Strategic Marketing Plan For Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge

Strategic marketing plan for the next 3-5 years

Discuss about the Marketing Management for the Case Study of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge.

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This case study aims at developing a strategic marketing plan of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge. The Lodge is located in the foothills of Mount Taranaki. The hotel is in Egmont National Park at the end of Manaia Road (Dawsonfallsmountainlodge, 2016). The hotel has only ten guest rooms each with the ensuite and provides premier accommodation. The boutique wants to expand its rooms to 15 and provide exclusive packages for tramping. The lodge wants its guests to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the place. It wants to provide adventure packages to the visitors within the pristine national park. The objective of the report is to make a strategic plan for the lodge. The case study would analyze the behavior of the customers to frame a market strategy for the boutique hotel. It would give a critical view of the promotional strategies that will be introduced to ensure channel growth, earn profits, and increase revenue management. The report shall use Walsh’s Research Opportunity system along with Kozak and Martin’s to fulfill the objective. 

Strategic planning is a mode of marketing which is a disciplined, deliberative effort of an organization to produce key actions and decisions that would shape and guide the organization. Strategic planning helps the leaders of an organization to determine, identify, and achieve the goals and objectives of future. The plans change from time to time and are dependent upon the policies of the organization. In fact, strategic planning is an approach which comprises concepts, leadership roles, tools, and procedures that must be planned carefully and followed to achieve the desired goals (Armstrong et al., 2012). In this section, the strategic marketing plan of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge for the next 3-5 years would be analyzed.

It is of utmost importance to understand the political, economic, social, and technological condition of a country to set up any business or frame a strategic plan for any business. The following table gives a detailed PEST analysis of New Zealand:

Political

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The political situation of a country is a paramount factor to drive tourists in any country. Political factors determine the flow of visitors. National and local tourists are the major customers of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge. The steps taken by the government in the recent years shows the interest to draw more visitors to the pristine place.

Economic

The economic condition of a country is another determinant of tourism. Tourists need to spend a lump sum of money to come to these places and stay at such boutique hotels. Statistics say that the average tariff rate of New Zealand is 1.4%. The government gives a right amount of flexibility for businesses. The average household income is $85,000 which is higher than the median income which is $68,600. The average household income has risen since the past few years. The inflation rate is 1%. Moreover, the currency exchange rate of New Zealand dollars is pretty high compared to other countries. All these positive economic factors attract more tourists to this country every year.

Social

The social and cultural environment also plays a crucial role in determining the number of visitors in a particular place. Since the people of New Zealand love nature and like to spend their time in the lap of nature, they prefer boutique hotels like Dawson Lodge compared to other hotels. This interest of people gives a scope to the boutique hotels to expand the business.

Technological

With the rise in the use of latest technology, people are becoming more and more tech-savvy. The citizens of New Zealand are well versed with latest technologies and use them to the fullest. People all over the world use the internet and online booking system. This technological aid would help attract more and more tourists. Home website of a company or a hotel like Dawson Lodge would always be beneficial to promote business as people would be able to get access to information about the lodge without any hassle. Moreover, booking a lodge in advance is the best option for a tourist to spend a hassle-free vacation. Thus, technological factors play a crucial role in improving and expanding the business.

It is imperative to determine and understand the behavioral patterns of the target audience or the customers. The management must frame its strategic market plan based on their clients. According to the Recreational Opportunity Spectrum, the culture of a place plays a very crucial role in understanding the behavior and need of customers. The cultural environment of a place would influence the family and friends of a client. It is vital to understand the cultural factors to adapt marketing strategies. The demand varies from person to person (Bergek et al., 2013).

PEST Analysis of New Zealand

The consumer behaviour is affected largely by environmental factors, buyer’s factors, and the buyer’s response factors. Moreover, their personal characteristics of the consumer such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, occupation, lifestyle, attitudes, and beliefs also affect the Hotel’s management.

The recreational opportunity such as the combination of biological, social, managerial and physical conditions add value to a place. Natural qualities such as topography, landscape, vegetation, and scenery attract potential customers. A combination of all these qualities would provide better opportunities for recreation. The basic idea is that an organization must understand and fulfill the needs of its customers. However, the requirements may vary from person to person, and one must be careful about them. Therefore, it is imperative that the opportunities are well planned and well classified(Hays et al., 2013). Since places like New Zealand, Australia, or the United States are surrounded by natural beauty, it is easier to increase the recreational activities to boost tourism.

