In the hospitality industry, your online presence is your most valuable marketing asset. When done correctly, your digital activity will help your venue to find new customers and promote repeat business. In order to effectively market your business in the digital space, follow these 7 essential tips for hospitality marketing.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying your target audience should be the first step in any marketing strategy. The hospitality industry is highly competitive with a range of venues offering different things. For example; fine dining establishments, pubs, cocktail bars and more. Each of these venue types attract different audiences and will therefore need to be communicated with in a different way. When determining your target audience you need to consider the following:
- Venue type, location and atmosphere.
- Venue price and key message/theme.
- Target audience demographics such as age group, marital status, gender and income levels.
- Target audience psychographics such as personality traits, interests, attitudes and lifestyle.
Your target audience will be created by analysing your current offer, your current client base and your competitors target audiences. Along with educated guesses on your target audience’s behaviours and interests.
2. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
We live in a digital era which means no hospitality operation can get by without a website. As mobile phones continue to takeover as the number one digital platform, these websites must also be mobile friendly. Your website design needs to be accessible to consumers and clearly establish:
- Your location
- Booking buttons and contact details
On top of this your website should contain high quality images of menu items, the venue itself and any promotional images from events.
3. Beat the Competition with Search Engine Optimisation
The online landscape is highly competitive, so it’s important you spend time optimising your website to boost its visibility in major search engines. Search engine optimisation will help to drive a greater number of interested customers to your website. A few ways to do this are:
- Use a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and SEMrush to find search phrases:
- Popular in your local area (i.e. ‘cocktail bars near me’).
- Related to your venue’s offering (i.e. ‘Japanese restaurants’).
- Ensure your website meta data is correctly formatted.
- Ensure image alt tags are in place for images on your website.
- Utilise structured data to highlight menu features, opening hours and other key information.
4. Create a Social Media Strategy
A strong social media presence is essential for all businesses in the hospitality industry. Your choice of social media channels will depend on your target audience and their social preferences. The two major social media channels that are essential for all hospitality venues are Facebook and Instagram. These channels allow you to simultaneously manage customer relations and communicate key messaging to your customers. Your social media strategy should include:
- At least 3 updates per week.
- A regular review of business information such as hours, menu, contact details and link to website.
- A regular review of venue, food and events images.
- A regular review of targeted Facebook Ads and event boosts.
- Regular review of special events campaigns including Christmas parties, birthday parties, engagement parties, hens nights and weddings.
Three Other Popular Platforms That May Be of Use Are:
- Twitter and Snapchat which can be useful to venues targeting a younger and more tech-savvy audience.
- LinkedIn, which can be useful for venues aiming to attract corporate audiences.
To ensure your social media strategy is most effective, carefully decide on your platforms based on your target audience. Then set out a social media strategy in 3 – 6 month increments and stick to it.
5. Boost Your Reputation with Review Management
Consumer behaviour has changed with potential customers now placing a large amount of power in the hands of other customers. As a result your business reviews play a major role in the decision making process. Hospitality business owners should monitor reviews across a range of major channels including social media, Tripadvisor, Zomato and Google. To ensure you maintain great customer relationships take time to respond to all reviews. Acknowledge positive reviews to encourage repeat visits and provide apologies and helpful explanations for any complaints. This not only helps to repair damaged relationships with an unhappy customer but will also boost the respect and value of your business with potential customers.
6. Harness the Power of Email Marketing
Support your hospitality marketing strategy with an email marketing campaign. Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with customers and potential customers. A few key ways email marketing can improve your venue’s business are:
- To generate exposure for any upcoming events and seasonal specials.
- Engage with customers for special events including upcoming birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.
- Automated messages can be designed to generate feedback and reviews.
Before you can begin email marketing you need to grow your database, this can be done in a variety of ways such as:
- Through online competitions.
- Business card draws in your venue.
- Asking customers to opt in when making a booking or reservation.
7. Leverage Influencers and the Media to Attract New Customers
Positive media coverage is often one of the biggest contributors to a business’s bottom line. It can be difficult to secure features and mentions, so it’s important that your channels appear professional and are used correctly.
Bloggers are an influential source of information in the hospitality industry. Food bloggers often have large followings which can be used to leverage new customers for your business. Hospitality operators can interact with influencers through social media platforms to gain their attention.
Your hospitality marketing strategy should include distribution of invitations to key bloggers in your local area. The strategy should invite bloggers into your venue for a first hand experience in return for promotion to their audience.
Another way to promote your venue is through pitching to local media publications. Research the publications in your area to see what would interest the editors about your business. Send a pitch email that is compelling and to the point, then provide the editor with a follow up phone call within 48 hours.
Here are more hospitality and marketing articles from Marketing.com.au:
- 6 Big Mistakes Made By Hotel Marketers
- 7 Practical Strategies to Promote Your Hospitality Business
- Four Simple Steps to Market Your Small Business for Free