In these tough economic times, people just don’t spend money like they used to. Always regarded as a luxury, there was a stage that a holiday was considered necessary to a person’s well-being, and the tourism industry boomed and profited. Dreams were realised and owner’s upgraded their rooms and services… but that was a few years ago.
Based inland and away from all the “popular” holiday destinations, how are you making money in Winter? Sure, you can have corporate clients – at least they pay! – but when they’re not training staff, who fills your rooms?
We are all aware of how the hotel and accommodation market is affected by the economy, by trends in foreign and domestic travel, the political stability of the country and region, and the infrastructure provided by the country.
The bills don’t care if you’re currently out of season, so how do you reach new clients and turn them into satisfied recommendations that keep coming back, year after year? With the South African economy recovering and global economies improving, prospects for the coming years are looking brighter. We do not expect South Africa to return to the high levels of economic growth seen in previous years, but with the right strategy, we can still leverage a niche corner of the market and stay afloat.
Where have you seen the most success with your marketing efforts? Which social media tools are you using to keep your customers engaged and coming back, and are they the right tools for your business? Are there any platforms you are moving away from and replacing with something else?
The availability of sophisticated telecommunications tools such as videoconferencing is cutting into the market for business travel, particularly during economic downturns. Is your establishment geared for the technological age that we find ourselves in?
Every hotel business today is built to capture and serve a certain segment of the traveller marketplace. But what if you could redefine that segment? What if you could shift your marketing consciousness and create an awareness of who you are in as-yet-untargeted markets?
WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?
You can’t effectively market a product or service if you don’t know whom you are trying to communicate with. How do you identify, and then approach, the right kind of customer?
Market research can tell you some essential information about the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services. Armed with this information, you can develop a marketing campaign with content that is most likely to reach this customer type.
That’s an expensive and time-consuming exercise, right? Well, no.
One common misconception about user personas is that only large corporations with big marketing budgets can use them. The truth is, businesses of all sizes and types can benefit from getting a deeper understanding of their target customers. In fact, smaller companies with tighter budgets should take the time to develop user personas because they can help you get a better return on your investment and save money in the long run.
Each of your personas will have a slightly different “buyer’s journey” leading up to making a purchase. As such, the questions each of those personas ask throughout the process will differ between them and will also be different across the three stages of the buyer’s journey, as well.
In the awareness stage, personas are seeking educational, vendor-neutral content that’s focused around what they are specifically looking for. People’s goals when in the awareness stage are to research and to start to identify what criteria are important for them. In the consideration stage, personas have identified and have clearly defined their needs. Now, they’re looking for specific solutions. They’re exploring all avenues and all options across all vendors, as well as starting to hone in on specific suppliers. In the decision stage, personas have chosen a solution and are now investigating those suppliers – effectively, what product or service they’ll use to obtain their desired solution.
Being successful isn’t about spending more necessarily, it’s about spending wisely and following a solid strategy that involves an awareness of the channels you’re investing in.
We invite you to take our FREE survey, which will assist you in answering these hard-hitting questions. At the end of the survey, you should have a clearer understanding of what drives you to run your business the way you do, and how your decisions are made. You’ll be more aware of the challenges you face, and how you intend to solve those challenges – whether they were conscious thought patterns or not.
You can link to the online survey (hosted and virus-scanned by Google Docs for Drive) here:
WHAT THE STATISTICS SAY
In the past, it may have been important to speak to a broad or general audience. However, that’s not the case when it comes to hospitality guests anymore. Now, more than ever, it is essential to target the correct audience in the correct way so that you reach your quota for the month and can pay the bills!
Interestingly, Africa and the Middle East had the exact same amount of international tourists incoming for the period 2014-2016. After Morocco, South Africa was 2nd on the list of top ten destinations. 53 Million international travellers. Where did they all stay?
According to the Domestic Tourism 2017 Survey conducted by Statistics SA, 75% of tourists stayed with friends and relatives, and 4.5% stayed at their second (holiday) home, leaving the balance to stay at an establishment much like yours. That’s a really tight squeeze!
