With the precipitous drop in air-related travel following the heartbreaking attacks of September 11, major hotels and resorts have seen an unprecedented number of meeting and group cancellations. That business will return, but it may take some time to match the numbers you had last year or the year before.

In the meantime, resort and destination spas have to revise their approach to marketing. If you own or manage a resort or destination spa, you most likely have been marketing to consumers on a national or regional level. They flew in to visit you, stayed in your accommodations, ate in your restaurants, and were pampered in your spa.

You need to help yourself. The smart will survive. The aggressive will prosper. The creative marketer will succeed.

This, and subsequent columns are designed to give you tips and ideas that will assist you in surviving, prospering and succeeding.

Our first tip:
LOOK AT YOUR LOCAL MARKET. These are people within driving distance of your Spa. They donâ?TMt have to get on an airplane to come visit. They can drive, take a train, or even a limousine.

Go after them. Create a special offer for your neighbors. The Disney themeparks, Disneyland and Disney World, one of the truly great traffic builders in the country, offer specials in the soft season to California and Florida residents. Try it in your state. Youâ?TMll be surprised at the response.

Reach out to the day spas that surround you. Offer them a special price if they arrange to bring in their spa customers for a 3 day, 2-night (or longer) package. Make it worth their while to be your packager. It will help both of you.

Our second tip:
HIT THE AIR WAVES. Many of you have relied on magazine advertising in the past. You have to move more quickly and be more agile now. Magazines, even your local city magazine, have at least a 60-day lead-time. Sixty days from now you could be faced with staff lay offs, closing treatment rooms, and be under tremendous financial pressure. The time to act is now. You need to look at advertising options that can bring in immediate response. That will bring in customers this weekend.

Radio and TV (both cable and broadcast) are the options you should be looking at very closely. Radio especially. It has replaced the newspaper at this countryâ?TMs retail medium. Just look at where your local supermarket advertises. Radio has replaced the reliance on the food pages for most sophisticated grocery retailers. In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times often runs its Wednesday food section with no grocery chain advertising. The Department stores still run newspaper ads on a daily basis. But even they have cut back on newspaper ads in favor of radio and TV.

Radio and TV outlets will work with you. They have the same problems you do. You both have a perishable commodity. You have rooms and treatment services that when not used cannot be saved for another day. They have commercial airtime that when unsold cannot be sold at a later date. They also can provide promotional announcements that reinforce your commercial messages.

It is time to sit down with your local media and make a deal. They can help you develop a sound advertising and marketing plan that reaches your target audience. Together you can Reach Out for Success.

Saul Fruchthendler ([email protected]), President and CEO of Red Mountain Group,LLC, a media services company, and Judy Colbert ([email protected]), President of Tuff Turtle Publishing, LLC, co-authored Big Bang Marketing for Spas: SeeYour Profits Explode with these Easy and Effective Advertising and Publicity Ideas.