Marketing your hotel
First, you need to understand who your market actually is since this plays a key role in determining how you then go about putting yourself in front of them. This is where your research into your guests, their age, why they are there, and also how long they are staying for can then come into play since it then allows you to formulate a plan around that section of the market to then take a bigger share of that particular market.
After identifying your market, there are a number of things that you should then do as the absolute basis of your entire marketing strategy.
Creating your strategy
We admit that the majority of marketing is now going to be online and there may be the need for you to hire some specialist help in dealing with digital marketing. This can involve being on the correct websites, helping with search engines, and pay per click marketing via the likes of Google and Facebook.
What you must do is perfectly understand your market and how to target them online and build this into your strategy.
What do you hope to achieve by focusing on them? How much will it cost? What is your potential ROI? How long will it take to put the plan in place and then see the results? What are your competitors doing to draw in the guests and can you learn anything from it with your own twist attached?
What you must do is look at where you want the hotel to be in 6 months' time and then 12 months' time. How do you think the hotel is going to be able to get there? What changes need to be made to achieve this goal? How much is it going to cost in order to do this? Is it even feasible for it to be done?
We need to stress that even though technology and the Internet is now the dominant force, it does not mean that you can forget about the old offline methods as they do still have a role to play.
We are not talking about leaflets or anything of the sort, but newspaper adverts and being linked to official tourism boards are an absolute necessity. Also, after identifying your actual market, you should then see how to access them offline and put yourself in a place where they are unable to ignore you. For marketing to be effective, it is essential that you are visible because without that there is no point in even putting a strategy in place.
The key to all of this is your research into what different things cost. So, for example, you can look at the cost of a digital marketing company for the sake of hiring their expertise to drive the hotel forward and that can be offset against the budget. At the same time, you can look at advertising online and the costs as well as other ideas and do this before you then look at other areas where you can invest time rather than just money to increase the exposure of the hotel.
Actions such as maintaining social media accounts do not cost anything other than having a member of staff keeping an eye on them as part of their other duties, but even this should appear on your budget even if it costs you nothing. This is because it provides you with an overall view of what is going on and where money can, and should, be spent when it comes to the marketing.
However, the most important part is sticking within the confines of the budget, no matter how tempting it may be to go over it.
The importance of keeping up with technology when it comes to your marketing
In the past, everything was offline and in the way of adverts and links with travel agents, but that has now changed.
Now, there is a major need for a hotel to be active online and also extremely visible. This means you need to consider using social media, have listings on hotel and travel websites or directories, link with third party companies that offer visitors to their website to book a room at your hotel via their service.
All of this can not only increase awareness of you even just existing, but also just make it easier for people to not only see your hotel, but to then help with that compulsion to book there and then by making it as easy as possible for them to do so.
You also need to remember that your competition is going to be keeping up with technology and if you do not do the same you are going to be losing out on potential guests and that is a major issue when dealing with marketing.
It is important for us to also mention how people are viewing the Internet, as this also plays a role in your marketing. More people are booking hotels via tablet computers and smartphones, so making sure that your hotel is viewable via these mobile devices is essential, or you are missing out on a substantial percentage of the market.
This means that your marketing needs to be smooth and accessible by every potential method. In other words, when looking at your marketing plan it has to include a section whereby you determine how people are viewing your hotel to then determine how you can correctly position yourself in that particular market.
The importance of your website
After discussing the importance of technology and keeping up to date with it, we need to quickly mention the importance of your website.
A website for a hotel is something akin to an advert for the business that is able to be viewed at any time of day by anybody that comes across the link.
This website is a wonderful marketing opportunity since you can use it to really sell yourself to the potential guest by showing them what you have to offer. The actual design of the website is something that may be handled either by head office or by the design company hired to do the job, but the important part is the way in which the information is put across in order to help a guest to ultimately make that decision about booking a room.
A website, and then marketing it correctly, will educate guests on the services they should expect, images of the hotel, reviews, more on the history of the place, and generally work as a sales tool that can make them believe that they are doing the correct thing in booking at your hotel.
However, it is important for us to stress one thing, and as the hotel manager, this is an area that you can deal with personally, there is a real need for the website to be kept as up to date as possible and to also make sure that the design is modern. The reason for this is simple. Just as people will make a decision as to whether or not they should book with you by what you have to offer, they will also form an opinion of the hotel just by the look of the website.
If the website is broken or looks old, then they are going to project those feelings onto the hotel in general since they will view this as being a wasted part of your marketing strategy. In other words, you need to make sure that what the general public are viewing is accurately representing the hotel or you will be making life harder for yourself when it comes to your marketing.
Spending money on a good website and keeping it maintained is an absolute necessity in the world today and excluding it from your marketing plan is certainly something that is not advised.
Using third parties.
By this, we mean the likes of Opodo, Expedia, Booking.com, and a whole host of others that all offer the exact same service to their visitors. The important thing is that these third party websites can provide you with a larger number of bookings due to the sheer numbers of visitors that they generate on a daily basis. If you carry out a search for hotels in and around your area, it will let you see just how popular these websites are and you will begin to understand why you have to be on there in order to just boost your chances of surviving and thriving as a hotel.
The way that they work is simple.
Your hotel is on their website, and rooms are sold at prices that you stipulate via your account. These websites then market your hotel via their website, and the search engine that is built into it, and when somebody makes a booking via this third party website they make a commission through you.
Now, we admit that this means that the amount of money that you make on a room is less than if they came direct to you, but it is important to look at it from this perspective.
By getting a booking via these websites it means that the room is actually booked and any kind of income, as long as it is a profit, is going to be beneficial to the hotel rather than having the room vacant on any given night.
There is no doubt that these websites have been extremely effective at helping hotels both big and small to book out more rooms and increase occupancy figures, so not being linked to them is certainly not the correct way to market your hotel. Instead, it is better for you to set aside part of your budget to deal with these accounts since the rewards will certainly far outweigh the costs to the actual hotel
92% of internet users read product reviews and 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decision
Christos Pashiardis – Managing Partner,Consultant