New Year’s resolutions for hoteliers
By Sarah Came, Copywriter and Content Marketing Specialist, GuestRevu
People are inspired to travel online, do their research online, book online, share their experiences online and post their reviews online – you cannot ignore the online space. This year, set aside a little more budget for improving your online presence and online reputation management (ORM).
Social media is the new photo album. People post pictures and statuses about their holidays and their friends ooh and aah with jealousy, and dream of having the same experience, or an even better one, but unlike photo albums, you can be there as they do so. Become part of the conversation and let people know who you are, what makes you special and what you are up to.
Your website is a window into your hotel that anyone at any time anywhere in the world can look into. If you are looking to attract travellers, giving them a sense of what it might be like to visit you while they are still at home planning their trip is invaluable. Make sure that you get your website right.
Many potential guests will first discover your hotel via your online travel agency (OTA) listing. Getting a professional photographer in to take a few pictures of your property might cost a bit extra, but providing beautiful, unique, high-quality images is one of the most important things you can do for your OTA listing, and you can re-use the same photographs on your website and social media.
2. Make some friends
Ever heard "it's not what you know, it's who you know"? Industry and supplier networking can be invaluable in getting you good deals, and marketing is communicating, so you need to be communicating with the right people.
If you have event or conference facilities, event planners in your area can be great friends to have. Let them know what you have to offer, and treat them like friends – be helpful, be understanding, and be willing to make deals with them that will benefit both of you.
The same goes for other hospitality businesses nearby. Recommend your neighbours to your guests if they fancy a change. If you point some trade in their direction, your neighbours are more likely to do the same thing for you.
3. Set SMART goals
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy theory, making goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound ("SMART") is a method that works for many people in a multitude of industries.
Decide where you want to be and what you want to achieve and be specific. Don't just say, "I want to increase occupancy rates" rather say, "I want to increase occupancy rates by 10%". If you know exactly where you are going, you are more like to be able to figure out the best way to get there.
If you are specific enough, you probably won't have trouble measuring your goal, but make sure that you can measure your progress so that you don't fall behind, get disheartened, distracted or overconfident.
Making goals achievable is, obviously, vital. You can always set further goals once you achieve one, but missing your goal can dent your confidence and will to succeed. Goals should also be relevant, if your guests often complain about the rickety dining tables, don't resolve to sort out the garden.
You also need to make goals time-bound. Tell yourself that something needs to happen in the third quarter or by a certain date. This is as important as making a goal specific; it ensures that you have something concrete to work towards.
4. Focus on value
Value doesn't always mean a lot of stuff for a little money – value is about a feeling, it is perceived more than it is measured. Value can be created by something as simple as exceptionally helpful staff or a welcome letter left in a room addressed personally to the guest (personalisation and individual focus is usually a fool-proof way to add value).
Guests seldom choose hotels based solely on price or location, tourists are looking for a special experience, which is made up of a number of factors. It is in the provision of this experience that you can create value in your offering.
Examine your guests' whole experience with you, from the moment that they learn of your property's existence to the time when they are writing reviews and telling their friends about their holidays. Is there anywhere along this journey where you could be improving the guests' experience, and are there any opportunities along the way for you to go above the essentials and add value?
Once you have identified ways to enhance value for your guests, don't forget to share the enhanced value online.
5. Pay attention to your guests
Your guests can tell you a lot about what you need to do to succeed, so listen to them, pay attention to what is working and what isn't. When you discover something that people are enjoying, do more of it, if something isn't working so well, improve it or discard it and do something better.
Also, don't just wait for guests to give you feedback, ask them for it. Ask people while they are with you if everything is ok, ask them in the mornings if they slept well, ask them if they need anything, what their plans are for their holiday – open up a dialogue, without being creepy and pushy, and you will be more likely to gather valuable titbits of feedback that you can use to improve your offering.
However, if you really want in-depth feedback from guests, and you should, don't expect them to give you a presentation on the pros and cons of their stay when they could be at the beach or seeing the sights. Rather ask guests for more detailed feedback once they are at home. Put together a comprehensive questionnaire that you can email to guests or even better, use guest feedback software to gather the kinds of more detailed comments that will allow you to improve your offerings.
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