Paid to Post: A Hotelier’s Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing. It’s likely a term you’ve heard thrown around in the last year or two, and perhaps is something you’ve considered doing yourself. You wouldn’t be alone; Hotel brands like Starwood Resorts, Fairmont, and Hilton Hotels are just a few of the businesses that have capitalized on this new opportunity. And a recent post on eHotelier included it as one of the top 5 marketing strategies for 2019. But it’s not just for large chains. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool available to independent hoteliers as well—one that is certainly worth your consideration. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

What is influencer marketing?

Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have created an ecosystem of influential people with huge followings. And just like traditional celebrities, their endorsement has immense commercial value. By partnering with these individuals, brands can reach new and larger audiences more authentically.

The arrangements between brands and influencers (and the content that is created) can come in many forms. Brands can ask for anything from blog posts, to photos on Instagram, to Snapchat videos, and compensation can be in the form of money or free product.

Why should I do it?

It works >> Influencers are called that for a reason: they have influence (a lot of it). These internet personalities have amassed troves of followers sharing their lives online and have earned tremendous loyalty from their fans. So, their endorsement matters. In the same way that a recommendation from a friend holds more credence than an advertisement, the endorsement of an influencer packs a massive marketing punch.

Makes targeting easy >> Partnering with influencers also gives you access to very specific and well-understood audiences. Their followers are their business, so influencers are acutely aware of who their demographic is and what they want. This can help you choose who to partner with in the first place and also means the influencer can create content they know will resonate with their audience.

Who should I partner with?

Find the right audience >> Choosing the right influencer is key to finding success with this marketing strategy. You want to find someone whose ethos and audience align with your business. Make a profile of your typical guest (based on region, age, lifestyle, and income) and search for an influencer that can deliver that demographic. If you own a boutique hotel that caters to affluent millennials, find an influencer whose audience reflects that. If your guests are primarily families, partner with a family travel blogger. Like any marketing investment, you need to ensure your content is reaching potential customers.

Micro-influencers >> Influencers with massive followings can be extremely expensive to collaborate with, but don’t let that scare you. Social media is a flourishing ecosystem, and there are plenty of smaller influencers, called micro-influencers, that make great collaborators. Not only are they cheaper to partner with but they tend to have a stronger relationship with their followers (more like a friend than a celebrity) and therefore can have much higher engagement.

How can I be successful?

Assess their engagement >> The success of social media influencers has prompted many people to buy fake followers in hopes of reaping the same benefits. Obviously, you want to avoid collaborating with these types of accounts. To ensure your influencer is legitimate, you should assess the engagement of their account (the number of likes versus the number of followers) and take a scroll through their comments to see if they reflect genuine, loyal fans. A comment section full of spam is a big red flag.

Measure ROI >> At the end of the day, influencer marketing is like any other marketing investment. The point is to increase revenue at your business, so you need to know it’s working. Calculate how much the partnership is costing you (whether it’s in free nights stays, amenities, or a fee) and compare it to the revenue they bring to your business. You can track their impact by giving them a unique promo code, a branded hashtag or using UTM parameters. 

Social media has changed the marketing game irrevocably. Today’s consumers (made up by a millennial majority) engage with businesses and each other in entirely new ways. Influencers that rose to fame on social platforms are the newest celebrities, and they have the power to bring in massive revenue with their endorsement. Consider incorporating influencer marketing into your current strategy to increase your marketing reach. 

A Hotelier’s Guide to the Holiday Season

You’re probably just beginning to take down your Halloween decor, but pretty soon you’ll have new decorations to put up. Christmas is fast approaching, and you need to be prepared. The holidays are an excellent time for hotels to increase occupancy, up-sell bookings, and delight guests. So, it’s time to start planning.

Here’s a quick guide to help hoteliers get ready for (and get the most out of) this holiday season.

Special packages

Like all special occasions, you should take this opportunity to curate themed packages to offer your guests. These could include things like Christmas dinner, gift-wrapping services, holiday cookies—family packages could even feature a visit from Santa.

When building packages, consider partnering with local businesses. You might not have the ability to put on big holiday events at your property, but you can still include tickets to local events and attractions in the community. Things like sleigh rides, light displays, holiday concerts, and ski passes make great additions to a holiday package.

