It Doesn’t Happen in the Office
Networking for the hotelier is an important job, one that should not be taken lightly. Not only does networking allow us to get to know the movers and the shakers in town, ones that can grease wheels when needed, it also allows for the community to buy into us and our hotel brand. To operate a thriving business we MUST have the buy-in from your community. Peer referrals make up an average of 82% consumer purchases (in our case, bookings).
I’ve come across hoteliers that think their business card and a sparse LinkedIn profile takes care of all their networking/ marketing needs. This couldn’t be further from the truth! There are many tools to achieve important networking goals, ones that will require you to get out of the office and put your charming hotelier-face on.
Hotelier Associations – Find out if your city has a hotel association chapter. They often hold luncheons that can help you meet other important hoteliers in your area and also offer coaching seminars on current trends once a month. A few associations that readily come to mind are: American Hotel & Lodging Association, International Hotel & Restaurant Association and the Association of Professional Hospitality Managers.
Chamber of Commerce – It’s always prudent for any business developer to be involved with their city’s Chamber of Commerce. As a hotelier, it’s imperative. This is a great way to meet other business owners and start racking up those referrals. It also gives you insight into what is going on in the community as far as development is concerned. A good business owner knows of happenings in the community that might affect business.
Meetup – For those of you who are less digitally inclined, Meetup is an online social networking platform that launched in 2002. It offers a wide variety of interest groups – there is sure to be one that strikes yours and gets you out there meeting other professionals in your area. There are usually a few good marketing and small business owner meetups in every city. If you don’t see one that fits you, feel free to make your own Meetup. That’s the beauty of it, you can always create your own interest group. I myself am contemplating creating one just for hoteliers. I’ve lived in a number of cities and have yet to come across one.
LinkedIn – As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn IS a viable tool for networking. However, it is not a platform to rely on solely. In this digital age, think of LinkedIn as a given. Make sure that you have a presentable and professional looking headshot on there and all the contact information is current. It is best practice on LinkedIn not to randomly add people to your network (though this happens often). Use the networking tools above to make the face-to-face connections first and then add them on LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as your digital rolodex.
Above are just a handful of proven opportunities to network – ones that I regularly use. If you have any other ideas on networking, ones that have worked well for you in the past, feel free to comment with or email them to me. I’d love opportunities to expand on this important topic!