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.