We've come across stories of successful marketing strategies from fellow hospitality businesses, ranging from ordinary, well-loved tactics to unique, never-seen-before strategies.
But what makes a hospitality marketing strategy successful?
Is it choosing digital over traditional marketing or vice versa?
Is it about weighing push strategies more than the pull tactics?
Read on to discover the 14 tenets that make a robust hospitality marketing strategy, tested and tried by fellow hospitality businesses that found success in their marketing strategies.
1. Hospitality Marketing for Engagement
Hospitality marketing is more focused on driving engagement. Sales only come next, since booking rates are credited mostly to factors like seasonability, market segmentation, and competitive factors, and not with marketing strategies directly.
Marketing is still a great driver of foot traffic and bookings among hospitality businesses, but they're more influential in building relationships with your target customers.
In short, hospitality marketing is suited more for brand awareness goals.
2. The PRICE concept for Building Well-Structured Marketing Campaigns
The PRICE concept is widely used in tourism marketing, but it also applies well to hospitality marketing. It helps you devise marketing plan options, bring possible challenges to light, and create solutions for these possible issues during the implementation stage.
The PRICE concept is made up of these phases:
Planning – Where does your business stand now?
Research – Where would you like to be?
Implementation – How will you get there?
Control – How will you ensure that you’ll reach that destination/goal?
Evaluate – How can you tell if you've achieved your goal/destination?
3. Customers at the Center Point of Your Strategies
When your hospitality business shifts its approach from pushing your services to customers to giving stellar service and experience to them, you can market your business effortlessly.
Your purpose in bringing customer satisfaction becomes the pilot of your marketing strategies.
You can better shape your offers, features, amenities, or services because you understand more what your customers really need from your business.
When you see your business in the same mindset as your customers, you're building trust and loyalty among them, which leads them to become your advocates. Word-of-mouth still wins as one of the best marketing strategies for hospitality businesses.
4. Personalization in Building Trust
A survey published at the Adobe's North American 2018 Summit discovered that personalized experience influences people, particularly millennials, in choosing which restaurant, hotel, or resort to choose.
Add to that the fact that people are aware of businesses collecting their personal information online. Fifty-seven percent of US travelersare actually expecting you to use their information to shape a personalized experience or recommendation for them.
If you want people to choose you over the competition and increase the likeliness to pay more for your services, think personalized marketing.
5. USPs and Target Customers
Why should people choose your restaurant over other dining places and fast food chains in your vicinity? What is it that makes you stand out from other hotels in your area?
Your answers here are your Unique Selling Points (USPs). By identifying these points, you can easily market them as benefits instead of features.
You can easily use USPs together with the concept of opportunity cost by convincing them that in exchange for a price, they can enjoy your advertised benefits that they won't get from your competition. Even if they have a cheaper (or nearer) option, they would still choose you because you have what they're looking for exactly.
6. Analyzing Your Customer Touchpoints
Investing in different marketing channels – PPC, mobile, social media, website, etc. – is not enough if we're talking about cost-efficient and guaranteed strategies. Even if you're reaping the benefits from these channels, the same situation cannot be guaranteed for your guests’ booking experiences.
To identify the key factors that drive a customer to book with you, you must map and analyze your customer touchpoints, which is best done through data analytics. Which channels/platforms are bringing you more engaged customers and increased foot traffic?
It also helps you address issues in your strategies. For example, if leads are not completing their booking process, there might be an issue with your website, or they decided last-minute to book somewhere else. You can then develop possible solutions and alternatives to address these issues.
7. Your Booking Patterns and Your Guests’ Behavior
While touchpoints revolve around marketing platforms and the buyer's journey, booking patterns are more helpful in planning your marketing approaches in the future, particularly in identifying your peak seasons and quiet months, and your booking rates in these periods.
It also helps you formulate ways to build scarcity and urgency, especially during peak seasons, therefore increasing the guarantee of immediate bookings.
8. Balancing Traditional and Digital Marketing Channels
If you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts, you need to balance the use of digital and traditional marketing tactics. Digital innovations may have brought a major makeover in the marketing department, but traditional methods are still in the game.
You can make use of digital marketing tactics for building a connection with target guests, and traditional methods for sales-driven tactics.
In terms of booking systems, it's ideal to leverage both online travel agencies (OTAs) and global distribution systems (GDS). Although people are booking online for more convenience these days, many still choose to book offline.
9. Local is the Name of the Game
The local community around your hospitality business is a crucial contributor to building an authentic experience for guests and travelers, so it's important that you nurture your community as part of your marketing plan.
By supporting their local events and providing more livelihood opportunities, you're bringing more life to the community, adding more to the list of benefits people would get if they choose to book with you.
Nurturing the destination also helps build guest experience, which brings us back to the customer-centric viewpoint. It's all interconnected in the end.
10. Market Segmentation for Better Marketing Execution
Aside from helping you to market better to customers with different behaviors, needs, and budgets, market segmentation also helps you identify the purpose of their booking decisions – is it for business or leisure?
With this, you'll have a better way to build a relevant experience that you can offer to them, and show relevant ads to the right target customers. For example, families will see ads about your family-friendly rooms/food bundles, and businessmen will see more ads about function rooms or pre-arranged meals for meetings.
11. Competitor Analysis
Sometimes, when our marketing campaigns don't work out the way we intend them to be, it helps to view things from our customer's perspectives.
What do they see between your business and the competition that makes them choose the latter? That’s what competitor analysis aims to answer.
It also pays to accumulate new ideas from businesses like yours and get assurance that this new idea will work because it's working for the competition. It saves you the trouble of trials and errors.
12. Analytics and Data Evaluation
With the analytics from the past performance of your campaign, you can polish your strategies and approaches better, and choose the best fruitful platforms. Every time you're coming up with a new strategy, you can always go back to the analytics of your previous campaigns and see if you’re current campaigns are doing better than the previous ones.
13. Listening as an Integral Marketing Tool
Your online reputation can make or break your business. After all, people are relying heavily on reviews and peer recommendations in choosing a business to patronize. If people are seeing more positive reviews about your business, they're likely to book with you.
Listening is the key to online reputation management. Listen to what people are saying about you and your services. Take notes on things that bring them delight, and the issues that drive people to talk negatively about you online.
14. Consistency is Key
Consistency applies in marketing in three terms:
- Brand style, tone, and message. Maintaining your tone helps establish your brand image more
- Content. If you want to educate people, always update with fresh content. Don't leave them expecting
- Building brand awareness. Get out there in their feed or on their online space if you want to build higher brand name retention
To sum it up, hospitality marketing is all about shaping your efforts around your target customer's expectations. If you focus more on providing a personalized and stellar experience for your customers or guests, along with the guidance of these tenets, you'll find more success in your marketing endeavors.