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You run a beautiful hotel, you have an amazing guest experience to offer BUT unless people know about your property and it’s USP’s then you don’t have a product. This might sound obvious but the fact is that it’s true.

We’ve put down 5 simple ways in which you can increase your visibility to both trade and direct markets. By implementing these well you should start to see a very quick increase in enquiries and conversions.

1.Build relationships with ‘key’ tour operators

The important word here is ‘key’ as you need to find out which operators are the best for your particular market. There are tour operators and travel agents who specialise in different sectors such as luxury, adventure, boutique, experience-led, wildlife, eco, health, culture etc. Most tour operators also try and focus on clients with a particular budget, so if you’re product is $100 or $1000 a night then you may well need to target different agents.

You’ll also need to have a think about what nationalities you want to target and create a strategic plan to find a list of key tour operators with access to this market place. If you need help coming up with a strategic plan we can help with that.

So our advice is to stick to your niche and build some great new relationships.

2. Online Travel Agents (OTA’s)

If you’re not using OTA’s already then we’d urge you to do so. This doesn’t work for every type of hotel but the vast majority do have access to use OTA’s and our advice is to be open to using them. OTA’s like booking.com, Agoda, TripAdvisor, Expedia etc. can provide a solid stream of business for you throughout the year. One negative is that they can take some time to setup, which puts a lot of people off, but it’s worth it and once it’s done it actually takes very little admin time to manage.

You also have the option to block off certain times of year. So if you know you are going to get a lot of direct bookings in your key months and you want to maximise your profit (by not paying commission) then you can turn off access to the OTA’s and then put it back on for other times of the year where you need more bookings coming in from other sources.

If you have a decent booking / reservation system then it all links up and syncs automatically with the relevant OTA’s so you don’t have additional work to do.

We would however recommend keeping a good look at the type of clients who are coming to stay, just to make sure that they fit in with your target market. You want a full hotel, but with the right type of clients who understand what your product is about. So be sure to give as much information to the clients in order to set expectations right before they get to you.

3. Push the P.R.

Articles in magazines, newspapers and online publications obviously provide a fantastic opportunity to gain you great exposure. Using a P.R. agency can be very effective but it can also cost you a lot of money, so you need to weigh up what the likely return on investment will be. We’d be happy to chat this through with you if that’s helpful.

Another option we are keen to promote is D.I.Y. P.R! There are lots of publications our there which are constantly looking for new stories, new products and new angles to write about the same destinations. In short magazines and newspapers need your stories.

So our advice is to invest some time each week or month into PR and ‘Do It Yourself’. Find out the publications which your clients are likely to read, get in touch with the editors, invite them to come and stay, and send them press releases whenever you have something exciting or new to shout about.

4. Get active on social media & interact with your guests online

We could write a whole report on social media, but the focus today is on being active on social media. Let’s assume you are on the right channels, where your potential clients will be hanging out. What you need to do now is:

Share with everyone you and ask find a way to ask guests to follow you before, during and after their stay with you. If you have a strong relationship with guests then you can ask them to share, tag or hashtag you when writing a post.

Most importantly produce regular, valuable content which attracts customers to you. They don’t want to be sold things all the time, so the key here is to show them what they are missing and what they could get by staying with you. Show experiences and with real guests if possible who have already had these experiences with you.

Respond to comments and try and show that you are real.

Don’t miss out on guest reviews – this is often overlooked. You’ve put all the effort into ensuring your guest has an amazing stay, then make sure you follow this up and ask for a review. Strike while the iron is hot and they are still on a holiday high, either with a personalised email or through TripAdvisor.

If you haven’t done so then create an integrated social media strategy to make sure each network you are on serves a purpose. Give us a call if you’d like us to create one for you.

5. Attend Trade Shows

There are hundreds of trade shows all over the world with the idea of getting buyers and sellers together. Some are just trade focused, others direct and some combine both.

Trade shows are notoriously expensive, especially when you have to add on the cost of a hotel, travel and expenses to your exhibition expense. But the beauty of them is that you get your product in front of a large amount of tour operators in a limited time frame. They are great for ‘first dates’ but if you want the relationship to blossom then you’ll need to nurture it.

Too many properties waste opportunities and think that just 1 meeting will be enough to get agents on-board. You’ll need a system in place that follows up the good leads and provides them with everything they’ll need. If you don’t have to the time to do this yourselves then find a suitable representation/marketing company which can be your ambassador, either at the event or for managing the relationship after the events. We have very affordable digital or face-to-face packages which might be helpful.

Here is a list of a few great shows suitable for the luxury boutique market:

  • Pure Marrakech (Morocco) IFTM Top Resa (Paris)
  • ITB Asia (Singapore)
  • World Travel Market (London)
  • The Luxury Travel Fair (London)
  • Fair Trade Tourism Roadshow (Copenhagen, Antwerp and Utrecht)
  • Further East (Bali)
  • ILTM Cannes (Cannes)
  • New York Times Travel Show (NYC)
  • ITB Berlin (Berlin)
  • Africa Travel Week (Cape Town)
  • Arabian Travel Market (Dubai)
  • We Are Africa (Cape Town)
  • Le Miami (Miami)

6. Bonus! Join the T&T Collection If you are a unique, luxury, boutique hotel with sustainable principles and want exposure to both trade and direct markets we invite you to apply to join the T&T Collection and start receiving the benefits now.

We hope you’ve found this article on increasing your visibility useful. Do keep in touch by subscribing or if you feel your business would benefit from increased exposer then please do get in touch.

12 September 2019

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