In addition to creating new packages, look at existing ones and tweak their descriptions to give them a holiday spin. If it includes spa services, for example, you could rename it “Holiday Bliss” and invite them to “have a stress-free holiday this year.”

Seasonal cocktails

If you have a bar or restaurant at your property, the drink menu is an excellent place to add some holiday flair. There’s nothing like the smell of mulled wine (maybe next to a roaring fire) to make it feel like a cozy Christmas haven. And seasonal cocktails like peppermint martinis, eggnog, and hot buttered rum are sure to spread some holiday cheer.

Holiday events

There are all sorts of holiday events you can host at your property. They can be as extravagant or as simple as you want so long as it fits your brand and clientele. Among a long list of holiday offerings, Fairmont Empress is hosting multiple turkey dinners, will have Christmas carolers in their lobby and a life-size gingerbread house on display. Last year Woodmark Hotel invited families to decorate cookies with a local chef. So, get creative. You can hold a snowman building contest, plan a card-making workshop, host movie nights with holiday classics—whatever you think will get your guests enjoying the season.

Decorations

No holiday venue is complete without decorations. These should go up around the first week of December and can include garlands, lights, ribbons, wreaths, ornaments, and, of course, a Christmas tree.

If your property is family-friendly, consider adding an Elf on the Shelf into your decorating strategy. This popular toy can be moved every night and set up in a new and entertaining pose (look here for inspiration). And you can turn it into a contest with your guests. They can take a picture when they find him, upload it to social media, tag your property, and be entered in a contest. It’s a lot of fun for the guests and great marketing for you.

Marketing

Speaking of marketing, once you’ve planned all your holiday festivities you need to promote them. Whatever packages and events you have planned should be featured on your website and across social media channels. And consider creating a seasonal events calendar on your site that highlights your own activities as well as those in the community. Offering current, relevant information will help SEO and add value for your guests.

Once you’ve decorated your propertyand when events and activities are going onbe sure to take professionally shot photos and footage. They’ll be a valuable marketing asset this time next year.

 

The holiday season is an exciting (and profitable) time. Start preparing your property now so that you can make the most of it.

Pillow Mints and Pumpkins: A Hotelier’s Guide to Halloween

The summer is ending here in the Northern Hemisphere. We hope it was a good (and profitable) one. But there isn’t any rest for a hotelier, so it’s time to turn your attention to the fall. With the busy season slowing down you should start thinking about new ways to boost occupancy and generate buzz for your property. And there’s a holiday around the corner that could help you do just that: Halloween! Just like Valentine’s Day and Easter, with a little imagination, this occasion can be a great marketing (and revenue-generating) opportunity for your business. Read on for ideas on how your lodging operation can make the most of this spooky holiday.

Throw a party

This one’s a no-brainer. Everyone loves a good Halloween party. And you can go as big (or as small) as makes sense for your property. Looking for a little bit of inspiration? The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver hosts a 6-ballroom party at their historic property. In the past, they’ve had haunted mazes, amusement park rides, illusions, and even a comedic conjuring of the hotel’s famous ghost—The Lady in Red. Ace Hotels Los Angeles has included Tarot card readings, aura photography and costume contests at their past events. And Hotel del Coronado in San Diego hosts an annual “Hallo-wine and Spirits” party. It’s a fun holiday with unlimited potential, so be creative!

Host a murder mystery

If you’d like to plan an event that’s a little smaller in scale, why not host a murder mystery dinner? The Stanley Hotel in Colorado (known for its role in the movie The Shining) did just that in 2017. Guests dressed up to compliment the 1920’s mafia theme of the event and partook in a 4-course dinner and murder mystery activity. It’s a great way to celebrate the spooky occasion. And if it’s a hit, you can always turn it into a weekend-long affair like these hotels.

Screen a spooky film

If you’re looking for another way to deliver a festive fright, consider screening a scary movie at your property. It’s an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. And depending on your space and location, you could set up the screen indoors or out. But whatever you choose, don’t forget the spooky decorations or Halloween-themed treats.

