Part 1 – Getting Your Story Straight
Maybe you’re running a boutique spot in an urban centre. Perhaps you’re promoting an elegant inn by the lake. Although those two might seem worlds apart, the strategies you can use to promote both properties follow the same formula.
Here are some tips to get your started:
1. Get to the heart of your story
What makes your property different or unique? Take an hour or two (if you need it) to sit down and fill out your elevator pitch:
For __(your main target audience)______ who want _______(what that audience wants)______, my hotel _____(what do you provide that’s a bit special?)____________.
For example, if you’re running that pretty little inn by the lake, maybe your elevator pitch could sound something like this:
For families who want access to outdoor activities and comfortable, reasonably priced accommodations, Inn on the Lake provides a full nostalgic summer experience complete with guided family canoe day trips and evening bonfires.
Or, it could sound very different, like this:
For urban couples looking for a quick, luxurious country getaway, Inn at the Lake provides a five-star experience in a breathtaking natural setting.
2. Show Your Story
Now you’ve articulated your story, it’s time to figure out how to get the message across. Photography and video (if possible) are incredibly important. The photos of your property should give potential guests a clear and complete picture of what they can expect. They should also get people daydreaming about a stay. That means your photos should be a mix of functional (rooms, amenities) and imaginative (demonstrate the experience and feeling of the place).
If you can invest in professional photography, take care and time to pick the right photographer. Ask to look through his or her portfolio and book a meeting to discuss your story and what you hope the photographs will convey. Create a full shot list of images you’d like to see captured.
If you have a limited photography budget, work with a professional to capture your functional imagery in the best possible way (rooms, amenities, property). Then identify influential bloggers, Instagrammers and amateur photographers and videographers you can partner with to create content for you.
Offer these individuals accommodations or a special getaway package in exchange for the development of content that benefits your property. Speak with your influencers beforehand and establish a firm agreement – will they be sharing the content on their own sites? Can you have access to everything they capture or just a limited amount? Do you need to attribute their work on your site? And so on.
We’ll talk more about how to identify your influencers in Part 2.
3. Create a home for your story
You need a central place potential guests can easily find, whether they’re on their laptop, phone or tablet. Work with a reputable web design company to build and create a site that clearly articulates your story and makes it easy for potential guests to find key information (phone numbers, rates) and to get excited about visiting your hotel (a beautiful design). Ask to see examples of the company’s work to get a feel for what type of work they’ve done in the past.
If you already have a website, take a close look and make sure it’s doing everything it possibly can for your business. The key questions to ask yourself include:
- Does it work on my mobile device? (This is a big one, if the answer is “no” make addressing this concern a priority.)
- Is it slow to load? (do the pages take a long time to appear in your browser.?) If the answer is “yes” this is another key concern to address.)
- Is it easy for a potential guest to find our address and contact information?
- Can a potential guest see photos of our rooms, property and amenities?
- Does the copy, design, layout and photography tell the story of our hotel?
Those are the first three steps for getting started in the marketing of a hotel. Stay tuned for Part 2 when we’ll talk about social media, influencers, content marketing and paid advertising.