Tag Archives: USP

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.


Become your hotel’s resident ‘expert’ to increase sales

One way of really capitalising on your interests and capturing the interest of your guests or prospects is to become an ‘expert’ in something that they (and you) are interested in.

Becoming an expert gives your hotel something that will make you stand out from everyone else. It also 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. It’s very easy to be enthusiastic and passionate about something that interests you, and this enthusiasm will translate into bookings if managed smartly.

An expert topic gives you the opportunity to get noticed by writing articles, blog posts, guidebooks or maybe even organising clubs or seminars in your hotel relevant to the topic. Any of these expert-related actions can form great PR and an opportunity to attract the attention of your prospects, and are also a fantastic way to help you build your prospect list. They enquire or request information and in return you get their contact details.

Here are a few examples of how you can use your expertise to get guests:

  • If you have a spa, you could write articles about different treatments and therapies, and put together your own small guide.
  • If your hotel is popular with golfers, you could include tips from a golf pro, blog about golf tournaments, or review local courses.
  • If you have an interest in classic cars, you might want to promote classic car events in the area, write about the events, and maybe even chart your progress with your own car if you have one.
  • If you have a particularly extensive or unusual wine list and want to make this a feature, you could review the wines, or ask your wine supplier to write articles for you.
  • If you have an unusual or particularly renowned menu, using local ingredients, put together your own recipe book. You may even want to include the source of some of your ingredients and maybe get your key suppliers to share the costs. Then offer cookery lessons or courses centred on your signature dishes.

All these examples are ways of being unique and different using your expertise. You can make your expertise the differentiating factor of your hotel, and a way of connecting with a potential audience. If you have a very niche interest, then this will translate to a very niche target market, so try and have a focused but broad enough area of expertise.

Having a specific area of 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. And once established as an expert, you can build on this by offering themed events and weekends.

One word of warning on your expert topic – don’t let this detract from the basics of a well-run hotel. Get the basics right first – your accommodation, service and food – then focus on your areas of special interest. No use having the best-run spa in the county if your rooms don’t live up to it, and you certainly won’t attract wine lovers if your food isn’t up to the same quality as the wine, for example.

For more ideas on making you stand out from your competitors see the Hotel Success Handbook.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how you can use your expert topic to add a perception of value.