Taping into the corporate market doesn’t have to be a business minefield; learn how to grab the attention of this lucrative audience and get the edge over your competitors.
David Barrett, managing director of Pic PR explains how.
Every hotel meeting we have, almost always the corporate piece of the puzzle is brought up. “We’re struggling to fill those Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays.” Or “We did have two or three large organisations use our meeting rooms, bedrooms and so forth for the last couple of years, but that’s stopped, and has really hit our bottom line.”
Fact is. The business world is ever-changing, the future is uncertain, and businesses are nervous about spending money. But it’s always like that, and always will be.
What doesn’t change, is good businesses need good people. And they need to invest in their people, they need to create that culture that retains and continuously keeps staff morale on a high. Businesses are constantly innovating too, as know if they stand still, they will very quickly be out the game.
So corporate away days, team building events, product launch nights are still very much happening. And for these to go well, businesses need brilliant event spaces, and great hospitality venues – like yours!
So You need to reach out. You need them to find you.
Who really is making the decisions?
First off, who really is making the decision here on what venue they should be at next for their next corporate do? Truth is…it will be a mix – the MD/CEOs themselves, PAs, event managers, HR managers, the marketing teams. And where will they be getting their information from? Again – a mix of sources…social media, Google searches, the press.
So where to start?
Look at what you can offer (and what your competitors don’t)
You may not have a large meeting hall that seats 200 people conference style, but you may be able to offer something else…e.g. a private cosy meeting space that encourages creative thinking because of its views. You may have a spa, so look at corporate packages, where team members get to finish the day with a massage. Once you have these, put together the appropriate marketing materials, and look beyond the usual brochure, landing pages for the website (although still very important). Think about video, photography too.
You’re a luxury boutique hotel, so when corporate guests are with you, you have it covered. Nice food, nice meeting areas. But businesses may want to mix their day up with the first half of the day being solely in the meeting room discussing the months ahead and reviewing previous months. But then may want to spend the second half of the day doing an activity (ticking their culture agenda). So, talk to local companies…outdoor activity companies, distilleries, breweries etc. And work with them to create tailored packages.
Hit list & CRM
Draw up a hit list of 100, 200 even 500 businesses within an one hour drive radius that you would like to play host to for their corporates days. Find their details (Google search, LinkedIn etc) and include these in a CRM. Now when I speak with a lot of hotels, alarmingly they don’t actually have a true CRM for this. As they see their booking system fulfilling this role, but it really doesn’t. It needs to have its own CRM, and needs to be regularly updated.
Speak to your corporate target audiences (in their language)
Now you have target contacts in place. Speak to them. But be relevant. Tag them appropriately (in your CRM), so if plan to speak with the marketing teams of these target businesses, provide literature that talks about how time out from the office will help get those creative juices going, show them your ‘marketing’ corporate package. E.g. ‘sushi for lunch – that all important brain food. Perfect for an early afternoon brainstorm.’ It maybe that you’ve noticed a number of similar businesses in the area, all operating in a certain sector. Finance for example, so talk about how after ‘a day crunching those numbers, finish with an hour of crunched ice and cocktails.’
Oh my god, please please use LinkedIn! So many hotels don’t. And it’s frightening. We get questioned all the time about the best social media platforms for hotels to be using, and when we talk about LinkedIn in the same sentence as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – hotel’s are bemused. They don’t understand why they, or their employees should be on there. Well they should. And they should be reaching out to their hit list contacts via LinkedIn – through personalised messages and sharing, liking, and providing a mixture of good content. Through a premium account this allows you unlimited searches, a number of InMails (where you can message people without having to be connected), plus lot’s more. Whoever looks after your sales, needs to be building relationships and engaging on LinkedIn. Your corporate packages can then be pushed out on the platform too. This is where video can really help.
Social in general
Like LinkedIn. Twitter is great for promoting your corporate offering. Follow those target businesses, and the decision makers within them (again – something easily done thanks to LinkedIn providing twitter handles of individuals). Be smart with Instagram, show how your hotel can be used as a corporate venue. Tag companies in. Talk to them.
A bit of PR
Speak to the business writers from your local press. Invite them to an exclusive press event, where they get a teaser of what it would be like as a corporate staying at your establishment. Talk to the marketing/HR press about how important away days are. Offer to write something for them as ‘corporate hospitality specialists’.
Write content for your own site that will get you found on Google by those looking for a corporate hospitality solution. Lots of tools out there to help with putting together your corporate content calendar, www.answerthepublic.com being a great place to start. This tells you what people are typing into Google to find things. So write articles around these popular search terms and host on your site.
Go direct. Get them in
Some smart direct marketing will help. E.g. sending miniature bottles of gin to people, announcing the new partnership you have with xxx distillery, where you now provide gin tasting classes free of charge to local businesses who book a corporate function at your hotel in the next 6 months.