Tag Archives: increasing hotel sales

What’s Usain Bolt’s relay baton got to do with customer loyalty?

Jamaican hero Usain Bolt was eventually given back the baton that he and his team-mates ran with to win the Olympic 4x100m men’s relay on Saturday night. It was quite understandable that he’d want to keep a trophy as a reminder of the record breaking race. 

Do any of your customers feel the same about their experiences with you? Are they freely given or unintentionally denied the opportunity to take away anything as a memento of their visit?

What will your customers remember most about their visit to you? What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others, and help build customer loyalty?

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; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; 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 prompt potential repeat business.

Getting personal

Identify the little finishing touches that you can give customers at the end of their visit that will leave them with that wow factor. This might be picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had with the customer that enables you to give them a personalised memento of their stay.

For example, they raved about a particular dessert so your chef has written out the recipe for them and where they can find the unusual ingredients (or even given them a sample to take home if that’s practical). They’ve been away on business and missed their wife’s birthday, so you assemble and gift wrap a selection of your luxurious toiletries for them to take home. They lost something on a day trip and you manage to source a replacement for them before they leave. They’ve been coveting a plant in your garden so you pot up a cutting for them and wrap it up for a safe journey home. The kids took a shine to a particular toy, game or book, so you pop it into bag for them to take home (or a least source where they can buy it from when they get home).

Be flexible

If they’d like to take their desert home in a goody bag because they are too full to enjoy it, then let them. They ask you about your luxurious robes; why not let them buy one at cost, and gift wrap into the bargain? They didn’t manage to finish that book they borrowed from your ‘library’.

Lasting memories

Give them something as a memento that’s good enough quality that they’ll want to keep it as well as relevant to your offer. It might not be something they’ve experienced this time around, but whet’s their appetite for their next visit.  Cheap and cheerful might hack it the budget market, but is this really how you want to be remembered?

Pass it on

Are your guests away from loved ones, and want to take a gift back home? What do you do, have or use that is unique or unusual and reflects your brand or identity? Homemade preserves, gifts made by a local artist or craftsman that reflect your location, branded toiletries…

Mementos and small gifts provide the perfect way to get your name out there to others. It’s far more subtle than asking someone for a referral, but in effect this is what a well targeted gift can do. This might be in the form of a tangible item, or could be a voucher or exclusive offer.

Even having information about what you do and what you offer to pass on to friends, family and colleagues with some sought after snippets of information or tips is better than nothing to pass on to others.

Show your appreciation

Mementos might provide a great opportunity for increasing sales, but don’t be so hell bent on this that you’re never prepared to give anything away. A small items as a gift is the perfect way to say thank you for their custom, and provides that element of surprise, and builds loyalty. Obviously this needs to be in line with your margins, but even something as small as a print out of the ingredients of their favourite cocktail or the recipe of a dish they asked about, printing out directions for their onward journey, or a kids’ car goodie bag or entertainment pack for the journey home.

And if nothing else, a simple – hand written if it’s practical – thank you note after their visit will keep you in mind for their next visit or when recommending to friends and family.  Remember to leave the door open for repeat business.

 


Out of the blue

I love it when I get a call out of the blue….

Last week I was contacted by someone who attended an in house workshop for one of my clients….. 4 years ago. She’s since move companies and is now in a position when she needs some support. Remembering how much she got from the workshop all that time ago, and having retained her notes from the workshop (which she says she still refers to from time to time) she contacted me to see if I could deliver what they needed.

The morale of this tale?

It really doesn’t matter what type of business you are in here are 3 easy lessons to getting more repeat business:

  • Wow your customers sufficiently the first time around that they remember you (even 4 years down the line)
  • Give them something as a memento that’s good enough quality that they’ll want to keep it (in this case a bound booklet of the workshop notes, but for your restaurant or hotel make it something relevant to what you offer and may suggest something they might want in the future).
  • Ensure they have your contact details so when the time comes they can get in touch.

I’d also add a 4th element to this if I had the option – to capture their details so you can keep in touch. Even though I didn’t do this 4 years’ ago, I certainly will be doing so now!

