Every month, our resident marketing guru ANGIE PETKOVIC addresses you marketing conundrums with to-the-point advice. Feel free to email her directly if you would like your question to be featured
Q: I run a small group of boutique hotels and tend to focus my energy specifically on these properties. There are however lots of things happening in the UK and global hospitality industries which affect my business; should I get involved or leave that to the big brands?
A: What an interesting question and one which doesn’t have an easy answer! Naturally, hospitality businesses have two key things which affect your success; the first is what you do directly as a business and the second is how external factors influence you. What you do includes everything from how you market yourself and your customer service, through to the décor of the rooms and the food you serve in the restaurant; whether these meet customer needs will determine how successful the business is. Then, there are external factors, from government legislation from taxation, destination marketing to country reputation; all of them affect you, but you obviously have little control over these factors.
Whether you want or need to get involved in helping change the external factors will actually be a very personal decision based on how much you care about the industry as a whole, how much time you have available and whether you want to be involved in such a big challenge.
If you decide you do want to help drive the industry forward, (there is no right or wrong answer here), then there are a number of things you can do. Perhaps the two most effective however are:
- To become a member of your local Destination Management Organisation (DMO); DMOs have been specifically established to represent a local area or tourism region, uniting tourism businesses within its boundaries and promoting you and others externally to other regions in Britain and through their relationships with VisitBritain, overseas as well. As well as the promotional role, taking a hand in direct bookings for your properties, the DMOs also leverage their size and position to help influence the industry, encouraging improvement and across-the-board implementation. In the short-term, not only will this have the most likely, tangible and measurable outcomes for your business, with direct bookings and enquiries, but you will also be part of a local influential group with whom you can share ideas and tips, troubleshooting specific issues where necessary, at the same time knowing that you are contributing to the wider industry too. DMO membership is often the first step that hospitality and tourism businesses take.
- To become a member of a national or international professional Association which specifically represents hotel businesses. One example is the British Hospitality Association (BHA) although there are many others in existence. Professional associations exist to represent businesses or individuals with a specific job function or in a specific sector and have a number of roles and responsibilities. Again, this will depend specifically on the professional association you are part of, but some of their activities will include:
- Lobbying the Government – as external bodies to the Government, there are fewer restrictions on what they can and can’t get involved in, meaning key issues such as tourism VAT and the Living Wage can be debated. You’ll be able to request specific lobbying (if there is widespread support), contribute to issues they are already engaged with and much more. The only challenge is if your views oppose theirs.
- Providing up-to-date information on the industry, via magazines, digital newsletters and much more, keeping you and your staff abreast of key issues.
- Providing education and training opportunities for you and your staff.
- Providing a whole range of additional benefits which you may very well find useful.
The beauty of both of these options is that they provide strength in numbers, helping the money, time and effort that you commit go that much further on any key issue. Good luck!