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8 Cracking Ways to Build a Local Marketing Plan for Your Hotel Restaurant

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Your hotel restaurant might be smashing it with travellers, but if your food and bev strategy is about getting ‘heads in beds’ you’re missing a massive slice of punters – locals.

When your hotel’s marketing pulls in travellers and locals alike, you’ll rack up stronger brand loyalty, consistent year-round revenue, and invaluable word-of-mouth buzz.

Let’s dive into the most important bits for building a local hotel marketing plan. We’ll show you how to suss out your local crowd and craft tailored experiences and campaigns to reel them in and keep them coming back for more.

1 Whip Up Event & Experience Programming That Attracts Locals

Done properly, your food and drink offerings can be one of your most powerful hotel marketing plays. Get creative from both a guest experience and a marketing angle to make your events feel truly local.

SH Hotels & Resorts builds innovative food and bev concepts worldwide that don’t just rake in revenues from travellers – they cement a rep with locals as an unmissable dining destination through unique, memorable events.

When dreaming up experiences, Lena Sotnick, Executive Director of Food and Bev Marketing for SH Hotels & Resorts, tells us they consider the culture, demographics and customer personas of the locals.

“We create unique experiences that stay true to our brand while also giving local properties the freedom to look at what’s happening in their communities and how we can tap into that to create authentic local experiences,”

2 An example of SH Hotels’ tailored local event marketing.

Hear more about how SH Hotels & Resorts uses community marketing to create food and bev venues catering to 80% local customers.

Hosting food and drink events is also an ace way to keep the press buzz flowing. Crown Sydney Hotel recently leveraged its venues for a series of Taylor Swift-themed activations for the pop star’s Sydney tour debut. Over 500 locals and travellers flocked to the hotel for their ‘Eras Tour High Tea’ – and the press went wild for it too.

For more inspo, here are six actionable ideas to attract locals to your place using community-inspired events:

  • Develop a seasonal tasting menu showcasing locally sourced grub, giving a shoutout to any local business partners by name. Build hype by marketing these menus across your social media and websites.
  • Create a ‘secret’ locals-only menu that’s only available on certain days for guests with a local ID.
  • Partner with a renowned local celeb chef for an exclusive ‘Chef’s Table’ event or collab with your sommelier on a wine-pairing menu and invite the local press.
  • Use holidays to host special events for families like brunch with Santa, a Halloween costume contest, or a Thanksgiving dinner party supporting a local food bank.
  • Run cooking classes for local businesses looking for team-building activities or parents and kids on weekends.
  • Team up with local bookshops to host a book signing, offering a special menu before and after.

Locals who have a cracking time at these collaborations and offers become your best marketing mouthpieces. If they have a memorable experience with your brand, they’re far more likely to recommend you to out-of-town mates and leave glowing online reviews.

3. Embrace Local Traditions, Tastes and Demographics

Immersing yourself in your surroundings doesn’t just attract new potential guests, it cements your brand as a local institution. Let your community inspire your menu and marketing ideas, so guests near and far feel right at home.

“As we create our cocktail menus, we’ll always include our signature sustainable cocktails, but the rest is driven by the local community, the ingredients you can get there, and the different inspirations the beverage team takes from the area,” Lena says.

Integrating with your local market can inform more than just your menu – it allows you to create personalised hotel marketing plans that’ll resonate with your target audience.

To identify your target market, study your local rivals and mine your guest data for trends. Note any annual events and traditions, regional delicacies, and competitor customer personas. With data, it’s easier to define the punters you want to target and the marketing tools to reel them through your doors.

3 Partner With Local Influencers

Find the right personality, and influencer marketing can skyrocket your online presence – it’s one of the biggest marketing trends for good reason. Just one well-timed social media post bigging up your place as the “best hotel” or “best restaurant in [city]” can funnel more punters and website traffic to your booking engines and pricing pages than your best online reviews ever could.

For example, Boston-based food influencer Bostonfoodgram dubbed the Mandarin Oriental the best place to “staycation” in the city on Instagram. The post featured swanky hotel amenities along with drool-worthy shots of room service and a meal at the Ramsay restaurant.

