Monthly Archives: August 2011

How to market a restaurant or hotel through partnerships and joint ventures

Do you know other businesses who already work with your ideal guests? If so, why not set up a joint venture to help market your restaurant or hotel? A joint venture is when you team up or collaborate with another business or an individual to either share resources or help each other out with a promotion or service you can’t offer yourself. Joint ventures provide an ideal opportunity for some low-cost marketing.

To identify prospective joint ventures, think about other businesses that will have lists of people you would like to attract as customers. These don’t have to be competitors (although many businesses do form joint ventures with their competitors quite successfully). They might be suppliers, clubs or organisations who deal with your ideal guests or customers; other businesses who sell complementary services such as local entertainment or attractions; or just fit the profile of your guests by age or location.

Joint ventures may take on many forms. The easiest joint venture is sharing your respective customer and prospect lists. You write to your entire list promoting the joint venture business, and they do the same to their list promoting you.

BUT don’t just give your list to your joint venture partner. There are two reasons for this. You must be the one writing to your list, to respect the privacy of those on it. And your prospects and guests’ trust is in you, not your partner, so when they see something coming from you the message has more credibility and impact. And vice versa for your partner’s list. So for both privacy and effectiveness, only ever write to your own list.

Joint ventures might also be a partnership in a project. A popular option might be hosting a particular event jointly with one of your suppliers, e.g. a wine lovers’ dinner, where your wine supplier provides promotional material and maybe even some of the wine in return for a speaking spot on the night. A win–win all round.

Other joint ventures may be more long-term. For example, if you are close to a particular attraction, you may be able to advertise in their promotional material and on their website (and vice versa) and for each of you to offer or give away vouchers for a discount on entry to the venue, while they give out promotional offers for your hotel. This is a way of third-party endorsement and your joint venture partner will feel a lot happier about doing this if they have had first-hand experience of what you offer, so don’t be afraid to give them a taster.

Don’t limit yourself to entertainment or leisure businesses, though. Think about what businesses you trade with. What businesses do your guests or prospects use? (either locally, in person or virtually, online.)

This type of arrangement may even have further spin-offs, such as you providing catering, accommodation or support for big events. For example, your local tennis club runs a national tournament and recommends your hotel for accommodation (at a preferential rate), and holds its prize giving dinner at the hotel. On the other hand, if the attraction in question is something to be sought after, this may be a good selling feature for your hotel or restaurant if you’re in a position to secure (maybe VIP) entry or tickets in advance.

Becoming an ‘expert’ opens up other opportunities for joint ventures – where do other people interested in your subject go? Think about the golf club, hobby magazine subscribers, spa product suppliers, and so on.


If you missed last week’s tele seminar on  The 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business you can still download the recording here

Continue to build the relationship after your hotel guests or restaurant diners have left

Show you appreciate your hotel guests’ or restaurant diners’custom; a little thank you note of some description goes a long way, even better if it is personalised in some way; hand written better still. This is an ideal time to ask for feedback, testimonials for reviews too.

Keep in touch. Tell your customers what you are doing. What have you done as a result of customer feedback, what’s new, what awards or accolades have you received.

Promote events. Let your customers know what you’ve got coming up in the future. Even if they won’t be there to take advantage of it, it may prompt a return visit or they may pass the details on to others who might be interested in the event.

Help to build rapport by taking the opportunity to meet with your customers’ or prospects’ in other environments, too. And remember that a lot of networking is done online today, so consider how to use social media to help you build your relationship with your customers.

Reward loyalty. The very least you can do is to remember your regular customers. Capture their details and preferences – do they like a particular room, prefer a specific table or need a special pillow? Remembering these small details can make your customer feel valued.

Why not help your customers to celebrate? Note their birthdays and anniversaries on your database, and then invite them to the hotel or restaurant to receive their special gift or offer, e.g. invite wedding couples back for their first (and subsequent) anniversary, invite customers to celebrate their birthday and get a cake or free bottle of bubbly, invite businesses to celebrate any awards, keep a note of special anniversaries for local businesses – their AGM, awards dinners, anniversary of their launch. People don’t normally celebrate alone, so these provide ideal opportunities to bring in new customers.

