Factors That Qualify A Business For The Glorious 'White Rose Award'

Factors That Qualify A Business For The Glorious ‘White Rose Award’; A Talk With Talbot GM



The Fitzwilliam Estate in Malton, North Yorkshire is home to the recently fully restored 17th-century Talbot Hotel. This classically British hotel reopened 4 years ago planning to draw tourism to the area. We spoke to David Macdonald, the Talbot’s general manager, about how to turn a sleepy market town into one of the most thriving attractions in Yorkshire.

Get an awareness of social media

If you want to turn your business into a success, it’s really important to have an understanding of social media. If you don't, you can end up wasting a lot of time and energy on something that doesn’t need to take long. Unlike print advertising, which you can just send off and forget, social media is something you need to manage not only weekly, but daily. Being an independent hotel means that you are in complete control.
Factors That Qualify A Business For The Glorious 'White Rose Award'
“It’s easier because you can just do things and that’s what makes social media so great,” says David.
“The hard side of it is it can become quite laborious, especially when you’re covering all areas, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We've used apps like Hootsuite to post our social updates to various platforms at once, with great success.”



Wi-Fi is no longer a luxury

Social media has grown hugely in the past few years, meaning that the need for Wi-Fi has also grown. These days, it's not just the younger, smartphone-owning generations who want constant Internet connectivity. “The older generation love their tablets!” says David. “Reliable, free, strong signal Wi-Fi throughout the entire business is essential.”



Find your personal story

David says that social media isn’t about direct selling. Instead, the audience wants a story. Not only does the Talbot Hotel have a big history, but it is also situated in “Yorkshire’s food capital”. This gives it another good angle and plenty of photo opportunities.

Tip: Take photos and share them on your social media channels.



Have a good website

Social media is useful for driving sales and pointing people toward your website. You want customers to go to your website directly because that’s the most cost-effective way to sell a room. “It’s less commission, less faffing around, more direct sales, and more exposure,” says David. “You want to have a great website. Otherwise, all your effort is for nothing.”
Factors That Qualify A Business For The Glorious 'White Rose Award'
Your website should be welcoming, tidy, and easy to navigate. Talbot Hotel’s website is built around the food story, which David says makes their website “quite magazine-y”.



Emails are powerful

E-marketing is the most powerful form of marketing Talbot Hotel uses. Over the past few years, they've built a database of around 16,000 email addresses. They send out three e-mails per month: one selling bedrooms, one promoting their cookery school, and a newsletter. “They don’t all go out to 16,000 people because you’ve got to be clever,” says David.
“If you’re running last-minute fantastic deals, you don’t want to send that to people who’ve already booked. Instead, filter your mailing list and target your last-minute room deals to people who haven't stayed with you for over 6 months.”

Tip: Want to boost your mailing list? Run competitions!

The secret to getting people to sign up for the e-mail list is running competitions in newspapers in the locations where the majority of your customers come from. For this strategy to work, your prospective guests must register for the competition with an email address.
It’s also important to have geographic information about the people signing up. “If you’re a food and beverage business as well as a rooms business like us, you don’t want to be sending somebody who lives in Exeter or lives in Edinburgh about your Friday fish supper deal, so get your customer's address when they check in.”



Learn from feedback

TripAdvisor is important for customer feedback as you can use it to grow and learn.
Tip: Personally reply to reviews
Whether a review is good or bad, David says that replying is really important. “TripAdvisor’s probably the last part of the decision making,” says David. “If you can respond to reviews, it should be short, sharp and sweet. If the matter is urgent, I personally call that customer. The way I view it, if that customer has gone home to vent online, it means that we as a business have done something wrong and it is my job to correct that.”



 Understand Google AdWords

You can be specific with when using Google AdWords, meaning The Talbot Hotel can effectively use search terms like “North Yorkshire” and “Cookery School”.“You really need to have a good understanding, and to the point, I have somebody manage it for us externally,” says David. “If you don’t understand it properly, it’s a huge waste of money.”Factors That Qualify A Business For The Glorious 'White Rose Award'
To find out more about The Talbot and the work they put into their online marketing, go to Talbotmalton.co.uk.
David and his team have gone above and beyond in hospitality customer service and performance over the past four years. In 2014, they won a White Rose award for excellence. They have also been nominated for this year's awards in November. We encourage everyone reading this to take note of the fantastic advice that David has passed on in this interview and look to implement it in your hotel or guesthouse.
We would like to thank David for talking to us.


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