Hospitality Reputation Management Case Study
Running a hotel is a full-time commitment and to many hotelier’s, hospitality reputation management is something you do every day. You do it every time you interact with a customer, resolve a complaint or make a guest’s day. It involves every little intricacy of customer service and the seeds that are planted in their heads. It’s knowing that a guest leaves happy, thinking highly of their experience and you. It’s the hope that they will tell their friends and family or return at some point in the near future.
Every guest that leaves satisfied, or ideally leaves well-rested and impressed, is an essential part of reputation management. It’s also arguably the most important part. But in an increasingly digital world, it’s now only one part.
Reputation management now spans a plethora of digital channels and hotel owners ignore these at their peril. Trust us when we say, if you don’t embrace these digital innovations, your competition will. The good news is this piece is designed to help you get a head start and an understanding of the costs involved.
Of course, hospitality reputation management falls under the categories of marketing and public relations. Every hotelier knows these two things are essential, but the question is; has the hotel in question kept up with modern marketing strategies, or are they still doing what they’ve always done?
Hoteliers are not necessarily born marketeers. Their hotel may be popular and run impeccably. The management team may even know everything there is to know about delivering world class service to their guests, but we need to make sure other prospective guests are aware of their hard work. What can we do to make sure we attract new guests and keep our beds filled during off-peak seasons?
Presentation isn’t just important in and around the hotel, it’s also something that needs to be cultivated across the hotel’s digital channels. But what do we mean by digital channels? These can include the hotel’s website, social media pages, images on other affiliated sites (think Booking.com etc). This can be achieved by keeping each channel up to date with visual content that accentuates the hotels USPs, special offers and even hotel industry news that portrays the hotel in a positive light.
Which social media channels should a hotel choose to market itself?
Let’s imagine a hotel decides it’s going to jump into social media marketing, where to start? There are many different social media channels on offer but the main ‘big three’ are still Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is an incredibly useful tool for hotels to market itself on due to its focus on all things visual. From pictures of food, inviting images of rooms to stunning vistas of your local surroundings, Instagram is a great way to show your potential guests what they’re missing and a great way to sell a lifestyle to them.
Facebook is a little different, while you can still use the channel to share images its main focus is its social aspects. Out of each of the ‘big three’ Facebook still remains the social media channel with the most active users worldwide. It’s also the one where you’re likely to get the most engagement from customers or potential customers. The emphasis is on the ‘social’ aspect of social media, and a following can be established fairly quickly.
Twitter may be the least useful when it comes to hotels, but it’s still not to be ignored. This microblogging site is still an effective way to share information and offers. But many hotel chains only have an account for their parent companies, rather than each individual hotel itself. Remember social media is just one form of digital marketing, there are also other channels that can be utilised such as Google Ads and Bing Ads. By using these you can rank higher in search engine results when some looks for hotels in your area.
What’s the best way to use digital channels?
Many businesses including hotels start of by assigning a member of the team to pick up their digital marketing, or the owners do it themselves. But it soon becomes apparent that reputation management across digital channels is a full-time job in itself. Those seconded to this role may be overwhelmed, and without proper training or experience, how does a hotel measure its own success or even know it they are doing it correctly?
When this happens there’s two options open to them, they can:
- A) Hire an in-house marketing manager or
- B) outsource this to a specialist agency.
The hotel is likely to do whatever is best for its budget, but as time goes on and these strategies begin to bear fruit, the hotel may opt for both strategies. This then allows their marketing manager to liaise with the agency allowing both to work together, finding ways to grow and tailor their strategy.
Hiring an agency or taking on a digital marketing manager (or both) allows the hotel to make sure there’s someone who can take ownership of their digital reputation management as well as keeping up to date on industry news, trends, incoming service changes and anything else that may be beneficial. Although this in itself can become a full-time job for that member of staff, which is why learning on an agency can be beneficial.
Let’s look at two average scenarios then compare the costs of each:
hospitality reputation management Scenario 1:
The hotel already has a marketing manager who’s often busy liaising with various third parties and running the majority of the hotel’s general marketing and PR tasks. Some of their work is farmed out to administrative staff to support the marketing manager in their role.
As marketing becomes increasingly digital, this piles on top of that marketing manager’s workload and it soon becomes necessary to employ a digital marketing executive to pick up these tasks. An assistant might also be needed to support both the manager and the digital marketing executive. Especially when cover is required, running numerous digital channels can often be a two-person job at least.
All three members of staff will need training, not just on traditional and digital marketing techniques, but also how to adequately market a hotel. While marketing as a skill set can be universal, it always pays to understand the industry you’re working in on a deep level. This is where some digital marketing agencies fall down as they try to be a jack of all trades instead of picking a specialist niche or industry to focus on.
Scenario 1 offers the hotel an excellent structure and three clearly defined roles that will each compliment and support the rest. But for a hotel, which could be considered a small to medium business, it could be an expensive way to operate. For many companies this is how they function once they reach a certain level but hiring three different people for marketing positions could actually be a drain on the company’s resources if they haven’t yet reached this level. Yet at the same time, it’s needed to keep up with their competition.
hospitality reputation management Scenario 2:
This offers a simpler approach. The hotel’s marketing manager has plans to bring their marketing in house one day, but the company isn’t at that level yet. Justifying the cost of a full marketing department (even if this is just 2-3 employees) simply cannot be achieved.
So instead they hire a specialist agency who is well versed in hospitality marketing and able to jump right in in a short space of time. The agency will not need any formal training as this is what they do for many other clients. Together the hotel’s management team and the agency can put a strategy in place that allows the hotel to get on with its day to day tasks, knowing its marketing is taken care of.
While they will need to pay the agency of course and allocate a set amount of funds for a marketing budget every month. In the long run this is cheaper than hiring multiple people, training them, then hoping that this is enough. It also allows the hotel to rely on the digital marketing agencies infrastructure and experience instead of building their own from scratch.
Finally, let’s break down the cost of both scenarios:
- Marketing manager salary = Approx. £30,000 a year (£2,500 a month)*
- Digital marketing executive salary = Approx. £23,000 a year (£1,916 a month)
- Marketing assistant salary = Approx. £19,000 a year (£1,583 a month)
- Digital marketing training courses average cost in the UK = Approx. £500 per person
- Cost of time and research could also amount to several hundred a month for the first few months.
- Then there’s the cost of various subscriptions and licences to different digital channels which could easily end up being over £500 a month. Most agencies already have these subscriptions as part of their service.
So the total per month for Scenario 1 is, on average: £7,499
*We can perhaps subtract the marketing manager from this, as many hotels who use an agency also have one in their employ. This is the personal responsible for allocating budgets and liaising with the agency. We’ve also not included marketing budgets in this breakdown, as they are factored in regardless of what approach the hotel takes.
Specialist digital marketing agency’s retainer = Approx. £4000 per month
As you can see Scenario 2 is by far the most cost-effective strategy. It’s because of this that many companies never choose to bring their marketing in-house. Preferring the ease and benefits of letting an agency take on this burden.