“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” -Seth Godin
A Common Reality
You watch out the window as their car pulls away from the driveway and you take a deep sigh of relief. The troublesome guest has finally left!
What hotelier doesn’t experience this time and time again: having to accommodate guests who make it difficult to be a gracious host. From their arrival to departure, it’s all about their tricky expectations and disappointment. They can leave you and other guests incredibly uncomfortable.
But you don’t have any real control over who chooses your hotel, do you? That might be so, but you can control whom you target as guests online and offline.
Remember: You have the ability to turn your guests into loyal fans who really care about your hotel. No, this is not about your handful of hard-earned repeaters. It’s more about a far-reaching ripple effect. Think of it as your fan base in action. By attracting more of your ideal guests, many of your typical hotel problems will become non-issues and you’ll have the time and energy to focus on what matters most to your guests: awesome hospitality!
- Fewer complaints
- More time to “WOW” the guests that like your hotel product
- Fewer rules and fees to protect your assets
- Less conversation about hiccups
- More glowing reviews
Get the drift?
How to Form a Tribe
As the famous quote goes, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” That’s the first and most crucial step before you can start building your tribe. Make sure to be crystal clear about your values when it comes to your hotel, your hospitality, and your target audience. Give some good thought about who your ideal tribe member (guest) is. Creating a loyal following means connecting with people that believe in the same things you do.
The benefits of attracting and engaging the kinds of guests that resonate with your mission and vision are significant. It not only helps you build trust, but these guests are also more likely to purchase your products and services.
In the beginning, it might feel uncomfortable or nerve-racking to focus on engaging with a specific group instead of addressing the world at large. What if you can’t fill your hotel rooms?
But emphasising quality over quantity provides you with something that is priceless: the formation of a tribe and fan base that values your product and services and speaks on your behalf. With a strong tribe and following, your guests will do the marketing for you!
You could foster groups over your hotel’s environmental efforts, the best way to cook a steak, or whether a certain type of mattress is better than another. The possibilities are endless.
Create a Buyer Persona
A good way to discover more about your “ideal” guest is to give him or her a face by creating one or more buyer personas. It’ll help you better understand your guests (and your prospective guests!) and make it easier to tailor your content to their specific concerns, interests, behaviours, and needs.
Start with data in regards to background and demographics. Go a level deeper and think about the kind of person they are. What do they value? How do they think and talk? What is important to them? Where do they come from and what are they looking for? The more details you know about them, the better you can relate to them.
Communicate Consistently and Genuinely
Once you’ve figured out who your ideal guests are, meet them where they hang out online and start a topic of conversation. The platform you are using, whether email, newsletter, blog, or social networks, is not as important as being accessible and encouraging human interaction. Be yourself. Never use standardised or formal responses, but engage in sincere and authentic conversations. If your readers feel comfortable, they’ll engage and interact. Once they begin to open up, amazing things will start to happen.
TIP: Try forming a tribe on your property’s Instagram and Facebook Page. Both are such easy platforms to promote your business and interact with potential guests. Read my blog post about social media marketing.
Stay Relevant with your Tribe
Talk about topics that matter to your tribe. People are not interested in what you view as important – they want to talk about what matters to them. Figure out ways in which you can help members of your tribe and be generous with your assistance.
Nothing connects people faster than authentic conversations and generous assistance. This should be free and without expecting anything in return. You know these guests are passionate about Bordeaux? Share with them the address of a small local wine bar that has exactly what they are looking for. Then, get a conversation going about great wines.
Do your guests mention the long and stressful journey back home? Provide them with an insider tip on where they can relax at the 3 airports they have to transit. Listen well and make sure your guests feel loved and cared for.
“Human, heartfelt connections are what make life worth living.” – Kimpton Hotels
Make the Members of your Tribe Feel Special
People want to feel special. Encourage participation and make every member feel like a valuable part of your community. Share upcoming projects at your hotel and ask for your tribe’s opinions. Allow them to contribute and participate in the project in any way. They’ll feel involved and more attached. And then, of course, provide them with a special experience when they visit.
Growing your community organically won’t happen overnight, but once you have your solid tribe and loyal supporters, you will see the positive ripple effects.
A prime example of this is the work I have done with The Grainary over the past four years. If you want to see a live example, go and check out our Facebook page.
Do you want to check out my other hospitality marketing videos? Click here.