So if you want more repeat business from your hotel or restaurant, make sure you are doing all the above…….

To download my free report on how to get more repeat business for your restaurant register here getmorerestaurantsales.com/

 


Time for Tea?

I’m on a mission at the moment. To be able to get a decent cuppa when I go out!

After a lovely afternoon tea with friends at the Savoy last week it brought home to me just how much of an opportunity we are missing in hotels, restaurants and cafes. The top hotels have truly embraced this; look at what they are delivering at the Berkeley for example with their royal hats themed cakes, and local to me at Pennyhill Park in Surrey.

But if tea really is such a British institution couldn’t we be making more if it?

Nowadays we can get every possible permutation for coffee. But as a tea drinker few offer anything like the same selection of teas or put in anything like the same amount of effort.

According to the Tea Council tea outsells coffee by 2:1, but of this 86% is drunk at home. Is this because tea drinkers don’t trust hotels, restaurants and cafes to make a decent cuppa?

Do the numbers add up?

There’s certainly a commercial argument for getting tea right. The potential margins on a cup of tea are higher than coffee, and if you make an occasion of it this gives the opportunity for upselling a full afternoon tea package.

And unlike coffee you don’t need fancy and expensive equipment to make your perfect cup or pot of tea.

If 7/10 people drink at least one cup of tea a day (opposed to only 4/10 who drink coffee) there has to be an opportunity for any hostelry to be tapping into this market, surely?

Health

According to Bill Gorman of the Tea Council in his presentation at Caffe Culture last week, contrary to popular belief tea does not contain more caffeine than coffee, it actually contains about half the amount compared to instant coffee and a third of filter coffee. Tea is also widely known to be rich in a particular group of antioxidants called flavonoids; there is about eight times the amount of ‘anti-oxidant power’ in three cups of tea than there is in one apple.

More information can be found on the Tea Advisory Panel site. http://www.teaadvisorypanel.com/

And above all else tea is refreshing. So when we do get a summer, it’s a great way to rehydrate. Tea makes up 1/3 of what we drink. Whilst the black tea market has plateaued speciality tea is growing by 7%. The biggest competition comes from water and juices.

Snobbery

There’s a lot of snobbery around loose tea. Loose leaf can still be poor quality. Your customers will trust the big brands, which use a plucking standard (2 leaves and a bud) which produce approximately 4-5% fibre, whereas a cheaper economy tea might use 6-7 leaves and get 40-50% fibre, which makes for a pretty poor drink.

There a huge range of quality teas, both loose leaf and tea bags. I just love those sexy little pyramid bags such as Novus http://www.novustea.co.uk/ . Exploit the branding and if you use a quality product you are going to be more confident in charging a decent price. If you are just starting to expand you tea range do it gradually; judge your customers tastes, avoid wastage and build up your team’s knowledge gradually.

Presentation

Why do we hide our tea offer? You look at the menu and see all the coffees listed out and then hidden somewhere in the middle you’ll spot ‘Tea’. Give it prominence on your menu, and give some detail to educate your customers. At the Savoy the team menu (all 4 pages of it!) each tea had a description. Not only this, the waiters were able to describe each tea, and asked what sort of tea we liked so they could recommend. (At the time I thought this a bit ironic to have a Canadian and a German knowing way, way more about team than the 4 of us Brits put together!)

If you are in a setting where your tea is on view, make sure it is presented in a way that shows you give your tea some care. Leaving it sitting in a tatty cardboard box on top of a water boiler, getting dried out does little to enhance its appeal. You wouldn’t expect a customer to buy a can of Coke sat at an ambient temperature on the counter. Talk to your tea suppliers about display tins or stands.

Serving

Tea needs freshly drawn water (so there’s oxygen and nitrogen in the water apparently, but please don’t ask me about the science behind this!) For black tea the water needs to be boiling. This means that water from your coffee machine won’t be hot enough for a decent tea. On the other hand green tea will become bitter if made with boiling water, so let the temperature drop to 85°C.

Everyone likes their tea differently. So train your staff to ask how people like their tea. In our house my Earl Grey gets half the brewing time of hubby’s English Breakfast.

