You have probably never heard of Dave Brailsford. He doesn’t work in the hotel or marketing industry. He’s actually a British Knight with a psychology degree. So what can Mr. Brailsford teach the hotel marketing community?
The Big Idea and The Tour de France
He came up with an idea he called: “the aggregation of marginal gains” whereby his riders would try for a 1 percent margin for improvement in everything they do.
No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as Director of England’s cycling team, that’s what Brailsford set out to do. His approach was simple: He came up with an idea he called: “the aggregation of marginal gains” whereby his riders would try for a “1 percent margin for improvement in everything they do.”
He thought if they could improve lots of small things by just 1 percent, then those small gains might add up to remarkable improvement.
So his team started to optimize everything: nutrition, training regimens, equipment. But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there…
According to writer James Clear: “They searched for 1 percent improvements in subtler areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.”
Brailsford believed that if his team could successfully execute this strategy, his team might be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years. Instead, they won it in 2012 just three years after deploying his philosophy of marginal gains!
What can hotel marketers learn from Sir David’s approach?
As marketers, we control four main levers that determine our property’s success:
4. Placement (distribution)
Make a quick list of your opportunities for improvement within each of these categories. If you apply Brailsford’s theory to these four key areas (and the sub-elements within each), it’s easy to see how tiny improvements can lead to reasonably rapid ROI!
Rather than swinging for the fences with one big idea after another, ask yourself:
1. How can I create a 1% improvement in my product or service experience?
2. Can I incrementally improve pricing/revenue management?
3. What can I do to get 1% better conversion from my hotel booking engine?
4. Where can I find new audiences to extend my inventory/rates?
Improving by just 1% isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.
As Clear so eloquently puts it:
“…So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.”
Ultimately, Brailsford’s big idea of “aggregating marginal gains” reinforces what we already know, that nothing worthwhile comes easy. And those who work at getting better every day… usually win.
Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit Tambourine.com.