Make your offers worthwhile to encourage people to bring their friends or colleagues and make up a big party. Receiving a birthday card with a voucher – or an invitation to celebrate a forthcoming anniversary – is a pleasant surprise, and adds a very personal touch. If you can hand write these, even better (it can make a huge difference and really demonstrate your interest in your customer).

Building your customer relationship is an on going process, and there’s no denying it takes a bit of effort, but effort that will reward you with more business, and it’s still one of the simplest ways to market a hotel.

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business on this complimentary tele seminar

Using the guest or customer relationship to build rapport and trust

Making personal contact with your hotel guests or restaurant customers builds rapport and trust. This starts with being visible – not just your staff, but some managers’ presence too. But being visible is only half the story. What are you doing to reflect and convey your values and attitude to customers and staff? The way you interact with your staff and participate in the operation gets noticed.

Talking to your customers directly is by far the best way to get feedback. They may tell you things that they wouldn’t feed back to your staff. Get to know your customers personally – their likes and dislikes, their routine, their suggestions, their network – all this not only builds rapport, but makes it a lot easier to upsell and tailor your offers to your market.

Every bit of feedback you get from your customers is valuable to you, whether it’s positive or negative and whether you agree with it or not. Take on board the good and the bad. If you don’t agree with the feedback, find out (tactfully) what has led to their perception, as this may lead to the root of the problem. If you don’t know what disappoints customers, you can’t improve on it, so make sure you are prepared to listen to, and take on board any thoughts on what lets you down, so you can learn from this and address it. Show them that you appreciate the feedback. Then demonstrate you’ve acted on it if relevant.

Be flexible. You can’t bow to every request a customer ever makes. But don’t be so bound by the rules that any request is met with a hostile ‘jobsworth’ attitude!

If you cannot meet your customers’ initial requests, look at offering an alternative. Catering for one off special needs is the sort of attention to detail that builds you loyalty and referrals.

What is there that makes your hotel, restaurant or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others? This shows your appreciation of their business and well as acting as a memento and reinforces your relationship (as well as potentially an opportunity for additional sales). Could you offer any of the following either as a gift or as additional sales? Convert your renowned menu or signature dishes into a recipe book, package your hand-made petit fours into a gift box to take home; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; sell your homemade bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys; sell luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries. A win-win, the guest has something special to take home and you get an opportunity to ensure they remember you long after they’ve left (and maybe an upselling opportunity too!)

Tomorrow we’ll discuss how to continue to build the guest relationship even once they’ve left you, to set the wheels in motion for repeat business and referrals – one of the easiest ways to market a hotel.

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business on this complimentary tele seminar

Are you letting new hotel business opportunities slip through your fingers?

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting new business

  • Do you struggle to get new business?
  • Are you unsure what marketing you should be doing and want to know how to make your marketing budget go further?
  • Do your guests seem to have a good time, but you still don’t get much repeat business?
  • Are you forever chasing your tail and never have time to devote to growing the business?
  • Are you fed up with other hotels under cutting you and forcing you to reduce your rates?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions there’s still time ot join me on my complimentary call on Tuesday 23rd August.

On this free call you’ll discover:

  • The 4 most common mistakes hoteliers make when trying to gain new business
  • The 3 ways hoteliers let repeat business slip through their fingers
  • How to spot if you are making these mistakes and what to do to rectify them.
  • Plus I’ll be revealing my BRAND NEW programme created specifically for owners and managers of small independent hotels who want to give their hotel a competitive edge

To learn more and to register click here

What you can do before hotel guests arrive to build the relationship

Building the guest relationship starts before your hotel guests arrive. Have you ever made a reservation somewhere and then suffered from ‘buyer’s remorse’ as you then get a bad feeling about the venue?