Give a perception of value by serving a pot of tea rather than just a cup or mug. Not only does it mean 2 cups (at no extra cost to you) it gives the customer the flexibility to brew their tea to their preferred strength.

If you serve tea in a cup or mug, provide somewhere to put the spent teabags – that’s accessible with one had (i.e. not a swing top bin – one hand holding the cup, one hand holding the bag, result – tea dribbles all over the bin top as you nudge the bin open with the tea bag!) Just a little thought not only makes it easier for your customer, but leaves less mess and probably saves a fortune on napkins into the bargain. Even with teapots provide somewhere for teabags in case your customer wants to stop the tea brewing any further.

Milk is the bane of my tea drinking experience. Following the principle that the water needs to be boiling to brew the tea, if you serve tea in the cup never put the milk in before the bag comes out. In Norway I was even presented with a cup of tea where the milk went in before the water and my tea bag was left on the side – with the best will in the world this will never make a decent cup of tea, however good your raw ingredients.

Use semi skimmed milk and preferably allow the customer to pour their own milk; however much or little you put in, it will never be right!

Educate

Educate your team on your tea offer and train them in the art of tea making. Use your suppliers for advice and to help with training. If they can’t or won’t do this find a supplier who will. It’s a great way to impress your customers and build trust. Not only will be a lot easier to upsell to other products, but goes a long way to establishing your reputation as a place to trust for a decent brew.

Make a feature of tea

Once you’ve mastered the art of making a decent cuppa, use this as a basis for tea themed offers and promotions. Introduce a tea of the month, ask your supplier to work with you on a tea tasting, look at your sandwich and cake offering to combine with your tea for the quintessential English afternoon tea, and promote this to improve footfall for otherwise quiet times of the day.

So in summary my 10 top tips for a perfect brew:

  1. Use quality tea and a recognisable brand
  2. Build up your range of teas gradually
  3. Review your other offers to make a special feature of afternoon tea
  4. Give your tea menu prominence and add descriptions
  5. Present your tea attractively
  6. Invest in some teapots (and hot water pots)
  7. Check the temperature of your hot water and ensure it is boiling for brewing black tea
  8. Give customers somewhere to put their teabags
  9. Use your tea supplier to educate your team on the properties and flavours for each of your teas, and
  10. Train your staff in how to make a decent cuppa

All this talk of tea has made me thirsty. Time to put the kettle on…

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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.


Who are your salesmen (and Women)? Part 3

Yesterday in Part 2,  it was all about gaining knowledge and skill to help the business overall,  today will be bringing together by confidence building with your staff.

 

Building Confidence

It’s all very well knowing what to do and say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope!  Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios.

In the UK we’ve had a recent TV series on front of house service hosted by Michel Roux. I recently watched an episode when the trainees were at Paul Heathcote’s restaurant, where they failed to sell the dishes of the day. The reason?  They lacked experience to spot the sales opportunities? Staff need to be able to identify all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to upsell – not just in their own department – but across all areas. For example: options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms; in the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side  orders, deserts, desert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks; in the bar – branded beers, snack items, pasties with their coffee, and so on. Ask staff to look at opportunities for each other’s departments too; they often spot opportunities those closest fail to see.

Staff need to be taught the importance of timing – for example selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full,  and go straight on to coffee; ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head up to bed or off home. Train staff to be perceptive to buying signals as well as knowing when the customer is simply not interested.

Whether an objection is perceived or real, staff need to know how to deal with these.  One awkward qu estion can shatter confidence, so train staff to get to spot and handle different situations. Help them to distinguish between a definite ‘No’, and a simple request for more information before buying.

The ability to build rapport will also help staff to sell.  Do they know how to demonstrate empathy and understanding of the customer’s
perspective, and how to gain trust by matching the response or offering to meet  the customer’s needs.

 

Tomorrow  is the final part will all be about reward and recognition for you staff.


Who are your salesmen (and Women)? Part 2

Yesterday in Part 1, we talked about how the scene is being set for the first impression of your business and also who contributes towards it,  today it is about increasing knowledge and skill base and how this will help contribute to improve your sales in all roles within your business.