The Department of Conservation in New Zealand puts a great emphasis on recreational activities to promote tourism. The ROS is used as a tool to determine consumer behavior. Since the customer behavior affects the business of a hotel, it is imperative to lay emphasis on customer choice (Hopkins, 2014).

The site of Dawson Falls is very informative. The site has provision for instant online booking. It also has a phone number. Moreover, the management team can speak as many as five languages. This increases the diversity of the Lodge. The Lodge also has a Cafe and a restaurant. So visitors do not need to go anywhere else to take their food. The website has every possible detail along with photos. This would help the customers to have a prior view of the Lodge. The website also has a provision for entry in the guestbook. It has a link to its Facebook page. Hence, the site visitors can have a better insight. The website also gives a map of the region. Moreover, it has a gallery, directions to visit the place, booking provision which puts it an advantageous position. It also gives details about the available rooms and their rates.

For any booking related query, the customers can call the manager and resolve them. In the gallery section, one can find some pristine pictures of the region. In the “about us” section, the host has provided a brief description of the resort. There are three attractive locations near the hotel. They are the pioneer village, Envirofur (Possum factory), and Tawhiti Museum (Dawsonfallsmountainlodge,2016).

Consumer behaviour

An analysis of the internet site of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge shows that the resort focuses more on quality than cost. The Management always strives to improve the quality of the service and meet their needs. In addition to this, the analysis also reveals that the resort aims to impress its high end customers. The luxury and facilities have resulted in high cost of the rooms. Thus, it is almost impossible to people of middle classes to afford a room at the Lodge. Thus, one can say that the Lodge is missing its middle-income level target (Dawsonfallsmountainlodge, 2016).

The management, through its website, tries to send the message that the tourists can enjoy the rich heritage and natural beauty of the place while relaxing in “Swiss style suits.” People from all over the world can interact with each other and enjoy local cuisine and other delicacies with each other. The hotel ensures a home-like experience at the resort along with all the comforts and luxuries. It has been mentioned on the company website that “It is a privilege for our family to welcome you as guests in our home and to have the pleasure to share this beautiful part of our country.  Our hope, on your way down the mountain, is that you carry with you two of lives precious gifts – fond memories and new friends” (Dawsonfallsmountainlodge,2016).

The Taranaki region is situated in the wilderness of Egmont National Park. The mountain is a dense one with temperate rain forests. Since the area is densely covered up with forests, one can find a wide range of flora and fauna in this region. One can see a spectacular view of the conical volcanic shaped mountain from the boutique hotel. ROS encompasses seven elements which are naturalness, remoteness, access, visitor management, site management, visitor impacts, and social management (So et al., 2015). A combination of all the above mentioned factors would entice customers for a visit.  The hotel must gain economic, social, cultural, and health benefits to attract more and more customers.  The hotel can gain more tourists through indoor and outdoor recreational activities. It can give its customers their best time by giving them a secluded camping ground. It can provide options like strolling around the park, hand feeding farm animals, a peaceful breakfast with some Devonshire tea. Tourists can enjoy a tribal dance or some fun family activities. The hotel can also arrange for some events and shows in the evening. They can enjoy forest stories at night. People can participate in outdoor recreational activities like:

  • Sightseeing
  • Mountain biking and cycling
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Tramping
  • River rafting
  • Surfing
  • Boating
  • Skiing

The website of Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge

It is vital to motivate recreational activities because it has health, social, cultural, and economic benefits. Recreational activities help in providing a healthy and balanced life as they are a mode of exercise and fun. One may release his/her tension, stress, and anxiety and enjoy the bountiful nature. Moreover, recreational activities are a fun way to socialize and connect with friends, families, and even strangers. Economically, outdoor recreation helps to grow the business through commercialization of natural surroundings and attract both international and domestic tourists. Most of the New Zealanders find going for canoeing, boating, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities as a leisurely activity. Some people love peace and tranquillity and wish to be away from the dim, the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Hence, they choose places like the Taranaki region as their travel destination (Corte, 2016).

The Department of Conservation makes significant efforts to show and describe a range of outdoor activities through the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum. ROS visually illustrates the activity types and possible recreational opportunities within a particular region. It highlights the activities that are of fundamental importance. It assesses the area, degree of naturalness, and access to a particular field. 