Decorate pumpkins

Pumpkin carving is an activity you can offer to your guests (and community members) that’s appealing to all ages. And you can make it as extravagant as you want. A few years ago W New York offered guests the chance to have their selfie carved into a pumpkin by the famous pumpkin-artist Hugh McManon. But if that seems like too much, you could also create a pumpkin carving competition on social media. Participants can submit photos of their best creations, and the winners can receive a free night stay at your hotel. It won’t provide the revenue of hosting an actual event, but it’ll create some good online buzz for your property.

Offer a themed package

If you are going to offer Halloween-related activities and amenities, be sure to create a themed package for the occasion. In addition to a night (or two) stay, you can include tickets to the events, meals, complimentary candy—anything that makes sense for your property. The Hay Adams in Washington DC offers a stay in their “Transylvania Suite” which comes decked out in cobwebs, skeletons and other creepy decorations. The package also includes a selection of horror movies to choose from and 3-course meal.

Halloween is an exciting holiday with a lot of potential. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your creative juices flowing, so take advantage of it! You’ll be rewarded with new revenue streams and great promotional material for your website and social media channels. Have fun!

A Hotelier’s Guide to Creating Effective Video Content

When creating digital content for your website and social media channels, video cannot be overlooked. It has become the key to online engagement. In fact, video is expected to account for more than 80% of all web traffic by next year. So, if you want to stay competitive, you need to hop on board. Here’s a quick guide to creating compelling video content:

Content

For marketing collateral to be effective today, it can’t look like it did in the past. People no longer trust overt advertisement, and video content is no exception. So steer clear of anything too “sales-y.” It’s not going to land, and users will simply scroll by or click away. If you want people to watch your video, it needs to be valuable for them not just promotional for you. That means making it entertaining, moving, or educational. Curious what that looks like? This video for La Sirenuse and this one for Bugatti Hotels and Resorts, are both excellent examples of the kind of content that works in today’s climate.

Length

There’s some debate about how long a marketing video should be. And it’ll vary depending on the type of video you’re producing and the platform you plan to publish it on. Instagram videos, for example, should stay around 30 seconds as it’s the channel that users scroll through the fastest. Content made for YouTube, however, can be longer. But try and keep it under two minutes as a rule of thumb. Attention spans are short these days and videos longer than that generally see large viewership drop-off.

Production

Thanks to social media, effective marketing material has a much more personal and casual tone. So, you can forgo a stiff, corporate feel but it still needs to be professional. And that professionalism comes from production quality. When making video content, you need to pay attention to things like lighting, audio, and editing (to name a few). If not done well, viewers aren’t going to take your brand seriously. All things considered, it’s likely you’ll want to hire outside help. But if you choose to do it yourself, make sure to use the right equipment and follow these product tips.

Publishing

Video content can be used on all your marketing channels. The length and content might need to vary a bit (as mentioned earlier), but Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are all platforms where video thrives. So, take advantage of them. And be sure to embed it in your property’s website to encourage users to stay longer (making a conversion more likely). You should also consider including video content in your email campaigns and on your landing pages—which has been shown to significantly improve click-through and conversion rates, respectively.

Optimization

You invest a lot of time and money into making video content, so it’s imperative you do everything you can to optimize its impact online. For YouTube, this means creating a punchy title that grabs users attention, including a short but informative description, and choosing appropriate tags to help users find your videos in searches. If you’re embedding video on your website, you’ll need to create a video sitemap. This provides search engines with the necessary information they need (such as video title, description, URL, etc.) to index your videos appropriately.

 

Video is a powerful medium that has become an integral part of digital marketing across all industries. If you want to maximize engagement online, it’s something will have to invest in. But make sure you do it right. Poorly produced content that undermines credibility could be worse than no videos at all.

Selling the Experience: How to Market Effectively to Today’s Travelers

A recent study conducted by Expedia and The Center for Generational Kinetics, found that 74% of Americans value experiences over things. That’s great news for the hospitality industry as most of those people are planning to travel in pursuit of those experiences.

