Tag Archives: Hotel Marketing

What we can do to get kids hooked to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry

 

OK, I’m hooked

If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.

The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.

Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).

So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports? 

One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?

There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.

But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.

We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.

Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the jobs.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.

Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

 


Educate and build credibility through your mailing list

Depending on the nature of your target market you could use your mailing list to engage with your customers by sharing your knowledge. For example:
Ask your head chef to provide a recipe of the month, tips on baking the perfect meringue or crusty bread, a buyers’ guide to choosing fresh fish recipe ideas based on what is in season right now, or anything related to your current menu.

  • If you are a park or garden, ask your gardening team to share seasonal tips.
  • If you have a golf course you might share tips on the latest equipment or techniques to hone their swing.
  • If you have a spa, ask your spa team to share information on relaxation techniques, aromatherapy remedies, tips for the perfect pedicure, skin car regimes, etc.
  • If you are an historical site share some of your story on how you preserve special features.
  • Ask housekeeping for tips on stain removal, cleaning household items such as glass, leather, silk etc. or ‘the day in the life of’.
  • If you are a wedding venue ask any of your joint venture partners or preferred suppliers such as florist, photographer, limousines, suit hire for their top tips.

What’s happening

Last but not least keeping in touch with your customers is an ideal opportunity to keep them up to date with what’s going on. Yes, this will include forthcoming events and promotions that they may be interested in, but it’s not just about this. No one wants to be bombarded with sell, sell, sell emails. You’ll soon get unsubscribes from your list if you do this. Create a sense of intrigue and curiosity; tell them about your plans, changes you’re making (e.g. progress reports on refurbishments), what’s new (e.g. your new menu, new toiletries, treatments or service, refurbishments, celebrity involvement). You then have a reason to invite them back or make an offer.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what they’ve missed; what are your success stories.

If you are an education centre share some of the projects you’ve been working on with schools. If your target market are families with young children, tell them about activities children in enjoy (with plenty of pictures too, to show them having a good time with their favourite TV or Book character!)  Historical site may cover recent discoveries. These also provide a great opportunity to share photos and testimonials, which all helps build credibility.

Maybe they missed it this time, but now they can see for themselves what they’ve missed out on it will be a lot easier to get their attention next time.

So don’t leave a return visit or referral to chance. Ensure you’re keeping yourself in your customers’ minds; keep in touch.

You can find more on building customer relationships in the Hotel Success Handbook


Build rapport and build a sense of anticipation with your customers

Before your customers arrive, start to build the relationship and get your customers excited about their visit. Let them know in advance what they can be doing the make the best of their time with you. Offer your help in booking restaurants, (yours or JV partners’), entertainment, outings, taxis, accommodation, attractions. etc. Anything that will make their stay or visit with you memorable.

Introduce your future customers to the team; let your head chef describe the menu or his/her signature dish, personal recommendations from one of your local team members of places to see or things to do, your gardener to talk about what’s in bloom,  your events team about any special entertainment. Anything that will whet their appetite.

Pass on useful (and most importantly up to date) information that will enable a smooth journey: forewarn of expected traffic delays, what’s the quickest and/or cheapest way to get from the airport or railway station, personalised driving directions from their home post code.

Act like a travel company and give tips on what to bring, and what you provide, so they don’t have to overload their suitcase or cram the car with unnecessary toiletries, clothing, sports’ gear or travel books.

Say thank you

The quickest and easiest way to create an impression and get remembered by your customers after their visit is to send a thank you note. A handwritten and personalised card or note will win hands down over and above an automated email.

Show you appreciate their custom, and show you care. Make reference to the rest of  their day out, their holiday, onward journey or something they mentioned during their stay. And one of the easiest ways to show your appreciation is with a small gift of some kind. This might be an exclusive offer or deal for them or a friend, a memento for them to keep or pass on, or some useful snippets of relevant information or tips.

A follow up thank you is also a great opportunity to get feedback too. If you know they enjoyed their visit prompt them to write a review in TripAdvisor or Google Reviews (make it easy for them by providing a link). Ask for direct feedback too; what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to enhance their stay next time.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to start to build the customer relationship before they have even become a customer.


Building a customer mailing list

Your customer mailing list is one of the most valuable assets of your hotel or restaurant.

I am amazed how few hotels and restaurants use e-mail marketing. It’s never too late to start building a database, and e-mail marketing is a great way to continue to build the relationship with your customers and keep you in their mind when the time comes for a return visit or when asked to make a recommendation.
Without a list, every time you want to get something in front of your customers or prospects you have to start all over again. Your list gives you the opportunity to tell every existing and potential customer about promotions, seasonal events and any other newsworthy information relevant to your target market.
The more detail you have on people who are interested in what you offer, the more often you can return to them with additional offers that are tailored to them. And the more often you do this, the more likely it is that this will result in business.