If taking bookings in person ask questions about their visit that might help you offer a more personal service. What is the purpose of their visit, what time will they be arriving, have they been before, how will they be travelling, do they have any special requirements for their room, dietary, access, etc?  Anticipate their needs for the type of event. If a restaurant booking for a birthday party, would they like a cake or champagne, if a training event would they like bacon sandwiches on arrival, if a leisure break would they like reservations made for local events?

Give a great welcome and first impression by confirming their booking in a personalised email. Then keep in contact providing information relevant for the nature of their visit. Act like a tourist office and send details of the events and activities happening locally during their stay so they can plan ahead. Offer to make dinner, theatre or event reservations for them. Send them directions and journey times from their home or office postcode to reach you (this also helps reduce the risk of stressed late arrivals).

Nearer the arrival time or day send through a welcome, and any hot off the press information e.g. advise them of any traffic problems by email or text. Get them looking forward to their visit by telling them of tonight’s special menu items or today’s activities.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to continue to build on this relationship once your guest arrives.

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business on this complimentary tele seminar

Building the guest relationship

My hair dresser does it, the vet does it and even my supermarket does it. What am I talking about? They are all great at building a relationship with me, their customer.

Why is this important? It makes me feel valued, so builds loyalty, it keeps them in my mind so I’m more likely to come back or refer others to them, and it keeps me informed of things that might interest me, such as special offers or promotions. It makes the difference between simply knowing of them to liking them and most importantly trusting them, and ultimately more of my business.

So how it is that so few hotels, meeting venues or restaurants follow this example? Of the many places I visit whether for business or pleasure few really capitalise on all the opportunities that exist to build the customer relationship. If you want to know how to market a hotel this is probably one of the simplest tactics you can use to market a hotel.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to get the relationship started before they even arrive.

Learn the 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business on this complimentary tele seminar

Offer your guests other products and services

Be innovative in identifying other items to offer to your guests – before, during and after their stay, that might help make their stay more enjoyable or memorable.

What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique; what do guests ask about or compliment you on, that they might want to take home or share with others? Could you offer any of the following to add a personal touch?

  • If you often get asked about local events, or things to do, can you send through some literature with confirmation of their booking, with relevant links
  • If you are difficult to find or off the beaten track, can you email directions from Google maps or AA route finder taken from their own postcode to the hotel, (or details of how to get from airports or station if this is more relevant to your target market)
  • If they ask for recipes or comment on your menus, convert your signature dishes into a recipe book or leaflet
  • If they love your hand-made petit fours, package them up into a gift box to take home
  • If you’re a popular venue for celebrating special occasions, offer hand-tied flower bouquets and birthday or celebration cakes
  • If your guests enjoy your home made bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys, offer them for sale to take home at the end of their stay
  • Offer your finest ingredients as an off sale – cheese, meat, eggs, etc., if there is something special about them – locally sourced, organic, etc.
  • If your guests love your luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries, offer them for sale (and reduce the temptation to steal them)
  • Do you get asked about your unusual crockery? Why not get in more stocks and sell that or make arrangements with your suppliers for direct home delivery?


All these provide that personal touch, and a great talking point from which referrals may well flow. Not to mention a potential source of additional sales.

So think ahead, listen to your customers and pre-empt or respond to their needs. Even if you and you team know it’s all part of your ‘standard’ offer, your guests will appreciate the extra lengths you go to for them to enjoy their stay.

For more articles and resources

Cater for special diets and needs in your hotel or restaurant

Catering for special diets and needs is the sort of attention to detail that builds you loyalty and referrals.

Let your guests know in advance if you can provide special diets or meals. Plan ahead for the huge numbers who have some kind of allergy or intolerance to certain foods. If you don’t cater for them, it’s not just their custom you will lose – their whole party will probably end up going somewhere else. You just have to look at any of the big supermarkets and their range of ‘free from’ products to recognise there is a huge market here.

For more articles and resources