Major brand flag hotels are considered to have a significant advantage over small and non-flag hotels as hoteliers running a property with less than 100 rooms, sometimes even considerably smaller, are not going to have the budget or backing of properties with several times that room inventory or that are backed by the massive advertising budget of major flag hotels.
Any hotel manager tasked with marketing a smaller property is taking on an unwinnable task if she or he tries to go toe-to-toe with these properties when the battle is fought on the terms of the larger property. The idea here is to highlight the aspects of your property where the bigger property simply cannot compete.
Many smaller properties have very unique features as well as significant ties to the local community, and this is what we want to exploit to improve the hotel’s occupancy rate.
Embrace the Local Roots of the Hotel
First and foremost, do not try to copy what the local Marriott or Hilton are doing at their property. Chances are, the hotel was designed years ago and while it may have some unique features, it is more than likely the standard design for a major hotel. These properties buy their supplies in bulk from major suppliers due to contract obligations, something your property probably does not have to worry about.
Point being, use the local flavor of your community to influence the design and overall feel of the hotel. For instance, if you have a local supplier for antique furniture or unique rugs, use them and tout that fact in the hotel’s marketing materials and social media accounts. The idea here is to create a local experience the guest cannot get anywhere else in the world, including when they stay at a major flag property in your local area.
You want your property to be synonymous with the location whenever the guest has to pass through your city. More importantly, you want them to emphasize this when they are telling their friends about their stay as well as when they leave a review or make a post about the property on social media.
Speaking of social media… consider creating a unique hashtag for the property and promote it throughout the hotel. This will make it much easier for the property to find and share posts made by guests on their personal social media accounts.
Identify Your Specific Niche Market
In most cases, a smaller property is not going to be able to compete in all markets of the travel industry. That being the case, identify your niche of the market and try to dominate it. For instance, business travelers have certain needs and requirements, such as dry-cleaning service and a business center, that you simply may not be able to provide.
Understand your shortcomings but also embrace the amenities and services your property can provide to specific segments of travelers, such as a babysitting service for guests. These are things you not only do well but also things you can actually do far better than the larger properties. Specifically, market to the niches of traveler that find these specific services and amenities vital to their stay.
Tie Property to a Local Charity or Cause
Today’s travelers, more than ever before, are eco-sensitive as well as interested in helping others. This is something that can be very beneficial when it comes to marketing a smaller property. If there is a local charity you can partner up with, reach out and see how the property can help promote the charity as well as creating in-house promotions to help raise funds for the cause.
It is also far easier for a smaller property to work the “green” angle than it would be a for a major property. This could be something small, such as using eco-friendly supplies. It can also be done on a larger scale by doing things like going solar or using local farmers committed to using “cage-free” environments for their animals and dedicated to using organic pesticides that will not lead to colony collapse disorder of the honey bee on their crops. Point being, the guest can see the property is more than “business as usual” and some of the money they spend with that property is doing more than just going into the coffers of some big corporation. In essence, you want to become part of the bigger picture rather than simply being a profit center for a business owner.
Remember, just because you are a small player does not mean you cannot compete with the bigger properties in your market. If you liked these ideas, you may also want to read our previous blog post on how small market hotels can compete with major brands. To read that post, click here.
When running a smaller property, it is even more important you have people in place that can deliver the level of service needed to be successful in the hotel industry. Joseph David International hotel recruiters is here to help you find the most talented executive managers in the industry today.
For more information about our hotel recruiter services, please click here.
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