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Marketing is a crucial tool for forming the brand identity, building up the customer base and inspiring loyalty. Travel and hospitality businesses are no exception. But there is a catch: what they sell is neither consumer goods nor services but rather an impression, an experience combining the decorations of rooms you rent out, helpfulness of your staff, atmosphere and many other things. Take it into account when preparing a marketing strategy.
1. Social Media
Since you sell feelings and impressions, make sure your customers can easily share them with their friends via social media. Accounts on Facebook and Twitter will give you an easy way to interact with customers plus a handy platform for dispensing special offers and discounts. Moreover, having active social media accounts tremendously increases your credibility – according to recent studies, virtually all tourists below 34 years of age turn to Facebook for tips and suggestions before making a booking decision.
2. Partnerships with Accompanying Services
Tourists visiting new locations tend to look for the same services whenever they go: hotels, online luggage storage networks, car rentals and so on. You can turn it to your advantage by establishing a partnership with businesses providing them and mutually promoting each other. As long as you don’t compete for the same customers, you can point them in the direction of each other, spread promotions and special offers.
3. Customer Insight Marketing
When customers don’t like something, they let everybody know by bulk text message. And in the age of social networks, it means everybody literally. To meet their expectations, you have to implement a customer insight program. You may just ask your guests to fill in a survey on leaving. If you have your own app, send the questionnaire to them through it. If you want to create a more old-fashioned feel, suggest that they leave a review in a guestbook. Ask your clients to express their impressions, share what they liked and disliked, what could’ve been done better, what they wanted but couldn’t obtain.
People like to feel important – thus the very experience of having been asked for an opinion is a positive impression in itself. And, of course, you learn how you can improve things right from the horse’s mouth.
4. Seasonal Promotions
Most hospitality businesses are heavily season-dependent. If you don’t close up for the off-season, you have to introduce incentives and offer them using various marketing channels: email newsletters, Groupon coupons, social media campaigns. Run promotions directly on your website, offer unique packages, hold seminars and other events.
5. Run a Loyalty Program
According to studies, 61 percent of travelers look for a loyalty program with a broad spectrum of rewards when book hotels, and 40 percent would tell their friends and acquaintances about positive redemption experience.
Bain & Company’s study states that from 60 to 80 percent of customers who describe themselves as satisfied don’t do any more business with a company that satisfied them. The reason behind this unsettling statistic is that this business didn’t establish any connection with them while it had a chance. A smart loyalty program can fill in this void.
6. Provide Virtual Tours across Your Hotel
The greatest misgiving of a tourist choosing a Hotels in London is not being able to see the room he is going to rent. By offering a virtual tour of your hotel, you can give your potential guests an opportunity to evaluate what they can expect before they pay anything. Clients spend for up to ten times more time on websites of hotels offering virtual tours than on those that don’t have this feature. Besides, a case study by Carlson Hotel group suggests that they generate 45 percent more sales than mere photos.
7. Make Your Website Accessible for Non-English Speakers
English may be the primary language of international communication, but there are still people who don’t speak it at all or don’t know it well enough to find out what they want from a website in English. By neglecting other languages, you neglect the money of the people who speak them. Find out how many representatives of different nationalities visit your location and start translating your website to accommodate the most numerous ones.
The hospitality business is all about guessing and foreseeing wishes and needs of your guests, current, and potential. As long as you understand what they want, you can make an unforgettable impression on them; as long as you can impress them, you can give them the reason to come back next time they visit your location.