This year and for the first time, I was given the opportunity to speak at the Independent Hotel Show in London, the 5th edition of this show specifically designed for independent hoteliers. The IHS reunites the best suppliers in the luxury boutique sector from design, furnitures, F&B suppliers, marketing and many more. It is a great event to network with hoteliers, find out about new trends and best practices in the field.
New trends is exactly what brought HANNAH BERAUD, the South Place Hotel, the Eau Palm Beach Resort & The Hotel Culture together to speak about Thorough Marketing. The topic got us to cover personalisation, ethics and purpose as a way to get guests through an independent hotel’s doors. Besides the fact that it was my first experience speaking at an official industry event, we actually got a good discussion, some interesting questions and the room was packed!
Below are some key takeaways that every independent hotelier has taken away from the talk:
1- The importance of programming
Programming is a great way for hoteliers to get guests through the hotel’s door. By offering a diverse choice of events, exhibitions or activities, you will be able to reach different types of clients: the artsy clients, the millennials, the families… To come up with the best programming the first thing you have to think about is who your customers are, what are their interests or the type of guests you want to attract and how your hotel’s image can tie into these. This is how you will become ‘the’ choice and not ‘a’ choice, as per Penny Brewer, Director of Marketing for the South Place Hotel in London.
2- Green initiatives & eco-friendly properties
More and more guests are looking for eco-friendly properties who show that they care about their environment and the planet. Independent hotels have different ways to go about this: sourcing suppliers from the area where the hotel is based, partnerships, etc. Whatever the initiative, this is a trend that is continuously growing and that independent hotels need to implement. As opposed to chains who are faced with big volume challenges, independent hotels often are smaller properties who could implement these ‘green initiatives’ more easily. But again, if your guests do not know about your great green, eco-friendly initiatives, there is no point in actually being a green property or eco-friendly one, right? This is where digital tools like your website, your social media, a mobile app can come into place as great platforms to talk about your hotel’s initiatives, tell your story and connect with your customers for whom these things matter.
Personalised service and guest experience are exactly what the new generation of travellers is looking for. This is reflected in the success of Air B n B, which has managed to turn travellers’ want for ‘authentic’, ‘local’ experiences into a business and disrupt an entire industry. And this is where independent hotels need to and can leverage the power of their independence and turn it into a business advantage! Again, as opposed to big hotel chains who clearly offer everything except personalised service due to their size, independent hotels’ small size is a big advantage. The challenges that are still preventing independent hotels from offering this personalised, authentic experience to their guests are:
- They still do not understand how digital and social media can help them leverage their ‘personalised’ image
- They do not see the importance of investing in social media and digital
- They do not have the budget to hire the right experts
As millennials are increasingly looking for this personalised service, this is something that will get more guests through independent hotel’s doors.
4- Digital tools are the independent hotels’ best friends
Whatever your initiative or approach to get guests through your hotel’s door, if no one know about it, they will not come. This is where the integration of digital communication tools, such as social media, with your in-house activities are key to your hotel’s marketing success. If we take the example of programming, eco-friendliness or personalised service, digital tools can be used before, during and after your guests’ stay, from the research stage, to the engagement, conversion and review stages to enhance the entire customer experience.
Times are changing, travel and luxury are changing, the new generation has different behaviours and new values. Time for independent hotels to get on board, you have all the keys and just need to find out how you can leverage your independent power !
If you are an independent hotel looking to invest into enhancing your guests’ experience through digital, or a hotel/restaurant event organiser looking for speakers to discuss everything digital, social media, and millennial get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org.