To improve the business of the hotel, it is crucial to undertake measures and approaches. This would help the hotel to keep some fixed and intact customers. The Hotel might take the following ways to serve its visitors:

  • A warm welcome and a pickup and drop facility
  • Complimentary breakfast and lunch
  • Regional Sports and Recreation
  • Herbal Spa
  • Provision of wireless internet

The marketing strategy of the hotel must be planned to keep in mind the environmental, cultural, and social factors. One must also bear in mind the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the organization while developing a marketing strategic plan. The 5Ps of marketing must be considered while framing the strategic plan of the Boutique hotel:

The hotel rooms and recreational services are the goods offered by the hotel.

The Dawson Lodge Hotel operates in the Taranaki region of New Zealand.

The target audience comprises the domestic people who want to enjoy a secluded and relaxing time in the lap of nature. The hotel is also aiming at cross country tourists.

The hotel mostly uses social networking sites and its website for promotion. However, it can also use billboards, promotional events, and advertise through channels to attract more tourists.

There is a range of rooms in the hotel. The price of the room depends on upon the kind of room the customers choose. The lodge has honeymoon suites for couples. The cost for a honeymoon suite is $300. The hotel also has a Panorama Room package which costs $200.

Revenue management helps to predict the demand of the customers and helps in maximizing growth. Mostly, revenue management involves selling the right product to the right customer at the right moment. The past data of the hotel, target groups, customer satisfaction, customer segmentation, general sales- all must be considered to manage the revenue. The Hotel must decisions based on their clients, competition, distribution system, price, and events. The hotel must track consumer behaviour by keeping track of bookings on its website. This helps the hotel to get immediate feedback on price strategise. Moreover, the Hotel must create a budget. Digital marketers must know the need of rooms at a given cost. Loyalty marketers must also know the same to drive campaigns.

Possible targets for Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge through the website

Dawson Falls can provide holiday vouchers for its customers. The hotel can offer voucher starting from $100. Vouchers may be redeemed by the customers after a 5 night stay with family. Vouchers may be weekend gifts and would be the perfect gift for a getaway. Such a scheme is a long term promotion. These vouchers may be given to customers through SMS or mails. The Lodge can also give flight or bus vouchers. Such a voucher would offer flexibility to the customers and is cost effective as well. The Hotel can also give spa vouchers to the customers so that they enjoy to the fullest the next time they come.

The business of hotels like Dawson Falls Lodge is very different compared to other chain hotels. Since the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge is a boutique hotel, it must have a unique quality. Also, the resources of such a hotel are limited compared to other business chains. The corporate guidance enjoyed by chain hotels is also not available to boutique hotels. Hence, the resort must devise its marketing strategy depending on the taste of the customers.

Mass marketing is a promotional strategy in which a firm ignores the market segment differences and try to appeal the market or customers through a single approach. The message is broadcast to reach the largest number of people. Radio, television and newspaper media form the core tools of such a marketing strategy. This would increase the exposure of the product, that is, the hotel, to a larger number of audiences. As opposed to Niche marketing, the focus of mass marketing is low prices and high sales. The resort has the power to mass market its products. The popularity of the hotel is advantageous. When a person searches for hotels and resorts in New Zealand, Dawson Falls Lodge is one of the first to appear on the list. The hotel must provide a service that people would be excited to talk of. Mass marketing is an advantageous for people rely more on word-of-mouth from the customers who have already enjoyed the services of the hotel. Moreover, since Dawson Lodge is a boutique hotel, it is vital to highlight the elements that make it unique (Howison et al., 2015). 

Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge can use travel agencies as a selling tool. The travel agencies would find out new ways and help the lodge in attracting customers even during the lean season. Through the strategies of the firms, the hotel would be able to compete with other sellers more efficiently. In the recent years, the Lodge is focusing on niche marketing. Agencies help the hotel to develop special packages and discounts. Moreover, agencies also help to develop unique marketing message for tourists which mass market sellers would not be able to provide (Kabani, 2013).

Message of the website

Dawson Lodge must offer less complicated and easier online booking process with attractive packages. The Lodge can provide all its services and luxuries at a lower price to its premium customers. Moreover, to attract more customers, the Lodge can also facilitate lucrative discounts to tourists during offseason. Discounts help attract more customers. Also, it is a very effective way to improve customer loyalty. To keep fixed clients, the Hotel must give discounts to its prior clients. This would increase the visit of those customers. Whenever they come next time, they would make it sure to choose Dawson Lodge as their place to stay during the vacation.

