Creative marketing for luxury boutique hotels: Make vendors your partners

Creative marketing for luxury boutique hotels: Make vendors your partners

To effectively market a boutique hotel on a typically limited budget requires a great deal of creativity and resourcefulness. To start, I want to talk about one in particular that can add value for your guests, establish your hotel as an expert resource in its specialty areas and create revenue — all at no (or minimal) cost to you. The secret? Turn your vendors into your marketing partners. 

This is a strategy that has worked very well for Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Every year, we purchase tens of thousands of dollars in spa products, equipment for health and wellness, and food and wine. We know our business is valuable to our vendors, and that gives us leverage to ask them to provide something more on their end. We look for opportunities with vendors in every area of our business, and have found the following approaches have led to particularly great results.

Bring your spa vendors in as educators. 

Once a month, our spa product vendors and educators come to Mirbeau to lead an event for our guests and local visitors (and, at the same time, provide free training for our staff). These have included a back-to-basics makeup application workshop and an anti-aging seminar with complimentary mini-peels. Our vendors are responsible for creating the marketing materials, sending e-mails to their database in our area and providing retail point-of-sale and special packaging. The events create revenue, add value and increase the number of spa visits and frequency of spa visits in addition to pushing retail sales. 

When you refer a guest to a local business, ask for something back. 

From golf courses to the cycle shop, we routinely send our guests to preferred businesses in the area. In return, we ask those businesses to creatively value and enhance the experiences for our guests at no charge. Our golf courses have responded with special packages that include 18 holes, a cart and lunch for our guests — even reserved tee times on weekends. The trainers and nutritionists on our preferred list now conduct free workshops for Mirbeau guests and provide morale-boosting, one-on-one sessions for our employees at no charge in appreciation for the business we give them. The cycling store offers discounted rentals and savings on all retail services and free bike tours of the village for our guests.

Tap food and beverage vendors for donated products, educational specialists and sponsored events. 

Our own efforts in this regard have enabled Mirbeau to establish a monthly farm-to-table cooking class using local products. Mirbeau promotes the vendors through mentions and signage, and they provide the products for the demonstrations and meal. Similarly, we host a monthly wine-tasting seminar with wine and expert provided by the vendor as well as wine-pairing dinners sponsored by a guest winery or distributor, who again provides the product and a speaker. 

These are just a few ideas that I hope will spark more of your own and encourage you to consider how else your vendors can add value to your hotel’s offerings. Next week, I’ll share a technique for selling that value to your guests.