Relationship Marketing – Boutique Hotelier – The Hotel Marketing Association
1. The importance of Partnerships in Marketing
Developing relationships with your business peers can be invaluable in positioning your brand. Have a cuppa with your local tourist board, pop in to other local businesses, or even sit down with a competitor – share what you know, chances are that you won’t be giving away anything that they won’t find out for themselves soon anyway, and you might take in more than you give away – your partners help define your reputation and position, and at the very least, it’s good to talk!
2. Relationship Marketing
In simple terms, relationship marketing is about forming long-term relationships with customers, rather than focussing on a one-time sale. Social media is one of the most important components of relationship marketing, with 50% of Facebook users saying that they find the brand’s Facebook page more useful than the company’s website, and 35% of people who “Like” a Facebook page, say that they feel brands listen to them more on Facebook; the idea of being heard fosters a strong relationship and reinforces loyalty. All of this has the power to make a one-time sale turn into a long-term relationship.
3. It’s all about your Brand
If you ask Google how best to optimise your website in one word, they would answer, “brand”, and this is true in all areas of your marketing strategy. A hotel’s online presence may be covered through your own website, your own booking engine, TripAdvisor, OTA listings, social media, blogs, and non-bookable third party websites. A potential guest will usually visit several of websites before making a booking, so it is essential that the message that you are sending from each is the same. Don’t be cheeky and chatty on on Facebook if you’re formal and conservative on your own website, it will confuse the reader, and make them lose confidence in your brand – that’s not the way to build a relationship.
4. Don’t fight against the OTAs, use them for what they are good at
An online travel agent will get your hotel in front of more people that you are likely to achieve on your own, so use this to your advantage. Many people that visit your listing on the likes of Booking.com subsequently visit your own website. Often it is the case that the booking will be made on an OTA because (a) they believe the myth that OTAs are cheaper than booking direct, or (b) it’s easier! So make sure that you defy both of those beliefs on your own website – simple!
5. Revenue Management in an Independent
Revenue Management is a key element in driving profitability in your hotel. To an industry outsider, the Revenue Manager in larger chains and corporate hotels might appear similar to a stockbroker, constantly looking at figures across multiple computer screens. Or obsessing over analysis tools that look like the cockpit of an airplane. But in a small independent hotel, quite often that is very far from the case, with many Revenue Managers having been promoted from being a very good Reservations Manager, or a Front Office Manager who “looks after the rates”. Whilst these people are undoubtedly a great asset to your business, do they have the skills, knowledge and tools to drive revenue to the degree that it is required?
6. Saving money by spending more wisely
Hotel Marketing can be an expensive (albeit necessary) part of your hotel’s budget, make sure that you are spending your money wisely by answering these three questions: (1) Who’s idea was it? As a good hotelier, you should have strong knowledge of your target market and their buying patterns. Don’t get starry eyed about the latest and greatest innovation – if somebody alerts you to an opportunity, consider if it fits in with your hotel’s style and strategy before making a decision. (2) Have I shopped around? You might have decided that the “new thing” just sold to you does indeed fit into your strategy, and will successfully reach the correct target audience, great! But that doesn’t mean that they’re the only people selling it. Don’t rush into a decision, search for other companies offering the same thing to listen to their approach and prices before making a commitment. (3) Is it the right time? So you’ve found the greatest new thing, and you’ve got the best price for it, but is it the right time to launch right now? Timing is key to getting the best results, so don’t just plan the what and the where, plan the when.