There comes a time in every entrepreneur's life where tough decisions have to be made. Do you want to take your business to the next level, or are you satisfied with your current plateau? Growing pains like these affect all industries, especially food service and hospitality.
In the course of expanding, growing, and upscaling you may ask yourself serious operational questions such as "Is marketing important to my business? How can increased advertising expenditure help boost my venue's bookings? Is marketing even necessary?"
The answer is a resounding "Yes." While it's easy for hospitality professionals to view their work as part of a critical, global infrastructure, it's still necessary to grease the wheels of progress once in a while. According to Statista, hospitality-related ad spend in the United States alone amounted to more than $2.3 billion last year.
Critical or not, the hospitality industry thrives on marketing the same as any other industry. Today we're going to take an in-depth look at the relationship between those marketing efforts and customer satisfaction, as well as some tips, tricks, and industry best practices to help boost your bookings through solid, meaningful advertising campaigns.
Marketing and hospitality: the customer impact
Hospitality marketing presents a host of unique challenges for the industry professionals serving this particular market subset. No matter the industry you serve, marketing is a necessity if you want to drive sales and grow your professional service footprint. When it comes to hospitality, you aren't simply selling a product in a traditional sense. Instead, you're selling an intangible experience, which is a far more difficult task. That's where solid marketing efforts come into play.
Other industries have the luxury of offering a tangible product to their customers, something that their clients can walk away with. In the hospitality industry (and food service, to some extent) you're selling your patrons on the emotional gratification that comes with a stay or visit.
In food service, the customer experience is tantamount to the food itself, and more meaningful in the long-term than a simple, consumable meal. Therefore, where the food service and hospitality industry is concerned, marketing efforts serve a three-fold purpose:
- To help you better serve your customers
- To help you better know your customers
- To help you better demonstrate your brand's value to your customers
In other words, you aren't marketing your venue (or your menu!) based on its own merits alone. You're also marketing directly to your customer base and their individual preferences. In the next section, we'll take a look at the direct impact this kind of marketing philosophy has on the customer and your day-to-day operations.
The customer experience: Using technology to make your brand stand out
Today, every discussion of technology in the food service and hospitality industry revolves around key technology such as customer relationship management software (CRM), contactless QR code menus and check-in options, and digital ordering, payment, and delivery methods. These components form the cornerstone of a tech stack designed with the customer experience firmly in mind.
Solutions like these represent an easy mode for both the food service and larger hospitality arenas in terms of improved customer outcomes. In the next section, we'll take a look at some battle-tested ways that you can increase your venue's bookings with these critical technologies as the backdrop.
How to use marketing to increase your venue's bookings
Implementing cutting-edge technology is a great starting point in the quest to improve your bottom line. Like any tool, however, technology requires purpose. Below are some techniques designed to make marketing work to your advantage.
Enhance your online presence
Did you know that 88% of people who research a business online will then visit that same business within a day? Additionally, 97% get all their information on a company through online means. Stats like this underscore the value of a solid internet presence.
The two best ways to enhance your online footprint are developing a high-quality landing page for your brand and implementing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy that makes your brand more visible in search results by using content to pull traffic to your website. SEO works through a combination of high-quality content, strategic use of keywords, and behind-the-scenes metadata.
Utilise social media accounts to the fullest
Another great way to boost your brand's digital footprint and increase your overall bookings is by maintaining a full roster of active social media accounts. You should start by setting up a Google profile for your business, followed by a dedicated Facebook page with key NAP (name, address, phone number) information prominently displayed. Try using avenues such as Instagram to display either your menu options, your facility, or a combination of both. Adventurous marketers can even test the waters with TikTok.
Online social avenues extend beyond the curated platform, however. Think outside the box and parlay with food bloggers. Don't forget to work review sites such as Yelp and Google itself in order to address any customer concerns that arise.
Develop targeted loyalty programs
The ultimate goal of a CRM is to provide your repeat customers with a superior experience in-house. Using the plethora of data captured during each customer interaction, from spending habits and purchasing trends to key demographic data, you can further refine that customer experience through targeted loyalty programs.
Using a CRM enables you to gather an abundant amount of customer information. From there, you can develop loyalty programs suited to each individual customer. There is no marketing tool more powerful.
Consider hosting an event
Marketing is about utilising every avenue possible to get your brand in front of your customers. One way is to make your marketing efforts and your day-to-day business one and the same.
Try advertising for a special tasting event, fundraiser, or other celebration at your venue. Not only will you attract your core clientele, but you'll also draw in curious members of the community who've never sampled your brand before.
Forge local partnerships
Your business doesn't operate in isolation. No matter what your venue's focus is, you are a part of the community that you serve. One of the best, most cost-efficient marketing strategies out there is staying involved in your community. From hosting fundraisers to doing charity work, the goal is to be seen as an integral part of your local scene. In doing so, you'll improve your brand's image and expand your service footprint in the process.
Engage in email marketing
While working on your digital presence, don't forget to engage in more traditional marketing methods. While it's easy to dismiss email marketing as nothing but spam, it can be an effective element of your marketing strategy.
Marketing toward the customer experience
There are a thousand different ways to advertise your restaurant, café, hotel, or venue. No matter which advertising methods you choose, understand that hospitality marketing is an essential part of your business operations.
The best approach is a multimodal one that uses technology to disseminate your brand through multiple different avenues and meet your customers at the level of their experience. Need help implementing the right technology? Mr Yum can help. Contact us today to learn about our exciting hospitality solutions.