The hospitality industry has some clever marketing lessons for startupsMathew J Maniyamkott
The hospitality industry is one of the most competitive areas you can find yourself in. You need to go out of your way to satisfy your customer, as a simple mistake from your side can make them decide to go to someplace else. Let us see some of the tactics that hotels have used which you can replicate in your startup:
Storytelling to create a brand identity
Brand image is not only dictated by your logo or tag line, but innumerable other factors that come into being. Having a good brand image helps you wade through the clutter and differentiate yourself. This is how Ritz Carlton, with over 40,000 employees, defines their brand – by storytelling. They tell stories about the hotel through guests and employees. The stories are mostly about how their employees have gone out of their way to please their guests. Now, you might think that unless you have been in the market for a few years, you don’t have any clients to talk about. However, you can always talk about the tiniest of things that make a difference to your customers, your product, and your employees.
Concentrate on your core offering
What is it that matters most to a hotel? The rooms. Food? No. Food is the secondary offering. The primary offering is to make people come and stay in the hotel, use those services, and pay for them. The percentage of importance hotels give to food or any other events that they hope to conduct to build a community is minimal. In fact, even organizing food festivals and organizing events are ways to gain a new audience so that they can stay in your hotel or recommend to someone to stay at the hotel based on their experience with the event or the food. You get the drift, right? Concentrate on your major offering like how the hotel industry does.
Respond to online reviews
Not only are online reviews the greatest feedback tool ever invented, they will also give you an opportunity to show the humane side of your startup. A single bad review can turn away a lot of customers, while a super-polite reply from you acknowledging the fact that you messed up could earn yourself a lot of respect. In short, this is a brilliant marketing tool if used appropriately. Respond to online reviews the way hoteliers respond. If you have some money to spare, get reputation management software that monitors your online reviews.
Personalize personalize personalize
The number of stories of returning guests finding their favourite dishes or preferences at their table when they check-in is uncountable. How do hotels do it? They have a cache of information that records guest preferences, and hotels that care about their guests use this information to deliver incredibly personalized experiences for guests who keep coming back. This shows the guests that the hotel cares and it makes them feel good. Use information that you have about your clients or any other things that you know of to make them feel good.
Collaborate with other companies
Hotels do collaboration all the time, with bloggers, fashion designers, boutiques, and many other areas where their expertise is limited and adding someone else will only add to their hotel’s repertoire. Test out creative collaborations with companies that have a completely different background. This will change your perspective and help you think out of the box. Is there a partner that you would like to collaborate with who could bring fresh ideas on a project or ideas?
Create new exotic names for your product
What comes to your mind when you see ‘rattlesnake pasta’ written on a restaurant’s menu? You probably think of something exotic (well, not necessarily the snake alone). The name excites you, and you know what? That matters. Shakespeare might tell you differently, but it does matter. Add a highly selling product ‘A’ with a not-so fast-mover ‘B’, and name it something that resonates with your clients. See the difference in the sales and experiment further.