Day travellers spent most of their money on shopping, domestic transport, food and beverages. The same pattern of spending was observed during overnight trips. Most day travellers undertook trips mainly for shopping, followed by visiting friends and relatives and leisure. Most international tourists undertook trips to visit friends and relatives followed by leisure and religious purposes.
The modes of transport mostly used during day and overnight trips were cars followed by taxis. The top provinces visited were Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo.
Trends for 2017 suggest that establishments need to be paying more attention to guest experiences, such as launching tours and activities, a clear signal to hotel owners that a much more holistic approach is needed than they’re used to delivering to overall guest experiences, not just inside the hotel but outside of it.
The loyalty program remains the backbone of so many different hotel companies’ master strategies, and that certainly won’t change at all in 2017. As it stands today, hotel loyalty is entering an age of awkward discovery, the result of changing consumer behaviours and expectations. In 2017, hotels have a golden opportunity to redefine what real hotel loyalty is like and we hope to help you seize that chance.
“Ninety-nine percent of what we have done for 50 years has been based on the guy coming from outside of town,” a recent trend report suggested. “A traveller, from a different city, from a different country, which I think is interesting, but not too smart. We’ve missed a population which is 100 times greater and better and easier: the guy next door. The local inhabitants. They live around the hotel, or they go to an office around the hotel, and 90 percent of them never dared coming into the property, because they’re fearful that we’re going to be asking, ‘What’s your room number?’ They don’t need a room, but they may need a service.”
The report went on to state that there are “zillions of services a hotel or guest house can get into, in their local community”, among them having hotels assist locals with simple tasks and solving everyday solutions like holding packages or keys or recommending the best services nearby.
“[The hotel will be] a place that will make your life easier,” he said. “It’s giving a purpose to the staff in that establishment, because they’re going to be feeling very proud, proud of bringing that additional service that people need, and are afraid of asking for.” It’s going to give your establishment an edge – one that others in your area wont have.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK
- How does your establishment brand itself and do all staff brand your establishment correctly?
- Are directions to your venue clear and concise? Are you listed on Google Maps (which is where taxi companies get GPS co-ordinates from)?
- Do you offer value-added services such as shuttles, boardroom or wedding facilities, day spas, gym, kids areas, etc? Is this communicated clearly on your adverts?
- How do you keep your guests entertained, on-site, engaged and coming back? What amenities could you offer in addition to what you already have?
- What is your policy on wifi, satellite TV, online shopping and interactive in-house engagement?
Are you sure the answers to the above questions are what your guests are looking for?
ABOUT THE SURVEY
Geospatial intelligence – the knowledge of the area, people, culture and habits – is vital to the longevity of your establishment. So, how do you go about marketing to that target audience, thereby filling your beds and your bank account?
In paid media, we see search and display ads based on demographics and browsing history. You guessed it… those are developed personas. But moving past blanket targeting like this, knowing the social media platforms your guests prefer can deliver results to users on an absolute personal level.
Facebook is a personal space. Yes, advertising on this platform is free, but is it targeted? No. Unless you pay for it. Or you could spend hours each day pumping out your adverts to your groups and on your pages, but that simply saturates the feed and creates a kind of blind fatigue, resulting in a scroll past what you thought was a brilliant advert. Yes, it’s hard, and time consuming. No, it isn’t where your guests are finding their accommodation.
You could pay for your spot on platforms such as SleepingOut or SafariNow, and you would still be competing against hundreds of other lodges and hotels for a callback or reservation. In other words, are your ad campaigns paying you back for your investment in them?
Using the correct platforms delivers results, otherwise you’re just wasting your time and data. This survey is designed to show you, in a nutshell, where your ideal market lies. It will also help you formulate your thoughts and re-strategise to be more effective, and get a better return on your marketing spend and efforts.
Real market intelligence is the “interaction of people and technology” and the key is “how do you get that information into people’s heads?”
Personalisation is the next manifestation in the evolution of brands. The expectation of people from brands is “you should know me and know what I want.”
If you like what you’ve read so far, and enjoyed completing the survey, give me a call. Lets chat about your results, and find a way to bring you back to the dream you’re trying to live. That dream is your legacy, handed down to the next generation. I’d like to help you make it a viable legacy.