Digital Marketing for Pubs

Key points to consider when devising your online strategy

Andrew Metcalfe, chief technical officer at Guestline on digital marketing for pubs

As we look forward to 2021 more of us will be turning our attention to digital marketing and how it can successfully support future revenues and recovery. Guestline are a leading supplier of property management systems to the hospitality industry and as such I recently joined a panel discussion which covered digital marketing for pubs and hospitality, and in particular, those strategies that can drive all-important brand loyalty and bookings. Alongside me were Jade Cooper, Marketing and Communications Director for M&L Hospitality and Nicola Cook, Head of Marketing for the Rudding Park Hotel . Here are some of the key insights we discussed:

Take a guest-first approach

First and foremost, make sure you are getting the most out of your website. This starts by taking a really considered look at your pub and defining what it is you are trying to sell. Is it just rooms or do you have other products and services available – restaurant, afternoon tea packages, dog/hiking packages, meeting/banqueting rooms? Ensure that each offer is clearly displayed and easy for both the guest to navigate and for you to track from a sales and conversion rate perspective. When developing your website, consider a guest-first approach and what your guests are trying to achieve, rather than what you are trying to achieve. For example, often rather than looking to book, they might be looking for key information like check-in, check-out times, details on parking, directions and so on. Ensuring such information is easy to read and navigate can play an important part in enhancing the guest experience and building brand loyalty before they even arrive.

Who are you talking to?

In the current climate, you might be focussing more on the domestic, leisure, local market so ensure the marketing channels you use are catering for these markets. Then think about the type of people your hotel is more suited to – older couples, hikers, dog walkers, single travellers, romantic couples etc – and target your marketing activities, messages, and promotional packages towards this demographic.

Track your visits

Hand-in-hand with the website is ensuring you also have the tools in place to track visits, traffic and conversions to see what pages are performing well and where improvements might need to be made. A solid understanding and adoption of Google Analytics tools is essential for this so take the time to invest in this if you haven’t already.

A reliable and engaging presence on social

Smart use of social media is also a key part of any digital marketing strategy and can work well to support brand visibility, guest engagement and bookings and it can be a rich territory for content, either generated by yourself or by your guests. However, it is important to remember that you need to have a reliable presence on social media. Guests and followers can post 24/7 and regular, timely responses are key to success. Be sure to share positive feedback and always respond and engage, even if it is negative.

Be human and personal

User-generated content is always popular but when building your own posts many publicans and hoteliers, including my fellow panellists, agree that content that shows the human side and behind-the-scenes of a property always drives strong engagement. Time-lapse videos of the set-up for a wedding reception for example, can really bring a venue to life. If you are going to take the time to invest in creating video content, then an integrated approach is key. Ensure you are able to use across all your channels including your website for maximum effect and impact.

Get influencing

Influencers are another part of the social media mix but before you do decide to work with them, be sure to do your research and make sure they are not only legitimate but also the right fit for your brand. Often this can mean quality over quantity. Yes, they might have thousands of followers on Instagram but if their audience isn’t right then it can be a waste. It is also very important before hosting any influencers that, in much the same way for a journalist, you have clearly defined and agreed what you are willing to offer as part of their stay and what you aren’t. Likewise what they will post and the content that you will receive in return. As much as possible ensure that you are tagged in any posts so that you can also share and grow your online audience. And put agreements in writing to avoid any confusion and unwelcome surprises for both parties down the line!

Sponsorship and competitions

A couple of other suggestions to consider are sponsored social media posts which can work very efficiently as you are able to target based on age and location for really focused campaign activity. Also consider running competitions. They are easy to turn on and you can select your prize package and entry mechanic, whether it’s asking your followers to post their own photo during their stay and tagging two friends or liking and sharing one of your own posts. An easy and efficient way to boost followers and brand loyalty.

I hope some of the recommendations and ideas discussed here have helped sparked some of your own ideas regarding digital marketing for pubs. Thanks again to hosts Enjoy Digital and my fellow panellists and I look forward to seeing more of you online and hopefully in person in 2021!

For more information on how Guestline supports pubs in driving accommodation sales, please click here. To watch the full webinar, please click here.