Nowadays, accommodation businesses like small hotels are finding it harder to survive, because they don’t just compete with the other accommodation and small hotels, but also accommodations from platforms such as Airbnb. And because margins are already incredibly thin in this sector, what with rental, high overheads and cost of staff, owners are left with little budget to promote their business, and have to often think of innovative and low-cost, or no-cost ways. These 10 lesser known, but nonetheless effective and tried and tested marketing tactics will give you some ideas on how to increase your accommodation numbers without advertising.
(1) Social Media
It is a must for your business to get onto the social media, but do not choose to focus on more than two platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. Choose the platforms that you think your audience are most likely to linger, and create targeted content to engage them actively. Customers like stories with a personal touch, so you might want to feature your employees, real customers having fun in your accommodation, or even celebrities staying there, if you have any. Another idea is to offer the first 100 guests a free coupon on your Facebook only, or create a contest for viral word-of-mouth.
Don’t forget to set up your business’ location on social media too, as it enables your customers to “check-in” when they arrive, hence telling all their friends or followers. It’s free, has a viral effect, and will probably reach the similar customer types as your current customers.
(2) Media Relations
Create newsworthy story angles for the press, so that the local or international news or websites will pick up your story. However, a new play area, a new chef in your restaurant, or just a promotion will not create the kind of publicity or news that you want – you have to find a unique news angle in order for the media to be interested enough to publish your story. Gather the entire team to sit down and brainstorm an angle that will make the press sit up and take notice.
(3) Have a Loyalty Program
Probably one of the best ways to increase your accommodation sales without advertising is through a loyalty program. For instance, offer your regular guests a free coupon on their next stay, or a return voucher when they re-visit your restaurant again. According to a research by Harvard University, if you can increase your repeat customers by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to a whopping 125%.
Sweeten the deal with cash-back rewards, free food or bigger discounts when they re-visit your establishment. This tactic has been shown to be effective over time, though it is not immediate.
One side note, you might not want to do too much discounting if you have already built a solid brand over the years, as discounting will serve to somewhat downgrade your brand a little. Instead, offer value-added perks such as gifts, merchandise or free sides or drinks.
(4) Birthday Perks
With reference to repeat customers, in particular, you might like to capture your customers’ birthdays, so that you can send them a personalised email offer. This will increase your revenue, and also your referral rate. You can use a good autoresponder like MailChimp or AWeber to manage your birthday program.
You can find businesses that have a synergy with your hotel or accommodation, such as the liquor, wine or beer store, for a joint promotion or partnership with your hotel’s cafe or restaurant. For instance, if your customer purchases a crate of liquor at the liquor store, they are entitled to an additional night’s stay at half price or a free bottle of liquor at your restaurant. Or if your customer buys up to a certain amount at your restaurant, or stays one additional night, he is entitled to purchase the liquor at a discount. Both establishments can then promote for each other, and in term help each other grow organically.
(6) Increase Prices
One strategy you can use to increase sales is to increase the prices of your rooms. You can slowly raise your prices on a regular basis, but let your customers know that it is due to rising costs. Price increases are sensitive issues with customers, especially regular ones, so do have a solid strategy in place before implementation and train your staff how to answer if your customers do ask about the price increase.
Train your staff to upsell as and when there is an opportunity. Before check-in, remind your staff to ask your guests whether they want additional services such as a massage in the evening, or laundry services. In your restaurant, remind them to ask the guests whether they want an appetiser before their meal, or at the end of the meal, do they want a dessert, a cup of coffee, or an extra glass of wine? This will most likely raise your revenue by an extra 5% to 10% a month. Let your staff know how your system works, and you might even like to reward your top sales staff if this strategy is effective in your restaurant.
You might want to open up your venue for new entertainers to perform. For example, an aspiring clown, magician, or singer. Set up a small stage, and let them perform at your venue at no cost. It is a chance for them to show off their skills, and the entertainment will help draw diners to your venue too or make existing diners stay longer, and order more.
(9) Offer A Special Souvenir
You can also offer a special souvenir option from your hotel or restaurant that is so special that everyone will want to bring it home. For example, offer a specially designed unique bowl or a glass with your cute mascot, and print only limited quantity. Offer guests at check out the option to take it away at an extra $2 or $5, and most will not bat an eyelid to do that. Offer also the extra option to customise it with your guests’ names, and then widely publicise your option.
Host a contest on your social media, and make it viral with prizes that you can give easily, such as free meals at your restaurant. What’s excellent will be to ask your customers to share their food photos on their Instagram accounts, and give them a hashtag to publicise the contest.
There are of course many other no-costs ideas that you can think of from these 10 concepts, but after you have implemented the ideas, remember to track your results, and if they do work, innovate, tweak and launch them again in another format, again and again and you will see spikes in your hotel sales regularly.
Contact us for a chat using the form below – we’ll be able to offer some tips on how to increase your revenue without heavy advertising.
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