No – Cost Communication

zilchThere is a popular saying, “out of sight, out of mind”.  I believe it’s as true in our industry too, yet we often tend to overlook- staying in our guests’ mind constantly. The best restaurant in town may lose out in terms of business if it doesn’t create a buzz, through promotions or guest recalls. This needn’t be a time consuming and  expensive affair. I have successfully ensured some of these simple, low-cost yet practical ideas have borne fruit,  positioning them judicially for our properties.

Social Networking
Even a toddler knows the power of Face Book nowadays,  probably has a huge fan following if he happens to be a celebrity kid!  FB has all the movers and shakers, and  mere mortals like us too. It’s the in thing to have hundreds of friends. You Tube has made teenager singer Rebecca Black a celebrity overnight, notching few million hits in a fortnight. These sites are nowadays extensively used by hotels and resorts  for practically all in-house promos.  I had earlier posted a TV interview clip of the high tech hotel La Marvella, the results were fabulous, what’s note worthy is that the locals visited my F&B outlets extensively. The internet has changed the travel and hotel scenario all together, the clients can pool in their own info in real time, giving them tremendous deciding power. Book or go else where with a click of a mouse. Tweeting is another success story that many organizations took piggy back to shoot into the global arena with little or no cost, courtesy Tweety Bird. Linked In connects you with such a simple process, the updates makes you “seen” with your professional groups and some where a silver line of business is streaking up- Ahoy.

Travel Portals
I am portal friendly, as they are literally free and function purely on perform or perish style. No strings attached, the portals give me rooms and I am only too pleased to offer the TAC, that way both  are winners. The big four Make my trip, Clear trip, Yatra and Travel Guru are the pioneers and are reaping the benefits of their vision and foresight.. The foreign portals are keenly watching to make a niche in this no cost solutions for us hoteliers. Customer service and consolidation are the mantra for these portals, we should enthusiastically ride on this wave and establish a double digit growth faster, again with none or meager costs.

Blogs and magazine articles
An interesting article written by one of the hotel staff enhances the image of your
establishment.  I practice this to the hilt, a full page article such as this in an industry magazine gives great mileage with no cost except for your time. There are definitely a  few budding writers amongst us hoteliers. Choosing a recipe or a cooking tip, a funny incident or a management technique written well can have a great product recall. A charity event such as lunch at an orphanage be could also be covered in these articles.

I use our peacock website blog extensively, needless to mention, all my readers are gently guided to my site and this gives me a rare opportunity to show case my profile and services. The shared links from the happy readers can spread visibility exponentially propelling you to a different level. All your blogs need to be in first person, people want to listen to your personal experience, thus the message goes loud and clear.

E-mail marketing
I consider Guerilla e-mail marketing to be a real cost-effective way to advertise. It is also an unobtrusive way. All I do is to design a very effective signature, logo and a message at the bottom of the page. After reading my mail, I tempt the reader to click on the flash message. The box would offer a reward or an interesting info. I make sure that this mail lands into my receiver’s inbox as a plain vanilla byte and not as an attachment. Most of the travel agents retain them in their inbox and show it on their LCD screen while showcasing to the clients.

freeFood demos
Demos by chefs are a great way of attracting socialites. Treat them to some super new recipe sampling and you will have them eating out of your hand. Naming the dish after one famous person in the group creates an interesting twist. You could use that in the tent cards, festive menus or simply on the table mat menus.

Venturing out
Senior executives like housekeepers or chefs can be encouraged to appear in  talk shows. A simple housekeeping tip, decorating the living room or stain removal methods will catch the fancy of the housewives. The GM can be invited as the chief guest for a college/school event, perhaps muscle in a motivating speech at the catering college. Regular quotes on current hospitality issues/trends are other areas where the GM can be in the limelight. I conducted a 4 day seminar projecting sales strategies with technological innovations at the Institute of hotel management Bangalore, I was well received and the news spread, giving me and my Peacock company wide coverage.

Newsletter
Newsletters, either hard copies or sent through the web regularly, are effective and subtle sources of information reaching your select corporate guests directly. The shelf life of these letters is about a fortnight. Simple ideas placed forth in an interesting manner will prove to be an attention grabber. Events such as food fests, chef’s charity shows or a wine taster’s promo by a winery may be highlighted. Outstanding capabilities of the staff may be included. This will not only motivate them, but connect them to the regular guests who have one-to-one relationship. The bond will result in tremendous publicity for the hotel and lead to increased revenues. Focusing on select guests in their areas of expertise connected with the hotel industry is a good option – for example a whisky distillery owner writing some interesting facts about the liquor.

Go direct
My favorite almost No cost advert, the ever reliable direct mailer, even though the return on investment is only four per cent of the guest response. Having said that lets take an
Example: 10,000 mails can give 400 guest responses, which is not too bad. If you can
convert even three per cent of this into actual business, its 300 people using your hotel.
Just make sure that the design and copy is simple, attractive and attention grabbing. Inserts in newspapers, distributing through smart staff at trade shows (not in parking areas but at stalls) are some of the ways to disperse these mailers. A sure way is to send them along with credit card statements.

Innovate constantly, our technology and services should appeal to his senses, giving him a feel that he is reaping value for money. Do whatever is necessary to stay in the limelight but don’t fade away as the guest memory is very short.

As Bill Bern Bach said once, ‘The greatest risk of all is the risk of going unnoticed’

The author is Venu Rao,
Director

Peacock Group, Bangalore

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