Hospitality is a multi-billion industry that remains highly competitive. With the inception of Airbnb, virtual reality destinations, and the ever-growing online audience, one misstep in your hospitality marketing can make your brand become easily forgotten or dismissed.
Not only do those in the hospitality industry need to focus on bringing in a loyal client base, but they must also have processes in place to address new challenges, such as 24/7 social media status updates and real-time requests in the age of instant gratification. One bad review or poorly executed ad can cause a viral media storm. Just ask Pepsi or United Airlines, both big companies who recently were caught under fire due to less than favorable choices and lack of response back to consumers.
Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry knows problems will inevitably arise, but it’s how you deal with them and move forward that matters most. Some may see hotel marketing, restaurant marketing, and travel marketing (along with public relations) challenges as all too familiar in their day-to-day work life. We have identified challenges and hospitality marketing solutions, new and old, for how to promote hospitality businesses through the right mix of marketing and promotions.
Challenge: Higher Guest Expectations
Guests used to favor amenities like a heated pool, onsite workout room, or in-room coffee station. Now, those features are standard to the hotel experience and guests expect more. They are looking for added value to their stay. Hosting
events at your property or restaurant is a nice perk to offer your guests and a good promotional opportunity to invite prospective guests to experience the different elements and amenities of your hotel. Whether it’s a seasonally-inspired menu tasting, rooftop yoga, or live music night, you want to make as many people aware of the event as possible.
Reach your audience where they are most likely to see the announcement. This could be done through email campaigns, social media posts, flyers, or a combination of all three. Test your audience and see where they respond to you best. For example, if you’re unveiling a new menu, think about hosting a Facebook Live event with the chef introducing some of the new dishes. You can use this saved video as a promo to entice guests to make reservations.
Plan the promotional schedule a few months in advance with set reminders closer to the event date. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too many notifications, but do create engaging visual content that will make them want to remember your event.
Solution: A multi-channel approach to marketing your event that combines both online and offline efforts.
Challenge: Having the “It” Factor
Nearly every hotel has a brochure rack that is filled with material from various sources of what there is to do in the city. Why not customize a brochure specific to your hotel with content showcasing what makes your property special?
Does your property uphold a unique history? Are there amenities you offer that are not available at other hotels? Does your chef create seasonal dishes, specialty cocktails? Encourage your team to brainstorm a list of what makes your hotel one-of-a-kind and then, organize this into a promotional brochure to hand out at the front desk, add to your brochure or concierge area, and use in partnership with your local tourism board. This can include anything from a treat special to your city or state, such as the whoopie pie in Maine, live music from local artists, or a neighborhood tour hosted by your concierge that includes the history of your hotel where you highlight what makes it most interesting.
Make sure your content is an honest reflection of your hospitality brand. Stock photography and staged space setups are never popular solutions. Create unique promotional materials by using user-generated imagery or hosting a specialized photo shoot in the area you’re promoting.
For example, if your next ad is designed to promote wedding season, photograph garden or rooftop areas where those events are usually held. Allow the guest to visualize what the possibilities are with real-life imagery rather than sharing cookie-cutter event spaces.
Solution: Give your guests itinerary options that include your property and/or restaurant features. Include this in a welcome email or video or as part of an app where they can customize their own itinerary.
Challenge: Customer Loyalty
With the bevy of options available for travelers these days, the challenge among many in the hospitality industry is not only creating a satisfactory experience for the guest, but creating loyalty. Customer loyalty means the guest is most likely to choose your hotel over any other brand. If you don’t have a loyalty program for your hotel, it’s time to create one. If you already have one, it’s time to update it.
Ensure the perks and offerings that are part of your program are what guests value most to ensure a positive customer experience. Do they receive a free night after a certain number of bookings? Do they receive a gift on their loyalty anniversary? Not every perk has to be costly to your hotel, but everything offered has to make your most loyal guests feel like VIP.
Solution: Get creative with how you promote your loyalty programs from members-only events to added perks every year of membership.
Challenge: Reaching More Than One Audience
When it comes to hospitality marketing, think about multiple ways you can repurpose one piece of promotional material to keep your budget in check. Align your messaging to what users want to see most. With the capabilities of data analysis available through website and social media reporting, you can see what messaging resonates most. You can also separate your messaging into different groups to ensure it is directly hitting your target audience(s).
For example, a hotel that wants to promote a summer campaign on Facebook should tailor their message differently between its prospective audience (those who have not yet visited the website or booked a stay recently) and the remarketing audience (those who have).
Solution: Align your marketing efforts so you can track results more easily and understand where your audience is responding to you most.
Make the Most of Your Hospitality Marketing Initiatives
The hospitality industry isn’t one where you can rest on your laurels and count on clients being loyal. With the increasing number of options available, attention spans can be fleeting and people are more enticed to try new adventures, especially if that comes with the promise of added amenities, improved accommodations, and personal extras that make one property more appealing than another.
One of the best ways to get a pulse of how your guests feel about your hotel, travel service, or restaurant is to pay close attention to what’s being said online. Both reputation management and social media responses are incredibly important to sustain a healthy brand image and encourage guests to come back for more.
But the first step to address evolving hospitality marketing solutions and opportunities is to be proactive. Showcase the best parts of your property or service, and give your guests nothing less than an ideal experience.