Marketing your hospitality business

Recently we looked at some general tips to help boost the success of your hospitality business. In this article, we look at ways to improve the marketing of your food industry business.

In any business, a solid marketing strategy is critical to building a brand, attracting new customers and maintaining loyalty. The hospitality industry is no different.

Because of the nature of a hospitality business, owners must sell tangible as well as intangible products. You are marketing services rather than goods, and success hinges on creating the right feeling in the customer.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) explains: “The first step in successful marketing is to know your audience: who are you communicating with? This is particularly true in social media. Think like your guests and potential guests, and about why they would want to visit you. Create a tone for your social media based on this. It must truly represent what your restaurant is about and what makes you different from your competitors.”

Here are some tips to better market your hospitality business, provided by the BHA:

  • Have a functional website. The information should be current and the navigation clear and structured. SEO is key to finding the website quickly through searches. Avoid pop-ups and other annoying bells and whistles that detracts from your key messages.
  • Create a food blog, list daily specials and ask questions, opinions and feedback – the key is to engage with your customers/visitors.
  • Join forces with local food bloggers to review your restaurant in return for a free meal.
  • Monitor review sites – restaurants live or die on their reputation, pay attention to what people are saying about your restaurant online. Thank customers for positive reviews and most importantly, respond to and respectfully resolve bad reviews.
  • Look after your social media presence. Make sure your posts are informative, interesting, imaginative and interactive/dynamic – it is all about engagement once the conversation has started. Do not be afraid to have fun, and most importantly, be a part of the local community. Make sure that you have easily identifiable social media links in the header of your page – always visible from wherever you are on your website/blog. Promote your social media presence everywhere (menus, business cards).
  • When posting, increase engagement through the use of links, images and videos. Text is boring! Try to have a call for action i.e. click here for a chance to… or ask people thought provoking questions that they want to engage with i.e. Do you think that Valentine’s Day has become too commercial? or How do you think we can make our restaurant more vegetarian friendly? You would be surprise how many people actually do want to provide their help and opinions… Time your posts on twitter close to breakfast, lunch and dinner – use hashtags for the meal times, like #lunch or #dinner. It makes it even easier to find you on a Twitter search. Remember: think like your customer! Retweet/reply to people talking about your restaurant via Twitter. Just as you should never ignore reviews, you should not ignore negative feedback via social media. Engage customers with complaints by responding with suggestions or solutions.
  • Focus on local SEO optimisation. 72 per cent of all searches are related to a search for local content.
  • Grow your guests’ database. Promote your e-newsletters through social media, on your website, on your blog and inside your restaurant. Make sure you ask guests to opt-in rather than forcing them to opt-out. Do not bombard your guests with too many newsletters or SMS campaigns. Segment your guests for a targeted message i.e. guests who have not been to your restaurant in last 90 days, guests who come more than four times a month or new guests who have visited in the last 30 days.
  • If you want your restaurant to be known as the neighbourhood hangout, create a tone (or even character) that you will consistently use across all of your social media platforms. You could, for example, have a great, long term waiter or bartender be the face of your social media. Putting a face on a business does work (think Virgin and Richard Branson clowning about at every occasion – this is what gets people talking about your brand).
  • If you want to be known for your great food, create your social media postings around your chef.

What’s more, businesses in the sector must do thorough Research. Identify what factors make customers choose a particular hospitality business. Speak to current and former guests, monitor customer reviews on websites, review industry data and more. In this way, you will learn what makes a hospitality service stand out, as well as how it can be improved.

In conclusion, the BHA says that businesses in the hospitality industry must be “innovative and different, rather than imitative.”  

Along with poor market research, key factors for the high business failure rates in the industry include difficulty in raising second round financing, financial planning and the challenge of building a loyal customer base. So, with this in mind, make sure you partner with a business adviser who knows your industry and can work with you to resolve issues which can impact on business performance and success.

At Beavis Morgan, we have extensive experience of working with clients in the hospitality sector and our professionals are acknowledged experts in issues affecting restaurants, pubs and hotels.

Contact Matthew Burge or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner for further information about how we can assist you and your hospitality business.