Your Community Relationships Are Key
People like to do business with local companies that contribute in a positive way to their community. Conversely, they don't like to deal with companies that have built a negative image.
Community relations is your program to build the image that makes local people want to do business with you or refer business to you. Where do you start?
Develop a survey of five or six questions to gauge your awareness/image. Your advertising agency can help you at little or no cost. Have your employees or hotel-school students conduct the survey by telephone.
Some other ideas to get local publicity:
Offer free press conference venues to non-profit groups.
Comp rooms to charities for speakers, etc. on nights when you forecast vacancies.
Comp meeting rooms for their committee meetings with comp coffee.
Provide free coffee for taxi drivers.
Sponsor street beautification projects (with signs giving you credit).
Provide marquee space for local charities' short messages.
Offer to be the drop-off point for local charity donations of toys, canned goods, etc.
Provide art show space in hallways to local art organizations.
Another way to build community relations is to develop programs to make every contact with your hotel a positive one. Don't hang up on sales people who call you. Don't be unfriendly to people who call to solicit charity donations. You can be nice while turning them down.
And, of course, when you can help them, do so. As your community relations program becomes stronger, your local orders for room business will increase.
Tom McCarthy, CHME, CHA, spent half his career with Hilton and Marriott in sales, advertising and public relations and half in his own training and consulting business, Hotel Professional Education and Consulting of Falls Church, VA. He is a past president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame. He can be reached at email@example.com or 703-931-0757.
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