Marketing a small hotel is a challenging prospect – after all, you are competing against large chain hotels with national and international brand recognition, not to mention their big-budget professional marketing teams. But small boutique hotels have a powerful edge over bigger chains that they simply can’t beat – they’re unique.
Small hotels must focus on their brand essence – the ways in which they’re not like those established brands – in order to succeed. Your difference is your competitive edge, your way of pulling customers away from the same old hotel experience by offering something new and exciting.
But how can you market what makes you special if you haven’t spent time clearly defining it? Follow these simple marketing tips to make your small hotel stand out from the rest:
Focus on What Makes Your Hotel Authentic and Unique
Focus your marketing efforts on content that showcases what makes your boutique hotel different. Is it your dedication to sustainability and green design? Your chef-led restaurant offering the best of the local cuisine? Your location or amenities? That your hotel is immersed in local culture?
Today’s tourists want more than just a place to stay – they want an authentic and immersive experience that makes them feel a part of the local culture, that gives them access to an aspirational lifestyle, that reflects their values – and marketing strategies for small hotels need to reflect this. Small boutique hotels are in the perfect position to deliver this thoughtful and personalized travel experience, far away from the bland offering of traditional hotels – and travelers are prepared to pay for it.
Digitalization has embedded itself in every aspect of our lives – it’s how we communicate, discover events, book our upcoming trips, and research products and services. In terms of tourism, the digital world offers the most powerful marketing tools for small boutique hotels.
In today’s crowded marketplace, where the amount of digital content in existence is skyrocketing, it can be very difficult to catch people’s attention. People like small hotels for their personality and charm, and it’s critical to integrate this into your digital campaigns. Check out how London’s Town Hall Hotel incorporates local landmarks and utilizes bleached out images to create a vintage look on their Instagram page.
Social media is a highly effective medium for creating personal relationships with your customers in a less formal environment, allowing you to build both brand awareness and engagement. Encourage your guests to tag you in social media posts, invest in competitions where your followers share your posts or tag friends, and work with influencers and partners to cross-promote to similar audiences.
Get Involved in Your Community
Local businesses and communities can be a powerful force when they come together to support one another. During 2020, we’ve seen a significant trend towards shopping locally and supporting local businesses within communities, and it’s especially important for small hotels to keep that momentum going.
Focus on networking within your local community to work with other businesses that share your values and where you can cross-promote services for mutual benefit. Examples of this might include using local producers for toiletries, food and beverage supplies, linen and décor, or giving local businesses discounts for hosting their events at your facility.
These valuable partnerships may take a little while to discover and get off the ground, but once established, they can become a rewarding and cost-effective strategy to increase referral bookings for small hotels.
It’s easy to feel uninspired or overwhelmed when you’re brainstorming marketing content and strategies for your small hotel – so take a look at what similar businesses are doing. Look at their websites, blogs, marketing emails, and social media accounts to see what they are talking about, how they’re talking about it, and what kind of response they’re getting.
It’s useful market research and it can give you some great ideas on what to do next, whether that’s expanding to a service you’ve never tried before (long-term accommodation, creating a coworking space, or developing pet-friendly accommodation), modifying a service you already have (introducing takeaways to your restaurant, hosting cooking courses, or expanding into local produce/cuisine), or offering competitions and discounts that are a little different (gift cards, holiday specials, or social media competitions).
The hotel industry is changing – but there are always opportunities for small boutique hotels to shine. Embrace your differentiators and unleash your personality to bring more joy into people’s lives while also driving top-line revenue.
About The Author
Colin Hannan is a Principal atProven Partners, a hospitality consultancy that specializes in helping hotels adapt and reposition for more effective growth. Colin combines a wealth of hands-on development and operational experience with deep marketing knowledge to support Proven’s hospitality partners on their growth journeys.
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