 

Knowledge

In order to sell, upsell, or cross sell, as a minimum staff need to understand all the offers, products and services you provide. This goesbeyond just a laundry list; it needs to include some understanding of the features and of course the benefits from a guest’s/customer’s perspective. What’s included in a package, what are the different options, what are the recommendations or suggested combinations? A good understanding of your customers’ profile, needs and expectations will help this process.

When I’m working with some businesses I’m often somewhat alarmed by the lack of exposure staff have to other departments. Have any of your porters ever set foot in the spa, your receptionists ever sat in any of the meeting rooms, your chefs seen a bedroom, or your housekeepers walked around the grounds? How can staff ever hope to convey to guests all the
benefits of these facilities if they’d never had any first-hand experience? Experiencing them for themselves will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about them, and it will
certainly be easier to evoke an emotional a ppeal through vivid descriptions of taste, smell, feel, if they’ve been there themselves.

Of course, staff don’t need to be expert in everything, but it always helps if they ‘know a man who can’ so they can refer to or call on the appropriate person when needed to deal with a specific guest request or query.

Hospitality is an ever-changing business, and every day there will be specific and individual options, events, and situations. This is why it’s so important to have regular staff briefings so everyone knows what’s happening and when (see previous article “do
your staff know the score
”). This includes knowledge of what’s available, what are today’s high profit items to be promoted, and just as importantly, what’s not available.

 

Skills

Teach staff the mechanics of upselling. How do they ask open questions to identify what the customer wants; how to listen actively to customers’ requests or preferences; how to respond, and make suggestions, or offer alternatives that best meet the customers’ needs.  Give them examples of how they would describe each of your products and services.
Rather than a script, allow them to develop their own dialogue, one that comes naturally to them, rather than something they have to remember and run the risk of forgetting.

 

Tomorrow in Part 3, will about how to bring all the elements together which have been discussed today and what can be put in place to support this.


Who are your salesmen (and women)? – Part 1

Over the next few days you will read about how you can get the best from your staff and find out how they could improve sales within your business.

When I’m delivering customer service or sales training in hotels or hospitality businesses I often ask the question; “Who here has a responsibility for selling?” Obviously all the people with the word sales in their job title put their hands up, but they are usually the only ones. Surely everyone in your hotel or hospitality business will have an impact on sales, regardless of their role, and whether they are front or back of house.

 

First impressions

Guests’ and prospects’ first impressions will certainly  influence their level of spending. This is not just down to how the phone is answered or the welcome from reception on arrival, but it’s what your guests see and hear from behind the scenes. What response do they get from off-duty staff when they drive into your car park, or even down the high street close by. Wherever your staff are where they can be recognised as staff (because they are in uniform, or have already had dealings with your guests) they are bound to make an impression.

Picture the scene: you drive along the street approaching the hotel and you see two staff in uniform fooling around with loutish behaviour. You pull into the car park only to find that all the choice parking  spaces close to the hotel entrance are filled with (dirty) staff cars. You park at the far end of the car park and whilst struggling with your heavy suitcase you pass by another member of staff who does nothing to acknowledge you. Tucked away in a corner you see a little huddle of chefs and waiters puffing on their cigarettes. On entering the hotel a member of staff is leaving, but fails to hold the door for you, let alone greet you.

Check-in is swift but you’ve booked a standard room on a room only basis, and you are given no other information about any of the services or facilities that the hotel has to offer.

So within the space of about five minutes just how many opportunities have been lost to create a great first impression and create the right mind-set for your guests to want to spend their hard earned cash?

 

What contributes?

Your staff’s ability to encourage sales will be dependent on a number of factors:

  • Their behaviours, conduct and appearance
  • A knowledge of your customers’ needs and
    expectations, and of the products and services
  • Their skills and confidence in the sales process
  • Being given the right incentives, support and
    recognition

Behaviours

Let’s just reflect back on the scenario described earlier.  Do you think any of this behaviour was a deliberate ploy to undermine the sales process? No; it’s far more likely that these members of staff are completely oblivious to the potential impact of their behaviours. Communicating your expectations of staff’s behaviour, both on and off duty, should form part of their induction. Bring this to life by getting them to put themselves in the guests’ position and to identify what impression they give, and what guests might expect.

