5 Weird Hospitality Marketing Ideas That Actually Work

The hospitality industry is massively competitive, so a strong marketing strategy is essential. Social media presence, top-notch SEO and great Tripadvisor reviews are all important. But there are some slightly less run-of-the-mill marketing tactics that work to grab the attention of potential guests or customers and with great results.

Get personal with guests on social media

Use social media to personally interact with guests, and even better, do this before they’ve actually checked in or visited you. Search Facebook or Instagram for customers who have tagged your hotel or restaurant and create personalized, genuine interactions. Kimpton Hotels run a ‘social media shout out’ campaign; rewarding guests at check-in who have tagged the hotel before their stay. This personalizes the experience for their guest and also boosts their social media presence again when the guest typically posts about it across their social media.

Ask your customers to get creative

In 2014, Starbucks asked its customers to design their new limited edition coffee cup. Customers responded in their thousands by sharing their coffee cup designs all over social media platforms; generating new, instantly shareable content for Starbucks. Asking your customers to design something in your restaurant or hotel can be a great way to develop user-generated content that customers love to engage with, increasing your brand profile.

Get crazy with your brand

Ask yourself what’s key to your brand’s story. Whether you run an organic gin bar or a hotel that’s big on luxury, zero in on your brand’s core characteristic. Use this to run a ridiculous, attention-grabbing campaign that exists to purely champion your brand. In 2017, KFC celebrated chicken in a big way, creating chicken flavored chocolate truffles and chicken scented candles for a ‘look at us’ marketing push. And it totally worked.

Ask your customers what they really think.

Hospitality businesses all depend on great reviews to attract new guests and customers through social proof and influence. Although it can be painful for a business, customers control the conversation, so asking for them to be honest about their experience is a great way to get their attention. Customers want transparent, authentic businesses, so developing a marketing campaign to generate honest feedback about your business can be a real winner. This transparency marketing has been hugely effective for McDonald’s, who created the ‘Our Food: Your Questions’ campaign.

Love your customer’s pets as much as they do. Really.

Emotion equals more sales, and one thing guaranteed to stir up emotion in your customers is their pets. Customers want to feel valued and understood by a brand, and that includes their pets too. The restaurant Shake Shack actually has a specific ‘doggie menu’.  Customers love to share pictures of their dogs eating at Shake Shack, engaging across social media constantly. Loving pets has helped Shake Shack generate multi-million dollar revenues, so it’s definitely worth exploring. Think about campaigns where you can encourage potential guests to share their experiences of visiting your hotel with their pet, or how much their dog loves to sit in that perfect spot in your cafe.

So whether you’re a hotel, cafe, or bar, try boosting your marketing with a few weird campaigns in addition to your traditional marketing mix. Don’t forget to track your business metrics and make sure that you are accurately picking the strategies that are working for your venue.

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