In her article, Social Media Serves Up Sales, Francine Cohen, the Associate Editor of Hotel Interactive Editorial Division, points out that social media strategy for catering sales is driving business to hotels.
The hotels that reach out using high tech social media, as well as a server on the restaurant floor who exercises the upsell strategy, are the most successful. How can you design a marketing approach that successfully sells your banquet products and outlets in the most profitable way, increasing your bottom line?
Explore ways to build a social media strategy for catering sales
1. Performance is primary
The online review is still important for diners when selecting a place to eat. Ensure that your service is impeccable and that your product is worthy of praise.
Cohen’s article quotes Andy Labetti, General Manager, The Benjamin Hotel, NYC, “There’s lots of talk about social media. But it still has to be connected to performance. High Yelp scores correlate with high year over year sales in restaurants.”
See customer complaints as customer service opportunities and gifts to help you improve. Customer reviews are created instantly with the use of smart phone apps. Do everything you can to provide a customer an experience that warrants an excellent review.
2. Use social media to build presence
Ideally, you have a person dedicated to creating your social media presence. With so many sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to develop relationships and content for, this could easily be a full-time role. What if you can't convince your owners that you need the extra staff? Per Cohen’s article, Troy Clarke, Director Food & Beverage, Royal Sonesta Hotel, advises reaching out to local media to help tell your story and use their influence to keep things moving.
In Clarke's community, the group with the greatest clout are the food bloggers and writers. By inviting them in, and getting their feedback at the beginning of each season, Clarke has seen excellent results. Even if you have a staffer managing your social media, including the influencers in your community will net you more business.
3. Get creative with the comment card
The classic paper comment card is going by the wayside. With more people using mobile devices, paper cards are not netting results. Some restaurants are bringing a mobile device with the check and getting better responses, as high as 40%. Using a mobile device for comment cards allows for you to tie the server into the comments as well. You can build a recognition/incentive program into the results and achieve better productivity.
Clarke holds a meeting with his staff weekly and provides training at that time. During training, the staff is provided the reviews for the week. They learn where they could use improvement and make changes where needed. They learn what they did right so they can repeat that behavior. Their review scores have increased. 46% of his restaurant referrals are coming from Facebook.
4. Monitor your social media
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important to see and be seen! But once you have that important facet of your social media project managed, monitor whether or not your involvement in social media is making a difference to your bottom line. When you run promotions, what is your return? By tracking, you will find what is working and what isn’t in your social media marketing efforts.
5. Stay current
Managing your message and promotions includes making them relevant and engaging. Assign someone to pull those stories daily that will enhance your efforts, then post them. That person should track your comments as well. Comments should be addressed on a daily basis. Use the negative comments as an opportunity to show your gratitude that someone would take the time to make you better and then tell them how you are going to make things better.
To grow your bottom line with food and beverage using social media, prepare by ensuring your performance is top-notch before you even begin. Use social media to build a presence by assigning a full-time social media manager or by using local influencers to get the word out. Monitor the action your sites are getting and respond to the comments and reviews that come in. Social media is as fast moving as the society it mirrors, so it is imperative to keep current.
Clarke attributes the tremendous growth in his food and beverage revenue directly to having a social media manager. Approach building your food and beverage revenue by using these tips to implement a social media marketing program.
Written by Sherry Cummins.