As the hotel industry re-opens, Stephen Minall shares his thoughts on how to challenge yourself and your hotel on your marketing activity.
(Originally published in November 2020, this list is more useful now than ever!)
Have you tried everything to sell the services of your hotel?
Have you done the marketing equivalent of canvassing door-to-door?
Marketing your independent Hotel is hard without the skills & support of a designated Head-Office Department, let alone finding the time or allocating a budget for such activity. Betwixt your local printers’ opinions & that friendly consultants view, the correct & cost-effective way to increase sales is often clouded by too many views and opinions, especially in times of Covid.
Taking a leaf out of the bigger Hotel groups and adapting their initiatives to suit your budget and needs is not a bad idea. Cross marketing the Hotel to a local business is a good move - like a garden centre or clothing shop. ‘Buy a plant get a meal or room for free’ or vice versa is the right and easy thing to adopt.
Here is a 10-point list of questions that just may spark some marketing activity. You should be aware that each question you answer ‘no’ to probably means that you are potentially losing out on untapped sales and missing profit opportunities.
We all of course know trial & error leads to success – it’s that success that often motivates you to make marketing a top priority. Even in the corporate world, marketing campaigns are at times hit & miss, so if one idea fails - move onto the next. Dust off previous campaigns, modernise them & try again.
Try running through the list below to run a marketing fitness test on your business; a simple “no” means you should address this area… 1. Can you and your team name three things that set you apart from the competition?
2. Do you communicate the benefits of your product, your skills, your knowledge or service in all of your promotional literature, websites, letters and emails? Customers buy if they trust you. Trust is paramount now in Covid related lock-downs.
3. Have you tested Direct Mail (door-to-door flyers) to attract new customers? Did you accurately measure the results?
4. Are your ads powerful direct response ads that compel the reader to contact you – or are they mundane just selling discounts or weekend breaks like all the competition? 5. Do you advertise in certain publications just because your competitors do, local or otherwise?
6. When you speak to a potential new customer, do you use words that set you apart from the rest and immediately capture the customer’s attention & offer them a reason to return? (e.g. Come get a breakfast with our business overnight special) 7. Have you tested or experimented with pay per click search engine advertising?
8. Have you looked into a F&B Direct Delivery Service using a 3rd Party? (limited menus for offices or homes, in packaging that is designed for delivery)
9. Do you send regular email communications to your customers and prospective customers? 10. Do you obtain and use testimonials from your best customers?
There are many cost effective ideas to try at a local level, these only cost time, a limited commodity when running your own Hotel, but something you may have had more of in the Pandemic.
Setting time for marketing aside is always important. Taking time out to focus on it (whether alone or with a team) and brain-storm is important. Be involved. Remember, designating this discipline to an employee is only fine if that employee has been coached in marketing techniques or has sales & marketing experience.
Stephen Minall is an expert in business marketing and F&B concepts.
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