Hospitality marketing… the better basics

I read loads of articles online claiming to cover ‘basic marketing advice for restaurants and hotels’ – the majority of them don’t go in to enough detail, and all of them fall short of being in anyway useful. So I thought I’d give it a go… have a read of my ‘better basics’ and let me know what you think.


1. Get your sh*t together

The most important area to start with, and the one everyone forgets… You’ve got to make sure you’re ready to go! Far too often I see companies backtracking or starting again from scratch because they didn’t research or plan anything before implementing a marketing campaign. You don’t want to be the business that got the price point wrong, the one that forgot to brief the team, or the one that didn’t make any money… all of these things are basic, so let’s get that straightened out first…

  • Make sure your business can cope with whatever it is you’re about to market, from having the right equipment to the knowledge and knowhow.
  • Get the team together and brief them on the campaign make sure they’re all trained and know what’s going on – after all, they’re your frontline and need to deliver the best possible customer experience.
  • Make some money! Surprisingly an area most people miss, grab the general manager, the chef and a calculator and work out the right balance between an attractive consumer offer and a profitable one.
  • Set yourself targets of what you’d like your marketing campaign to achieve, use data capture and weekly financials to monitor your success and adjust and improve based on your findings.

2. Go digital

Next up let’s get everything digital in place…

  • Website – don’t spend a fortune, you don’t need anything fancy. Build a basic site with your story, menu, a booking widget and details of how people can locate and contact you.
  • Claim you business profiles: Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp etc. Creating, and keeping these up to date will help optimize your online presence and search engine rankings. Online review sites are a great way to monitor your success rate, see customer thoughts and opinions and communicate directly to both positive and negative feedback – just don’t get too hung up on negatives, sort it out and move on.
  • Social Media – research what major platforms your customer base, city and/or country use and focus on them. Set up your profiles and post quality content daily. There’s a lot of noise out there nowadays so make sure everything from your copy to your creative is the best it can be. Once you’re an expert you can start to use paid media to boost your brand awareness and engagement levels – but as I said in the first section make sure you’ve planned everything first; putting money behind boring poor quality content won’t work.
  • Email Marketing – start to build a database that can be used not only to access customers but profile them as well. The key to successful email marketing, aside from quality content and creative, is producing regular structured campaigns that focus on specific areas your customers will actually be interested in, not what you want to sell them.


3. Press & influencers

Using the press and local influencers to help promote your business is a good strategy, provided you execute it correctly… inviting bloggers for complimentary food, drinks and accommodation in the hope that you’ll get some PR isn’t doing it right.

  • Do some research on your local press outlets and how they communicate to their audience, I’d advise going digital over print so you can measure your campaign’s performance. Once you’ve chosen, meet with the key people at the publication introduce yourself and the brand and gather contact details to send a press release to each month. Not to sound like a broken record, but make sure you’re sending great content and creative otherwise you’ll be wasting your time.
  • Go to social media and find the key influencers and bloggers in your area and do the same, introduce yourself open a dialog and see if you can implement a plan where you can both benefit from a partnership – of course everyone loves free food but its more important to make sure you’re getting the exposure and sales as part of the deal.

You’ll need to do some chasing to make sure you get the most out of the press and your influencers, the key is to build a relationship where they can experience, enjoy and talk about your products on a regular basis and you gain access to their audience and analytics in return.


4. Get known in the local community & corporate scene

You’ll be doing yourself a massive favour by introducing yourself to the local community and businesses… if you think about it targeting corporate provides you with weekday: lunch, after-work and business traveller trade whilst the local community will boost your evening and weekend trade.

  • First up local basic brand awareness – you’ve got to get out there and meet people, find out what’s going on in the local community, attend events, geo-target through social media, meet local influencers and implement residential mail drops to get people talking about your brand.
  • Then do you’re homework on local businesses, research the company and their key decision makers… introduce yourself, create a relationship and keep in regular contact to see if there is anything you can do for them. A great way to make contact with key people in an organisation is at networking events or through business clubs – you don’t need to become a member or pay to join, there’re plenty of free events that’ll get you started. Aside from corporate events you can plan a more direct approach with printed material and food/drink samples to get you through the door (old school I know – but it works) and build those relationships internally.


5. Get Proactive

In last week’s blog I talked about the importance of balancing proactivity and reactivity to get ahead so you definitely need check that out (read more here: Proactive X Reactive). If you start to research, plan and get proactive you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and headaches futher down the line.


6. Do you!

The best piece of advice I can give you… Stop watching other people; it’s the quickest way to lose.

  • Don’t look at a leading restaurant/hotel chain and think you need a nationally known marketing agency because they have one…. You Don’t. Do some research and get a small agency or freelancer that’s going to work for you.
  • Stop copying your competitors… Get proactive, get ahead of the game and start creating the trends.
  • Do you! Focus on what you want to achieve then work backwards by planning how you can achieve it… all of a sudden you‘ll have the answers right in front of you.

I hope these six points were in someway useful to you… they’re all super easy to implement yourself, however if you’re awesome at operations but clueless when it comes to back office marketing, or simply don’t have enough time, grab a business development manager to help – or get in touch with me and my team over at Nibble and we’ll sort you out.


P.S. did you notice research and planning featured in all six points?! …time to get your sh*t together!




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Tim Coulston (TC) is the Managing Director of Nibble, a hospitality company focused on building food & beverage brands, specialising in Strategic Communications, Business Management & Commercial Interiors.

For further information please contact:
Sophie Chadwick, Communications Manager, Nibble.

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