The following guest blog post is written by our friend, Sam Peters, who discusses marketing for independent and boutique hotels.
With a recovering economic climate, people are becoming more willing to invest their savings and income in order to start their own businesses. A few popular business ideas that the business sector has seen grow in the past few years have been restaurants, home-based businesses and boutique hotels.
Boutique hotels are small, yet luxurious, privately owned businesses, many of which compete with local, large brand-name hotel and resort chains. Sure, it may seem futile to compete with national hotel chains, but in reality, guests are more open to the idea of a small, personal experience that is received in the boutique hotels. All you need is a good marketing plan to generate interest.
If you’re looking to open a boutique hotel or if you already own one and have yet to reap the benefits of an effective marketing plan, here are a few tips that can help you promote your hotel brand and generate interest for your hotel.
One of the easiest ways to garner attention is through press opportunities. If you have yet to create a PR department in your hotel, it may be beneficial to create one. Most hotels have PR departments in order to pitch stories and attract the attention of media organizations.
Most media organizations are hospitality-industry friendly, so be sure to send a well-crafted and appealing news release. You can consider it a win if you get at least one news outlet to feature a story about your hotel in your first two months of using PR as a marketing strategy. The more exposure your hotel gets, the more bookings you can generate.
If someone is looking for hotels in your general area, they’re probably going to refer to their preferred search engine to research prices and amenities. If you’ve just opened your hotel, it’s possible that your hotel won’t show up in the immediate search results. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a form of internet marketing that integrates specific keywords with content, allowing your website to climb the Google search ranks. By using SEO strategies, your hotel website will become more visible to the general public, which, in the end, will help you draw in guests.
All businesses, especially hotels, have to keep up to date with all the relevant social media accounts. Don’t just create accounts for the sake of it, upload and post fresh, engaging content in order to generate followers, likes and extend your hotel’s reach to new consumer bases. One of the best social media accounts you can have is a Yelp account. Yelp will help businesses have a direct presence in their consumer base, just be sure to always have updated business information and great pictures that appeal to Yelp users. Typically, you’re looking to generate positive reviews in sites like these. If you get negative feedback, remember to always respond and acknowledge the dissatisfied customer’s feelings. If things start to get out of hand, Brand.com is a great source that helps businesses keep track of positive and negative reviews.
It always helps to offer customers discounts that are within your hotel’s means; make sure you’re still making money even though you’re slashing prices. One way to both promote your hotel discounts and generate exposure for your boutique hotel is to use websites like Groupon to promote the discounts for you.
Public Relations isn’t just about managing press, it’s about representing your business with other key stakeholders and exterior organizations. One of the functions of a PR professional is to network with other organizations within your industry, and in this case, it would be the hospitality and tourism industry. A job description of your hotel’s PR professional should be to handle communication with your local tourism board, convention bureau and business associations in order to maximize promotional opportunities. Usually, organizations like these will also help you expand your reach.
In order to run and manage a successful, boutique hotel that can compete with larger, name-brand chains, you have to have a good marketing plan. By following these simple marketing strategies, you’ll be able to increase reach and sales, promote your business, and generate press.