TOP TIPS: The countdown to Christmas

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Aditya Sanghi, co-founder and CEO of Hotelogix.com shares his advice on how boutique hotels can secure bookings and really step up their marketing drive in the run-up to the lucrative festive period.

While people would traditionally like to spend Christmas with their family, the challenge for boutique hotels lies in getting them to spend it at their hotel instead of at home.

Hence, boutique hotels need to ensure that the spirit of Christmas is not lost when they are planning their campaign. For a boutique hotel, it is also important to stick to their core promise of value, quality and personalised experience during Christmas.

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1. Know your audience – Look back into your hotel’s data of the last 3 years, find out who booked during Christmas and profile them. You might want your staff to call them up and find out their reason for staying with you and understand what they are doing this Christmas.

2. Find their location – Understand whether your audience is majorly from domestic or international locations. This would give you stronger insights for strategising. E.g. In Australia, Christmas falls during summer. If you know that most of your prospective guests are from Australia, your campaign offering will change to provide them something unique that they would usually not experience during Christmas in Australia.

3. Utilise the existing audience to market to a similar audience – A boutique hotel’s guests would love to spend their Christmas with like-minded people or with their existing circle. Use the information of your existing audience to market to a similar audience. Tap into the power of social media as it will help you do profile based marketing.

4. Position in your niche – While it is important to attract to the right kind of audience, it is equally important to not get the wrong audience who are outside the boutique hotel’s niche. Whatever unique statement a boutique hotel has, there will always be takers for that. The key lies in being true to your positioning.

5. Be present on specific marketplaces – For a boutique hotel, it is not always about being 100% booked but about inviting the relevant guests who will value their offering. Don’t reach for the audience who will never come in. Along with being present on the usual channels of bookings, find out where your audience would most likely be and maintain your presence there. E.g. Boutique hotel specific OTAs, popular sites and forums that sync with the audience’s preferences.

6. Make it a family affair – People in small groups would want a private gathering in a niche, personalised environment during Christmas. Even individuals and couples would opt for a place that will recreate the celebratory ambience. Tender Loving Care (TLC) works every time in a brand’s strategy and more so during Christmas. From traditional xmas dishes on the menu, an option for guests to get their own Christmas trees, plum cake baking activities with the chef, and hiding return gifts in stockings for your guests, plan memorable Christmas experiences for them that would encourage positive reviews.

7. Start marketing early – A 90 to 100-day Christmas countdown is recommended where you can create a strong buzz periodically and build up to the grand theme. You can let people know about the other guests who have already booked their stay by promoting their names in the campaign. If you get a few audiences initially, get them to create the buzz.

8. Personalised campaigns – A personalised touch in your marketing campaign will make your hotel feel more inviting for the special occasion. Whether it is a series of teaser videos with each of your staff members inviting guests to come over or sending small Christmas themed surprises to your prospective guests, personalised services will enhance the experience of the event.

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