By Dorothy Dowling, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Best Western International

It seems hardly a day goes by without some grim economic statistic making headlines, and sending tremors throughout the business community, including the hospitality sector. Their confidence clearly shaken by a number of events ? from declining home values to skyrocketing food and gas prices ? consumers are cutting back across the board and hospitality is feeling the effects.

What we?re getting is a rather rude reminder that the economy is, after all, cyclical in nature. I?ve been a marketer long enough to have seen my fair share of ups and downs. When a rising economic tide is lifting all boats, we all look like heroes. However, I?m a firm believer that a slackening economy offers an unequalled opportunity for really smart, tenacious marketers to show what they?re made of.

In a tough environment like the one we now confront, many business organizations typically retrench and slash their marketing budgets. While this may seem like a sensible short-term solution, it also has the potential to cripple a business for the long term by seriously undermining its ability to connect with consumers, strengthen its brand image and ultimately grow share. The fact is, companies that stick to their guns and continue to market themselves despite slow times are always among the first to bounce back in a rebounding economy.

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