Hotel sales-and-marketing teams cannot ignore their local surroundings when it comes to driving new and loyal business through the front doors. Drawing from local sources will not only help bring in guests looking for localized experiences outside a hotel’s market, but it can help drive business from neighboring companies and locals alike.
Tim Johnson, corporate director of commerce at LBA Hospitality, said it starts by asking where out-of-town guests would want to go.
“It’s our aim to create a sense of enthusiasm around all the things to do in our markets through a mix of sales-and-marketing tactics, both online and offline,” he said. “Our tactics are aimed at informing guests about the off-the-beaten-path places, the oddball museums or unexpected landmarks while still highlighting the cornerstone of our success: service.”
The ultimate goal, then, is to provide a unique guest experience, from booking to check-out, that can’t be delivered anywhere else, Johnson said. Much of that experience starts with the hotel itself. For example, Texas textures and cowboy colors inspired the design for LBA’s new custom Courtyard by Marriott Fort Worth Historic Stockyards hotel, located next to the historic Stockyards and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. The design concept incorporates boots, tooled leather, weathered wood, the Star of Texas, barbed wire and cattle brands.
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Tiffany Braun, director of sales and marketing for the Thompson Chicago, said that sales-and-marketing inspiration comes from the neighborhood activities that surround the hotel. To capitalize on those local activities, the sales-and-marketing team partners with vendors and retail shops to create packages.
“We’re a little bit off the beaten path, so when we do a promotion we highlight some of those vendors, shops and restaurants so that they get spotlight, too,” she said. “We work with these partners to make sure we are putting packages together that guests can’t find by themselves.”
Ryan McCarthy, director of sales and marketing over the Kimpton Hotels in Seattle, agreed that it’s important to draw from local surroundings in sales-and-marketing efforts. Kimpton works with local wineries and distilleries to draw in new business. Additionally, a partnership with food tour operator Savor Seattle helps to tie in local experiences as a way to woo guests. He said that tying in local experiences can especially help to win group business.
“It allows us to have a unique flair when we are pitching new business or looking at trying to showcase what Seattle has to offer over another city,” he said. “We are using everything Seattle has to offer and putting it into packaging, which is especially good for the group market. … If we are looking to host a conference, we need to step up the game to showcase the city.”
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Caryn Granzow, director of sales and market at the DoubleTree Chicago Magnificent Mile, said that to bring in new business, the team needs to know the city.
“It’s about being knowledgeable about the marketplace, not what it was yesterday but what it looks like in the future,” she said. “You need to be able to shift easily to get new business and keep your loyal customers.”
Sometimes it helps to go back to the basics, Granzow said. A good place to start is by looking at the companies and associations in the hotel’s own backyard. The sales-and-marketing team should know the companies as well as the individuals at the organizations by staying on top of their needs. Additionally, looking to the type of business the city brings in is key, whether that be by staying up to date with the news in the area to see which companies are moving in or expanding, or staying in close touch with the conventions and visitors bureau to know what conventions and events are descending on the city.
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But Granzow said the importance of looking beyond today cannot be overstated.
“We have a close partnership with the CVB,” she said. “They work with all of their hotel partners to make sure we are looking far out with those needs. We are looking out into 2020 and beyond.”
Stefanie Hrejsa, GM of the new Hotel Versey in Chicago, said knowing the market’s cycles is critical to capitalizing on local sales opportunities, and that can come with the experience of being in a market for a long period of time.
“You know the cycles,” she said. “We look for events that will affect us, such as certain festivals or Cubs season. We get overflow from tradeshows at McCormick [Place]. We keep an event calendar so we can know what’s happening.”