A comprehensive marketing strategy for hotel-based food & beverage offerings in the digital age (Continued)
Globally, mobile’s share of internet time has trended up from 26% in 2014 to 48% in 2019. We can book anything from an ultra-luxury hotel in the Maldives to a private jet to get there. Therefore begging the question why not a table for two in your favourite Italian bistro? Dedicated mobile apps currently account for 9% of dining reservations made on top of the general web reservations made on the device. This means people are looking to book your establishment on the go. It is essential for your restaurant to be listed correctly and separate from the main hotel listing on all digital map apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps. This helps you enhance searchability geographically when diners are looking for what’s around them. Even Facebook has a function where your listing will appear when a user searches within your vicinity.
The importance of reviews and high-quality photos on map listings also entices patronage. As a result, be sure you include menu information in an easily accessible manner. Furthermore, linking your IBE to this listing to make it even easier to accept bookings. Any website that you develop should be made fully responsive. This means that it automatically optimises content to suit the device, whether mobile, tablet or desktop, adapting to the operating system, screen size, navigation elements, and the overall user experience (UX).
Tip: You can also run mobile-only promotions to encourage diners to book direct and save on commissions charged on booking platforms.
Review sites such as Zomato, Yelp and Google My Business are channels that not only allow customers to get a taste of your experience through reviews but also an effective marketing tool. 60% of diners check a review site before deciding on a restaurant, an opportunity you cannot ignore.
Not only should your marketing strategy involve encouraging reviews (it is not just the score of the review that counts but also quantity and recency of reviews that affect your ranking) but also prepare meaningful responses to reviews. You should look at this feedback as an opportunity and learning moment. Whilst you can take the reviews with a grain of skepticism they cannot be ignored.
Tip: a reputation management tool can help you manage your online reviews from multiple courses and give you a bigger picture of your online health. These tools help by summarising statistics on mentions & keywords and sentiment analysis so you know your need areas to address.
Reservations Anywhere Anytime
Regardless of the presence of a microsite, customers demand convenience when it comes time to make a reservation. The days of calling during opening hours to the background noise of diners having a roaring time are long gone. Perhaps even worse, emailing with fingers crossed last-minute where the general turnaround time is 24 hours or more. When 25% of restaurant reservations are made online, you cannot ignore this slice of the market.
Having an Internet Booking Engine (IBE) means that you are open to accept bookings round-the-clock anywhere around the world so your guests can book with confidence. This is particularly crucial if you attract an international clientele supported by marketing on global platforms such as TripAdvisor.
Booking engines can come in multiple formats as standalone solutions, as a component of a Table Management System (TMS) or as a package from F&B offer apps and sites. In order to have live inventory and avoid turning away business, your booking engine should be connected to your TMS. This also saves your effort and resources on the hassle to constantly update availability. This in turn allows cancelled reservations to be resold real-time up to the very last minute.
Tip: Select a booking engine that is intuitive to use and reduce the number of clicks until a booking is completed to reduce cart abandonment.
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