Hotel Marketing Ideas- Obtaining More Customers
Marketing your hotel business is one of the most important activities a hotelier will undertake. It is an ongoing practical process which requires a logical and targeted approach using a limited marketing budget. Without effective marketing guests will not know you exist and the business will simply fail. Marketing shouldn’t be thought of as a black art something that dynamic ‘advertising people’ are good at. Marketing a hotel involves a range of practical commonsense activities, some of which we have outlined below…
You will need to present your hotel in it’s most favourable lights to show off the key reasons why prospective guests should think about making a booking with you. Identifying why guests would choose to stay with you in your particular area should be fairly obvious. For instance is your hotel near a seaside near an airport. Promoting closeness to a nearby attraction should be one of the key selling points of your hotel in your marketing literature, website, media advertising and so on. Think about your target audience in terms of the types of people that are likely to want to visit local attractions, their length of stay, there typical budget requirements and expectations of short-term accommodation. Are you marketing your business as a low-cost budget accommodation for business travellers or are you specifically targeting the luxury market for couples wanting time away. Your marketing literature clearly has to reflect as closely as possible the true nature of your accommodation business while showing off the facilities that your target market would expect. Remember that most people first identify an area and then find a nearby hotel, breakfast and breakfast or guesthouse. So it’s critical to understand and list all of the various local attractions, transport links, conference centres, shops, tourist attractions (and include these details of how to reach them) in your marketing literature. It is highly unlikely most new guests will book a room with you just because you have a picturesque looking hotel, with a ‘warm and family friendly’ atmosphere. Clearly these are important factors but are secondary to the prime room reason of the visit which is to visit something or somebody nearby.
Identifying a specific target market will narrow down the list of advertising mediums to advertise in. For instance if you are targeting tourists in the Devon or Cornwall areas, you may prefer to invest your advertising budget in online travel guides dedicated to the South West as well as local trade magazines dedicated to UK holiday breaks, family tourist attractions and seaside tourist operators. Targeting a specific market will also mean understanding how price sensitive your local market is. Fortunately doing market research on local competitors is a straightforward process of searching online on their website or simply ringing up for a quote as a mystery shopper. Having the confidence to know you are price competitive compared to other local hotels is essential before committing to any printed material with your rates on. Many hotels have seasonal rates and sometimes a simple solution is to promote your headline rate or some type of discounted offer in your marketing materials and to avoid material becoming out of date in low season. Remember the primary purpose of any marketing literature or advertising is to hook the prospective guest into requesting a quote via the phone or from your website. To this end your marketing brochures should be clutter free, bulleted, colourful and eye-catching without overuse of detailed descriptions of your facilities. Find a local graphic designer who will inevitably have an impartial and better life for what makes an effective pamphlet, brochure and website design.
If you’re just starting up your new hotel business use the power of local networking amongst other local businesses nearby such as restaurants, wedding venues, local sports and tourist attractions. The power of word-of-mouth is an incredibly useful form of marketing and by making friends with these local businesses you may find that prospective guests are recommended to you from the managers or owners of the places you guests of trying to visit in the first place. Many prospective guests will ring up their destination on the phone and ask for a nearby hotel or bed-and-breakfast as well as directions. Therefore when you spend the day visiting these local points of interest leave your business cards, brochures and pamphlets with them which should include your full postal address with postcode and a map. Many people rely on GPS devices in their cars rather than bother with map reading and so identifying your postcode will be vital. Word of mouth marketing can be particularly useful to attract guests who are chancing their arm and visiting an area in the confidence they can probably find a bed for the night when they get there by asking local shop keepers.
Marketing to attract guests from afar is a completely different matter altogether. The Internet will be the first point of call for most prospective guests who will naturally stumble across the largest hotel Bed & Breakfast directories and tourist information portals. This means that you will inevitably have to invest some of your marketing budget in being listed on these types of websites to ensure that you have a fighting chance to attract visitors from virtually anywhere in the world. There are literally thousands of online hotel advertising opportunities and try and weight up the annual cost of listing your business against the position of a website for specific search terms related to your business.. such as ‘hotel room in Paignton’. Try and use specific search terms related to your local geographic area, village or town. The top five web sites that appear consistently for such terms related to your local geography are probably worth advertising on. Always check who owns the website by checking for the contact details of and whether they are registered under the Data Protection Act. Also check the website has a secure credit card processing facility. Most guests will also expect you to have your own website highlighting your facilities, services, room rates, contact details, a map and photographs of the bedrooms and exterior of the building. Unless you have strong website design skills and an knowledge of online marketing it is much more sensible to ask a trusted local web design company to produce your own hotel website rather than doing it yourself.
Lastly don’t be afraid to speak to competitors hotels to ask them who they advertise with. This may also lead to other more important pragmatic discussions… You may find that in peak times you are fully booked and may be forced to turn away bookings. Conversely your competitor may find themselves in the same scenario during different times of the year. By working operatively together at such times maximum occupancy rates can be achieved if a sensible working partnership can be established between both parties.
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