Developing a marketing plan for independent hotels can be a challenging task, but with a little planning and creativity, it is possible to effectively promote your hotel and attract a steady stream of guests. Here are some steps you can follow to create a comprehensive marketing plan for your independent hotel:
Identify your target market:
Determine who you want to attract as guests and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Consider factors such as age, income level, interests, and travel habits.
Set your marketing goals:
Decide what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. Do you want to increase bookings, drive repeat business, or raise awareness of your hotel? Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals will help you stay focused and track your progress. (read 3 Examples of SMART Goals in the Hospitality Industry)
Determine your budget:
Determine how much you can afford to spend on marketing and allocate your budget accordingly. Be sure to include both traditional and digital marketing efforts in your budget. The amount you should allocate to marketing will depend on a variety of factors such as the size of your hotel, your target market, the competition in your area, and the specific marketing tactics you plan to use. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to allocate a percentage of your overall revenue to marketing. The exact percentage will depend on your specific circumstances, but many experts recommend allocating between 3-5% of your revenue to marketing. For example, if your hotel generates £750,000 in revenue per year, you might allocate £22,500-£37,500 per year to marketing. This budget could be used to cover a variety of marketing efforts, including website development and maintenance, social media advertising, email marketing, print and online advertising, and public relations efforts. (read more about hotel marketing budgets)
Develop a unique selling proposition:
What makes your hotel stand out from the competition? Emphasise the unique features and amenities that your hotel offers to attract potential guests. These might include a beautiful location, luxurious rooms, exceptional customer service, a unique theme or design, or a wide range of activities and amenities. Consider your target market and what they are looking for in a hotel. For example, if your hotel is located in a popular holiday destination like Bournemouth or Poole, you might emphasise the variety of activities and attractions that are nearby. If your hotel is in a business district, you might focus on the convenience of your location and the amenities that cater to business travellers
Create a website:
An independent hotel website should have a range of features to help attract and convert potential guests. Some key features to consider include:
- A visually appealing design: The design of your website should be professional and visually appealing, with high-quality images and a consistent colour scheme.
- Detailed information about your hotel: Your website should provide detailed information about your hotel, including the location, room types, amenities, and any special deals or packages you offer.
- Online booking capability: Your website should allow guests to easily book a room online, with a clear call to action and a simple booking process.
- Mobile-friendly design: Many travellers use their mobile phones to research and book hotels, so it’s important to ensure that your website is optimised for mobile devices.
- Guest reviews: Including guest reviews on your website can help build trust and credibility with potential guests.
- Social media integration: Linking to your social media accounts can help you connect with potential guests and showcase your hotel.
- Contact information: Make it easy for potential guests to get in touch with you by including your contact information, including your phone number and email address, on your website.
- A blog or news section: A blog or news section on your website can help you keep potential guests informed about your hotel and the local area, and can also help improve your search engine ranking.
Utilise social media in your marketing plan for independent hotels:
As an independent hotel, there are many types of content that you can post on social media to engage with potential guests and promote your hotel. Some ideas for content to post on social media include:
- Photos and videos: Share high-quality photos and videos of your hotel, rooms, amenities, and local attractions to give potential guests a sense of what to expect when they stay with you.
- Special deals and packages: Share information about any special deals or packages that you are offering, such as weekend getaways or romantic packages.
- Local events and attractions: Share information about local events and attractions that your guests may be interested in, such as festivals, concerts, and sporting events.
- Guest reviews: Share positive guest reviews and testimonials to help build trust and credibility with potential guests.
- Behind-the-scenes content: Give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes of your hotel by sharing content such as employee profiles, photos of your team at work, or information about how you are keeping your hotel clean and safe.
- Travel tips and inspiration: Share travel tips and inspiration, such as recommendations for things to do in the local area, to help potential guests plan their trip.
Utilise email marketing:
A hotel can send an email newsletter to its subscribers to keep them informed about the latest happenings at the hotel, such as new amenities, promotions, and events. The newsletter can also include content about the local area, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, and events. Here are some ideas for content that a hotel could include in an email newsletter:
- Special offers and promotions: This could include discounts on room rates, package deals, and other special offers.
- New amenities and services: If the hotel has recently added a new restaurant, spa, or fitness centre, this could be a great opportunity to showcase these new amenities in the newsletter.
- Upcoming events: If the hotel is hosting a special event, such as a wedding or conference, the newsletter could provide information about the event and how to book tickets or make reservations.
- Local attractions and activities: The newsletter could provide information about nearby tourist attractions, restaurants, and other activities that guests might be interested in while they’re staying at the hotel.
- Behind-the-scenes content: This could include interviews with hotel staff, profiles of local artisans or suppliers, and other content that provides a look behind the scenes of the hotel.
In terms of frequency, it’s generally a good idea to send the newsletter on a regular basis, but not so often that it becomes overwhelming for subscribers. A monthly newsletter is a good starting point, but the frequency can be adjusted based on the amount of content available and the preferences of the hotel’s subscribers. Read more about how to build an email marketing list
Partner with local businesses and organisations:
Partnering with local businesses and organisations can help you reach new audiences and build relationships in your community. Consider offering discounts or promotions to employees of local companies, or partnering with local organisations to host events at your hotel.
Consider traditional marketing efforts:
There are several traditional marketing techniques that can be effective for an independent hotel. Here are a few ideas:
- Print advertising: Print ads in local or regional publications can help reach potential guests who might not be familiar with the hotel. This could include ads in newspapers, magazines, or visitor guides.
- Direct mail: Direct mail campaigns can be used to target specific demographics or geographic areas with promotional materials, such as brochures or postcards.
- Public relations: Press releases and media outreach can help generate positive exposure for your hotel, particularly if there is interesting news or events to share.
- Referral marketing: Encouraging satisfied guests to refer friends and family can be a cost-effective way to generate new business. This could involve offering incentives, such as a discount or loyalty program.
- Sponsorship and partnerships: Partnering with local businesses or events can provide exposure and build relationships with potential guests. For example, your hotel could sponsor a local music festival or partner with a restaurant to offer package deals.
- In-room marketing: Materials in guest rooms, such as brochures, flyers, or business cards, can help guests learn more about the hotel and its services.
Measure and analyse your results:
Keep track of your marketing efforts and the results they produce. Use tools like Google Analytics to measure website traffic and conversions, and track the success of your social media and email marketing efforts. Use this data to adjust your marketing strategy and focus on the tactics that are most effective for your hotel.
By following these steps and being consistent and persistent in your marketing efforts, you can effectively promote your independent hotel and attract a steady stream of guests.
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