Your hotel’s restaurant has potential to attract repeat local business with the right marketing strategy. Hotel restaurants first started as places for the rich and the elite to enjoy meals until the 20th century, which brought many improvements to the industry. Changes like more casual hotel dining opened up the opportunity for hotel restaurants to dominate the restaurant scene. When it comes to marketing hotel restaurants, hoteliers should understand what would drive locals to dine there in order to increase business.
I thought about the successful, well-known restaurants here in D.C., in particular those located within a hotel. I was able to hypothesize how these hotels successfully attract locals to their hotel’s restaurant:
- Executive Chef – Think about most average hotel restaurants you've been to, did you know anything about their Executive Chef? At the Hotel Tabard Inn, the hotel restaurant is so recognized for its cuisine that locals just refer to the restaurant itself as Tabard Inn. The hotel’s restaurant marketing strategy focuses heavily on what a local would be interested within the D.C. market, such as their Executive Chef Paul Pelt, their intimate and charming setting in a haunted hotel, and having a great brunch and dinner scene. Because the hotel makes the local’s priorities a part of their marketing strategy, the restaurant becomes more than a hotel restaurant.
- Attention to detail – Hoteliers are great at providing attention to detail, however, guests and non-guests both equally value the “little things.” At BOURBON Steak in the Four Seasons of Georgetown, the restaurant’s management team does not miss a beat when it comes to service. Upon arrival at BOURBON, birthday guests receive a hand-written card. While the food can be delicious, the service must meet the price in order to create the hype among locals. It’s no wonder their clientele was once described as the place of who’s who of D.C. business by The Washington Post.
- Perks to differentiate and dominate – What is it about your hotel restaurant that sets itself apart from the rest in the city? Is it music on Wednesday and happy hour Monday – Thursday? Why not combine these to happy hour and music every day? Successful hotel restaurants realize that attempting to capture a local on a particular day of the week is unlikely; instead, perks are offered every day to fit their schedule rather than trying to make them schedule around the restaurant. RumFire in the Sheraton Waikiki offers happy hour 7 days a week and live music. Nage in the Courtyard Washington Embassy Row offers endless mimosas every Sunday for $12. Locals value reliable service and perks like this which is enough to keep them coming back continuously.
Look at how your hotel's restaurant marketing strategy plans to reach locals. To gain repeat local business, think beyond the controlled audience you have in house. Each of the hotels above are successful because their hospitality marketing mix focuses on what’s most important to people from their target market.
Written by Sarah Vining.