Marketing a Boutique Hotel? Capitalize on Your Uniqueness

When it comes to marketing a boutique hotel, you might feel that you are at a disadvantage in competing against established hotel chains with large budgets and teams of marketers at their disposal.

However, you have a distinct advantage that the world is starting to take notice of – your uniqueness. As travellers increasingly become bored with the standard hotel experience, to the point where major players are competing in the boutique space, it is your ability to capitalize on what makes you unique that will contribute to your success.

Consider the unique position of your hotel and make the most of it for your marketing by:

  • Being flexible to change
  • Providing outstanding guest experiences
  • Listening to your guests
  • Promoting your unique value proposition
  • Telling your story

Capitalize on Your Hotel’s Unique Qualities and Competitive Advantages

Can you articulate what makes your hotel unique? What is your competitive advantage? If you’re like the 20% of respondents in Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association’s (BLLA) most recent Annual Sentiment Survey who responded that they didn’t know what their competitive advantage was, then now is the time to work it out.

Consider everything your hotel has to offer, from your property and location to your guest service and business operations.

As a boutique, independent or lifestyle hotel, make the most your flexible position and ability to meet and exceed guests’ expectations. Market what is special about your property and tell your unique story to connect with potential guests.

Be Flexible to Change

Your hotel’s independence provides you with flexibility. Not being limited by a corporate head office, where decisions may need to go through a long chain of command before they are approved, you have the distinct advantage to act quickly and adopt change.

While this is beneficial for your business operations, it can also work to your advantage when marketing your hotel.

In the digital age, well optimized websites and user-friendly booking systems can be the difference between acquiring new bookings or not, while boosting your search engine visibility and social media presence will impact how many users get to your site in the first place.

Stay up to date with new technology and the latest digital best practices and adopt these technologies to stay ahead of the competition.

“Boutique hotels can be nimble, unlike their chain-branded competitors”; “We can add in trends faster than chains can, as we’re more mobile – and keep reinventing ourselves.”

BLLA’s Annual Sentiment Survey

Provide Outstanding Guest Experiences

Your flexibility as a business also affords you the opportunity to create unique experiences and memories, to go that extra mile for your guests. Doing something special for your guests will make them remember you, and it can do wonders for marketing your boutique hotel.

After all, there’s no better way to let friends know about the exceptional service, customized experience, or unique gift received during a hotel visit than by sharing it on social media #humblebrag.

Respondents in BLLA’s survey even felt that offering unique, one-off experiences was something the big chains have learnt from the independent sector.

Go the extra mile to provide unique and truly memorable experiences for your guests.

Listen to Your Guests

In addition to providing unique experiences for your guests, you need to listen to, respond to and adopt customer feedback. When you make changes based on the insights of your guests, and share it in authentic and engaging ways on social media, you are communicating to potential guests that you value the concerns of those who stay with you – to the point that you are willing to act on it.

Let your community know that you’re listening and that you’re taking action. Show examples of what you’ve done based on customer feedback; use images and video if possible.

Frances Kiradjian

Promote Your Unique Value Proposition

As I discussed in my post on boutique hotel marketing strategy, your unique value proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of understanding your competitive advantage. After you’ve evaluated your competition to establish what makes you unique and formulated a well-articulated and clear UVP, consider the following:

  • Is this message communicated in everything that I do?
  • How am I taking advantage of my UVP in my marketing?

Look at your UVP and determine how it translates into marketing and hotel offerings. For example:

  • If your hotel’s location is your draw card, promote events and activities in the area through social media platforms and create packages around them.
  • When your bar, its creative cocktails and exceptional staff set your hotel apart, hold exclusive events and generate content, including recipes and videos, to share on social media.
  • Similarly, if your spa is a key selling point, create content targeted towards the health and wellness market and bundle discounted spa treatments with room bookings.
As one respondent in BLLA’s Annual Sentiments survey explained, originality is your competitive advantaged.

