More Profit for Hotel and Catering Businesses

Traditional marketing techniques deliver ever-decreasing results. It’s time for a review of how to connect and reach customers.

Most marketing doesn’t work. It is progressively more expensive and results seem to be harder to come by.

eg the ad in the local paper or at the local cinema

Meanwhile most marketing is dull, unremarkable and unfocused. It doesn’t focus on benefits and positioning is wrong all because your customer understanding is wrong. There is no great commitment, no great customer engagement and cost of winning customers is rising. It just doesn’t work like it used to. And that is a fact.

There are more competitors competing more than ever. The marketplace is too busy with too many restaurants fighting for too few customers. (Or at least that’s how it feels.)

Too many competitors giving away food at stupid knockdown prices we can’t compete with.

Too many high street chains flooding the prime sites and flooding the internet with their big branding budgets.

I would like to construct an argument.

  • It is clear that most ‘traditional’ marketing does not work. Despite what they tell you!
  • Despite what they claim, most hospitality firms are falling well short of customer expectations especially in terms of customer service.
  • Only 10% of any market and particularly in the food and hospitality industry actually buys on price despite what people tell you.
  • Customers do not keep come back because you don’t appear to care (enough) about them.
  • Customers choose you because of your engagement with them.
  • You can get away with murder! (Well, it appears that some competitors do!)

I am more than happy to provide evidence for all of the above but let’s just take these points as read. The marketing and sales landscape in hospitality is looking pretty fragile.

So, what is marketing that stands out, that ‘cuts the mustard’?

For me, ‘stand-out’ is about challenging and shaking the food industry (and not simply about gimmicks) and ‘marketing’ is about revenue generating (which it should be). So, ‘stand-out marketing’ is inventing (new) methods to disrupt the normal way your industry conducts business.

We can now map out how to make your marketing stand out.

How to start creating some stand-out, disruptive marketing in the hospitality industry

To improve your whole approach to marketing you need to ask five questions of your customers and your business. This can be a quick’n’dirty exercise (grab a room with a flipchart and some of the key people in the business from the kitchen or form front-of-house) or it can be constructed in a more methodical manner incorporating some research.

Ask the following five questions:

1) What really hacks off your customers?

  • A clue: lousy or lazy service


2) Why can’t you sell more stuff?

  • A clue: lazy marketing.
  • Another: you look/sound/talk/sell identical to your competitors.
  • Another: the adverts no longer work; word-of-mouth is what matters.
  • Another: shouting louder doesn’t attract attention any more.


3) What is your job from the customer’s point of view?

  • A clue: it is almost certainly NOT what you do. People do not buy what you do; they buy what you do does for them. They buy the afters, what is left after you’ve ‘delivered’. They want a great experience… they want to feel good… they want to feel that they have been looked after….


4) What is the usual way of doing things?

  • A clue: the usual way is almost certainly boring, dull and predictable.


5) What could/should you be doing?

  • A clue: this is where the hard work starts

A few more clues might be required here.

A few ‘starters for ten’. You could sell on:

  • low price
  • high price
  • no price
  • payment by results


You could be the:

  • best
  • slowest
  • fastest
  • first
  • last
  • only…


I am sure you get the idea.

When everyone goes zig, you could go zag.

After all, why should people bother to buy from you when they can buy from the competition, especially when the competition might well be cheaper or faster or friendlier?

To blindly follow the pack is a mug’s game; in a team of husky dogs pulling a sledge, the only ones with a good view are the ones at the front!

What I refer to as stand-out or disruptive marketing is an alternative to the way you do things now. In your heart of hearts you know that you could be doing so much more.

To quote Jerry Garcia: “You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”

It works for numerous food and hospitality firms already. They are different. They do things differently. They stand out for being different. Innocent Drinks, Bighams,  Madecasse ChocolateDans Le NoirDorset CerealsHobbs House Bakery & CafeOne World Everybody Eats and Panera Bread Cafes. These are all food businesses with strong ethical motivations who are really well-connected to their customers. Maybe it will work for you?