Marketing for a small boutique hotel can be a challenge when you have to compete for business with big names in the hospitality industry. Though there is a clear advantage to a widely recognized chain name, there are advantages to not having one, as well. Many travelers seek a unique, personalized experience that they will never get at a chain hotel. As a small boutique hotel, this is exactly what you can offer your travelers effortlessly.
One way to leverage your size to your advantage is to make it the core of your marketing and sales promotion. Many small boutique hotels use marketing strategies that large hotels use. The problem with this is that both the target population and the product are different, so the marketing should be different as well. Instead of trying to fit into the world of big names, embrace your size as a strength and use it as a point of promotion. Here are five ways to do just that and succeed in hospitality marketing:
Your promotional material should emphasize on everything that makes your business unique. A small boutique hotel can provide guests with individual attention and personal care, and it is important that you let potential guests know this. You can also focus on unique elements of your space, amenities, business model, menu, or anything in between. Maybe you use furniture made with biodegradable materials, buy local products, have a natural pool, or an interesting history. Whatever it is, make sure that you use it to make a statement of the experience that guests won’t be able to find anywhere else.
The truth is, most small hotels have a relatively small marketing and advertising budget. This means that they often rely on word-of-mouth from prior customers as an important means of promotion. Contrary to what many believe, this can be a very effective travel marketing and promotional strategy, as people tend to believe their acquaintances’ opinion of products, we call this social proof and they weigh them more heavily than what they read online from someone they may not know.
Of course, the best way to promote via word-of-mouth is to have an amazing service that people will be excited to talk about. Take a moment and take inventory of your tourism business service. Are you taking care of every customer the best you can?
Besides this, you should have strategies that actively encourage guests to get the word out. One of the best ways to do this is to engage social media and also work with bloggers. In the growing digital world, bloggers are one of the most respected experts in travel. Because they personally connect with their readers over the long term, they have the ability to promote to their already assembled wide audience that trusts their word.
You can also set up a loyalty program that rewards travelers for returning, and for referring people to your hotel. And give bonuses if they share or check-in on social media!
Use your space’s potential to host fun and unforgettable events. Whether it’s small conferences, baby showers, weddings, retreats, birthdays or workshops, if there’s an event that you can host, let people know. Other small businesses, families, and holistic travelers would love to participate in events at small hotels, that offer a unique experience and added value to your destination. Opening spaces up for events is a foolproof way to promote your business. Not only will you get more guests, you will also get free advertising when they upload pictures and videos of the amazing event onto their social media. This type of happy customer social proof is priceless.
A bit of advice, don’t offer all of the events listed above. That could be overwhelming for your time and resources, pick one or two that will resonate with your guests, is exciting to you and add value to your travel experience.
Additionally, this is the perfect chance to earn some returning guests. If anyone who participated in an event is extremely satisfied with their experience, you can rest assured that they will stay with you when they come back to town or intentionally come visit again.
One of the best parts of being a boutique, small hotel is that you have the chance to connect with your local community. Network within your town or city/county to work with other businesses, and promote yourself through them. This can work in a number of ways. For example, you can work out a cross-referral agreement with a restaurant, so you both promote the other business in your own space. You can also buy from local businesses & vendors and ask them to display your logo somewhere in their space under a sign that goes along the lines of “Proud Provider for X Hotel.” Chamber of Commerce, Local Tourism Board, Convention Center, stretch your mind and reach out to connect about potential partnerships that will make you more sales with less effort. By building your name within your community, you will become a well-recognized member, and you will be creating a network that is sure to promote you.
Like I said, one of the biggest advantages of being a small boutique hotel is being able to provide a personalized customer experience. When you get to know your guests personally, you will also figure out what they are interested in. Use this to connect with them both in person and online. This is invaluable information to factor into your marketing plans.
What does this mean? Basically, listen to what they want, and give it to them. If you notice that many of your guests love trying out local dishes, set up a weekly themed-day around a local dish/drink/ingredient or add it to your room service menu. Then, offer your guests discounts and prizes for sharing pictures on their social media and tagging you on them. If you know one of your guests loves a particular wine, send a bottle up to their room, on the house. Be friendly, build connections, and invite your customers into your business family. Make them feel welcome, taken care of and understood.
Connecting also means setting up social media to meet your guests’ expectations. Post content that you will know your guests will love like articles about traveling or a specific interest related to your area and local events & tours. You can also share beautiful pictures throughout the seasons, interesting statistics, and funny content that will get your guests to both like and share what you post.
So what’s the moral of the story? Being a small hotel should strengthen, not limit, your marketing. You are a hands-on boutique and customers want to see that in all you do – especially in your hospitality marketing and social media. Take advantage of your size and use it as a way to market yourself by connecting to your community, your guests, and other businesses in the travel and hospitality industry & those in the industry that can grow your customer base. Let the world know what makes you unique and amazing, and don’t be shy about it!
I want to hear from you. What do think of these tips for marketing your small boutique hotel? Did you implement something we recommended? We want to know how it worked. Share in the comments below & be sure to include your business name – so we can check you out too!
If you are interested in learning more about the best hotel marketing strategies or having the Experience Expert’s hotel marketing strategies and services, reach out and we’d love to connect with you. Our goal is to increase your luxury hotel’s revenue and online presence. Schedule your discovery call today.