Tell Your Story

Every business has a story, and the founding history and motivation behind your boutique or lifestyle hotel is no different. Since audiences are naturally attracted to stories and connect with them emotionally, story-telling can be a powerful tool to use when marketing a boutique hotel.

Whether its in the pages of your website, a well-designed video, or the collection of images that make up your Instagram account, share the unique story of your hotel and what drives you in a way that reflects your brand’s voice and style and engages audiences.

“The intent of the hotelier and their story will always be the true factor for what makes a great boutique hotel.”

BLLA’s Annual Sentiment Survey

Additional Considerations for Boutique Hotel Marketing

In addition to capitalizing on your hotel’s unique qualities and competitive advantages, here are some other tips for marketing a boutique hotel for your consideration.

Offer Incentives and Rewards

There’s plenty to be said about hotel loyalty programs, and a quick Google search will produce statistics and articles that either proclaim the benefits of such programs or speak to their rising costs and questionable profitability.

Whether your hotel has partnered with a formalized loyalty program, or simply incentivizes guests to take particular action with the use of rewards, growing a following of loyal guests can improve occupancy rates, increase the average spend of guests at your hotel, and see visitors promote your hotel by leaving a review or sharing their stay on social media.

Rewards programs can also build a healthy database of customers, which is useful for email marketing, remarketing and creating lookalike audiences to advertise to on social media.

Just as with the stay itself, guests are looking for more personalized offerings from their rewards, with 77% of respondents from Collison Latitude’s The Grand Wanderluster report saying they wanted greater input in shaping their own rewards program.

That same independence and flexibility I’ve discussed above also can be used as an advantage here. Boutique hotels have the opportunity to provide creative, unique and immediate rewards that offer more value to guests than complicated point schemes which may never be redeemed.

“Building loyalty today means a lot more than handing out points. Meeting customer expectations at every step in the journey is the new mandate for loyalty marketing.”

Giselle Abramovich

Consider Partnerships and PR Opportunities

As the TEAM acronym goes, “Together Everyone Achieves More.” Partnership marketing can be a valuable strategy that sees your hotel partner with liked-minded, yet non-competitive businesses to share thoughts, resources and, importantly, help promote one another.

Third-party endorsements create visibility and credibility for your hotel, with referrals from other businesses providing more of that highly coveted social proof that consumers are looking for when making purchasing decisions.

Establish partnerships with tourism boards, tourist operators and other businesses within the hospitality industry. Look more broadly too, as opportunities can also exist in unlikely industries with cross-sector partnerships.

When building strategic partnerships, consider:

  • Whether the business you are partnering with aligns with your core values and vision
  • What you can offer your partners, and what they can do for you in return
  • How the partnership will benefit your guests

The value and offer you provide to another business will depend on your hotel, however some ideas include:

  • Providing discounted stays for visitors to local attractions or those who’ve used a local tourist operator
  • Hosting functions within your venue, such as networking events, charity fundraisers and premieres
  • Teaming up with large events, like conferences, to host spin-off events and be recognized as recommended accommodation during the time of the event

Press coverage is important too, so don’t forget to build relationships with both traditional and digital media sources to get extra publicity of the interesting partnerships you’re forming.

More Resources for Marketing a Boutique Hotel

While it is important to recognize your advantages as an independent, boutique or lifestyle hotel and know how to capitalize on these when marketing, you also need to know the steps required to create and execute your marketing strategy.  Check out the following posts for more details:

Remember, marketing is an ongoing commitment that requires a consistent approach to yield the best results. It’s not ‘set and forget’, but rather an ongoing process to keep your content and messaging fresh, relevant and front of mind for potential, current and previous guests.

This can seem like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. At Rank Defender, it is our mission to provide outstanding SEO services to drive revenue and save boutique hotel owners and marketing directors time, so that they can focus on producing content and otherwise growing their hotel’s revenue.