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Why online marketing matters to hospitality managers

Social media is more than a tool for entertainment. Online marketing is vital to Australian hospitality businesses competing for marketplace attention. Hospitality management training can help you understand the importance of digital marketing to your business.

The diner's sales funnel

The "sales funnel" is a common term used in marketing and refers to a visual representation of a customer's journey to converting - or purchasing your products. Hospitality businesses can utilise the sales funnel to craft marketing strategies which:

  1. Build awareness of the business
  2. Nurture interest in the products
  3. Convince audience to convert to customers.

The 2017 Eating Out in Australia report found that cafes and restaurants rely first on social media marketing, followed by their own websites to nurture customer awareness. Targeted, localised digital strategies are becoming increasingly important in order to bring customers to a venue's doors.

Use social media to grow awareness

Research conducted on behalf of UK restaurant chain Zizzi shows that people aged between 18 and 35 spend five whole days per year browsing food photos on Instagram, with 30 per cent of this demographic saying they would avoid a restaurant with a poor Instagram site. Hospitality managers need to understand the power of social platforms in advertising their business.

Statistics from Only Way Online show that 38 per cent of this demographic follow restaurants on Instagram to learn more about the venue, while 40.5 per cent plan to visit and want to see photos of what they might order. This shows consumers moving from the awareness phase of the funnel - becoming aware of the brand and learning more - to the interest phase, where they start to quantify their desires.

Websites for nurturing leads

Presence on search engines and review sites is important for expanding a brand's reach. Hospitality managers should ensure their venue's website presents all the information customers need in an engaging, user-friendly format. This means providing a menu, mobile optimisation and useful content. Short blog posts about products or achievements help customers find the business through search engines like Google, as well as building a brand story and nurturing customer relationships.

Food businesses should include review websites like Zomato in their digital strategy. These allow nearby diners to quickly find your restaurant, view a menu and leave feedback in a standardised form. Managers need to regularly check online reviews, responding immediately to defuse unsatisfactory remarks or simply to thank customers for positive feedback.

If you want to become a hospitality leader of the future, you need a Hotel or Restaurant Management degree from Le Cordon Bleu.

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