The importance of community engagement for hoteliers
Following on from a session at Independent Hotel Show 2019, it’s clear that building relationships with local businesses and residents is one of the best marketing strategies that your hotel can undertake - especially if your efforts provide real value for the local community. Get it right, and you’ll raise the profile of your hotel and improve the local experience for your guests.
Here’s our take on how hoteliers can start giving something back to their local communities:
Being a responsible local employer
As local businesses, hotels naturally support their community by providing access to employment. However, this can be taken a step further by offering community engagement programs, such seminars for hospitality students. This could include presentations from veteran employees and practical workshops for specific aspects of hospitality. Another option is to offer internships for local residents that are keen to gain experience in the industry.
Investing in local projects
Hotels depend on the quality of their surroundings, so it seems only natural that the local environment should be a concern for any hotelier. This could include the sponsorship of clean-ups, recycling initiatives, wildlife conservation and anything else of local concern. Being involved in activities that are at the heart of the community will not go unnoticed. You can also take pride in the fact that your efforts have improved the quality of local lives.
Being a local tour guide
As you know, many guests lack local knowledge and rely on recommendations to make the most of the surrounding area. This is particularly prevalent in cities such as London where guests love hearing about hidden places, pop up bars and the newest restaurants and attractions. This is a great opportunity to pair local knowledge with pre-arranged special offers, such as a free drink at a local bar, or a discount for a nearby attraction.
Organising running clubs
Becoming involved in local events is a great way to show your support for the community. This could take the form of running clubs where guests can sign up to exercise together. Another option is to provide a free jogging station that provides water, towels and a map with local jogging routes. This then paves the way for deals with local gyms to provide discounted daily/weekly gym passes for guests.
Local heritage conservation
Your hotel could play a key role in sustaining the traditional way of life in the area. This could include the support of local craftsmen, artisans and other traditional industries. Whether by the free promotion of their services or leading by example with locally produced textiles and furniture throughout your hotel. Another option is to promote homestays in the local area when you are fully booked.
There are many ways you could support green efforts. You can take part in the annual Earth Hour event, where non-essential electrical items are turned off for one hour. You can also consider embracing a paperless office or throw a vegan food event. Your support for green initiatives will show that you are a business that cares for the environment. Something that many more companies should be doing in the face of growing concerns such as global warming.
The most rewarding aspect of becoming more involved in your local community is that everyone will benefit from your efforts. You may not be able to adopt all of the proposals listed above, but hopefully, you’ll be able to embrace at least one of them.
Thank you to Adam Raphael, Nick Davies, Tom Holloway and Julio Marques for inspiring this piece.