Three tips for enhancing guest engagement for your independent hotel

Marketing is a crucial part of an independent hotel’s day-to-day operations.  Great visibility on OTAs, positive ratings on review sites and a strong reputation in the local community are a few of the goals independent hotel operators work towards to ensure travelers continue to book rooms.  Keeping guests, both new visitors and returning travelers, engaged is one of the challenges independent hoteliers face when developing new marketing campaigns.  As you launch into another successful year, try these three guest engagement tips to keep your marketing efforts fresh so guests always have new reasons to stay with you.

Direct Booking Special Offers

It’s hard to find an independent hotel operator who doesn’t love direct bookings.  There are no commissions to be paid and each booking provides proof that your marketing efforts are working.  Since direct bookings allow you to capture more dollars per reservation, give your guests more incentive to book directly by providing creative and compelling special offers.  Through trade or bulk purchases, independent hotels can secure great rates on gift cards for restaurants, tickets to special events and passes to local attractions that can be paired with rooms to create enticing packages that are only available when travelers book directly.  Many independent hotel guests desire unique travel experiences, so operators can fulfil their expectations by providing opportunities to immerse themselves in the local community.

Social Media Campaigns

Social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are great for supporting direct and OTA booking efforts, but they’re also perfect for showcasing the fun side of hospitality.  Alongside your “hard” marketing pitches, weave in “soft” guest engagement campaigns.  Simple activities, like a First Guest of the Month campaign where the first guest who books each month wins a small award ($5 Starbucks gift card), a photo scavenger hunt and monthly trivia, are great for keeping your online community active, as well as capturing interest from your on-property guests.  Social media’s influence on travelers’ decision making is growing, so enhancing your online guest engagement may also help drive valuable offline revenue.

On-Property Experiences

As mentioned, independent hotel guests usually want more than the standard, everyday lodging experience, so operators should view this as an opportunity to make their hotel stand out.  Through customized on-property experiences, independent hotel operators can drive up guest engagement while developing a one-of-a-kind personality for their property.  Weekly social hours with free food and drinks for guests, random acts of kindness where team members surprise guests with special, unannounced gestures and other experiences that make guests say “WOW!,” like on-site cooking demonstrations and live music shows, are the kind of events that make independent hotels unique and memorable.  By leveraging the flexibility and creativity afforded to independent hotels, operators can deliver on-property experiences that will keep their guests returning time and time again.

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