Filling the Room: Best practices for hospitality marketing
Let’s say you’re in charge of a meeting space. It could be at a hotel, a convention center, a sporting venue, whatever. How do you keep that space full of big groups & happy customers throughout the year? Here are some effective best practices used by successful hotel and meeting space marketers.
Past Customers: It’s surprising how often past customers are left alone, or only approached infrequently with a new sales pitch. If your past customers enjoyed their last event or meeting with you, stay in touch. Don’t just pitch them a new sales offer or deal every time you call or email, either. Send them ideas to improve their events, share articles of event management best practices, and otherwise present yourself not just as a venue, but as a true partner and value-added source of insight and information. And truly, just by staying in more frequent touch with those past customers you’ll see more returns and repeat bookings.
Ideal Customer Profiles: Consider your unique venue. What kind of organizations or events do you attract? Can you attract? Get to know that customer profile better than you do today. When they hold events, why? What are their objectives? What are they trying to accomplish, for which the venue and/or event is just a means to an ends? Help your customers find the shortest line between a partnership with your venue and their ultimate business objectives, and you’ve established even more value.
How Are You Different?: What is your unique value proposition? How are you different than other potential meeting spaces? How does this value proposition map directly to the ideal customer profiles mentioned earlier? Once you’ve identified your unique value (and selling) proposition, look through your current sales & marketing materials and ensure that value is represented.
Drip Marketing: Give your prospects information, news, articles and other value-added content they can use. Whether or not they immediately book with you, build value as a partner who knows how to put on a successful event. Be a thought leader and educator for your prospects and past customers. Publish via a newsletter, your blog, Twitter feed.
The Social Media Two-Way Street: Use social media channels to find prospective event manager clients. Search for event managers on Twitter and LinkedIn. Join event management groups and discussion boards, and participate with value-added content and responses based on your experience. Publish updates on your venue through these channels, but more often than not participate and share as a peer. You’ll gain valuable credibility and trust, which will help those prospects lean your directly when they’re ready to buy.
Testimonials: Ensure every happy customer is recorded in a variety of formats (written word, audio, video, etc.) with their success story. Get them on record talking about how great the venue was, how great the service was, how successful they were at achieving their event’s business objectives. Let your customers sell for you.
Host a Networking Night: Why not create an evening where event managers can get together, have a cocktail, share best practices, maybe even hear a speaker talk about how to put on a more successful event? Make it 100% value-added for the event managers. Just by hosting it in your facility (you can offer tours, and collect names/email addresses for follow-up), you’ll get great exposure to a very targeted audience.
Be Unexpected & Memorable: What can you do uniquely and memorably for participants at each event to remember you, tell their friends, and beg to come back again? Every venue has a set of low-cost but high perceived-value opportunities to make a big impression on event managers, executives and attendees. Think about what this is for your venue, and test it.