Even if you only have one location – restaurant, bar, hotel and the like, public relations should be part and parcel of every day. There are some things you should be doing to keep your business in the minds of customers – both current and potential ones.
Before you start worrying about anything else, make sure that every person who walks through the doors of your establishment feels at home. Good customer service builds brand loyalty, but great customer service lets people feel like they are with family, trust and care become part of the experience for them. When that happens, they want to return often, as much for the feeling as the food or location.
While customer service gives you a chance to keep customers and grow a bit with word of mouth reviews, social media introduces your brand to potential customers who might never hear of your business otherwise. It’s not really that difficult to do either. Instagram may be the perfect vehicle for showcasing your business, especially for food or location based hospitality businesses. That’s because with Instagram it’s all about the picture. If you can’t afford the ongoing cost of a professional photographer, at least purchase a high-def camera. Then look at how others are successfully presenting their food or location posts on Instagram. Make sure your posts are bright and filled with color mostly. Posting an occasional black and white photo for drama won’t hurt, but don’t do those when showing what your business offers.
While you are looking at the pictures, also check for some good hashtags to use with your posts. Keep them to the point. You want hashtags that people don’t have to dream up to find your gallery. Then limit the number of hashtags to five or less. They might include a main ingredient in a dish, or a common dish name, the city or area where your business is located, and any special things that you want to point out about your business.
Now figure out a loose schedule of what you’ll post and when. For a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you might want to rotate different times of the meals, so Tuesdays would always be a lunch item, and maybe Friday would always be a dessert. For a hotel, consider a schedule that includes local events, interesting places to visit in the neighborhood, what you saw on your daily walk that day, and pictures of the rooms, facilities, and even a breakfast bar if one is included with a stay. Post several times a week, and when people comment, respond. When they like your post, go in and like a couple of their posts as way of appreciation.
Update your website with seasonal photos. You won’t have to keep to a frequent posting schedule, just set aside a few hours every quarter with a schedule of events during that time, pictures of food or location that match the time of year as well. Maybe even include an easy recipe for people to try when they can’t make it to your place.
Then, if you aren’t already, look into advertising in Zomato, Eatability, TripAdvisor, and any other site where people might be looking for what is on offer at a location. Consider setting up a Google+ page and include a link to any delivery options or a booking system such as Dimmi or OpenTable.
Do you feel like things have become a bit “same-o, same-o?” If you feel it, you can bet your customers will be feeling it soon as well. Figure out some changes … it might be several new menu items or a change in the look of the place. Then create an activity to introduce the changes to your customers, maybe even invite local food bloggers to a tasting table night. You might even look at working with other vendors in your area to create a food festival day around an established event in your city. This could work especially well if it happens as you make seasonal changes to your business (or menu).
PR is integral to marketing in the hospitality industry.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States.