A hotel's ultimate goal is to put heads in beds while increasing ADR, so it's not surprising that most hotels focus all of their online marketing budget and efforts on promoting the hotel's rooms, amenities and location.
In regards to SEO, a hotel is typically concerned with website optimization, link building and OTA management, all of which ensure that the hotel is targeting the appropriate keywords and highlighting the best aspects of the hotel across all online channels.
With so much emphasis on filling hotel rooms, hotel restaurants often get left in the dust. While you work towards increasing occupancy in your hotel restaurant, you will inadvertently market your hotel's guest rooms as well.
Follow these five extra tips to optimize your hotel restaurant's online presence to improve your restaurant occupancy as well as supplement your hotel's overall SEO strategy.1. Linkbuilding
Creating inbound links to your hotel's website is vital for both SEO power and referral traffic, so why not build some links that highlight your onsite restaurant? There are several marketing opportunities for restaurants to list their address, phone number, hours, menu, photos, and of course, website!
Whether you choose to promote your official brand site or a custom, independent site, establishing a link to your dining page will benefit your hotel in more ways than one. Not only will you spread brand awareness to local folks who may not think to dine at a hotel restaurant, but you will also be creating a new online citation with a link!
Hate linkbuilding? Don't worry! Many of the sites that collect and share local restaurant information are user-generated, meaning you can manually upload and edit the information yourself rather than seeking out a third party website's IT guy. Create a login for the hotel and find the add venue, add menu, edit or claim button to submit your requests. Here are a few sites to get you started: Urbanspoon, Metromix, MenuPages and Yelp.2. Local Listings
Hopefully, you have already grasped the importance of claiming and optimizing your hotel on the various local listing channels, such as Google Places, Bing Local, etc. Search engines are becoming more personalized, offering tailored search results that are narrowed down by your city or zip code; thus, it can be extremely beneficial to optimize and claim your hotel restaurant as a separate entity from your hotel.
Since your restaurant most likely uses the same address as your hotel, it is important to differentiate the restaurant listing slightly so that it is not considered a duplicate. For example, use the restaurant's direct phone line rather than the hotel's front desk number. Also, direct the website link to the interior dining page that offers the visitor relevant information rather than the hotel homepage.
Creating a business listing for your restaurant will allow you to target an entire range of new keywords, which will populate as a search result for people intending to find a bite to eat rather than a hotel room. This also gives your hotel a new platform for receiving and responding to reviews, opening up another channel of communication with customers. As Google is the biggest player in the game, start by making sure your Google Places restaurant listing is owner-verified and optimized, but also check out Yahoo! Local, Bing Business Portal and MQVibe, which is MapQuest's newest local business center.
Some of these local sites also give businesses the opportunity to create special offers. For instance, after claiming your Google Places listing you can craft a coupon to redeem special offers that will display prominently for viewers to see. Be creative (but follow Google's guidelines) and establish enticing offers. Try giving away something like one free dessert with the purchase of one entree or complimentary valet parking when you spend X amount. Also, make sure to include terms and conditions as you see fit!3. Keyword Research & On-Page Optimization
Your hotel's website should already be optimized for the appropriate keywords that you have decided to target, but take that a step further and ensure that you are actively SEOing your dining page as well. Use Google's Keyword Tool to determine what restaurant keywords you might want to target and include them seamlessly throughout your copy. Check that your meta-title incorporates highly-searched city dining keywords too!4. Social Media
Does your hotel restaurant feature special events periodically that might garner a following? Special happy hour deals? Live bands on Friday nights? Monthly wine tastings? If so, your restaurant may deserve its very own social media profile to showcase its personality.
While managing two separate pages can create a bit more effort on your part, it may be worth it since it can actually extend your fan base. Your restaurant will likely target a more local or regional market whereas your hotel's official Facebook page will appeal to a much wider audience. To make it easier to manage, set up the two unique Facebook pages under the same Facebook account so you can easily switch back and forth to scour your newsfeed and review your analytics.
Post high-quality pictures of your best dishes with detailed captions, boast about your exceptional cocktails, announce your daily chef specials and, most importantly, engage with local customers on your Facebook wall. Don't forget that Facebook is a two-way street! Why not use it as an outlet to ask your followers what they'd like to see on the menu? Keep in mind that you can use the @tagging feature to create a partnership between your hotel's official Facebook page and your hotel's restaurant Facebook page.
Facebook also recently introduced Facebook Deals, a similar concept to Foursquare Check-In Specials, which encourages guests to check-in on their mobile device to redeem special offers. Foursquare Check-Ins and Facebook Deals both promote a healthy word-of-mouth marketing that takes very little management effort.
Businesses can select from a variety of deal options depending on what your objective may be. You can opt for a simple check-in reward, you can foster a sense of community by requiring X amount of friends to check-in together or you can encourage loyalty by requiring X amount of previous visits, like a virtual punch card. Just make sure that your restaurant staff is well-versed on the deal's stipulations to ensure all transactions run smoothly!5. Flash Deal Sites
Hotel restaurants share a common challenge: distinguishing themselves as local dining establishments rather than the food and beverage department within a hotel. Because a restaurant is often hidden within the hotel's intricate design, it doesn't typically offer as much curb appeal as an established, individual restaurant; therefore, it's easy for local folks to disregard a hotel restaurant when selecting a lunch or dinner spot.
However, in some instances, restaurants can be a significant revenue generator for hotels, so how can hotels market their restaurants to people living in the area who may not think to frequent it? This is where flash deal sites come into play!
Groupon, Living Social, Travel Zoo Local Deals, Google Offers and countless local "knock-off" deal sites are popping up left and right. They offer people unbeatable dining deals based on location. While restaurants do have to offer a steep discount to make their deal shine, the value to both the customer and the restaurant is very strong. Deal sites take a creative approach--they encourage people to spend money locally, while still inherently saving, and they offer restaurants a unique, online advertising opportunity with a targeted reach. Who can say no to a good deal on food?
There is no doubt that a hotel's online marketing efforts should largely concentrate on promoting their accommodations, but that doesn't mean it should miss out on additional services that can bring in revenue. These simple suggestions to market your hotel's restaurant online will ultimately direct more traffic to your hotel's website and location.Andrea Mann is an Internet Marketing Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive, a Chicago-based full-service Internet Marketing Agency that specializes in the hospitality industry. With extensive experience in search engine optimization, strategic planning, website design and management and social media, Andrea has assisted a wide portfolio of hotels, restaurants and hospitality companies in achieving their marketing goals and increasing their occupancy. Originally hailing from the suburbs of Cleveland, Andrea's passion for travel has landed her in marketing and PR positions throughout New York, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Barcelona and Tel Aviv. Her articles have been featured on HotelMarketing.com, 4Hoteliers.com, Jerusalem Post and IsraAir Airlines Magazine.www.bluemagnetinteractive.com