitive edge company over its competitors. It is therefore important to look from time to time the products that account for the highest sales as to whether they have adequate after-sale service. Adding the sixth and the seventh Ps would serve best for service industries traditionally (Ivy, 2008).
The process involved in offering the service to the customers as well as the behavior of those involved is critical in ensuring product success for example issues such as waiting times. It is not the interest of the customers to know how a company’s system work but rather what matters is that the system works. Keeping customers informed, reducing waiting times, and making service providers helpful are critical issues that the company should consider. This process is one that is usually overlooked by many companies. Customers ringing phones to the company are an important source of income rather than having to listen to recorded messages before they go through. W hotels have adopted the use of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. These social media have been useful in obtaining customer feedbacks. A number of customers will give up in the process and thus they might shift to other places telling other customers not to use the products. The hotel also has developed an online booking and reservation system and thus has been able to save on the customer’s time and money thus achieving greater customer satisfaction. It is important to note that systems are not designed by marketers but rather they are designed for the benefits of the company. This source of marketing is an important source of competitive advantage, if not widely used (Nakhchian, Zeraatgar, Ome & Gorji, 2012).
7. Physical Evidence
Before a service is experienced, it first has to be delivered. It, therefore, means that the process of choosing to use a service might be perceived as risky since one is buying something that is intangible. To reduce this uncertainty, physical evidence such as case studies should be used. This can be done by keeping the facilities clean, well decorated and tidy. The physical evidence that is demonstrated by an organization should be able to confirm the assertions of the customers. Although it might not be possible for the customers to experience the service before they have purchased, the customers can talk to other customers with an experience. Therefore their testimonies are credible as their views do not originate from the company. W hotel has a Facebook page and a twitter account (Nakhchian, Zeraatgar, Ome & Gorji, 2012). These social network platforms have been of great advantage. In addition to success stories, its views and comments are widely from outside customers. This, therefore, has boosted the aspect of physical evidence and trust by customers attempting for the first time.
Use of New Technology
The hotel utilizes the use of mobile technology. This mobile technology has to heighten interactivity, sales, and promotions. It also has enhanced gathering feedbacks in relations to the guest’s experience within the hotel. The company has achieved this by configuring its websites and mobile payments among others. Guests can access the virtual concierge by using the hotel’s mobile application. With the mobile application, guests can obtain information about the hotel, can make dinner reservations and thus can access local attractions through the use of their iPad. Guests can book tickets regarding the local events and order a car to pick them.
Gordon (2011) argues that social network marketing strategy is inevitable in the current competitive age and therefore it is important for companies to shift into this marketing method. In addition to database marketing, the company has also utilized social networks in order to market their products and services. The hotel has Youtube that fully and comprehensively displays the services it offers. It also has a Facebook page “W Hotels Worldwide” this page has close to 130 000 likes and thus has formed a significant basis for marketing. The company has also utilized the use of Twitter “@whotels”.
Recommendations on the use of 7Ps of Extended Marketing Mix in W Hotels
It is increasingly inevitable for most hotels to adopt client-server technology. The benefits derived from this networked system are quite compelling given the consequences of advanced technologies. Older technologies are being phased out and thus for W hotel, it requires well-integrated systems in order to support its attempt to adopt a database form of marketing in order to compete effectively over the coming years (Bakhat & Sajjad-UL-Aziz, 2012). In order to have a competitive edge in the future, this paper recommends the following technological strategies to the W hotel;
Database technology: This should be designed in a way that it permits the hotel to maintain a single customer database. This database should provide access to different properties connected to its server over the network. Further, the database should be designed to allow more data regarding the customers for example customer’s spending, preferences will make the database more objective as a marketing tool (Granados, Kauffman, Lai & Lin, 2011).
One stop guest services Is a system that involves the use of in-room television remote control in order to select from a series of interactive programs. The guests can be able to navigate through audio and multimedia and thus they are able to connect to the outside services through their phones. The adoption of this system will make the basic services available to staff also available to the guests through the use of fully integrated systems. These systems will make it easy to administer; retailing, ticketing and reservations (Šerić & Saura, 2012).
Smart cards: these are cards that contain integrated circuits upon which guests can access rooms and other services in the hotel. These cards have the capacity to be coded and thus can charge retail items, meals, amongst other purchases (Šerić & Saura, 2012). In future W hotel should issue these smart cards rather than paperwork which can thus be used as a room key and capturing the guest regular information. Despite the challenges posed by smart card as they are coded and can only be understood by their own reader, this research paper still is in favor of this technology as a marketing strategy.
Video check-in and express check-out: This system allows for check-in and checkout of guests without necessarily using the front desks used by traditional marketing. The new touch and go system is an outstanding system that provides the customers who have cards and have advance reservations to access in the hotels without necessarily using the front desk while accessing or leaving the hotel. This system reduces queues at front desks and thus enhances customer satisfaction (Šerić & Saura 2012).
In order to compete successfully in the industry, the hotel should create a sustainable competitive advantage for its offering and be able to successfully position itself in relation to its competitors. The hotel should put in place the necessary systems to ensure that it meets the demands for the products that it offers. Further, the hotel should manage the supply capacity in relation to the demands made by its customers.
Advancement in technology is deemed to bring many potential benefits to the W hotel ranging from a better competitive edge to increase in revenues yield. However, the barriers to fully implementing technology as a marketing tool remain daunting to the W hotel. Just like other companies, the hotel industry should heavily rely on information technology. The success and failure of a company are heavily dependent on the accuracy of the data it has in its database and notwithstanding the speed of its retrieval. W hotel’s application of the above-recommended technologies will therefore increasingly set the standards for its operations and guest services as their expectations have continually accelerated. These technologies, therefore, will in the future provide a basis for differentiating successful hotels from the others. In order to compete successfully in the industry, the hotel should create a sustainable competitive advantage for its offering and be able to successfully position itself in relation to its competitors. The hotel should put in place the necessary systems to ensure that it meets the demands for the products that it offers. Further, the hotel should manage the supply capacity in relation to the demands made by its customers.
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