 

Part 2 tomorrow, will be about how knowledge and skills all help towards better sales within your business.

 


What’s so different about your hotel, then?

Unless you have a USP or some point of differentiation, what will make your hotel or restaurant stand out above all the rest in your area, or competing for the same market?

Some can rely on their location, or the building, or history. But what if your hotel or restauarnt has none of that?

One way of capturing the interests of your guest or prospects is to imagine your perfect guest sharing some of the same passions, values or interests as you. It’s a lot easier to sell something you have an interest in, you are passionate about or that’s important to you.  If you don’t love what you do, or feel it’s important, it will show. It will be very hard for you to deliver a good service if you are dealing with people with whom you share no values, interests or enthusiasm.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love my garden, and love visiting other gardens. So if it was my hotel an obvious target market would be other garden lovers. This would not only allow me to attract guests who share my interest and passions, it provides a theme, which can be built on. Such as – sharing knowledge of local historical or famous gardens, forming joint ventures with a local plant nursery, garden designer, gardening author, manufacturer of garden products, or market gardener (or all of these); designing menus planned around locally grown produce.

I could tie in with any specific gardening events happening locally, such as RHS flower shows, Gardeners’ Question Time, etc. Or host my own Gardeners’ Question Time calling upon local gardening celebrities. I might include talks from experts, transport and free entry to a number of local gardens of interest (maybe as exclusive guests of the owner). You get the idea……

 

To take another example, Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, where Nina and Gérard Bassett used Gérard’s knowledge and passion for wine – Gérard is the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA and, as of April 2010, World’s Best Sommelier. (And I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Nina and Gérard as part of my interview series  – How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.) As a result Hotel TerraVina attracts both hotel guests and restaurant diners who have an interest in wine, and Gérard is happy as he has an opportunity to cater for people who are interested in what he’s offering. By employing others who share this interest and knowledge Nina and Gérard are able to be consistent. And all this provides them with great PR opportunities.

But what if your theme is not so obvious?

Start by listing what you enjoy, what you are passionate about, and what’s important to you. Can these be incorporated into your business? Then consider your interests. What are the hobbies or pastimes you enjoy (or used to before you ran a hotel and had more free time!) What particular knowledge or expertise do you have? This could be nothing to do with the hotel industry, it might just be an interest or from a former career.

  • So it could be something you love: be that golf, shopping, dogs, cars, cooking – you’ll then know the types of things others enjoy who share  your love, so cater for these interest.
  • Something you value: such as supporting your local community, being in the countryside, or energy conservation, so give examples of the steps you’ve taken to contribute to these.
  •  Or it might be a particular hobby or expertise you can share with your guests: your knowledge of Italian cuisine and offering cookery lessons, your interest in classic cars, and attracting like minded enthusiasts and promoting classic car events in the area, or you might have a specific skill or talent to pass on to others.

Very few of us could honestly say there is nothing we can get excited or enthusiastic about, but I’d certainly recommend checking there is enough of a market there of others who share our passion before modelling our whole business around it!  Then we’ll want aim to recruit people who at least have a remote interest.

And once you have identified what it is that you have that others don’t, make sure you share this at every opportunity.

If your business reflects your interests, value or expertise the likelihood is you’ll attract other people who share them. Having a specific interest or expertise also makes it easier for you to find a forum or networking group where you can get your name known, as well as finding potential opportunities and prospective joint ventures.

Then tell and show your guests how you incorporate these into your business. Show your guests in as much detail as possible what you do that is different, so they can see all this before they choose you. It could be why they choose you.

It’s very easy to be enthusiastic and passionate about something that interests you, and this enthusiasm will translate into bookings if managed smartly. It means you are more likely to attract the type of guests with whom you can build up a good rapport and a better prospect of repeat business.

If your passion appeals to your perfect guests, it will make your job of marketing your hotel and making it unique so much easier.

Nina and Gérard Bassett were just two of my 10 guests on the interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.