I'm a slave to my goals. It's not a healthy relationship and I'm working hard…
So my soapbox has been inbound marketing, for a long time. As someone passionate about meetings and events, it just made better sense to me to attract clients through value-based interactions versus the hard-cold sell tactics of other industries.
If you are in sales, which we all are in hospitality, attracting the attention of ANYONE has really changed over the past few years. Inbound marketing in hospitality has become the “sales tactic du jour” and for good reason. Gone are the days of traditional commercials and cold calling on prospects. The difference between “selling” and “inbound marketing” is really as simple as giving vs receiving. You give something of value to start or nurture a relationship. When selling, you always hope to receive something in return, and thus push your product for sole financial gain. By exploring how can provide value-based content as a way to cultivate relationships with prospective clients, your giving will strengthen ties to your clients while strengthening your own personal and professional brand.
Hospitality is driven by creating experiences, and our sales and marketing strategies should have the same experience (and care) driven base. By creating “experience” and trust even during the marketing phase, our clients and customers are excited to experience our product or service as a result of the marketing. Its a perfect alignment to consider “inbound marketing” when you’re in the hospitality industry.
Before we dive into why “hospitality” and “inbound marketing” go together like “peanut butter and jam”, let’s define inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is defined by HubSpot is “creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business using relevant and helpful content to attract them to your website or blog.” It can be done through a number of social media platforms, and many inbound marketers use multiple platforms to push their value-based content out to prospects.
So WHY is inbound marketing a good fit for hospitality?
Hospitality is, as defined by Wikipedia, is the relationship between a guest and a host, where in the host receives the guest with goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It is the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity. Hospitality is also the way people treat others, that is the service of welcoming guests”
So let’s look at those definitions, side by side:
Inbound Marketing – creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business using relevant and helpful content to attract them
Hospitality – the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, and cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity. It is the way people treat others, that is the service of welcoming guests”
These two definitions, these two philosophies are so aligned, so it makes sense to create an inbound marketing strategy working in the hospitality industry.
So knowing that, what platforms exist for you to use, and how do you decide which platform to start with?
Inbound marketing platforms for hospitality:
- Your business’ website – outside of your own branding efforts, ensuring your business’ website is “welcoming guests, visitors and strangers through creating valuable experiences” should be top of mind.
- Email – email marketing is still very much alive and well, when done in the spirit of inbound marketing and giving. Provide value in the context of your email and your open (and retention rates) may go up!
- Webinars – by providing content and edutainment through webinars, you deepen the relationship with your customers and stay top-of-mind when the time comes for business to be done.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the “business” social media platform, and a logical fit for hospitality professionals who are in the B2B environment. Mastering this platform must begin with optimizing your profile and reviewing it on a regular basis. From there, you can contribute and participate in a number of ways including:
- posting articles or posts
- contributing to groups
- connecting with people
- accepting invitations from people
- commenting on other people’s content
- using direct messages to further the relationship (note: DMs are not the place for the hard sell, but rather a way to start to move the conversation off of LinkedIn and onto email, phone, in-person or virtual meetings)
- FaceBook – Facebook has proven to be a highly effective platform for hospitality, for both B2C and B2B communications. If you want to be heard, FaceBook has a larger audience to hear you. Content to people you don’t know is best done through paid Facebook ads, but its very effective if you have a few $$ to spend. Your business may also decide to set up a FaceBook Page to communicate value and engage with your ideal community.
- Instagram – a favourite in the hospitality industry because of the incredible images, Instagram is where a TON of your potential clients hang out. They’re looking for WOW pictures that engage and invite them into your business’ story. You can use your own pictures, or lean on your organization to provide you with images to dazzle and delight your prospects.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is the fastest-growing social search engine in the social media space right now. Pinterest is the “problem solver” bulletin board next to YouTube and Google. The graphics and easy-to-pin method of cataloguing pieces of information make this a popular search engine. Pins can be blog posts, pictures, files, etc. The key here is consistency in pinning to ensure your pins float to the top of search term.
- YouTube – video is king, and YouTube dethroned Google as the most used search engine of 2018. Creating content is not as daunting as you would think, and if your business and your brand can start building consistent content, your content will start to rise up the charts.
- Twitter – Twitter is a platform you can use as a supplement to any of the platforms mentioned above. You can cross-promote on Twitter and drive traffic to any of your chosen platforms and can be used as a marketing tool regardless of your primary tools.
So to reiterate – Inbound Marketing & Hospitality, Captain & Tenielle, Abbott & Costello, peanut butter & jam. They go together and together they drive results to your hospitality service or product. Best of luck to you and your organization!