Offer incentives to build your list

To build your list, you may need to set up incentives for people to fill in a physical form or coupon, or sign up online and share their details. Some ideas might be:

  • Discounts or vouchers (ensuring they are attractive offers,  but include time limits and offers that won’t leave you out of pocket once redeemed)
  • Free information such as a pdf downloadable guide to something of relevance and of interest to your target market, your business or your local area. For example, recipes for your popular dishes, aromatherapy guide related to your spa, golfing tips if you have a golf course, 101 things to do with the kids during your stay….. You get the picture
  • Prize draws or competitions, with relevant prizes from your own products or services, or those of your joint venture partners
  • Access to exclusive offers or ‘members only’ offers

Whatever the incentive it needs to be something that is of value and highly desirable to your target audience; something that will compel them to fill out the form and part with their details.

Where to find contacts

There are three key sources of names:

Existing customers: Simply ask them to leave their business card, or fill out a blank card which enables those who’d rather not give their business details to fill in their personal contact details. Present this with their bill so it gets their attention.
You may want to combine data gathering with gaining feedback on your customers’ stay or visit at the same time.

Collecting phone numbers at the time of booking will allow you to make follow up calls, and having a mobile number allows you to confirm reservations.

Online: This may be existing customers, but more likely will be for people in response to an advert or people who have just stumbled on your website.  You’ll need an ‘opt in’ or ‘landing’ page to capture their details.

As there is no relationship yet with these people you need a really enticing offer to encourage people to share their details. Remember, some of these may be those who may not want to buy right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be potential customers in future.

In order to track the effectiveness of your marketing activities it’s useful to be able to identify the source of the contact. So you may need to include a ‘how did you hear of us?’ field, unless you have dedicated urls for different adverts or press mentions to help you keep track.

Your joint venture partners: Ask your JV’s to give their customers your discount vouchers or an invitation to receive your exclusive offers. Then ask customers to complete their details in order to redeem them with you.

Never compromise your contacts’ trust by giving or selling your list to anyone else; if a joint venture partner wants to offer something to your contacts do it through you, and vice versa.

You could in theory use contact information taken from customers’ registration details, but use this sparingly and only for a follow up and very relevant offers. You’re legally entitled to contact your own customers with future offers, but always seek permission to use customers’ details for any marketing activity. And of course if any customer asks not to be contacted at any time, you must respect this, and record their preference on your database.

Whichever way you capture prospects’ and customers’ contact information, under the Data Protection Act 1998 you must have permission to communicate with them. The Information Commissioner’s Office website (www.ico.gov.uk) shows what you need to do.

What information you really need

The more information you have the better in order to tailor your mailings to suit the needs of your customer. Asking for a lot of personal detail up front is, however, not very practical (and likely to be very off putting) so it’s better to gather it over time.

What you gather first off will depend on how you want to contact them, so if emailing is your preferred option start with just their name and email address. But if knowing who is local and who is not is important, you may want to gather mailing addresses too. This opens up the opportunity for a physical mailing, which although more expensive is certainly more eye catching than an email and may be a better match for your audience.

So balance what you ideally need with what is reasonable for people to share with you.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what to do with your list.


Start planning next Christmas now

Your restaurant or hotel marketing for next Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.  What better way to promote your Christmas parties than to show people having fun, and your hotel or restaurant in all its Christmas splendour?

Take photos of the bar, restaurant and reception while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out! Take shots from different angles of the restaurant laid up for dinner. ‘Snap shots’ may be OK as small images for your website, but if want to use these as bigger images, or for printed material, use a professional photographer to take some quality pictures. And include some pictures of the food. Although this is easier to ‘stage’ at a later date, if you can get some shots now, so much the better.

Get some video footage of parties – best when guests have just arrived, and had time to relax with their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. Always check with guests that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site. Ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing.

Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene.

Keep tabs on your costs throughout to ensure you have an accurate picture of your profit margins.  This includes post costing for each event, to take account of wastage.

Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year. Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas. Then make sure you record all this where you can find it easily when it comes to planning next year!

Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season.


Give your guests a reason to come to you

There was a time when I went on holiday that I was quite happy to sit on the beach and read my book for the duration. I know there are still many who are quite happy to do the same, but I’ve become a bit more action-oriented in my travels. Not only do I want to know what activities and attractions I’ll find at a given destination, but I plan my trip accordingly. And I’m not just talking leisure here; even when I go away on business I like to know they’ll be something to do in my free time.

When marketing your hotel letting guests know what there is to do at and around your hotel is a great way to stand out amongst your competition, particularly if it is something they won’t get elsewhere. And even if what is on offer local to you isn’t unique to your hotel, what will make you stand out is that you’re the one talking about these things (and might also help with your search engine optimisation).

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing my 7 top tips for making the best of your hotel’s activities as a marketing tool…………

 

1 What to talk about when marketing your hotel

Don’t leave it chance that your prospective guests will know about what’s on offer in and around your hotel; act like a tourist office. Inform guests of what there is to do before they arrive, rather than relying on the leaflets the tourist office provides for you. What are the things available all year round, such as attractions, theme parks and museums, historical sites, etc. What festivals, fares and events take place in your area? Maybe these already attract a lot of business to your hotel, in which case you may want to mention this to encourage people to book early. What about the great outdoors; scenery, walks, gardens, wildlife, anything that may be of interest to your target market?

