What’s so different about your hotel, then?

3rd April 2012
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Unless you have a USP or some point of differentiation, what will make your hotel stand out above all the rest in your area, or competing for the same market?

Some can rely on their location, or the building, or history. But what if your hotel has none of that?

One way of capturing the interests of your guest or prospects is to imagine your perfect guest sharing some of the same passions, values or interests as you. It’s a lot easier to sell something you have an interest in, you are passionate about or that’s important to you.  If you don’t love what you do, or feel it’s important, it will show. It will be very hard for you to deliver a good service if you are dealing with people with whom you share no values, interests or enthusiasm.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love my garden, and love visiting other gardens. So if it was my hotel an obvious target market would be other garden lovers. This would not only allow me to attract guests who share my interest and passions, it provides a theme, which can be built on. Such as – sharing knowledge of local historical or famous gardens, forming joint ventures with a local plant nursery, garden designer, gardening author, manufacturer of garden products, or market gardener (or all of these); designing menus planned around locally grown produce.

I could tie in with any specific gardening events happening locally, such as RHS flower shows, Gardeners’ Question Time, etc. Or host my own Gardeners’ Question Time calling upon local gardening celebrities. I might include talks from experts, transport and free entry to a number of local gardens of interest (maybe as exclusive guests of the owner). You get the idea……

To take another example, Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, where Nina and Gérard Bassett used Gérard’s knowledge and passion for wine – Gérard is the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA and, as of April 2010, World’s Best Sommelier. (And I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Nina and Gérard as part of my interview series  – How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.) As a result Hotel TerraVina attracts both hotel guests and restaurant diners who have an interest in wine, and Gérard is happy as he has an opportunity to cater for people who are interested in what he’s offering. By employing others who share this interest and knowledge Nina and Gérard are able to be consistent. And all this provides them with great PR opportunities.

But what if your theme is not so obvious?

Start by listing what you enjoy, what you are passionate about, and what’s important to you. Can these be incorporated into your business? Then consider your interests. What are the hobbies or pastimes you enjoy (or used to before you ran a hotel and had more free time!) What particular knowledge or expertise do you have? This could be nothing to do with the hotel industry, it might just be an interest or from a former career.


  •  So it could be something you love: be that golf, shopping, dogs, cars, cooking – you’ll then know the types of things others enjoy who share your love, so cater for these interests.
  •  Something you value: such as supporting your local community, being in the countryside, or energy conservation, so give examples of the steps you’ve taken to contribute to these.
  • Or it might be a particular hobby or expertise you can share with your guests: your knowledge of Italian cuisine and offering cookery lessons, your interest in classic cars, and attracting like minded enthusiasts and promoting classic car events in the area, or you might have a specific skill or talent to pass on to others.


Very few of us could honestly say there is nothing we can get excited or enthusiastic about, but I’d certainly recommend checking there is enough of a market there of others who share our passion before modelling our whole business around it!  Then we’ll want aim to recruit people who at least have a remote interest.

And once you have identified what it is that you have that others don’t, make sure you share this at every opportunity.

If your business reflects your interests, value or expertise the likelihood is you’ll attract other people who share them. Having a specific interest or expertise also makes it easier for you to find a forum or networking group where you can get your name known, as well as finding potential opportunities and prospective joint ventures.

Then tell and show your guests how you incorporate these into your business. Show your guests in as much detail as possible what you do that is different, so they can see all this before they choose you. It could be why they choose you.

It’s very easy to be enthusiastic and passionate about something that interests you, and this enthusiasm will translate into bookings if managed smartly. It means you are more likely to attract the type of guests with whom you can build up a good rapport and a better prospect of repeat business.

If your passion appeals to your perfect guests, it will make your job of marketing your hotel and making it unique so much easier.

Nina and Gérard Bassett were just two of my 10 guests on the interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.

Plan next year’s Christmas marketing now

23rd December 2011
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As your Christmas parties are in full flow, your marketing for next year is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.  What better way to promote your Christmas parties than to show people having fun, and your hotel or restaurant in all its Christmas splendour?

So at the very least, here are some things to do now.

  1. Take photos of the bar, restaurant and reception while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out.
  2. Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene.
  3. Take shots from different angles of the restaurant laid up for dinner. Be careful with your lighting and use a tripod for best results. Experiment with and without flash – sometimes it’s better without. ‘Snap shots’ may be OK as small images for your website, but if want to use these bigger images, or for printed material, use a professional photographer to take some quality pictures. And include some pictures of the food. Although this is easier to ‘stage’ at a later date, if you can get some shots now, so much the better.
  4. Get some video footage of parties – best when guests have just arrived, and had time to relax with the their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. Always check with guests that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site.
  5. Ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing.
  6. Keep tabs on your costs throughout to ensure your have an accurate picture of your profit margins.  This includes post costing for each event, to take account of wastage.
  7. Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas.
  8. Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year – and make sure you record all this where you can find it easily when it comes to planning next year!


Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season

Live event – Hotel Success Handbook at the UK Business Book Festival

26th August 2010
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Author Lucy Whittington is speaking at the first UK Business Book Festival on 10th September 2010 in Bournemouth, where she’ll be sharing marketing and website tips for hoteliers and anyone else who’d like to come along.

Her talk is going to focus on adding personality into your marketing to get results, so there’s new content that’s not in the Hotel Success Handbook so don’t think Lucy will just be repeating herself!

As a bonus Lucy is also on a panel at the festival too – discussing how to use Social Media to promote your business “Social Media – How do we make it Pay”, so you get the chance to listen to her twice!

And as if Lucy was not enough, local hotelier Mark Cribb from the Urban Beach hotel and Urban Reef Restaurant is also speaking and sharing his business story and experiences of setting up his own hospitality businesses in Bournemouth too.

There are also one or two slightly more high profile speakers than Lucy at the event too – such as Rachel Elnaugh, one of the original Dragons from the Den, Geoff Burch, star of BBC’s Over the Shop, Brad Burton founder of 4N networking and author of Get off Your Arse (a great book), Graham Davies, author of Bare Knuckle Brilliance for Every Presenter, and Guy Clapperton, to name a few… but NONE of them is talking about hotel marketing, so that’s why you need to come and listen to Lucy!

The event is being held at the Executive Business Centre, part of Bournemouth University (coincidentally where Lucy studied for her MBA). Again here’s the link to find out more about the UK Business Book Festival

It will only cost you £10 to come and listen to Lucy (or any other speaker), or £35 for the whole day for all speakers which includes a £10 token to buy a book with.

If you want to come along to the UK’s first Business Book Festival here’s where you can get your ticket

Lucy looks forward to seeing you there!

On the radio – me talking Inspired Marketing, Websites and business

10th March 2010
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Travel Online Partners logoI was recently invited by Andy Hayes of Travel Online Partners to be a guest on his TOP radio show. Being someone who loves talking (!), of course I said “yes”.

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