As a hotel restaurant, there are many ways for you to attract both those who are already guests in the hotel and other patrons from the local area. Different promotional strategies will work for different types of restaurants and businesses, but generally a mixture of online and offline strategies will help you see the most success.
1. Optimize yourself for Google local search
Google Places is one of the best tools around for any small business. In fact, according to data released by Google, 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online. Plus, 73 percent of all online activity is related to local content. A Google Places page means you are optimised for local business searches, and its dashboard lets you control what information is presented to potential customers. Descriptions, images and contact information can be updated any time. Make sure you include search items in the title. For example, a Lebanese restaurant called ‘Habibi’s’ is more likely to rank well if it includes a search term like ‘Habibi’s Lebanese Restaurant, Warriewood’, because most people would type in ‘Lebanese restaurant’ and the suburb or town name into search.
2. Get social
A 2014 Pew research survey found that Facebook was by far the most popular site, with 71% of adults actively using it. It also acts as a home base, having significant overlap with other platforms. This means that having a Facebook fan page is essential to reach as many people as possible. Other sites to be on include Instagram to reach a young audience, plus review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Both of these sites have high Google rankings, making your hotel restaurant search engine friendly.
3. Takeout vs. room service
Everybody loves room service right? But many people consider it a luxury, and to save some dollars, order a pizza to be delivered to their room instead. By offering a takeout service, rather than room service, you’re giving guests a chance to sample your food without worrying about the damage it’s going to do to their bill on checkout. It’s perfect for tired business travellers who just want to pick up something to eat on their way back to their room.
4. Capture the tourist market
Although they won’t become long-term customers, tourists often come in large groups and leave generous tips. Plus, 40% of them leave restaurant reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. If guests are in your town for something particular, like a sporting or cultural event, align your marketing efforts with it. Come up with a signature dish for the event, give some of your meals names related to it, and of course, show the match if you can. Don’t forget to provide tourists with things they need like brochures, city guides, and free Wi-Fi.
5. Collaborate with local businesses
Is there a cinema, bowling alley, museum or theme park in your immediate area? If so, consider teaming up with them to create special deals for their customers. Everyone loves a deal, and offering 10 – 20% off is usually enough to get customers through the door.
6. Visit local businesses
If your hotel restaurant is open for lunch, then nearby companies are great sources of new customers. Why not pay them a personal visit? Bring in a few goodies for the staff to sample and leave your business card with your address and a map on it. This is also a great opportunity to ask about special events companies may be interested in like Friday night drinks, special celebration parties, or opportunities for in-company catering.
While you’re visiting these companies, why not collect their email addresses and send them daily offers and specials? By offering discounts for groups, you’ll encourage them to bring along their colleagues. Include images and fun descriptions, and keep the tone of the emails conversational and light. Don’t forget to include a link to your Facebook page to get a few ‘likes’ as well.
7. Hold special events
Events can come in all shapes and sizes, from special screenings of sporting events in a bar to 80’s theme nights with music. Charities are another great connection. Many of them organise fundraisers, and hosting these earn you a lot of goodwill in the community, as well as bring in some new faces.
8. Happy Hour
To help boost business during slow hours or slow days, offer a happy hour (or hours), where guests can enjoy half price drinks or side dishes. Most people who are on holidays love the idea of relaxing with a beverage in the afternoon, and all the better if they only need to walk downstairs to get it. Another way to achieve the same effect is to offer an early bird special, where guests can have 20% off their total bill if they eat before 6pm.
The important thing when you’re trying out promotions like these is to not get discouraged if something doesn’t work. Just ditch that idea and try another angle. The more creative you can get and the more ideas you try, the more you’ll realise what works for your market.
About the author
Paul Misan entered the hospitality industry at age 15. After undertaking the first professional waiter training at Regency Park College in 1976, he became a silver service waiter, which even gave him the chance to serve the Queen on her visit to Australia. In 1979 he emigrated to Israel, where he studied hotel management and joined the Hilton Group as a management trainee. Upon returning to Australia in 1984, he worked in management roles such as Food and Beverage analyst and Chief Steward for Hilton Hotels and Conventions Sales Manager for Fairmont Resort. Having owned his own business from 1992, consulting to industry, in 2007 he became CEO of Kobe Jones Restaurant Group. Paul has been the Vice President of the THCIA for over 15 years, was Chairman of Hospitality Training Network for 5 years, sits on the Blue Mountains Hotel School advisory board and serves on various other industry bodies on a regular basis.