You know you’ve got the best chefs in the business. You know you use only the freshest ingredients. And you know your “secret sauce” is mouth-wateringly addictive.
But none of that matters if you’re not sure how to get new customers through the door and prove it to them.
Marketing trends come and go, and your average consumer responds best to modern digital strategies that give your brand the edge over your competitors. Whether that’s through unique advertising copy, your channels of choice or superior customer service, every hospitality company needs to be smart with their marketing approach.
Marketing for the hospitality industry is in a constant state of flux. To keep you at the forefront of that whirlwind, we’ve put together our marketing tips for 2018 and beyond. (You can thank us in food.)
Your customers will want to make reservations using almost every method, except maybe, with a phone call.
What is it about the modern-day consumer’s aversion to speaking to strangers on the phone? It’s probably something to do with the fact there are so many other, more convenient ways to make a booking.
This isn’t the case for every single customer, so don’t go cancelling your phone contract just yet. However, you do need to be practising the modern methods of booking a table, because empty seats are a sad sight to any restaurant owner.
Social Media Reservations
If someone messages you to make a booking through social media, you’re already doing something right. They’ve found you and something on your profile has engaged a user enough to get them to take action.
That said… your job isn’t over until that booking has been confirmed. Ensure someone always monitors all social media accounts to deliver a timely, friendly response that seamlessly completes a booking. Don’t direct them to your website or a phone number. Just make the damn reservation.
A relatively new digital system trickling into Australia is booking at bars and restaurants through third party apps. Apps like EatClub allow businesses to list their restaurants to promote last-minute bookings on empty tables. Being available on such apps gives your business an extra stream of exposure, as well as the opportunity to offer discounts to get new customers through the door.
It’s down to you to turn them into a returning customer.
Online Booking Systems
People expect to be able to achieve everything online. If you don’t have an easy-to-use online booking system, you’re losing customers. It’s as simple as that.
Visual content trumps all.
The nature of the hospitality industry lends itself well to alluring photos, so you can use that to your advantage. Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are three channels that should be your best friends if you run the marketing for a hospo company.
Visual content, like images and videos, are 40X more likely to get shared than other types of content.
The future is smartphone-first, so if you’re not already planning for that, you should be! Platforms are becoming increasingly image- and video-focused, because that kind of content converts best. After all, descriptions of your hot cheesy nachos won’t work nearly as well as photos of the real thing.
When it comes to memorable events in digital advertising, 49% of consumers recall a visual image, compared to the 41% who recall a price or deal. Do yourself and your ROI a favour and invest in eye-catching imagery.
Customer-generated content does some of the hard work for you.
Digital advertising tends to be more cost-effective than traditional methods for a few reasons:
- It’s 24/7 – you can post whenever you need to, not in your allocated time
- Targeting is more direct, so the right people see your ads
- Communication is two-way
- Your customers can share your content to a wider audience
Encourage visitors to post pictures of their food on their own social media profiles and tag your business in them. Of course, you might have to offer them something in return, but it’s a way to nab some free advertising and have people tell their friends how great you are.
If you have great visual content, they’re more likely to share that online, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide between a professional photographer or Instagram filters.
Love your loyalty members
Establishing a loyalty programme rewards your customers and your business.
Members of your loyalty programme are likelier to engage with your digital marketing and personalisation. Because they’re already familiar with your brand (and they like what you’re serving) this part of your customer base is probably going to open those marketing emails and respond to special offers.
Loyalty members are also likelier to:
- Share personal info in exchange for special offers
- Want you to personalise your advertising
- Remember your advertising messages
Don’t just assume they’ll be blindly loyal, though. They need rewards, refreshing advertising and a menu that doesn’t get stale, or they could wander. Though not one of the newer marketing trends in the hospitality industry, the loyalty programme isn’t going away anytime soon, but it will get progressively more digital.