Build a relationship with your local tourist office to ensure you’re able to keep up to date with what’s happening and when. But also talk about the things they won’t find in the guide books and tourist literature. The little things that can make someone’s stay at your hotel that little bit different or special.

Don’t forget to tell your guests about your hotel’s own in-house entertainment. If you’re in an area or a climate where guests will want to spend a lot of time in the hotel let them know what you have to keep them entertained so they’re not left wondering if they’ll be kicking their heals during the long dark evenings or wet weather.


Facebook – Fad, fan or fear

To what extent have you embraced social media to help market your hotel or restaurant? Are you already a fan of Facebook or do you still think it’s just as fad, or do you fear it.

I have to confess that I’ve been in the last category; I’m fine with LinkedIn and Twitter but up till now just couldn’t get my head round Facebook. Maybe I was a bit sceptical about the value of Facebook as a way to market a hotel or hospitality business.

After attending a webinar earlier this week with Barry Chandler, The Bar Blogger, looking at Facebook specifically for hospitality businesses I’ve been convinced!

Here are just 10 of the tips I picked up on how to use Facebook to help market your hotel or restaurant

  1. You need a Facebook page (opposed to a profile or group) as you can:
    – Ask people to like your page
    – Customise your page
    – Add contact forms
    – Not be limited to the number of fans (with a Facebook profile your limit is 5000)
  2. Choose your name carefully once set up you can’t ever rename your page
  3. Customise your URL to match your business name to make it easier for people to find you
  4. On the welcome tab encourage people to click your like button by giving them some incentive in the same way you would be getting people to sign up for your newsletter
  5. Use the page to capture contact details
  6. Add menu tabs to give more details on specific themes of interest such as your menu
  7. Offer exclusive deals or behind-the-scenes content for your Facebook fans to encourage them to interact
  8. Encourage people to take pictures and add your tag, so all their friends find their way back to your Facebook page
  9. Interact with your fans to get feedback and build the relationship e.g. asking them to vote their preferences
  10. Remember to track how people find you so you know whether or not your Facebook (or any other marketing) activity is working for you

How to Reward Referrals for your Hotel or Restaurant

As an absolute minimum, ensure that you thank anyone who makes referrals for your hotel or restaurant to encourage them to continue to do so in future. Don’t wait to see if this actually leads to business, as what you are looking to reward is the referral process. The more referrals you have the greater the likelihood of gaining new guests.

Consider what other tangible incentives you might give that are of high value to the person making the referral, but don’t cost you the earth. Naturally you’ll want to ensure that the cost of the incentive does not outweigh the life time value of the referral.  But bear in mind what you give as a thank you may also be a way of adding to the life time value of the person making the referral too.

The nature of this incentive will obviously depend on where the referral came from.

For hotel guests or restaurant customers they might include such things as a gift, discount off their next meal, a room upgrade, an invitation to an exclusive event. Perhaps team up with one of your joint venture partners; this could be services or maybe branded products. A win–win–win for you, your joint venture partner and the customer.

For corporate users make the incentive something your guest can benefit from personally. It’s little incentive for them if it is something they’d normally put though business expenses. So can you offer something as a thank you which will encourage them to come back on a personal visit and maybe bring their family and friends too?

For suppliers, joint venture partners or other local businesses you may want to look at alternate ways to say thank you. This might be an opportunity to get in front of some of your other customers or guests through promotional activities or hosting joint special events. Talk to them directly to see how you can return the favour. Just by asking the question will in itself show you appreciate the referral.

Encourage your staff too to make referrals. Let them show they are proud of where they work. The reward obviously needs to reflect the value of the business; recommending your restaurant to a friend doesn’t warrant the same level of recognition as inviting a friend or relative for a wedding show round and subsequent wedding booking.

What might appeal to them may be dependent on the profile of your team. A cash bonus might work for some, but is soon forgotten whereas a couple of tickets for a show or concert, or a night in a sister hotel or meal with a JV partner will be far more memorable – and visible to other team members too to encourage the same from them.

Once you have a referral system in place, keep track of where and how you’re getting successful referrals. This will enable you to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you can continue to refine the process.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Make the referral process easy for your hotel or restaurant customers

For hotel guests or restaurant diners the sooner you ask for referrals after they have stayed or visited, the better. This is the time they are likely to be most positive about what you delivered.

The way you ask for referrals is key. If you ask: “Do you know anyone who might be interested in receiving details of our promotions?” you are likely to get  “No” or at best “I’ll think about it.”

But if you ask a specific question, for example:

Who else do you know who is celebrating [their birthday, wedding anniversary, retirement …] in the next few months and may be interested in our [all-inclusive weekend breaks, wine promotion…]?

Creating a simple referral form that you include with the bill can encourage existing guests to make referrals. Make this prominent, and offer incentives for them to give you names.

Maintain relationships with your customers, even if the likelihood of more business with them is limited. They are more likely to refer you to friends, colleagues or others if they have had recent communication from you. Even if a guest only stays with you once they have a network of friends and colleagues who may also be your ideal guests. The lifetime value of one guest can be their connections to other guests, too.

On Monday we’ll go on to look at what you can do the reward those who give you referrals to encourage them to do it again, and again.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/