December 5, 2016
Reading Time: 5 minutes

6 Ways to Win the Hospitality Marketing Battle During the Holidays

Traditionally for bars, breweries, hotels, winery tasting rooms, restaurants and other hospitality related businesses – the lead up to Christmas and, indeed, the whole holiday period is the most significant revenue generating time of the year.

Unlike other industries, though, it also offers the highest spike in online activity use as social commitments go into overdrive.

And we all know what people who enjoy food and wine love to do…. share!

They share information about their favourite bottle of wine, their latest restaurant experience, take photos of meals and talk with other passionate people on the subject. They are doing it all via social media.

So, if you manage hospitality marketing for a restaurant, hotel, bar, brewery or winery, now is not the time to put your social media on autopilot or go dark.

This is the time to capitalise on all this traffic and build loyal brand ambassadors and your community.

The holiday season is the time to get creative, communicate and go Viral!

So, how can you win your hospitality marketing battle during the holidays?

Here are our six tips:

No.1 Keep a Human at the Helm

Put a person in charge of monitoring your hospitality marketing presence – don’t just leave it on autopilot.

It’s OK to have posts scheduled (actually, it makes good sense), but ensure that someone is listening, monitoring, replying, especially if a crisis is encountered.

With all this extra traffic through your doors, the urgency of the moment; harried and tired staff; things may go awry.

Good customer service does not end once your customer has left the building.
Good Service

Your online channels are a perfect opportunity to offer customer assistance. If things do go awry, social media and review sites will be one of the first places a complaint is made – very publicly.

Having a responsible person on hand to monitor and manage, answer customer queries or alleviate a looming crisis makes is for a solid strategy.

No. 2 Plan Ahead

Understand your objectives of your holiday marketing as this will direct your strategy.

What do you want to achieve this holiday season…

  • Generate awareness
  • Boost sales
  • Promote a special holiday offer
  • Engage your audience
  • Grow loyal audience numbers

Develop goal-driven, viable strategies, and once you have built this framework, you can create a posting calendar in line with these goals.

TIP

When goal-setting, ensure they meet the SMART criteria of:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

No.3 Decorate

Just as the hotel or restaurant has been decorated with Christmas baubles and cheer, be consistent and bring that across to your online presence.

Updating your social media cover images is always a good idea no matter the season as it keeps content relevant and offers another way to engage with your customers.

The Christmas season is a great time to say ‘thank you’ on your social media profiles to your loyal customers, as well as an opportunity to promote relevant offers, contents and campaigns.

TIP

Not a graphic designer yourself or don’t have easy access to one in your team? Use tools like Canva, Crello and Picmonkey to create imagery. Remember to keep it on brand i.e. use your brand logo, fonts and colours.

No. 4 Create a Crisis Plan

No point in having a human at the helm if they don’t know what steps to take in a crisis.

Technically a crisis management plan should cover significant events that threaten to harm the business.

In todays’ world of immediacy, an unanswered lousy review or customer complaint can cause major damage, so create and rehearse a plan for recognising and dealing with bad reviews and complaints.

Social media and online review sites are the first places customers turn in a crisis situation.

No.5 Allocate Resources

By now, you realise that the digital space is a valid tool to connect, engage and build your audience, but it’s not free!

The platforms themselves may still be free to use if you don’t pay for advertising, but everything else costs – yes, your time to create quality content, time to manage, time to measure, and the list goes on.

If you are not allocating resources to your digital marketing primarily through the biggest revenue generating time of the year, chances are you’re losing out on valuable opportunities.

The Holiday Season is an opportune time to boost your sales, customer loyalty and overall brand perception. So, allocate a budget, personnel and time wisely.

No.6 Update Your NAPs

A NAP is your hospitality business name, address and phone number. It is critical that these three elements plus opening hours (especially over the holiday season) are up to date and consistent across all marketing channels.

TIP

Update your website, Google My Business, social channels and any other relevant industry listings such as ATDW (for those in Australia) with your opening dates and time.

The more consistently your information is presented online, the more weight it will receive from Google (higher rankings), and more importantly, this will keep your customers happy.

Spread Some Cheer!

You are in hospitality, so make it fun, get creative and spread some cheer!

In Summary

December is by far the busiest month for most hospitality businesses, so seize the opportunity to grow customer engagement, numbers and sales.

To recap:

  • No autopilot or going dark – keep a human at the helm
  • Have a crisis management plan in place – and rehearse it
  • Develop a plan of action (your marketing strategy) – remember the SMART goals
  • Decorate your social channels with relevant & brand festive cheer – campaigns, comps, and thank yous
  • Set budgets and allocate resources
  • Have some fun by spreading cheer
Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a wine, tourism & hospitality marketing strategist specialising in wine tourism and epicure experience marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 12 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, strategic planning, and training. With over 70 customised wine & tourism websites built to date, successful event marketing and new business launch campaigns, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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