Choose Your “Ideal Guest”
The first thing you have to do is to decide exactly who is going to be your guest. The natural tendency is to think that everyone who comes to your town is your customer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are marketing to everyone then you’re marketing to no one. And if you’re trying to appeal to everyone then you’re going to be a generic commodity that no one actually wants.
You want to pick an actual person to be the representative of the guest you’re trying to get. What you want is someone who is passionate about something that you are also passionate about or that people who come to your area are passionate about. You want to find a subset of individuals who have money to spend and like to spend it.
You have to envision your ideal guest. Are they younger or older? Male or female? Do they have children? Are they traveling for a vacation or business?
Try to create a profile or avatar of your ideal guest. Find out the kinds of things they like to do and what they are looking for in a business like yours.
I will caution you, however. There seems to be a trend to collect lots of data and try to piece together a profile based on that. Don’t get too much into the numbers, and don’t try any pseudo-psychological techniques to pigeon-hole your guests into hard and fast categories. Remember that they are people, and people can change what they want from day to day.
I read in a tourism marketing book about using a profiling system based on four types of individuals, loosely based on Myers-Briggs personality typing. Now while many businesses like to use this type of profiling, it has been scientifically proven not to be accurate, so my suggestion is to avoid it.
A better way would be to have some sort of initial survey, perhaps with a bonus for completing it, so you can tailor an experience for that particular guest.
Custom-tailored experiences are the new trend, and millennials especially, do not want the same packaged product as everyone else. In terms of fast-food, people are leaving McDonalds, with their set menu, for restaurants like Chipotle, where you can completely customize your entre’. If you can manage that with your hospitality business, you will stand head-and-shoulders above your competition.
Take your survey information and think about what your ideal guest would like. Put together all the information you have and target all of your marketing and promotions towards that one individual profile.
Don’t worry that that’s the only type of person who will visit. The marketing will appeal to others, but not to people who have no interest in what you offer.
If someone is looking for a relaxing weekend, but you offer a high-octane adventure experience, the marketing should reflect that and all of your content, social media, and publicity should as well.
If your hotel is part of a chain, or corporate group, you may have to market to many different type of people as a contractual obligation. Feel free to use the generic, but mostly useless corporate advertising for general purposes, but segment your efforts online to appeal to each “ideal guest” separately. Don’t use the same advertising for business people, families with small children, families with teens, young adults AKA Millennials, and older adults. They will all respond better to more targeted marketing and content.