So how can you capitalize on the emerging “experience economy”? For these travelers, the memory is the product. You need to adapt your marketing material to reflect that. It’s not enough to simply advertise a luxurious bed or first-rate amenities. You need to showcase the unique travel experiences that guests will have at your property. Here’s how:

Create video content

Video has become a powerful marketing medium across all industries. It improves SEO and boosts conversions—one study even suggests that including video content in a landing page can increase conversions by 80%. It’s also an ideal tool for showcasing experiences. If used correctly, the dynamic medium can inspire viewers and help them imagine what a stay at your property would be like.

Create videos that portray people experiencing everything your property has to offer (with #travelinspo footage of events and other highlights) and post them across your digital channels. Once viewers start picturing themselves laughing with friends over a drink on the patio, or kayaking peacefully on the lake out front, for example, they won’t want to book anywhere else.

Promote your destination

For most travelers, the destination is the draw. They’re looking to explore and experience the local culture. So, you should promote your locality as well as your property. Sharing helpful information about things to do and see in your area shows a commitment to experiential travel that guests will appreciate. And demonstrating your local expertise will earn their trust. Guests want to stay somewhere connected to the community with insider tips for getting the most out of their holiday.

Share UGC

User-generated content (UGC) is a big deal in today’s marketing landscape. And for good reason. Consumers are much more trusting of their peer’s reviews than traditional marketing material. And, as it’s the real-life experience of your guests, UGC is particularly well-suited for marketing in the experience economy. So, when a guest posts about their stay at your property, use it. It’s the most authentic promotional material you could hope for.

Considering the value of UGC, you should do what you can to encourage guests to post online. This can be done by creating a strong social media presence, hosting contests, and including calls-to-action on other marketing collateral.

Partner with influencers

For high-impact UGC, consider partnering with social media influencers. These are people with a significant number of followers whose content generates considerable engagement. Unlike traditional UGC, these posts will cost you (either in fees or free stays at your property). But if you choose the right influencer, it’ll likely be well worth the investment. 81% of marketers that have tried influencer marketing considered it effective.

Be authentic online

Part of selling the experience at your property is showing off your unique personality. Travelers today aren’t interested in generic accommodation. And if your digital content is uninspired and formulaic, they’ll assume your property is the same way. So make sure you’re being authentic on your website and social media channels. Avoid an overly formal tone and steer clear of canned responses to guest posts.

 

Today’s travelers are seeking exciting experiences they’ll remember forever (and can share on their social media pages). Make sure you’re creating effective marketing material so you can capture their imaginations and ultimately win their bookings.

 

Location First Marketing: A Hotelier’s Guide

It used to be that location was the most important factor for a business’ exposure (and therefore success). Whether it was a hotel or a boutique, being visible was necessary for winning customers. Then the internet happened. Suddenly, people could find what they were looking for online, and everyone became a potential customer, regardless of location. But things have changed once again. With the advent of mobile devices (and the ever-increasing frequency with which they’re being used), location is once again playing a major role in marketing—only this time around, it’s the customer’s location that matters most.

What is location-first marketing?

Location-first marketing is when a business uses a customers’ physical location to target them with relevant content. There are a number of different strategies for taking a location-first approach—all made possible by the ubiquity of GPS enabled mobile devices and location-gathering apps.

Why it works

These days consumers expect a personalized experience from brands. It’s an expectation that extends to their marketing collateral—and that makes sense. Irrelevant ads on our news feeds and web banners are annoying. But if we’re met with content that’s relevant to our lives, suddenly those advertisements have value and feel less intrusive. Instead of disregarding them, we’re more likely to engage. And that means higher click-through rates.

Location-first strategies

There are several location-first strategies hoteliers can use that range in complexity. Here’s a quick overview:

Geo-targeted Ads>> Whether it’s for emails or online ads, geo-targeting is a common strategy for marketers. Platforms like Google Adwords have built-in features that make geo-targeting easy. Depending on your goals, you can target users by country, area within a country (perhaps there’s a city with an affordable direct flight to your locality), or even a set radius surrounding a location of your choosing (maybe your local airport?). The platform also has options to target based on search intent, physical location, or both. Whatever ad campaigns you choose to run remember to analyze the numbers. The performance of an ad in various locations can tell you where (and where not) to target in the future.