An offer like a loyalty rewards program may be incorporated so that the customers can find a reason to come back to the hotel. A frequent visitor may be convinced to return again with a lucrative offer. The hotel can give one night of free stay after some stays. It can provide a night free stay after a stay of 10 or 12 nights. This would increase the longevity of the customer stay. The discounts offered by the hotel must be highlighted on popular sites.

Working in partnership is a very advantageous promotional strategy. Dawson Lodge can partner with a travel agency. A joint effort on the part of both the travel agency and the lodge would reduce promotional costs for both. Moreover, a joint venture would lead to more a broader appeal. Moreover, advertising in places of social gatherings like theaters, museums, clubs, and restaurants are a unique opportunity for promotion and partnership. This would cost very little to almost nothing. The Boutique hotel may act nimbly and quickly and must take full advantage of such collaborations. This would earn them revenue. In addition to this, Dawson Lodge works with the New Zealand government and has registered its name in the tourist guide map of Mt. Taranaki. The resort gives additional 5% discount to the customers who book their rooms using the promotional code provided on the local tourist map. 

Value-added promotions include instant win promotions, loyalty campaigns, sales promotion, trade promotions, and special packaging. Value-added promotions are always appreciated by sellers as well as clients. Various facilities and rewards to the customers facilitate an increase in the number of customers. Bonus points on arrival, complimentary breakfast, pick up and drop from the airport, gift shop discounts, room upgrade, local call service at a cheaper rate are some of the value-added promotions that the Resort engages itself. Platinum customers get additional benefits like a free car parking, herbal spa treatment, and champagne for special occasions, and free dinner. These approaches may be very fruitful for the hotel.

Recreational Opportunity Spectrum in the Taranaki region

In the modern tech world, everyone uses social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In such a scenario, such social media sites are of great help when it comes to promoting a business. Social media is an excellent option for marketing a hotel like Dawson Lodge Falls as people are bound to gather information about their destination before investing their hard earned money. Customers would surely do extensive research and choose their holiday spot after going through a detailed study. It is then a reasonable step to provide as much information as possible through social media sites apart from the company website. A person who has had an experience of the hotel would praise it. This is a marketing strategy without any extra expenditure. Along with making an appropriate website, the hotel must also develop creative social media pages to entice customers.

Facebook, in the modern generation, is a place where people discuss anything to everything. It is a platform which is used widely by people across the globe to chat and display pictures about vacations. They talk about pre as well as post-trip. The resort has developed its Facebook page where they share numerous photos and facts about the resort. They also upload pictures of the indoor and outdoor recreational activities they undertake. The cover photo of the hotel is an appropriate one. It has been chosen according to the location, uniqueness, and seasonality of the resort. The hotel also offers prizes and discounts for sharing their pictures on Facebook. The guests upload pictures of hotel rooms and the serene and calm environment that the hotel and the natural beauty provide. Moreover, Facebook marketing is very cost efficient and helps to give a glimpse of the vacation which the customers would be enjoying. The Resort also provides updates about the promotional discounts, offers and special packages on its Facebook page to attract more visitors (Thongmak, 2015).

With more than 500 million users, Instagram is becoming one of the most popular platforms which are used widely by people across the world. Instagram photos quickly touch the minds and hearts of the young generation. With time, even the older generations are using the site. Posting a simple picture of a hotel bed or breakfast is not what one should post on Instagram. Instead, one should post pictures of a warm welcome or the activities that the host has conducted. The hotel can post a photo along with a story to make it more attractive. The hotel uses hashtags very often. These hashtags are an Instagram staple and make posts more searchable on the platform. The hotel encourages it guests to use hashtags frequently (Thongmak, 2015)..

Social media can be utilized as a very effective tool in acclaiming fame. Social get-togethers and tweets would help to reach a wide range of audience. They would be able to build a healthy relationship with tech savvy and social savvy folks. It can host a social media event to sell out rooms. Moreover, people using social media sites would write reviews about the hotel. This would market the hotel without any added cost. It would help the Lodge to connect with more people in a very less time (Thongmak, 2015).

