A unique selling point (USP), also called a unique selling proposition, is the essence of what makes your hotel better than your competitors.
The likes of Airbnb give travellers more power to scrutinise the value proposition of traditional accommodation. A hotel USP is one of the key secret ingredients behind a brilliant brand marketing strategy. As a hotelier it's crucial to understand what attracts guests to your property, or what will attract them, so you can properly align your sales and marketing spend. Your USP is one of the cornerstones of your business. Since the pandemic, many hotels have had to slightly shift their target audience, so this could be a factor in double checking your USP.
While brainstorming or reconfirming your USP, you must ask yourself what guests receive in relation to value for money - what experiences do they have access to, what features, luxuries, lovely quirks? Accurately identifying these and marketing them in an appealing way towards your target audiences is how you will get your USP to prop your business up where it belongs.
Unique differentiators are the key difference between your business surviving and thriving
How does your USP work? A breakdown
Identifying your brand’s USP might seem simple, but it’s one that requires a fair amount of consideration. Do you want to be known as the hotel with the most spacious rooms or the one with the most beautiful view overlooking the ocean? A lot of hotels try to project themselves as being the best in every single way, but then (understandably) fail to deliver. Be true to who you are and emphasise your assets through all of your marketing communications. Your company’s USP is closely linked to your brand promise and it has to be credible and lucrative at the same time.
Your USP needs to transcend the boundaries of tangible commodities and translate into an experience. Take these two lines for example - “Enjoy your stay at X with magical views of the sunset” and “Make memories under the crimson skies at X". You’re highlighting the same feature, just with different effects. It’s important to not just identify your business’s key strength, but also to transform it into a unique offering for customers. Sometimes this is done quite subtly.
Why does your hotel need a USP?
- Reaching your target audience – An effective USP gives customers a brief idea of whether the product will be useful to meet their needs. In order to create a niche for your hotel, it is imperative that you sell your product to a selected customer base that will benefit the most from your offer. In the pursuit of attracting customers, hotels often try to cater to all kinds of audiences and become unable to provide specialized services to anyone
- Highlights your uniqueness – It is imperative that rather than projecting varied advantages of your hotel, you market a single factor that others are not in a position to offer
- Strengthens brand image – A hotel needs to develop a loyal customer base to generate big revenue. This can be made possible by your USP that can establish your brand image in people’s minds. The goal should be to be remembered only by your USP, even without your hotel’s name being explicitly stated
- Sets goals for employees – Employees of a hotel need to be aligned to its USP in order to provide the best possible service to the consumers. Defining roles and responsibilities for each employee becomes easier when each one of them is bound and guided to deliver the promise stated by the USP
- Retains website visitors – The online presence of a hotel is considered successful if the number of visitors converts into the number of guests. Your USP is a great way to ensure that your target customers spend time exploring the benefits offered by you in your hotel website. Just as it is a waste of time on the part of a customer to look for hotels that don’t meet their needs, it is a hotel’s loss if a potential customer overlooks the hotel website because its novelty is not accentuated by its USP
- Allows premium rates – Since a hotel’s USP is the first thing that a customer notices, you can charge higher rates for services that set you apart
- Builds a loyal customer base – Your hotel’s USP not only attracts target customers to your brand, but when you fulfil the services that you had promoted through your USP, you also generate repeat customers. This loyal customer base can differentiate you from your rivals in the business as maximum revenue is generated by existing customers. A guest who is satisfied not just with the stay but with the food, location, service, luxury and security provided by a hotel can be a great resource for word-of mouth publicity
Make your USP clear in the content of your hotel website, your on-page search engine optimization strategy, imagery, copy in your ads, social media and prominent throughout your entire online presence
Developing your USP
Look at your competitors
A proper competitive analysis will allow you to evaluate what others in your space are offering, and how you can differentiate yourself from them.
It's an important first step in defining your USP - you will always have something to offer that others won't. Hone in on that.
Identify your target audience
As we mentioned earlier, your target audiences may have changed or developed since Covid. Whether or not they have, make sure you have your personas clearly defined for all your sales and marketing team to know. Define them by asking yourself the following questions:
- How old are they?
- Why are they travelling?
- How long will they stay for?
- What's their budget?
- What are their pain points/favourite things about a hotel?
Think about your location
Your location is fixed, sure - but that doesn't necessarily limit your options. Instead, it opens them up. What else, other than the your hotel's literal surrounding land, can you focus on? No matter where you are, we know there'll be plenty. It could be the beautiful woods to get lost in, or the sea to dip into, or a quaint little village to be immersed in - wherever you are, sit down and write out all of the possible areas of interest for your customers. Discuss with your team and decide - how can we use these to our hotel's advantage? Your guests are not just visiting your hotel, they're visiting a place too.
Ramp up the luxury - and tell guests what they're getting
One thing is for certain - your guests are looking forward to a slice of comfort when they arrive. Whether it's the quality of your sheets, the underfloor heating, the jacuzzi jets in your baths, the log fire in a common area - your USP could be in the luxurious comfort offered by your hotel.
Now more than ever, with costs going up across the board, an impending recession and people perhaps becoming more and more careful with their money, it's also not a bad idea to highlight what guests will get for that hard earned cash they're handing over. No-one expects you to be the cheapest - people don't mind spending on quality, but they need to be assured what they will get for it.