Independent hospitality organisations can often face a particular struggle to stand out and be noticed in what is a very competitive market. Without huge budgets or the support of corporate teams, marketing for standalone hospitality businesses often comes down to one member of staff who does a few extra bits in their spare time.
But with a bit of extra guidance, independents could find themselves utilising digital marketing to make huge improvements to their organisation. Harnessing free tools and the power of the customer, digital marketing doesn’t need to be seen as a huge commitment; rather, it can be an easy-to-implement money-making tool that sees you emerge as one of the most forward-thinking businesses in the industry.
By following these eight simple steps, within no time your online presence will increase 10-fold, and with it, will come more new business.
1. Look like a credible business
It’s an easy task to be listed on all the relevant industry directories that any other credible hospitality business would be. Including live links to your website from online directories improves your SEO, meaning when potential clients are using Google to search for the services they need you’ll appear higher in the results. Plus, because everyone is on mobile these days, having your contact details listed in directories means you’re only ever a tap away from someone making that first phone call or email. Which brings us on to…
2. Get your mobile presence sorted out
Hospitality can take various forms. It can be a spur of the moment action, like taking a client for lunch, or it could consist of planning an awards ceremony two years in advance. Mobile is more important than ever for spontaneous use of hospitality. With geo-location and social media mapping, customers can locate their nearest service and be on the company website within seconds. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, it will put the user off meaning you’ll lose out to other hospitality providers on your doorstep.
3. Social media
Social media is more popular than ever as an advocacy tool. You should be using it to demonstrate the great experiences you’re providing to your customers. Additionally, ask happy clients to post tweets about the service you’ve provided from their own channels, tagging your profile and including a link back to your site or email address, to help drive a whole new network to your business. Sharing of good times resonates with like-minded people, and makes them want to replicate the experience for themselves.
Potential clients use reviews on Trust Pilot, Google Reviews or similar online services to determine where they should spend their budget. There’s nothing more compelling than a five star review, so take those positive social media testimonials a step further, and incentivise happy customers to write a detailed, five star review that others can use to gauge whether they should work with you. Of course, all the reviews will convince them it’s a yes!
5. Email marketing
If you don’t have a client email database, now is the time to start building one. Email marketing is the most effective way of securing recurring business, and it doesn’t take a lot of hard work to get great results. Collect customer email addresses to build your database, and set reminders to send out targeted emails at the times of year your know specific customers are most likely to book services with you. Doing so leaves you front of mind at the time they start thinking about their next event, meaning you don’t lose out to the competition.
6. Foreign languages
The UK tourism market is booming, and with more and more foreign micro-communities forming, it’s important to ensure your digital offering is adaptable for other languages. A simple plug in will mean your website can translate to hundreds of different languages, making it more personable to foreign audiences. A personalised experience like this can be the difference between making a sale or checking out the competition.
Video is booming – and it doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Use your smartphone to capture footage of your next event, or a video testimonial with a happy customer, and use Apple’s iMovie to create something special. Video content is proven to massively increase engagement when used on social media, but more importantly, it speaks for itself when someone is checking out what you can offer.
8. Live interactions
The benefit of apps like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube is the ability to create immediate audiences who engage with you in real time. While your events are running, use social media to run polls, post live stories to give behind the scenes footage and utilise hashtags to join relevant conversations. It increases audience participation, shows you’re relevant and creates extra excitement around your brand. The best bit? All of this is free to do!
To learn more about digital marketing in the hospitality industry, visit our website, at www.bekagool.com