A strong marketing strategy is at the heart of every business, and those in the hospitality industry are no exception. Making your brand stand out and appeal to various different people is key for success in an ever-competitive market.
From attracting new guests from all over the country – or even the world – to encouraging repeat customers, developing brand awareness through marketing is the key to achieving this.
Marketing Strategies for the Hospitality Industry
The following strategies are popular amongst marketeers in all industries. We’ve given examples of how you can use them to help your hotel, bed & breakfast, food or drink business, attraction or tourist business with its own strategy.
Always begin your marketing plan with customer and competitor research. There are certain reasons why customers will choose you over your competitor and different ways they’re most likely to find out about your business. To get started, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my business’s unique selling points?
- Why would a customer choose my business over another?
- How do the majority of my customers hear about my business?
For many businesses in the hospitality industry, customers use online review sites to find where they might like to visit, stay or dine at. Our top tip is to keep on top of your online reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor. Always answer reviews, especially the negative ones, to show your level of customer service. By helping to turn negative reviews into positive ones, you’re increasing your overall score and attracting more and more visitors.
Brand awareness is crucial for any business – if they don’t know who you are, the chance of turning potential customers into actual ones is extremely low! The level of awareness, and how to attract customers will depend on what kind of business you are.
Hospitality businesses that cater for their local geographic target audience – like restaurants and cafés – will find more success with print. Flyers and leaflets are a great way of spreading the word about your business locally and it’s also an extremely cost-effective method.
For businesses aiming to attract customers globally, online marketing is a fantastic route. Creating an online presence through building a website and on social media means you’ll be able to reach out to a large number of people. Ideal for hotels, resorts and theme parks, we recommend being active on social media, building an email marketing list and focusing on SEO to help you appear to potential customers on search engines.
A key part of your marketing strategy, promotions are a great way of boosting sales and awareness – especially during the months when business is slower.
One marketing promotion idea is to host an online competition. Ask people to share your post on social media to be entered into a prize draw to win a meal or a stay in your bed & breakfast during a time when business normally drops.
Discount vouchers and coupons make great promotional materials too! For destination businesses, print your vouchers out on postcards to play on the travel theme. For restaurants and cafés, a menu of offers is a fun example. For event caterers, print them on invites – there are loads of possibilities!
There’s a lot to be said for customer loyalty. As well as being a lot cheaper to sell to existing customer rather than new ones, current customers are also 67% more likely to spend more than a newbie.
You can keep your customers coming back with a loyalty or rewards scheme. By rewarding customers who choose your business, they’re more likely to come back and refer a friend (which you could also incentivise as part of a promotion). For restaurants, cafés, and certain tourist spots like museums, loyalty cards a great option. Hotels and theme parks would benefit better from an online points system or email flow.
Find out more about customer retention strategies you can implement for your business here.
Types of Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism
Here are a few of our top marketing examples for the hospitality industry.
1. Direct Mail Marketing
Sending something in the post is more tangible than, for example, sending an email. That’s why catalogues and folded leaflets perform better than many attempts at email marketing. In fact, the average open rate for direct mail in the UK is 57.1%, which is double that of email marketing which averages at 25%.
You can make your own magazine using stapled and perfect bound booklet printing. Stapled is a cheaper option, but perfect bound is great for an annual or quarterly mag because of how sturdy and high quality it is. Whichever you choose, make sure to fill it with lots of professional images to entice customers to visit your business.
2. Mobile Marketing
Between 2011 and 2015, mobile travel and hospitality bookings saw an increase of 1700%. To make the most of this marketing trend, make sure your website is as mobile friendly as possible and consider making hotel and restaurant bookings available through apps like TripAdvisor.
3. Dynamic and Personalised Email Marketing
Personalisation is a huge trend in marketing – because it works. You know your customers better than anyone and have probably already segmented your target market into specific groups. For many hospitality businesses these groups might be couples, families, over 25s etc.
Once you know what certain groups of customers like, you can send marketing content and offers you know will appeal to them. For families, a restaurant might offer a ‘children eat free’ deal that wouldn’t appeal to couples. Whereas a two-for-one deal would appeal to couples.
4. Booking Retargeting
How many times have you noticed a customer reach your booking funnel before changing their mind at the last minute? According to netaffinity, hoteliers report up to 81% of booking abandonment.
This potential customer has already shown interest in your services. So, if you had a second chance at landing a sale, wouldn’t you go for it? Booking retargeting allows you to use other online marketing platforms to draw attention back to your booking funnel. Methods include paid search ads and email flows.
5. Social Media Marketing
Another popular option for hospitality businesses is social media. A more visual platform, you can use videos to show off how amazing your service is – and according to a Renderforest survey, 78% of businesses got more traffic after using videos.. From tours around your attraction and videos of your facilities to food being made, video is king for promoting your business.
Now you know the importance of marketing strategies for your hospitality or tourism business – and you have the knowledge to implement them – all that’s left to do is put them into action! For more marketing tips and trends, check out our free 2019 marketing cheat sheets.