Whilst online travel agencies (OTAs) have certainly experienced an increase in popularity in recent years, this has sent others in the opposite direction, searching for original and authentic places to stay. As an independent business, it is important to use this to your advantage and emphasise the unique aspects of your hotel.
In order to set yourself apart from other, generic hotels, it is crucial that you show off your best asset: your individuality. You have the opportunity to do this on your website, however social media and blogs are a great way to continue this long-term. By sharing stories and keeping your followers up to date with recent events, you engage your potential customers, building your relationship and trust as they feel they get to know you.
The majority of people looking to stay in independent hotels, rather than going via an OTA, are doing so because they want to have a unique, personable experience. With this in mind, there are several questions you will need to consider:
What makes you different? What is the benefit of staying with you, as opposed to a hotel chain? What are your values, and how do you put them into practice?
Once you have established the answer to these questions, you could explore the possibility of partnering with local businesses which share your values. For example, if you own a bed & breakfast in the countryside, you could promote local attractions and inform readers of current events; alternatively, you could partner with a nearby spa or restaurant. This enhances your brand identity and increases customers’ knowledge of your hotel.
While it’s tempting to focus on the goal of gaining immediate customers, you mustn’t underestimate the power of building long-term relationships. When creating content based on your values and brand personality, try to engage with those who may be interested in the future, as well as people who are currently looking for a hotel. Building these brand-consumer relationships will take time, but once established, they will be much more likely to think of you when searching for somewhere to stay in the future.
In the same way, it’s vital that you ensure you follow through and engage with your customers once they are with you; find out what they want from their stay and help them inside and outside the hotel. People tend to be loyal to brands they like and trust, so doing this will reinforce their positive opinion of you, create lasting memories, and make it much more likely that they will return.
Further to this, you should encourage your visitors to leave a review on TripAdvisor, informing others of the positive experience they had at your hotel. Additionally, you can increase future customers’ confidence to book with you by inviting well-established travel bloggers to stay at your hotel in return for a review from a trusted, credible source.
At Captivate, we understand the difficulties many independent hotels face in such a competitive industry. We have a broad and in-depth knowledge on creating compelling branding and marketing strategies; if you want to benefit from our expertise, contact us today on 020 3954 6253 or fill in a contact form here.