While factors such as price and location are especially influential in driving hotel bookings, a successful brand can be defined through its ability to generate higher revenues and increased bookings. The evidence suggests that brands will be perceived favourably by consumers partly on the basis of size, with large chains achieving higher occupancy rates than their smaller competitors, but there is an inverse effect when a brand operates a large number of franchises as occupancy rates tend to drop over time.

The implications are therefore positive for the major brands, and if you are a part of one of these organizations then you will benefit from the activities of the group’s marketing experts who create strategies to promote brand recognition. However, smaller independent hotels must also do what they can to increase awareness of their brands. Here are six ideas which can be employed to push your brand to the head of the queue when customers are thinking about hotels.

1.Referral programs

Brand awareness is all about spreading the word, and one way to do this is to let your guests do the work by offering rewards when they are able to persuade others to use your services. Word-of-mouth is a very powerful tool in influencing decision making, so any approach which can harness this approach is likely to bear fruit.

2.Partnerships with local events

If you’re a small independent hotel you won’t be able to sponsor anything on the scale of a Premier League football team or the Boston Marathon, but there may be smaller sporting events or concerts in your city with which you can form a partnership. This can work especially well, not only in making your brand name better known, but also in attracting customers who are staying in the area specifically to attend those events. You can achieve two aims with a single strategy.

3.Social media contests

If people are talking about your brand and having fun with events or activities associated with your brand, you will be raising brand awareness as well as attaching yourself to a strong feel-good factor. Contests on social media are an easy way to engage with customers and make your hotel better known to a much wider audience.

4.Re-marketing

You may have noticed that when you visit some websites, but leave before completing a transaction, you will subsequently be followed all over the internet by adverts from the website you visited. Sometime this is not very sophisticated – I recently booked a hotel in Beijing, and was then bombarded for two weeks by adverts for hotels in Beijing which I obviously didn’t need as I’d just booked. However, when used correctly, this approach can reinforce the existence of your brand in the minds of potential customers who may believe that the frequency with which your adverts appear is somehow related to the excellence of your services.

5.Paid social advertising

Brand appearances on social media are best if they involve authentic content provided and shared by customers. Content provided by the hotel itself takes second place, but there is a relatively affordable third option. You can actually pay for advertising on platforms such as Facebook, thereby placing your brand name in a prominent position.

6.Charity sponsorship

Commercial sponsorships are one idea, but becoming involved with charities can be a way of getting your name better known as well as being associated with the idea of doing good and helping others. You may also qualify for tax breaks in many countries if you make charitable contributions. In addition to giving the appearance of social caring and responsibility, you will actually also be genuinely making the world a better place

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