Are you involved in the online marketing game for your independent hotel?
Then you’re probably bombarded with lots of empty promises. Online marketers have done a great job saturating the web with whispers of a “secret sauce”.
You know, the one thing that if done right, will crush all your competition including the OTA’s that make it hard for your profits to grow. And I’m sure by now you’ve heard buzzwords like SEO, content marketing, viral content and so on. While most marketers are well meaning in their quest to sell you their secret formula, it’s important you don’t lose sight of this fundamental fact:
Gimmicks and sales techniques are not the answer to driving more sales and conversion into your business. They have their time and place. But they are definitely not a secret sauce.
If at all there is such a thing as a secret sauce to help you grow your revenue and build brand loyalty, it will only be found in the application of these three factors that I promised to share.
According to Harvard business review, you shouldn’t be focusing on loyalty.
And you know what? They’re right.
But before I share with you a story that validates this research, let me reveal the three factors that will make your marketing effective in 2019 and beyond. Are you ready?
- Know Your Guest.
- Be Authentic.
- Be Relevant.
That’s it in a nutshell. To me, these fundamental factors are “the secret sauce” to your success.
Harvard business review went on to share that according to recent consumer research from Kantar Retail, 71% of consumers now claim that loyalty incentive programs don’t make them loyal at all. Instead, in this new era of digital-based competition and customer control, people are increasingly buying because of a brand’s relevance to their needs at the moment.
To share with you just how important this idea of relevancy is, here’s a quick story about a trip to Bali with my daughter that ended up in Hilton Bali losing business.
As a mompreneur and professional storyteller, traveling with my family is what I enjoy. It’s great for my creativity and increases bonding time. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy mixing business and pleasure? When my daughter was younger, it was easier for me to pick a hotel based on loyalty discounts etc. Not anymore!
As she gets older, she’s becoming the biggest influencer in my travel choice. During a recent trip to Bali, I wanted to stay at the Hilton to build up my loyalty points before the year ends. Plus I was getting a better discount.
Unfortunately, being the tech-savvy girl that she is, Google was her natural reaction, as she wanted to make sure the rooms looked “cool” enough. Hilton did not do a good job at being relevant, authentic or enticing on their website. In the end, I was sold into a different five star where the hotel demonstrated on their website and social media that they love spoiling children and making them feel like V.I.P
The point I’m making is this.
When it comes to choosing between loyalty and making my child happy, it’s a no-brainer. And our teenage children now instantly Google, Instagram, and Facebook everything!
When the hotel does a poor job being relevant and authentic, it becomes a hard sell. I asked my daughter why Hilton was at the bottom of her hotel list
and she simply said, “ there’s not enough useful information or pretty images that make me want to stay there.” Case closed.
So how does knowing your guest, being authentic and relevant help drive marketing success and increased revenue?
It’s simple really.
The more you know your guests or potential guests and what they love, the easier it becomes to produce meaningful and relevant content. You will naturally gain the attention and interest of that guest when he or she feels like you understand, care about and value them.
In the example I just shared above, that immediately translates to a direct booking. And money that’s now lost for that brand. Imagine how many “smaller” hotels are losing money daily because they don’t do effective content marketing.
Are you losing money as well?
I’m going to assure you, if these three factors aren’t integrated into your marketing, you’ll be losing big money. Given the fact that millennials are quickly gaining spending power, it can equate to a serious decline in revenue.
So you see, this isn’t about sales techniques or quadrupling your marketing budget. This is about understanding how to create content that helps you connect and engage with your audience in an authentic and relevant way.
What can you do to ensure you produce meaningful and relevant content in 2019 and beyond that translate to direct sales?
First. Get to know your potential and recurring guests and their needs.
The only way to know the different segments of your guests and what they need or care about is to interact more with them. Leverage digital technologies and social platforms.
Interact with them consistently especially online. Instead of being an impersonal brand, position yourself as the brand with a distinctly human touch and friendly voice.
Second. Develop your “authenticity” muscles.
As you interact more with your audience, you’ll naturally increase your ability to create marketing content that feels authentic.
People aren’t buying into “celebrity endorsements” anymore. The younger generation doesn’t care about the people we consider celebrities. I like staying at the Mandarin Oriental in Paris not because some celebrity endorses it but because it’s the only hotel my daughter likes going back to so far. Usually after the first try, if she doesn’t like a new place, it doesn’t matter which celebrity was there – it’ll be her last.
This is a new era. A time where people want to feel a genuine connection to the brands they invest in. With all your marketing efforts especially your content marketing, make sure you focus more on demonstrating that you have the empathy, understanding, and excellence your guest is looking for.
Third. Be more relevant. Let your content marketing provide useful guest focused information.
Be inspiring. Research on the topics, questions, concerns, and desires that your guests care about. This isn’t the 90’s. Stop trying to speak to everyone. Focus on how you can be more personalized for your guests.
Individualism and a sense of belonging are what people care about nowadays. I know this will stretch your current thinking and marketing strategy but trust me – it will pay off in the long run.
In our rapidly changing digitally connected world, guests are constantly re-evaluating their purchases. They are continuously seeking out the brands that are most relevant and authentic.
In order to succeed as an independent hotel, you must be agile and pivot as your guests keep evolving. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done and the rewards are amazing.
More than ever, parents and guests in general, are willing to pay a premium for hotels that really “get them”. If you want your content to drive results then you need to ensure your content is directed at the overlap between what your brand can offer and what your potential guests desire.
It’s tricky finding that sweet spot, so be strategic about it and leverage the power of storytelling to achieve your objective. If you know your clients and give them what they want- the rest (i.e. profits) must follow.