Marketing to foodies is a big business for hotels. According to The World Food Travel Association, 93% of travelers say that food and drink are a primary motivator for their trips. Hotel guests are also spending more on food and beverage (F&B) each year. Recent figures reveal that F&B spending has seen 5.5 percent annual growth since 2011.
The boom in food tourism also demonstrates a growing appetite to visit a destination purely to enjoy a unique culinary experience. At the very least, many travelers are keen to sample local dishes, and see dining out as a way to explore the neighborhood and connect with locals.
This love affair with food represents a major marketing opportunity for hotels. In the following post, we’ll explore how hotels can use social media and their own websites to tempt the taste buds of foodie-loving travelers and drive more bookings.
Hotel Marketing: Social media and foodies
Social media has transformed what, where, and why we eat. The look of a dish is often regarded as more important than how it tastes, and it’s become commonplace for diners to pull out their phones, snap their dishes, and share the pictures online before taking a bite.
Many restaurant-goers will also check a restaurant’s Instagram page to help decide what to order in advance. As a result, menus are being adapted to be as photogenic as possible in order to attract more customers and incentivize more social sharing.
For hotels, the continuing annual growth of F&B has turned food marketing into a big business. In a study of nearly 300 hotels by Local Measure, the most popular subject mentioned in social media posts was related to restaurants and meals (11,700 posts), followed by ‘drinks/the bar’ (6,400 posts).
This finding reveals just how much hotel guests care about sharing their food experiences, and underlines the importance for hotels to use social media to promote their own visually appealing dishes and attract more foodie-obsessed travelers.
Hotels promoting F&B on social media
The Pig Hotel in Devon is a star example of a hotel using social media to showcase the provenance of their menu. Scroll through their Instagram feed and you immediately get a sense that everything they serve is fresh, local, and seasonal.
Photos of their vegetable garden and just-harvested fruits feature alongside pretty-as-a-picture images of crowd-pleasing dishes and tasting menus.
The Pig Hotel’s images receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of likes, and their food-focused Instagram account now has over 92,000 followers.
Artist Residence in London is another perfect example of a hotel promoting its F&B experiences with visual flair. This boutique hotel has its own cocktail cellar, and a separate restaurant called The Cambridge St. Kitchen.
There’s a laid-back, lifestyle-focused vibe throughout. There are also plenty of images featuring smiling guests and food-laden tables being shared by friends, all of which helps to create a welcoming and social atmosphere to their dining room.
Top tips for promoting F&B on social media
The examples above rely on a consistent social media strategy utilizing images taken by the hotel or guests. However, it’s worth also bearing in mind the following tips:
1. Work with influencers
Working with social influencers is a great way to gain credibility and promote your hotel restaurant to a wider audience Last year, Instagram influencer and travel PR expert Liza Herlands was snapped digging into breakfast at Hilton Norfolk The Main while contributing to a travel guide of the local area.
Hilton linked to her profile, which reached Liza’s 42,500 followers and gained over 1,500 likes.
Think about how your own hotel could work with a social influencer to boost exposure. For instance, you could invite a travel writer or a food blogger to your hotel and let them enjoy a tasting menu featuring your standout dishes. To maximize your coverage, post your influencer’s images and reviews on your hotel website.
2. Pick the right hashtags
Choosing the right combination of hashtags can also have a big impact on the effectiveness of your Instagram foodie posts. Make sure you choose a range of both generic and niche hashtags that your audience will be searching for. Remember, your hashtags should always relate to the content of your images.
3. Comments boost engagement
It’s also important to add comments to your images that provide context, such as the name of a dish, its origins, or any special ingredients that are worthy of note. Not every dish will have a story, but a playful comment or conversation starter can help boost engagement.
Hotels promoting F&B on their website
Social media is a great tool for capturing the attention of foodie-loving travelers. But your hotel website can also be a great platform to promote your hotel’s F&B options and drive direct bookings.
The Mayfair Kitchen at Coconut Grove dedicates a section of its website to promote its Mayfair Kitchen restaurant. One of the notable features here is that you can easily make a reservation through a bold online booking system.
Below, beautiful foodie images are accompanied by descriptive copy of standout dishes. The restaurant’s contact details and availability hours of each menu are also clearly displayed so guests aren’t left wondering where to search for extra information.
At Refinery Hotel New York, the hotel’s lavish dining and drinking spots each include their own dedicated page, and their rooftop bar and jazz club both include virtual 3D tours to help you visualize the space.
In each of these examples, F&B offerings are promoted using visually striking content, compelling copy, and crucially, include menus and an online reservation system that makes it easy to book.
Top tips for promoting F&B on your website
Consider the following three tips when promoting F&B offerings on your hotel website:
1. Make booking easy
Alongside featuring plenty of eye-catching images of your food, make sure your restaurant’s menus are easily accessible on your website — it’s amazing how many hotels forget to do this.
It’s also essential to provide guests with the ability to make online reservations. Platforms such as OpenTable can be integrated into your website and provide data-driven insights on things such as booking data.
2. Social proof
Recommendations play a huge part in where people choose to eat. Consider integrating TripAdvisor or Yelp ratings and reviews into your hotel restaurant to incentivize bookings. Any favorable press reviews or culinary awards that you’ve picked up should also be prominently displayed.
3. Turn your website into a resource for foodies
Finally, it’s important to remember that a lot of guests will want to research your neighborhood dining scene. Instead of giving them a reason to search elsewhere, it makes sense to provide a dining resource on your own website.
You could include recommendations from your own staff, or perhaps interview local chefs on their favorite neighborhood dining experiences. With enough content, you might want to produce a series of food-themed blog posts, or even an eBook that you can distribute in marketing emails.
Recipe for success
As F&B revenue continues to grow in the hotel industry, promoting your restaurant via social media and your own website can boost your revenue. Today, travelers often see a unique dining experience as integral to their trips, and rely on social media to pick their favorite restaurants and dishes.
Hotels that market to foodies through social media marketing can differentiate themselves from the competition, excite guests about the food in their destinations, and in turn, heighten the desire to book.