Top tips for boutique hotel restaurant marketing

Alison Sawyer of SALT Restaurant Marketing shares how to effectively market the restaurant at your boutique hotel.

• Set the foundations in place
Ensure you have a reservation system in place which suits the needs of the restaurant and ensure staff are trained to utilise the functionality fully. Approx 60 per cent of covers are now made on the day the guest dines, with significant amount made during service so it is important this operates in realtime and is open during service.

• Reduce hurdles
Make all your restaurant and bar information accessible. Include great content, current menus, offers, images, reviews, awards and realtime online booking facility. Give the diner a comprehensive picture of what is available should they visit. Detail private rooms, options for events and weddings. Offer inspiring, aspirational photography.

• Know your customers
Build a database that is unique to the restaurant – not the hotel. Drive bookings from the hotel restaurant page(s) and making that engaging. Include a variety of images, maintain up to date menus, detail events/ masterclasses/ wine dinners to show that the restaurant has its own identity. So many hotel restaurant pages are lacklustre in comparison to the rooms and suites (understandably in terms of revenue spend) but every booking offers incremental and potentially repeat business and exposure to the overall brand.

• Curated marketing
Database management is key. You want to be in a position where you know you can message to your database and instantly see a boost in bookings. You want an engaged and loyal audience at your fingertips. Use online marketing to build a database; use third party websites to extend reach and position your restaurant alongside standalone restaurants. Afternoon Tea has revolutionised the market and consistently draws in diners, introducing individuals to a venue they may not think to visit for lunch or dinner.

• Keep focused
Apply the diligence and level of service for your hotel guests to the F&B propositions inhouse. Diners are utilising technology to search for curated experiences, harness dining websites and app’s in this arena, and last minute availability, both familiar concepts in the hotel industry for rooms/ suites but delivered to a lesser extent for rooms.

• Location, location, location
Historically hotels have often faced a challenge of being dubbed a hotel restaurant. Building a venue identity with effective marketing and positioning can alleviate that. Diners will be more concerned with the quality and concept of the food on offer as is now the trend. Showcase chef collaborations, detail food sustainability initiatives and champion food allergy awareness to draw attention to the food itself rather than the location. Focus on delivery of experiences – many masterclasses or tutorial sessions – drawing in a new crowd of people interested in a subject and not necessarily concerned about the location.

• Diligence
The key is to present externally the level of service and care that is adhered to inhouse. Bespoke emails, comprehensive database notes, ePos integration, curated marketing. The experience begins before the diner has even set foot in the restaurant so ensure this is reflective of the venue.

• Consistency
Our hot topic with clients is offering consistency with their restaurant identity. Ensure the profile and booking journey on the venue website – or any third party dining sites offer the same level of service. This is labour intensive and requires maintenance but delivers dividends.

SALT Restaurant Marketing offers bespoke marketing audits dependent upon need and focus to be used as standalone guidance or to be delivered alongside an existing marketing department.

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