Geo-tags on social media>> Geo-targeting is not just for ads. A savvy hotelier can use it for guest engagement as well. Geo-tags are commonly used on social media. On platforms like Instagram, users will often tag their location when uploading posts—making it easy to find location-specific content. If you want to surprise and delight a current guest, check-out your properties geo-tag for recent content. Perhaps a couple just got engaged at your property (and posted about it). Surprising the happy couple with a complimentary bottle of Champagne would do a lot to nurture guest satisfaction.

Geo-fencing>> This is where things become a bit more complicated. Geo-fencing is a marketing strategy that sends SMS messages, emails, or push notifications when a person crosses a “virtual barrier” (or a geo-fence). For example, someone walking down the street past a Starbucks could be sent a notification advertising a special promotion at that location. And it’s not just for advertising. Geofencing can be used to check-in guests, monitor posts made at a property (without requiring geo-tags or hashtags), and collect data on how guests spend time at your property.

With GPS-enabled smartphones, there are treasure troves of location data that marketers can and should be putting to use. Targeting customers with marketing collateral specific to their location creates a personalized experience more likely to yield a conversion. Make sure you’re using location-first strategies to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Social Media Dos and Don’ts: A Hoteliers’ Guide

Social media has become an unparalleled marketing force—and is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s doubtful any business owner in this day and age needs to be convinced of the importance of social media marketing. But acknowledging the need to be on social media platforms isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re doing it right. Here are the most important social media do’s and don’ts to get you on the right track:

Accounts

DO be consistent across accounts. This is (of course) essential for profile information like your address, phone number, and website URL, but it’s just as necessary for branding and messaging. Maintaining common color schemes, profile pictures and style will improve brand recognition and inspire credibility.

DON’T get passive. Creating an account and then failing to post regularly is worse than having no account at all. Social media is a dynamic medium that requires regular attention to be effective. Make sure posting becomes part of your regular routine. Neglected accounts do not leave a good first impression.

DO use analytics. Like any marketing strategy, you should constantly be evaluating the performance of your content. Whether you’re utilizing the features offered by social media platforms—like Twitter analytics and Facebook Insights—or third party tools, paying attention to analytics can help you get the most out of the platform. Identifying key information about your demographic, highlighting content that is the most effective and determining the best time of day to post are just a few insights to be gained from the practice.

DON’T forget to leave your mark. You spend a lot of time and energy on your social media pages so don’t miss an opportunity to promote them. Be sure to include social media marks on your website, newsletters, and other marketing collateral.

Content

DO keep it concise. The key to a good post is brevity. People don’t visit their favorite brand’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page to read an essay. They’re looking for palatable content that gets to the point. Keep your posts and captions short and sweet and your viewers will be much more likely to engage.

DON’T always sell. Social media is a personal space for which traditional marketing is ill-fit. Constant, overt advertisements will not be well received in this arena. Of course, you want to use it for some self-promotion (that’s the entire objective after all), but it needs to be mixed in with other content. A good rule of thumb is to limit promotional material to about 20% of all posts.

DO take advantage of UGC. One of the greatest aspects of social media is the unlimited potential to expand marketing reach with little to no cost. And one of the best ways to do that is leveraging user-generated content.  Implement social media campaigns with a unique hashtag to encourage users to share their content (perhaps even host a contest) and don’t forget to like and share when they do!

Engagement

DO encourage engagement. As already mentioned, social media is a dynamic and personal medium. To find success on the platform, you need to use your account to have a dialogue with your followers. Post content that encourages users to engage and make sure to respond and interact with them when they do.

DON’T ignore bad comments. Negative reviews are part of the hospitality game. Everyone gets them. To mitigate the repercussions, it’s essential you respond. Offer your apologies and provide contact information for further concerns and communication. It’ll earn your property a much stronger online reputation than simply ignoring (or deleting) them.

Social media is a critical part of marketing today. And it’s already significant influence will only continue to grow. It’s a medium with unparalleled potential, so do everything you can to make it work for you!

Celebrate Spring with Style: A Hotelier’s Guide to Easter

The last of Valentine’s Day chocolate has barely been finished and there’s already another sweet (and potentially profitable!) holiday around the corner. Easter is celebrated by 80% of all Americans, and if you play your cards right, they could be celebrating with you. Here’s a quick guide to help independent hotelier’s make the most of this Easter holiday.

