Marketing tips for hotels during lockdown
As marketers and business owners we are all currently faced with a unique challenge. One that has and will change our industries forever. It will change the way we do business, change how we sell our services and also change how we conduct marketing in times when our businesses face the greatest threat of our generation.
However as responsible marketers, sales managers and business owners, we are also focused on the future. Although hard to fathom right now, this time will pass. Those who use this time wisely, planning and implementing their marketing strategies, will come out stronger on the other side.
Today we’re going to run through some of the projects we recommend you start moving forward with now. The results from each of these will long outlast the current period and will set your business up for the seasons ahead of us.
1. Get Ahead With Your Marketing Plan
The one thing we have right now is the luxury of time. We’ve had countless chats with marketing teams this past week and their big focus is getting their marketing plan started/finished and putting effort into the challenge that will come after this lockdown. Namely everyone will be marketing! Use this time to create an overarching marketing plan and then a monthly/weekly schedule of activities you can start now and then introduce more normal marketing activities in a later period.
We are in new times and as marketers we need to think beyond this lockdown. What is likely to happen immediately. With less travel restrictions within the country likely happening first, we fully expect staycations to become a much bigger focus for people right across the island of Ireland. Those hoteliers who hope to capture more of the niche markets such Ramblers, Adventure Seekers, Solo Travellers as examples will find it easier to cut through the noise of the mass marketing activities we will see. Think about your ideal customer, who they are, what they are interested in and what drives them to stay away for a night, two or more.
- Locale Focussed Blogging
One of the most important and long lasting actions you can take right now is to start, deliver and grow your blogging capability. Right now, this is the one channel we can communicate effectively through without additional noise.
If you don’t have a blog on your website, we can of course help you with that very quickly and easily, but if you do, start writing content now.
- Why focus on your own locale?
Many of the hotels we work with rely on 3rd party booking providers to deliver bookings for their businesses. We can help flip this reliance on its head getting our brand and website out in front of users before they start researching accommodation. For example if you are a hotel on the North Coast, you might create a well written piece about the Giants Causeway, Portrush or the filming locations of Game of Throne on Portstewart Strand or Ballintoy Harbour. Not only are you writing good content for your site, but you are localising this to the area your hotel serves. This adds authority in search engines such as Google and will help you rank higher.
2. Refine Your Menus
Although you are not physically at your hotel, there are a number of ways in which you can prepare for when you will be.
Refining your menu being one. Changing a restaurant menu can be a difficult task while you remain open, so now is the perfect time to look at how changes can be made to better your offering.
In doing so, your menu can bring many benefits, to both your customers, your staff and your bottom line. Do you want to review a menu item, reduce the offering or focus more heavily on the most profitable items. Knowing the expected outcome, we can focus on delivering a more robust menu design.
With regard our customers – Updating your menu will help with keeping your customers interested and excited. The hospitality industry is a busy and competitive industry, with trends changing at every turn. By taking the time to reimagine your menu, you give customers a new reason to come back to your hotel restaurant when you reopen.
Allowing your kitchen staff to co-create your new hotel restaurant menu will increase your staff’s engagement through what will be a difficult and challenging time. Through enabling staff to co-create the new menu, it will allow them to invest time, thought and creativity into something which they will then nurture when rolled out.
If you are unsure about creating a new restaurant menu, another way in which you can refine your menu, is to fully evaluate what currently works and what doesn’t. You can replace outdated dishes with newer ones and keep popular dishes that serve your restaurant well.
In making the above changes successfully, your hotel restaurant will be able to move towards increasing your bottom line. Through hopefully creating a new interest around your menu, and keeping your customers interested and happy
3. Review Your Customer Journey
While it can be easy to overlook things like your customer journey, in favour of other elements of your restaurant. It is an essential task for all marketers and business owners.
You can start to maximise your performance if you manage to break down a customer’s journey into smaller sections and then build a plan to address each section of that journey.
One of the best ways to gain invaluable insight into your customer journey, is by getting someone outside of your business, a person you trust to act like a customer, and to critically analyse each and every move they make from the moment they make the booking, until they pay the bill.
The three main stages you can break this into are the first point of engagement, dining in your restaurant and leaving your restaurant.
