Catering Scotland

Hotel PR Campaigns: ALL News Is Good News, Come Refurb Time

 Breaking News

Hotel PR Campaigns: ALL News Is Good News, Come Refurb Time

October 21
20:07 2013
Blind girls landscape.jpg

There is a widespread misconception that a public relations campaign should consist only of positive articles, features and profiles within the press and wider media. While this type of coverage is of course important – and can generate substantial additional business if properly targeted and professionally presented – some consultancies inevitably have a much higher success rate than others. One key area of note is refurbishments. Often described by the organisation as an ‘upgrade,’ the refit of an office, hotel, pub or restaurant can make the world of difference to a business once completed. However, equally it can have catastrophic effects if handled incorrectly. 

Whether it’s a total revamp or a more modest makeover, the most important thing to remember is that your customers are informed about it as early as possible during the reservation or checking-in process. A recent example of best practice comes from the 15-bedroom Parklands Hotel in Perth, where owners Scott and Penny Edwards have just completed their second upgrade in as many years. This time it was a six-week programme of work on the hotel’s meeting rooms, bar, hallways and award-winning bistro. Having invested a considerable sum in the refurbishment, the Edwards were determined to avoid the risk of clients receiving any nasty surprises on arrival, or the potential that the guest experience might fall short of expectations. Firstly, the refurbishment of the hotel on the fringe of the city’s South Inch park was planned at a traditionally quiet time of the year. Work was zoned off, so not all areas were affected simultaneously, and it was rigidly scheduled between 8 am and 4 pm, Monday to Friday. Breakfasts, usually served in the bistro, were shifted to the main restaurant, so guests were faced with the minimum amount of disruption to their normal routine. Elsewhere, full-colour mood boards – complete with design, wallpaper and carpeting samples – were set up in the hotel lobby so that guests could see the plans in the flesh. From the outset, Scott was committed to keeping his current and future guests fully informed and up to date throughout the various stages: ‘With such an important upgrade there was bound to be some disruption, especially from the smell and dust, but we were completely honest about it,’ he explains. ‘The mood boards allowed guests to see and feel the quality of what we were trying to achieve, so they knew there would be a quality product at the end of it.’ As a city hotel popular with business travellers and tourists alike, the Parklands tends to enjoy a high level of repeat business, so management and staff made the effort to talk to regular customers about the ongoing work: ‘We communicated through newsletters, our sister restaurant – 63 Tay Street – and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter,’ adds Penny. ‘Emails were sent out regularly and we answered all questions and concerns about the refurb as quickly as possible.’ Meanwhile, notices about the construction programme were displayed throughout the hotel – even in non-affected areas such as reception – and new guests who were not on a mailing list or database were immediately informed when they called or checked in. ‘We were very aware of the guests’ sensitivities but tried to ensure their experience was not diminished in any way,’ concludes Scott. ‘We were undertaking this mammoth task to enhance our overall offering, and it was important for us to stress the positive effects of the work we were doing. ‘As it happened, most of our guests showed an interest in both the work and the end results, and rather than something to be wary of, the refit actually created a positive story to tell. ‘At the end of the day, our guests could see that we were investing in the product with them in mind. By and large, because of this, they were happy for us to be carrying out the work, even while they were in the midst of it at the time.’ That said, it’s important to note that such proactive action should not be restricted to times of guest disruption. Indeed, a good communication programme will allow the business to use appropriate tools to tell them about staff changes, special offers and other interesting developments throughout the year, and it will hopefully stimulate good press coverage by courting and cultivating the local media. So, it’s clear that even when faced with the multiple challenges of retaining guest loyalty during periods of physical upheaval, a robust public relations campaign should do far more than merely bring your hotel, restaurant or tourism business to the attention of existing or potential customers. The overall guest experience must always remain the most vital aspect of your offering, and the need to avoid raising false hopes or expectations should come in a close second. It’s also worth remembering – whether planning, undertaking or even postponing a refit – that while a contented customer appreciates good communication, a disappointed customer could easily make trouble by spreading news of their recent bad experience with friends, family and business associates. As the old saying goes: ‘It’s far easier to retain a client than it is to find a new one.’

www.hotelpr.co.uk

 

Thumbnail

Blind girls square.jpg

Scott Thornton square.jpg
Scott Thornton offers some tips on how to paint a positive picture when your premises go under the sledgehammer…

About Author

Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

Related Articles

@CATERINGSCOTLAND