4 Develop Localised Social Campaigns

When tailored to your neighbourhood, social media marketing can be an ace digital marketing strategy. There are several ways hoteliers can localise their online marketing efforts for maximum impact:

  • Search for local hashtags with high traffic potential and add them to your posts. Free online tools like Hashtagify.me and Trendsmap can help you find trending keywords for your city, country, region and market.
  • Identify the top local publications and rags from around town and consider how you can collaborate on a PR strategy. Remember, your events and creative offerings present an unlimited supply of press opps. Invite local writers to experience your restaurant, so when you wow them, they’ll want to spill the beans.
  • Geo-target your messaging to promote local specials or events on Facebook and Instagram. Select specific locations (within 10 miles) for hyper-targeted outreach. Paid search ads on Google or Bing can also target audiences by location, so your keyword ads will only appear to punters in your area.

5 Optimise Your Hotel Restaurant Listings

Our recent research found that 33% of consumers discover and book restaurants via Google, and 29% via social media. So, it’s vital that your hotel website and restaurant pages are listed online accurately and optimised for search.

To increase visibility in local search queries, optimise your Google Business listing by adding a booking URL, targeted keywords, updated contact info and make sure your landing pages and menus are mobile-friendly. Responding promptly to all guest reviews also helps maintain a solid online rep.

6 Promote and Reward Direct Bookings

As you refine your hotel SEO strategy, you’ll likely find your hotel and restaurant pages ranking higher in search results. Make sure your booking pages are optimised to bag the extra revenue that comes with such prime positioning.

A direct booking platform is best for maximum profit because you don’t have to pay commissions to third-party sites. Reward guests who book directly by offering special discounts, incentives and even upgrades.

With a fully integrated hospitality CRM and direct reservation platform like SevenRooms, guest data is collected automatically allowing your team to create more personalised guest experiences and offers. With a robust guest database, you can also create customer segments like “regulars” or “local diners” to tailor your marketing efforts.

7 Localise Your Email Marketing

Email marketing remains a staple in the marketing toolbox because it’s one of the most effective ways to stay front-of-mind with your target audiences – if they’re opened and read.

Ditch mass email sends and create a series of short, segmented emails sent only to guests interested in that type of content. For example, promote your loyalty program to a diner who visited twice last month or your weekly takeout specials to past online orders.

For local diners, you might send monthly emails featuring new menu items, recipes, behind-the-scenes chef stories local partners, and upcoming events. Targeted, relevant email campaigns get more engagement.

Choose an email provider that tracks core metrics specific to restaurants in addition to open and click-through rates, like reservations, covers, online orders and revenue. SevenRooms’ Email Marketing software helps you segment guests (location or otherwise), track performance and personalise templates, so you can send better emails to more people.

8 Be An Active Part of the Community
Customers pay way closer attention to brands that give back to their communities. Restaurants can win over socially conscious consumers by sponsoring community and charity organisations.

When looking for community partnerships that generate customer loyalty, it’s important to do it in a way that vibes with your brand. Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

  • Sponsor a community sporting, music, or gaming event. If it has a big enough crowd of locals, it could be worth the cost of locking down a food truck.
  • Connect with local schools or universities to help mentor youths in the kitchen and teach them about a career in hospitality. Or liven up your decor by featuring student artwork on your walls.
  • Surprise local workers with lunch by coordinating with a local school, hospital or non-profit to arrange a date, time, and menu. An extra plus if you can capture photos to use as social content!
  • Host a stand or food truck at community fairs and events. If your community has a regular farmer’s market, consider being a meal option for shoppers.
  • Support a local org with creative monthly initiatives to collect donations. For example, donate 20% of sales of a ‘local’ cocktail to a neighbourhood charity.
  • When the kitchen’s closed, lend your space to local community orgs. Or host a “Dinner with a Cause” event, where a percentage of proceeds benefit a chosen organisation.

Tapping Into the Power of Local Hotel Marketing These tips are just the start when you’re thinking about how to reap the benefits of tapping into the power of local hotel marketing. Once you’ve reeled them in, it’s time to think about how to keep those locals coming back for more!

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