With each of these stages, make a note of every emotion your customer would feel at this point of their customer journey, this can be a number of emotions. You should also look at potential thoughts your customer may have at this point of their journey. By looking at both their emotions and thoughts, you can begin to build up an idea of what exactly the customer is going through at that point of their journey. You are able to look at ways in which it can be improved and developed on, to improve their journey
4. Audit Your Website
We are living in a digital age, whereby every single thing we do is now being adapted to suit and work seamlessly with technology. If you already have a website dedicated to your hotel restaurant, you are in a position to update and make changes to this as you see fit.
Using this time to re evaluate your website could be a great way of moving your business to the next level for when you reopen.
Here are some of the top way in which you can update your restaurant website;
- Update all your online information
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but there are a high number of business websites that are not updated from the minute they are put live, and naturally, things can change over time. It may be small changes to your opening hours, or bigger changes to your location, booking system or contact information.
Making sure that your details are correct and up to date is the first step to updating your hotel restaurant website.
- Updating all imagery
Images are the one thing that lets customers get an insight to your hotel restaurant before even setting foot inside. So make sure you are making a good first impression. Remove old and dated photos, and replace them with clear and eye catching imagery that would make you want to visit a restaurant. Spend time with your chefs, and plate each dish so that it can be photographed and uploaded to your website.
- Adding a downloadable menu
Having your menu available online can be a real deal breaker when it comes to customers choosing your hotel restaurant.
By uploading your menu online, and allowing customers to download it before visiting can prove beneficial in so many ways.
Not only does it let customers see what you are offering, it lets them get an idea of the type of restaurant you are and how it would suit them. For instance, if you have a customer with a dietary requirement, they will be able to check online if you cater to this, ahead of visiting you.
- Optimising your website for SEO
Spending time on the SEO of your website will prove invaluable to your business. It looks after your marketing when you are not.
One of the best ways to optimise the SEO on your website, is through the use of Blogs. They are a great way of promoting your business activities, changes and offerings whilst also helping with your marketing.
A big thing that sites like Google and Bing look for are keywords in the content of the blog. These keywords need to be related to whatever the end user is searching for!
For example, if you own a hotel restaurant in Belfast and your user is searching for ‘best restaurants in Belfast’. You can create blogs to cater for this search, with keywords including ‘Belfast’, ‘Restaurants’ & ‘Dining near me’. These keywords can help show are Google or other search engines that your website is a good source for getting information about restaurants in Belfast.
5. Look at your Customer Data
Looking at your customer data is an essential part of your marketing plan for your hotel restaurant.
The information that you can get from customer data can hold the most valuable insight to your hotel restaurant.
Many restaurant owners do not realise that they are sitting on a goldmine of restaurant customer data, and therefore, don’t use it to their advantage. This data is not just numbers, but really useful information which if identified and tracked, can help improve performance, give you a competitive edge and increase your profits.
For instance, by collecting customer data including names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses you can start to built your customer CRM database. Using this information will be invaluable to your business.
With this information, you can then start to contact customers through targeted emails and texts. Whether you are promoting a new restaurant night, changing your opening hours, or even hosting an event – You will have direct access to your valuable customers and will be able to notify them straight away. This allows you to quickly and easily kick off your next marketing campaign, as you already have a database of past and current customers.
Another way in which you can utilise your customer data is through identifying customers who come to your hotel restaurant frequently, and then reward them for their custom. Be that through a loyalty scheme, or through a discount code. Your customers will appreciate your reward, and feel like a valued customer of your business. The aim here is to show your customers that you appreciate and remember their custom time and time again.
6. Engage Directly with You Customer
Now is not the time to be selling, in fact those businesses who are pushing sales are likely to be thought of in a less than suitable light. However those businesses that engage with clients, not to sell, but to build relationships and develop an understanding of their needs and plans, will be better positioned after the current state of play. If suitable, a call will greatly received. Explain you are looking forward to welcoming the customer back also and when they are there, we’ll try to make the experience as delightful as possible. You can follow this up with a customer service email from the reception with an offer or discount on extras during their stay. Whatever is appropriate in your hotel.
How can we help?
We’re very much in this together and we at Kaizen Brand Evolution are happy to share our experience of what is working and what isn’t working in any industry we work with. We are fortunate to work with businesses all across the UK & Ireland that intend to come out of this situation much stronger.
Both Ryan Stanfield and Connor McAuley are available for video chats on all projects, to arrange this with the Studio, please email firstname.lastname@example.org