Sometimes the lodging industry can feel like an epic battle between David (small independent hotels) and Goliath (mega chains with recognizable logos and uber-deep pockets), but there’s one area in which boutique hotels have a distinct advantage. And you can use it to increase your brand awareness, an essential part of any marketing strategy.
While massive chains have to manage franchisees and create branding and marketing guidelines to ensure cohesion and consistency, you, a boutique owner, aren’t bound by such restrictions.
Take the time to create an out-of-the-box experience to build brand awareness, allowing your brand to speak to guests throughout their booking process, stay, checkout, and beyond, and you’ll win in every possible way.
SEE MORE: Leveraging Customer Experience for Ensuring Hospitality Success
1. Find and Highlight Your Key Differentiator
There are approximately 9,832 boutique hotels in the United States, but none of them are quite like yours.
There’s something about your property that sets it apart from the competition.
Perhaps it’s the garden out back that infuses your farm-to-table room service menu with flavor or the fact that you cater to romantic getaways with welcome packages of sparkling wine and strawberries and sleigh rides for two in the wintertime.
Chances are you opened your hotel with a good idea as to what makes your business different, but if you still can’t quite put your finger on it, look to your guests:
- See what they talk about on social media.
- Ask repeat customers why they keep coming back.
- Then play up the thing everybody always loves so even more people can benefit.
2. Offer Personalization Whenever Possible
Some 72% of marketers already customize their email campaigns, 57% continue that personalization via the company website, and a significant percentage also tweak web-based and mobile apps to adapt to consumer preferences.
When 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to patronize brands that offer personalized experiences, it’s time to get on board.
- Use guests’ names whenever possible. Put it on their room service tray, use it to confirm reservations, add it to promotional emails, and tuck a personalized welcome note in with the room key.
- When someone books a room, email a thank you note along with a guide to your area and a link to a short questionnaire asking them about their preferences. You can use their answers to recommend activities or services, send enticing discounts, or set up their room with allergen-free soaps before they even have a chance to ask.
- Use technology to keep a database of preferences. Every time a guest returns, you can gather more intel and understand them better.
Imagine the feeling a guest gets when they stay at a hotel for the fifth time and the room service chef already knows to leave the black pepper off the scrambled eggs and the morning paper is delivered before their 7am wakeup!
3. Employ Sensory Marketing
Sight, smell, taste, touch, sound.
Each of the five senses plays an important role in how you perceive every single thing you encounter, hotels included.
Create an immersive experience by evoking emotion whenever and wherever possible.
That could mean offering aromatherapy for guests’ rooms (another question to include on that questionnaire), swapping out cheap bathrobes for ones woven from the finest Turkish cotton, or stationing a piano player in the lounge to play standards for guests enjoying a pre-dinner drink.
Studies show that consumers in a warm room will pay more for their purchases than consumers in cold rooms.
When consumers were offered shoes in a floral-scented room versus shoes in a scent-free room, 84% of consumers opted for the aromatized footwear.
SEE MORE: The Art, Science, and Power of Sensory Marketing for Hotels
Hospitality is not a formulaic industry but one that relies on executing a series of touchpoints.
Rather than getting stuck on logo design or font choices for your website, focus on creating experiences guests not only won’t forget but that they’ll eagerly share with the world.
That’s the key to branding, and to building brand awareness.
For more marketing tips, check out our free marketing resources.