The hotel management sends Short Message Service or SMS and Whatsapp messages to its potential clients. In this way, the hotel management keeps it customers updated with the latest packages and offers. SMS is an effective way to reach the potential customers personally. Moreover, the Resort can directly reach the targeted audience. It is a better marketing approach than other means of marketing.

Conclusion

Through an analysis of the boutique hotel, it is quite evident that the hotel business is a successful one. The hotel, located at the foothills of Mount Taranaki is a very attractive spot for the tourists. The peaceful and tranquil surrounding of the place adds to the serenity and is beneficial for the hotel. The hotel has been a prosperous one because of its location. Though a boutique hotel has its issues, it has its advantages as well. The feature of being a boutique hotel must strengthen marketing instead of limit it. Customers want to see the quality of a hands-on boutique and the efforts it would take in managing hospitality. A detailed analysis of the factors affecting the hotel business has to lead to consider the recommendations mentioned below. The hotel has undertaken only social media as an advertising program. It must also take other forms of advertisements other than social media (Thompson et al., 2014). 

Technology is a very useful promotional tool for boutique business. Utilization of reputation management tools and social media dashboards must be such that the hotel benefits from them. The investment must be done wisely. Social media is a low cost solution for an effective marketing to reach a wider audience in a less time. The hotel must evaluate every possible solution and use the most efficient one.

 The environmental and political condition of the place is favorable for the hotel business. The natural environment is favorable for attracting tourists. It must be understood that the hotel gets a lot of opportunity for recreational activities. It must grab the opportunity and promote more recreational activities. It should work more with the New Zealand government and promote tourism. Recreational activities include a wide range of sports like mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking, skiing among others. The activities also include expedition around the natural space. However, the target and approach of the hotel are very limited. It must be improved and expanded.

From the above discussion, it is evident that running an organization is not an easy task. The management must develop appropriate policies to make the day to day operations smooth. The management must ensure a fair and equal treatment of all its guests. The marketing of an organization must not be limited to a certain number of channels. The recommendations may prove to be beneficial for a successful business. There is an enormous scope for the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge to expand its business and earn huge profits. Though the hotel has its strategies for promotion, it can use the following recommendations to improve its business.

One must keep in mind that the Resort is in the midst of nature and far from the din of city life. To ensure that the ecological balance does not get affected, the hotel must check overuse in consumption of electricity. The operational budget must be reduced. It must use minimum artificial regulators to ensure a natural experience. The hotel must use solar cells and panels to generate electricity. It can also use wind energy to generate electricity. It helps to save cost and reduce pollution in the ecological sphere. In fact, the use of artificial products must be the bare minimum.

The hotel can improve its website by incorporating live chat option. The direct chatting option would help the customers to interact with the customers directly. Moreover, the company can implement some packages so that the middle-class people can also enjoy the benefits of the hotel.

There are numerous social media sites on the web which a business firm can use as a promotional tool. But it must filter and monitor sites. It must choose only popular sites like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter as a promotional platform. To establish its presence in the social media, the hotel can consider making a blog. It can post creative articles to position the Lodge in a particular market or niche. The hotel can use software like Flip.to. It is an innovative platform to boost the hotel’s business and create brand awareness. Blogging would help the boutique hotel to spread the word across social media platforms about the upcoming offers or trips. It is an excellent way to expand news and establish communication between the management and customers. The hotel must share relevant and exciting content.

One of the biggest advantages of a boutique hotel is personalized services and customers’ experience. Knowing the guests personally would help the manager to figure out the interest of the customers. This personalized experience would help both the client and the hotel to connect with each other later. The information gained by the hotel is a precious one which can be used and implemented in the marketing plan. The hotel staff must listen to their customers and provide them whatever they wish to have. The guests must feel at ease and home. They must believe that are understood and being taken care of.

In the hotel industry, it is vital to project a friendly behavior towards the customers. For a service oriented industry, it is of utmost importance that the customers appreciate the services offered by a hotel. The management must take care of its employees along with its clients. The administration must take care of the needs of the employees and treat them fairly. The hotel management can conduct a communication training program for staff. This would improve the communicative faculty of the employees.

Statistics show that almost 80% of the customers belong to the corporate sector and account for the profitable customers. They are the ones from whom the hotel earns the maximum revenue. Thus, it is in the fittest of things to take special care of the gold and platinum customers. The hotel must strive to plan a better marketing strategy to reach this section of society.

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