There are only three ways to increase hotel bookings in your venue and grow your sales. I know what you’re thinking. There must be more than three. Well, that might be true, but we’ve grouped them under these three main ways to give you the framework for thinking it through.
The three ways are:
- Attract new guests
- Increase guest frequency
- Increase the average cost per visit
Seems easy to increase hotel bookings right? It is easy, but it’s not that simple.
Let’s dive into each one and the strategies to help you accomplish each of these objectives.
1. Attract new guests
It doesn’t matter how old your hotel is, there are always opportunities to attract new guests to your venue. The good news is there are always new people moving into your area. New housing brings new people to the area. Have you seen some new home developments pop up recently? New homes, townhomes, apartment complexes? Chances are, yes. And sadly, they might not know about your venue despite how long you’ve been there. They may have friends and relatives visiting them and looking for a place to stay. Maybe they might want to eat in your restaurant or have a drink in your bar. Better still, they might be looking for a nearby wedding venue or somewhere for their guests to stay!
Strategies that work to attract new guests include:
Facebook and Instagram advertising. Chances are you’ve tried a few boosted posts – which we don’t recommend. (See article on this here). You have to leverage the incredibly powerful ad platform called Power Editor that Facebook has to reach your customers, in hyper-targeted ways. For example, you can target people on Facebook who have a birthday coming up in the next 7 days, you can target those with upcoming anniversaries, newly engaged couples, craft beer enthusiasts, people in a particular income bracket or who have expense purchasing behaviour and more. Instagram is now part of the FB ad platform, and the engagement rate on Instagram is second to none. If you don’t have an engaged presence on these two platforms, you’re missing out on the most potent way to attract new guests.
Facebook is currently going through some data changes so hyper-targeting may well be a little more condensed but just play around with it and see what fits your target clientele.
2. Increase guest frequency
Getting guests to come back to your hotel or restaurant, again and again (and more often) requires a separate mindset and strategy from attracting new guests. It starts with great food and great service. We all know that. We’re assuming that’s a priority for you and something you take seriously. Keep the toilets clean too, people stay away sometimes just because they know the toilets aren’t pleasant. And the great food and service won’t take precedence. We’re assuming you have your priorities straight and it’s time to get smarter at marketing to guests who have had a good experience. We don’t just want them to come back, we want them to come back more frequently.
Strategies that work to increase guest frequency include:
Wi-Fi marketing, Email marketing, SMS (Text) marketing, Facebook, Instagram. Wi-Fi marketing companies have taken off this past year because of their innovative Wi-Fi marketing solutions that tie in email and SMS into their platforms, all of which help retain guests and increase guest frequency.
If you aren’t adding hundreds of emails to your venues email database (through creative social media marketing campaigns and in-house promos to get emails) then you are missing out on a major piece of the retention puzzle. And SMS, Text marketing? Well, keep in mind that the Gen Y and Z prefer text over email…so, what are you waiting for?
Keep in mind, having these tools are great, but if you don’t have a good Wi-Fi, Email and SMS strategy, your retention won’t be what it should be and your frequency won’t increase like it could if you had one. Hotels and venues invest in these tools, and then they don’t know how to maximise them to get results. That doesn’t increase sales.
What about Facebook and Instagram? Of course, it’s powerful for keeping in front of fans and existing guests as well. If you have an email list (and you should), you can also upload your email list to Facebook and market to those guests – which can help increase guest frequency as well. Facebook Live video and Instagram stories should also be part of your marketing mix and retention strategy – and if you don’t know what these are or how to use them you are already being left behind.
3. Increase the average cost per visit
Yes, you could raise your room or menu prices. That’s one way, but there are other ways as you already know. It’s surprising how many hotel owners and general managers don’t leverage the time they have with the guest while they are in the venue, such as ordering food and drink or upselling on other items.
Strategies that work to increase the average cost include:
In-house promotions and customer service training. This one is down to you. Having great in-house promotions and specials (that they learn about when they visit) can consistently increase the size of the total cost of the bill. But, often times it’s just a matter of training your staff on how to gently, yet persuasively, up-sell guests. If they are eating in your venue, your staff could ask – “In addition to getting your drinks, what can I start you off with this evening? Can I recommend the *insert special appetiser or starter option here*? They’re a guest favourite here!” This presupposes the sale, it’s not a question of “Can I start you out with some appetisers…” which is a yes/no question, it’s asking which one they want to start out with. Sometimes the smallest adjustment in your language can make all the difference in a sale.
And of course, don’t forget to ask which dessert they want to end their dinner with.
If they are checking in at your reception area, are your staff asking if they want to book for dinner there that evening, or breakfast the next morning? Do they want any extras in their room? What are you currently offering that could make them spend more by upgrading?
Remember to plan
We’re consistently surprised and shocked how many business owners don’t have a marketing plan, let alone a digital marketing plan. Social media and the other strategies discussed here are all very real ways to get results and increase sales. Unfortunately, if you are failing to plan, you’re really just planning to fail.
If all of this seems a little overwhelming, let us know, we’re here to help. We can consult you through a strategy. Our social media boost plan is only £99 and we can go through your social media platforms and put together a detailed document enabling you to know exactly what you need to do, to grow your sales in your hotel or venue.