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

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