The hospitality industry is becoming increasingly dense with competition. You can now find a hotel or some other place to stay at the touch of a button.
As such, it's more important than ever that you create and employ a strategy that helps you attract the attention of would-be customers in a sea of competitors offering similar services.
In this article, we outline a few sure-fire tactics to ensure that your hotel has a competitive advantage and can stand out from the crowd.
First, what makes you stand out?
You want customers to look at a list of hotels and pick yours. But what do you do differently? What will make them choose your hotel again and again? That's your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
It is important to know your USP. It is what makes you unique, the first thing that pops in a customer's mind when they think about you. Your USP is the one thing a customer remembers about your hotel when someone asks them to recommend a good one.
How do you identify your USP? Ask your customers. It's really as simple as finding out why they chose your hotel in the first place. You could do this through feedback forms sent by mail, placed on your website, or in-person at your hotel if possible.
You also get a world of insight from repeat customers. They have kept on choosing to stay in your hotel instead of somewhere else. There has to be a reason for this choice. Knowing that and improving on it is the first step to standing out.
If you find that nothing really distinguishes you, then you'll have your work cut out for you. That's your cue to determine what you want your hotel to be known for and build towards that, piece by piece.
Once you identify your USP, it's important to focus your attention and efforts on it. Regular hotel jargon is great, but it will fall on deaf ears if your audience has no use for it.
Instead, position your hotel in the minds of your audience as the one that delivers your USP and make other selling points secondary. This way, you can attract customers looking for what only you offer and get customers who are just looking for generally good service. Win-win!
You've done digital marketing. Now, do it well.
It's old news that the world has gone digital. Your hotel has probably gone digital, too - you have a website and a great page on Instagram, so you're covered on that front. Or not.
It's not enough to have a hotel website or a social media account. Digital marketing in the hotel industry is far more nuanced than checking a few boxes to ensure that you've kept up with the times.
You must also note that a digital marketing strategy isn't just a social media strategy. In fact, that cannot be farther from the truth. While it's great to have a social media strategy, that's only one small (but significant) part of your digital marketing strategy.
For your hotel to stand out from the crowd, you must consider reaching your potential customers at the digital touchpoints where they might exist online. Your competitors will be there; you shouldn't take a backseat.
Instead, you must create a digital marketing strategy that is well-tailored to your brand, considers your goals, and is well-immersed in your overall marketing strategy.
An effective hotel marketing strategy that will make you stand out usually has several digital touchpoints to ensure that you reach your clients wherever they exist online.
When you have identified what channels members of your audience are on, you must develop tactics to help you capture their attention.
These tactics include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), paid advertising, content marketing, and email marketing. If you require help from digital marketing professionals to create your strategy and bring it to life, you should contact someone who understands the hospitality industry.
Reaching potential customers through digital marketing gives you a lot of insight into their online patterns. It provides you with data to help you improve your services and position yourself better to attract them.
Good, old-fashioned showing up
Sometimes the best way to be exceptional is to do the ordinary exceptionally well. You'd be surprised at how many hotels around the world, as grand as they may seem, do not show up enough for their customers.
No matter the size of your hotel, it's important to ensure that your hotel guests are treated well. Give them a personalised experience they can't find anywhere else. Check in on them, ensure that they have no issues, and work hard to solve their problems if they do.
Offer a friendly smile every time you spot your guests. Professional does not always have to mean dreary. If you have regulars, take note of their preferences and have them on hand when next they come.
The outcome of showing up for your guests is unquantifiable - your hotel gains itself a repeat customer, word-of-mouth recommendations, and positive reviews.
While getting these from one person might not seem like it counts in the grand scheme of things, you must note that customer recommendations (word-of-mouth or online) have a tremendous impact on people's choices.
You'd want to be the hotel that everyone has a good word for when its name comes up.
Keep your staff satisfied
This seems like a round-about way to stand out in the crowd, especially if you're only focusing on standing out to potential customers. However, you must understand that you don't want to attract only potential customers but also potential employees.
You don't want to be that hotel that's known for treating its staff poorly. Word gets around fast. A great work environment is usually the one difference between a hotel that has loyal staff and one that doesn't.
The way you treat your staff does not only affect how potential employees perceive you; you see, treating your staff poorly has a ripple effect on their ability to perform.
This might not be obvious to all, but you'll notice it if you're looking for it. It'll show in their demeanour - a slouch here, a sigh there. Guests might find them monotonous and boring. They might only perform at the barest minimum, without putting heart and soul into their work.
If you want to increase their productivity, offer them what no one else offers them. Treat them fairly. Reward them for a job well done. The trick to this is; if you go over and beyond the call of duty for them, they will do the same for you.
Reward guests for their loyalty
Loyalty programs are an excellent way to attract new customers and keep old ones coming. Like air miles and store vouchers, loyalty programs work like a charm to position you as the obvious choice in the minds of your customers.
You might be wary of loyalty programs because most hotels offer them, so they might not seem like the first choice to make your hotel stand out.
However, you should note that a good part of standing out is creating your own twist to the regular. You could create a loyalty program that offers better value than your guests will get with your competitors.
Of course, this would mean that you have already identified the key needs of your repeat guests. You can then use the loyalty programs to meet them.
When you're considering what rewards you'll be offering for your loyalty programs, here are a few things to note.
- Personalisation: It is important to personalise the services that you offer your guests as a reward for their loyalty. In a recent study, 61.2% of the survey participants indicated that they would prefer to choose their rewards from a loyalty program. These services do not necessarily have to be the hotel's, too; you could offer them in partnership with other parties.
- Timing: 29% of the participants in the same survey said they do not join programs because it takes too long to earn rewards. You must cut through this process. You can offer rewards at several points instead of one huge bonus when they get to the stipulated number of points. This will give them something to look forward to every step of the way.
As loyalty programs are a proven tactic for customer acquisition and retention, you must ensure that you take advantage of them.
The mere fact that there are many diverse players in the hotel industry may seem daunting. However, getting your hotel to attract potential customers' attention is not as hard as it looks.
As long as you're committed to creating an experience that your guests will never forget, focused on ensuring that you reach them wherever they are and are as interested in your staff's wellbeing as that of your guests, you're on the path to standing out.
Copyright 2021. Article was made possible by site supporter Alero Iseh, OutreachHumans.