It’s time to address the digital elephant in the room

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By Samantha Litfin | Group Marketing Manager & Consultant 
Let’s get digital … digital, I want to get digital, let me hear your social talk!
Okay, so Olivia Newton-John wanted to get physical, but we want to talk to you about getting digital.
This second installment of our hospitality industry trends article series is all about the digital landscape and how we, as an industry, need to embrace it!
Ignore online opportunities at your peril, much like stepping away from the ‘sacred cows’ you need to keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape and embrace the online revolution.
Let’s focus on the top three, shall we?
Discover this new thing called the internet
Embrace it like your business depends on it, because it does!
In this brave new digital world, people are not stepping foot in your venue unless they have looked you up online first, checked your reviews (i.e. TripAdvisor, Facebook, Urbanspoon), looked at your star rating, read three or more pages of feedback on external websites or forums, and/or reviewed your venue imagery.
If you are not focused on your digital presence, then you are going to struggle to keep people coming through the door. Competition is no longer restricted to just bums on seats, it’s more than that – it is a digital race that we are losing. Showcasing your venue in the best possible light online, through word of mouse, and with a fantastic information-filled website, is the key to competing digitally!  It’s a new marketing tool for your arsenal and it works!
Oh, and make sure you offer free online bookings and Wi-Fi – your patrons will love you for it!
It’s not Tweetbook, Facegram or Instachat
Just stop it … the joke’s over! You can no longer leave this ‘fad’ until later. It’s here, it’s not going anywhere – if anything, it’s growing each year. Know your platforms, find where your patrons are and then love them like they matter … your competitors do.
You don’t have to be on every single platform. Do your research, ask your members or patrons where they spend their online time, and then create a place that they will want to visit as much as they do your venue.
Make sure, however, that you know what you are doing as it is no longer a set and forget space. Be prepared for the time and effort you are going to need to put in to make it work and engage your community effectively.
Create beautiful content, showcase your venue, let your members and patrons co-create with you, be engaged, thank people for taking the time, like their comments, answer their questions and invite them to help you make your venue a better place, and give them something extra special for being loyal online.
A few other tips:

  • Use quality imagery of the venue which features shots of customers enjoying the facilities, not just the architectural photos. Ever walked past an empty restaurant and thought, ‘Wow.  I must eat there!’?  People are attracted to venues that are a hype of activity.
  • There’s a time and place for professionally produced video footage but when shooting videos, they can be kept a little raw, edgy and authentic – it’s amazing what you can achieve with a mobile phone!
  • Most importantly, have fun in the digital space! We work in a customer service industry and our aim is to provide an ‘experience’ to our members and guests so remember this (and include them in your posts, videos etc).

It’s time to get mobile
With over 80% of your target market literally looking at their smart phones 10-15 times per day for an average of 12 minutes per look-see, and using them to make venue decisions; having an outdated website that is not mobile friendly is going to hurt your bottom line … a lot!
Update your website technology, it is very cost effective and makes it far easier to manage. A basic WordPress website with some pretty cool hospitality specific bells and whistles can range anywhere from $3,000 – $8,000. In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty conservative spend for great returns.
So why not take a good look at your digital presence and be honest with yourself. Because if you are not engaging online, it is going to become increasingly difficult to engage offline.
If all that sounds a bit daunting, never fear, we have digital specialists on hand that have worked at every level, from start-up and development to ongoing management of an existing web and social presence. So why not give us a call, we’d love to perform a digital review to help you create some killer online charisma!

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