Host Events

Easter weekend is all about spending time with family. Hosting events and offering Easter-related activities for all ages is a great way to not only score over-night guests but build relationships with local families as well.

Easter brunch >> If your property has an on-site restaurant, hosting an Easter brunch is a no-brainer. You likely already offer the trendy meal on regular weekends, which means all you need is a little Easter-themed spruce for the special occasion. Think about using spring flowers in your centerpieces, including hints of pastel, and maybe even folding the table napkins into little Easter bunnies.

Easter egg hunt >> Interested in going beyond a traditional Sunday brunch? Easter egg hunts are an excellent activity to get the family outside and moving around after filling them up with eggs Benedict. And they can be exactly as elaborate as you choose to make them. Depending on the time and resources you want to invest in the event you can go as simple as hiding plastic eggs filled with candy on-property or as complex as an off-site, technology-mediated hunt.

Other ideas >> Looking for other ways to make the holiday special for your guests? Egg decorating and petting zoos are always a hit with the kids (and many adults!). Regardless of what activities you decide to offer, make sure to take pictures! They can be used for social media posts just following the holiday as well as in marketing collateral for the next year.

Create a Special Package

Whatever events and activities you decide to offer at your property (or even if you aren’t offering any), you should consider creating a special Easter package to capitalize on the holiday. If you’re hosting an event, include tickets to it. If not, spruce up the package with Easter chocolates and breakfast at your restaurant.

Promote

Once you’ve done all the hard work of putting together special Easter events and packages, you need to promote them! As usual, promotional efforts should include strategies for social media and email.

Social media >> As the holiday gets closer, begin sharing Easter-themed content that shows how excited your property is to celebrate. This can even include behind-the-scenes photos or videos of staff preparing for the weekend (social media is all about personal content after all). In addition to posts that promote your special packages and on-site activities, you could also hold a social media contest (where participants must like and comment on your content for a chance to win).

Email campaign >> Never miss the opportunity for a good email campaign. Holidays are a great reason to send a note to all the guests in your database. Wish them a happy Easter and invite them to come down and celebrate with you.

Decorate

Decorating your property is the final (and most fun!) step for Easter weekend preparations. The guests have committed, so now you just need to make the place festive. Embellish the front desk and guest rooms with fresh flowers, Easter eggs, and complimentary chocolates.

 

Holidays are an excellent opportunity to attract overnight guests and build strong local connections at the same time. Whether it’s a special brunch or an extravagant egg hunt, offering families a place to spend the Easter weekend together can be great exposure in your community and a lot of fun for everyone.

It’s Time to Get Personal: Delighting Guests with Individualized Experiences

Ever since the introduction of Big Data, individualized experiences have become the new status quo. Advertisements online highlight products we’ve previously shown interest in, video streaming services suggest content catered to our tastes and preferences, and google searches return results that reflect our location and online history. Personalization is no longer a perk; It’s a convenience we’ve come to expect. And in the hospitality world, there’s nothing more important than meeting (and exceeding!) the expectations of your guests. Make sure you’re doing what you can to personalize the guest experience at your property and win guest loyalty.

Gather Information

The first step in creating a personalized experience is knowing your guest. And to do that, you need data. PMSs and CRMs allow you to create detailed profiles for every guest. So use them. Any information you learn (whether it’s their profession, preferences, or interests) should be added to the system in order to be leveraged later. How do you get that information? A lot about your guests can be learnt from the following sources:

Special Requests >> Giving customers a chance to make special requests for a booking is standard practice and one of the best opportunities to learn valuable information about your guest. Whether it’s a room preference or a dietary restriction, any special requests should be preserved in the guest profile so needs can be anticipated for future stays.

Ancillary Services >> The services they use, and the products they purchase can tell you a lot about a guest. Do they buy a tea and bagel every morning? Spend most of their time at the spa? Taking note of their habits and preferences gives you a lot to work with when it’s time to surprise and delight a guest.

Personal Accounts >> With everyone documenting their lives and engaging with friends and brands on the internet, social media accounts are treasure troves of data. It’s common to get a customer’s email at the time of booking. Why not their social media handle as well? Not only can you connect with guests online, but it’s easy to get a feel for their likes and dislikes. Do they obsess over coffee? Have a bag of local beans waiting in the room. Are they huge sports fans? Let them know what games are going on during their stay.

