I have been a hotelier and restaurateur for many years with the myopia typical of those who do this job and have neither time nor desire to get out of their comfort zone and learn new things. That is why I lost so much money, but today I am here to tell you that having found a “purpose” (purpose) in life: to help my “fellow” restaurateurs and hoteliers understand and ride the opportunities that the digital revolution is also offering the hospitality industry. Only in this way can we save restaurants and hotels from being taken over by large international groups that would distort our country.
I am Giancarlo De Leonardo, a former hotelier and restaurateur, founder of Caro Collega and in this article I will share with you the importance of data, in particular data analysis, that is, the indispensable information to make the right decisions.
Obviously you are a hotelier or a Restaurateur and it is not easy to be up to date even on the impact that the digital revolution is having in Italy. Consequently I decided to help you and in this article I will comment on the highlights of the Digital 2023 report that We are social and Hootsuite publish every year.
I don’t think any of your consultants or associates have told you about it yet because that’s what happened to me when I was a hotelier and restaurateur. Translated into “ospitalese” the language understood by everyone in the industry, you know what that means?
That the only platform still on the rise in Italy is TikTok, and if you still haven’t figured out how to convey your brand on there, you’re making a big mistake!
In this article
- The situation in Italy
- Which channel to use for your Hotel or Restaurant?
- Influencer Marketing for Hotels and Restaurants
- Advertising investment is increasingly digital
- Analyze the online user experience of your Hotel or Restaurant
- Don’t think how much it costs, think how much it is worth
The situation in Italy
“Data is the new oil” is a landmark phrase uttered in 2006 by Clive Humby, a British mathematician and one of the leading experts in data analytics, according to which all strategic business decisions should be based on numbers and not on the entrepreneur’s intuition (i.e., gut feeling).
This is why the analysis of data from the digital 2023 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite highlighting Italians’ attitudes toward the digital world is important.
After two years of lockdown, 2022 was the year we began to leave the house again, but the behaviors adopted during the pandemic have changed so much. In this article, I will focus on how the data from the report can be used in the development strategies of hotels and restaurants, sectors particularly affected by the evolving digital landscape.
Specifically, I will show you the main trends related to social media use, video content enjoyment, and the importance of influencers in digital marketing. In addition, I will reveal how changes in user demographics and attitudes affect hotel and restaurant marketing and communication strategies.
The Digital report 2023 shows an increase in social media activity by Italians, with a greater awareness of what their goals are. In practice, social is increasingly used to try to satisfy a need. In addition, the enjoyment of video content continues to be widespread, driven primarily by “light” content such as comedy and memes, as well as influencer videos. These data suggest that a hotel or restaurant should focus on digital marketing strategies involving social media and video content production in order to reach an increasingly active audience on these platforms.
Of course, I am referring to professionally designed and conveyed strategies, not photos and videos posted randomly on the social channels of a business that has now become the norm. I bet you, too, have a friend or a cousin or an acquaintance to whom you have entrusted the communication and marketing of your business, but it is as if you hired unskilled staff for your hotel or restaurant.
What would be the result in the medium to long term? With nearly 44 million people in Italy active, social media is a critically important communication channel for restaurants and hotels. The main motivations for people to visit and participate in the conversation on social media are about information, maintaining contact with friends and family, and spending time. Interestingly, seeking inspiration for activities to do or products to buy and searching for content, such as videos, are also relevant motivations for users.
Restaurants and hotels can leverage these motivations to create engaging and relevant content, promoting their offerings, sharing customer experiences, and offering useful tips.
Which channel to use for your Hotel or Restaurant?
WhatsApp dominates the ranking of the most used social platforms in Italy, followed by Facebook and Instagram. This figure indicates that your hotel or restaurant should consider using these platforms as a tool for communication and interaction with its customers. In a professional manner, meaning spending time on data analysis as well.
It is also important to take into account the rise of TikTok, which has become one of the most popular platforms among people aged 16 to 64. TikTok is not a social but an entertainment platform. To better understand what this statement means, just consider that their biggest competitor is Netflix. For a Hotel or Restaurant to have a presence on TikTok with short, engaging, creative and impactful content means reaching a young audience that can feed the reservoir of new customers.
Influencer Marketing for Hotels and Restaurants
As for influencers, the report highlights their significant role in the health of digital marketing. Activities involving influencers can generate a positive impact on brand image and visibility. Your Hotel or Restaurant should also consider partnering with profiled influencers who have a substantial follower base that aligns with a brand’s values and identity. Influencers can promote unique dining experiences, offer reviews and recommendations, and create a more authentic connection with the audience.
In addition to using social media and engaging with influencers, your hotel or restaurant should pay attention to the rapid changes we are undergoing such as in the case of Italian demographics. The shrinking Italian population, with a substantial portion of people over 65, requires targeted marketing and communication strategies to reach this segment of users.
For example, specific advertising campaigns, special offers or loyalty programs designed for the elderly could be developed.
Advertising investment is increasingly digital
Another aspect to consider when doing data analysis is shifting your advertising spending budget, which we at Caro Collega recommend to all our clients: by now, digital advertising has reached more than 60% of total advertising spending. This should help you realize that the time has come to break down the wall of mistrust and shift the focus not on what to do but on the internal and external collaborators you rely on. Basically, digital is a great opportunity if you find skilled collaborators and not the usual braggarts of followers and likes on Facebook and Instagram.
The goal of advertising campaigns must be different: intercepting with your proposal those who are looking for a solution to a need they have. Your Hotel or Restaurant must also take advantage of this trend by investing in targeted ads on digital platforms and search engines in order to increase its brand visibility and attract potential customers.
Analyze the online user experience of your Hotel or Restaurant
Finally, we cannot ignore the impact of the pandemic on the expansion of online services, particularly in terms of booking products and services. People are increasingly inclined to book online, from flights to services to hotels and restaurants. The booking experience must live up to or exceed their expectations, and as a result there is a need to invest in marketing automation systems that can receive the booking online, automatically place the customer within a company data base, and manage subsequent feedback.
Don’t think how much it costs, think how much it is worth
In conclusion, data analysis from We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital 2023 report offers valuable insights into the Italian digital landscape and its implications for the restaurant and hotel industry. Adapting to and making the most of these digital trends will be key to staying competitive, attracting an increasingly digitally oriented audience, and generating extra revenue that until now you’ve been foregoing.
Taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, influencers, and the use of online services is critical to staying relevant and competitive. But you need to stop thinking about how much it costs and you need to start thinking about how much it’s worth, dear friend and former fellow hotelier and restaurateur. Ask industry professionals: how much do you make me for every euro you ask me to invest in digital?
Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, former hotelier and restaurateur, founder of Caro Collega