Hospitality is an age old profession. The trends guiding it, however; change faster than you can imagine. The best part is that a lot of them are rooted in common best practices from yesteryear. Now they may be considered as somewhat novel but, when applied to modern hotel marketing practices, these gestures become increasingly relevant in the online space. Join me as I walk you through three simple yet extremely effective areas of hotel marketing accompanied by tips for the modern hotelier.
Answer booking inquiries efficiently and effectively
Depending on the season, your hotel can experience varying request and booking volumes. The response rate and speed however should not waver.
Hospitality, like any other business, is rooted in sales. A good rule of thumb when it comes to sales is connect in 24 hours or less. When it comes to a customer service department, success is often measured in the percentage of inquiries answered within one day of receipt. When it comes to a sales team, no more than 24 hours should exist between the time the salesperson met the lead and the first point of follow-up contact.
Faster is better. And it’s the same for your business too.
Bookings can be realized on many different channels. First there is the walk-in. Someone should be there to greet them at all times, answer any questions, and show them that this is the ideal hotel for their evening stay. This may sound like common sense but you’d be surprised how many hotels lose business because no one is at the reception desk.
This is particularly true of small to medium size accommodations and bed and breakfasts. Although staffing can be expensive and many hoteliers have to pull triple-duty between managing the front desk, the bar, and the restaurant, there should always be a set of eyes on that front door. If it’s really hard to do this given the layout of your hotel, make sure that your rates and hotel details are on clear display near the entrance.
Similarly, check your hotel answering machine as often as possible and call potential guests back right away. If they do not answer their phone, do not hesitate to leave a message as well or to text them back a response. You’d be surprised how efficient this is. And how effective at converting travellers into guests.
If your hotel has a social media profile (or several), be sure to check the message box associated with each, at least once a day. When travellers message hotels on Facebook or Twitter they typically expect a response that day. Don’t forget, if they’re messaging your hotel about a booking, chances are good that they are asking others as well. By being the first to respond you make a good impression and grab their attention before the competition does.
Then there’s email. Check junk boxes regularly, just in case. It’s possible for well-intentioned emails to end up there. To save yourself time, save and collect your past email responses into one Word document. This way you save time in the future by not re-writing the same answer over and over again.
TIP: The first lines of the email should be reserved for the personal touch. This is where you address the traveller by name and refer to the particulars of their email. The responses, although personably written in tone, may be copy, pasted and briefly edited from the past responses you save and are drawing upon now.
Sending notes isn’t old-school, it’s new-school
It’s the little things that count. Hospitality comes in many forms. It’s there at the dinner table when friends invite you into their home for a party and it’s present when a hotelier greets their guests at reception. But it’s elsewhere too. It’s a part of the communication before and after these events.
When I was a little girl it was common place to both send and receive thank-you notes. Somewhere though this practice became the exception instead of the norm.
That can work to your advantage now.
Cards, digitally printed en masse still appear in many hotel rooms but often seem disingenuous to the guest. Why? They are typically signed by someone whom the guest has not interacted with and carry the same cookie-cutter remarks. And this is where you can make a difference in the guest experience.
The other week, a good friend of mine booked her upcoming stay in Keflavik, Iceland, via an online travel agent (OTA). As soon as she booked her stay, the hotel manager messaged her to confirm booking details and welcome her ahead of her vacation in Iceland.
But that’s not all.
Just the other day, the same hotelier messaged her again. She just wanted to double check that everything was set for her guest’s arrival. When my friend received this personal message, she double-checked her booking confirmation and realized that she booked the wrong date by accident.
Because this one hotelier messaged her in advance of her trip, she was able to correct her booking mistake at this hotel and with several others, saving her a lot of grief and inconvenience.
Although this particular hotel was closed for the new date due to a family event, they also set aside a suite for my friend and let her know that she’d be welcome among them any time. Now that’s hospitality!
Well, needless to say, my friend can’t stop talking about this Bed and Breakfast. In the few moments that it took for the hotel manager to respond to that booking, a huge impression and a lot of marketing potential has been earned. That one response to an online booking has resulted in a happy guest, word of mouth among her friends, family and co-workers, and enough of an impact that it’s included in this blog post which will live online for all to see.
TIP: Take a few moments out of your day to connect with guests as they book a stay at your hotel online. Feel free to follow up with them just prior to their arrival and send them a note following their stay. Use the first sentence of your note to mention their special needs, requests, or intended purpose of their trip to connect personally. Keep the note short and genuine. Sign it with your personal name instead of ‘The Management’.
You are the expert of your own hotel, be the expert of your hotel profile too
No one knows your hotel better than you. You know what makes it unique. You know what parts of it make it special to you. You know where guests like to go and what they like to do. You know the different preferences of each type of quest (read: business verses leisure) and you know when your rooms look their best. You know your rates and how they fluctuate.
So be proactive. Google your hotel to see where and how it appears online.
Notice that it’s listed on sites other than those of the OTAs that you work with? It most likely means that the OTAs have provided other sites with the right to promote your accommodations. Don’t hesitate to connect with those OTAs to improve your profile. Let them know what content is relevant and which to use if it needs updating. Remember, nothing is more damaging than a bad photo. So make sure you tell them which to use and which to remove if outdated ones appear on the listings of your OTA partners and their affiliates.
TIP: Check out and explore hotel metasearch sites to list your hotel profile on more platforms, directly. Remember, the more exposure you have and the better the content the more likely it is that you’ll attract more bookings.
The Internet is a powerful tool and it can be harnessed to grow your business, bringing you into the world of travel for the modern hotelier. All it takes is working smart, and a few, dedicated moment’s each day.