Surprise and Delight

Now that you’ve gathered information, it’s time to put those meticulous profiles to use. Wow your guests with unexpected gestures that show you care. They don’t need to be big. A hot chocolate on arrival for the guest with a sweet tooth, waived WiFi fees for the business traveler, restaurant recommendations for the foodie. It’s the little, personal touches that stand out in our memories. They are also the details that will likely be documented on social media and shared with friends—ensuring you’ve not only earned guest loyalty but expanded your marketing reach as well.

Keep in Touch

A personalized guest experience isn’t restricted to on-site interactions. With a customer’s email (or social media handles) you can continue the relationship long after they’ve checked out. If you’ve noted a guest’s birthday, why not send them a quick message wishing them a happy day? If you know a customer loves live music, let them know about an event in town that might interest them. People like to be remembered, and in return, they’re sure to remember you.

Hospitality is a hard industry to stay on top of. Competition and guest expectations continue to grow, and you need to keep up. Focus on creating a memorable, personalized experience for all your guests in order to win their hearts and loyalty.

A Hotelier’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

Ever feel like you’re in a marketing rut? It can be challenging to find new and exciting ways to connect with customers and improve your bottom line. Fortunately, there are moments sprinkled throughout the year that offer unique opportunities to mix things up: Holidays! Whether it’s New Year’s Day, Easter or Halloween, public holidays are an excellent occasion to stretch your creative mucles and create fresh promotional content for your lodging operation (an imperative in the age of social media).

Of all the holidays throughout the year, Valentine’s Day has some of the greatest potential for maximizing revenue. In fact, consumers spend around 18 billion dollars on the holiday in the United States alone. So take advantage of it! With February 14th fast approaching, here are a few ways hoteliers can make the most of Valentine’s Day this year:

Offer Special Packages

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, guests are looking for a special way to celebrate with their special someone. Offering packages exclusively for the occasion adds an element of luxury often associated with the holiday. While tried and true features like Champagne and chocolate will never go out of style, you don’t need to limit yourself to the classics. Why not prepare all the fixings for a romantic picnic for two? Or partner with a local business (think carriage rides, wine tastings, etc.) to curate a date night to remember? Standing out from the crowd will land you more bookings and nurture loyalty with your guests.

You also needn’t limit yourself to Valentine’s Day packages designed for couples. Broaden your reach with offerings that appeal to singles as well (perhaps a “Girls’ Night In” package equipped with movie rentals and popcorn).

Seize the Opportunity to Upsell

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for upselling that shouldn’t be missed. Guests are looking to make the occasion exceptional, and they’re more than willing to splurge. After bookings are made, offer additional amenities like a couples massage, a room upgrade or a nice bottle of wine. These upsells will enhance their guest experience.

Host an Event

To really seize the day, consider hosting a Valentine’s Day event (or events) at your property. You can plan a party, offer dance classes, or schedule a Paint Nite – anything that suits your brand. In additional to being great publicity, you’ll also boost food and beverage revenue and likely increase overnight bookings. If you choose this option, make sure to advertise locally and include tickets in Valentine’s Day packages.

Celebrate on Social Media

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day at your property, don’t forget to include a compelling social media campaign. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it’s a good idea to:

Highlight the romance>> Leading up to February 14th, begin sharing content that showcases the romantic aspects of your property. A candlelit table set for two, a suite adorned in rose petals, a bottle of Champagne on the beach – post images that let your guests know your hotel is the idea spot for the Valentine’s Day of their dreams. And be sure to use words that evoke romantic imagery. On Valentine’s Day, guests are looking for an experience that is “cozy,” “luxurious” and “intimate.”

Encourage engagement>> Like all social media campaigns, you want your guests to interact with your content. Consider creating a Valentine’s Day hashtag that increases brand exposure through user engagement. You could even choose to host a giveaway for those who share your holiday-related posts or use your hashtag.

 

Valentine’s Day has enormous potential for those in the hospitality industry. It’s an opportunity for hotels to both maximize revenue and increase guest satisfaction by delivering an extra special experience that lives up to all the expectations of the day.