The hospitality industry is changing rapidly, due in part to the rise of sites that offer alternative accommodations. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to attract more customers and appeal to a changing market. Adapting to the increase in competition means not only attracting new guests, but encouraging them to return.
One extremely important way to invite visitors is to have an attractive, guest-friendly website that is easy to navigate. Most clients prefer to book hotels online, so make sure they are able to make reservations. If you want to venture beyond the ordinary, include a virtual tour so potential visitors get an idea of what to expect on their visit. A consistently updated blog can also drive more traffic to the site.
Mention local events and attractions to entice visitors to the area, or share some travel tips. You could also offer complimentary stays to other travel bloggers, who will likely write a detailed article about their stay.
Once you have an attractive website, you need to make sure you are active on social media. Include attractive pictures on your hotel slipcovers, and invite guests to share pictures and posts as well.
You can also set up ads on Facebook to bring more attention to your hotel. Build relationships with local tourist boards so that you can not only promote new events, but have the organizers promote your hotel in return. You can also invite businesses to use your space to host conferences and special events.
In addition to social media, you need to monitor sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Reply to reviews as frequently as possible, especially negative reviews. Tactful, respectful responses to negative reviews show that you genuinely care about your business and customers, and give you an opportunity to highlight your strengths. You can also encourage customers to write more reviews by asking them at check out or leaving a business card with a friendly reminder.
Another way to gain reviews and attract more customers is by creating mailing lists. Not only does this allow you send out polite requests for reviews, but it also enables you to start a loyalty program. In general, customers enrolled in loyalty programs return twice as often, so offer incentives based on visits or amount spent. You can also advertise upcoming events that may appeal to prior customers.
If you are short on local events and attractions, consider hosting some of your own. Host art shows, poetry readings, or other events that appeal to broader audiences. These are especially good ideas for weekdays, as they tend to be popular with retirees and college students. You can also create special packages and programs, including some that tie in with newsworthy events like the Royal Wedding or the World Cup.
Finally, try to find ways to offer things that cannot be found at homestyle lodgings. Provide guest experiences like happy hours or yoga classes. Package them together with other services that you offer and advertise them on your site. Doing so may encourage guests to try something new, and most importantly, entice new visitors to your hotel.