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The approaching summer season reminds us how important it is for the hotel, restaurant or tourism business to be fully prepared before the influx of tourists to Ukraine and Odessa in particular.

Having a rich experience of working with Odessa and Kyiv restaurants, hotels and travel companies, we have compiled a list of the most common mistakes that are inherent in these types of businesses.

It should be noted that many problems and mistakes are typical for businesses from many other areas of activity, however, the emphasis in this article with all the examples will be placed on the businesses of the HORECA segment.


1. The pursuit of the “magic pill”.

No matter how progress and evolution move, nevertheless, a significant proportion of managers and business owners still hope to find some secret in Internet marketing that can provide a boom in sales and a crazy increase in customers.

Yes, there are more and more tools for online promotion. It is very difficult for any business owner to understand them. But, in desperation, one should not start chasing the magic pill or the magic “sell” button. Neither one nor the other exists in nature.

It is necessary to systematically and strategically approach the issue of business promotion and the value of such a decision will be discussed in the next paragraph.


2. Lack of a marketing strategy.

Any path should begin with a plan of action. Almost everyone knows this truth, but only a few follow this truth. And it is not surprising that those who have a marketing strategy in place (regardless of the professionalism of its preparation) bypass those competitors who neglect this important component of any business.

Every business school from Harvard to Shanghai teaches one core skill: writing effective business plans and marketing strategies.

Having a strategic goal and a marketing plan that describes your target audience, their problems that your product or service solves, the sales cycle, decision stages, etc. – having all this, you will be able to easily determine which advertising tools are best for your business.

For example, if you want to place an online consultant widget on your site, and the strategy states that the main task of the site is to motivate you to call, where the manager will already “sell” your product (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a product or service), then within this strategy is immediately clear - through an online consultant, a site visitor will quickly receive an answer to his question and he will have much less reasons to call you.

As a result, you will not be able to save the contact of a potential client and will not get the opportunity to call him back in an attempt to “twist” him into a purchase. Conclusion - an online consultant is not needed with such a strategy.


3. No uniqueness.

Any company, its products and services must have their own uniqueness. Do you know what a potential client does when he does not see any difference between products? He begins to compare according to a single criterion available to him - by price!

That is why so many business owners think that the lowest price is the main reason to buy. As we can see, this is true only when your product is no different from the competitor's product.

But, it is worth bringing uniqueness to your product correctly, separating yourself from competitors, and you will notice how users will ask less for the price, will not bargain for discounts, will buy with more desire and the percentage of repeat purchases will increase.

The worst thing you can do for your business is to make it stand out in the eyes of potential customers.


4. No USP.

A USP is a unique selling proposition. The most common purpose of a USP is to play up the uniqueness of a business in an easy-to-understand advertising term.

The USP can be based on false benefits. For example, a toothpaste that differs from the previous model only in the color of the packaging, but is presented as one that whitens teeth 5 times better than the previous one. If you put together all the promises that toothpaste manufacturers make in each of their new advertisements, then the entire population of the planet has to blind each other with shining snow-white teeth for at least several years now.

Also, the USP can be based on true benefits. For example, “the best hotel with dolphins in Ukraine”, or “Farm restaurant with all-natural products”.

USP must be used by marketers and advertisers in the implementation of any advertising campaign, and it does not matter whether this advertisement will take place on the Internet or offline.


5. Advertising does not correspond to the decision-making stages.

In the tourism business, the average decision-making time for a potential client is measured in several weeks, and sometimes even months. Moreover, when making a decision, a person goes through 5 well-known stages of decision - from the first stage of complete ignorance to the fifth - complete awareness.

In the process of conditionally passing through these stages, the visitor needs information of different content.

For example, at first a site visitor will think about which country he wants to go on vacation to. After selecting a country, will choose the most suitable city. After the city, it will be determined with the hotel, and after the hotel, it will look for who has the best prices for this offer.

This logic may be somewhat different from person to person, but it is such a detailed chain that is shown so that you understand that at different stages a site visitor needs different kinds of information, only 98% advertisers do not take this into account and lead the visitor to the same page, forcing him to independently find what interests him at the moment.

But you should provide the necessary information on your site for the visitor at each of the 5 stages of decision-making, and your sales will increase significantly.


6. Ineffective site.

An entire book could be written around this point. The main problem lies in the fact that the site is developed without understanding the marketing strategy by programmers who not only have no idea about marketing, but also do not understand the features of online advertising.

As a result, often, the owner receives a site that can be very pleasing to the eye, but will sell very poorly when advertising is launched.

An example of another kind of error on the site. For most travel agencies, it is very important that a potential client can easily find the address of the company on the site, it is also easy and without difficulty to get to the office, well, and quickly find their way on the spot and get to the office of the travel agency.

Why is it important? Because if your potential client looks for your office for a long time or, even worse, gets lost, then he will either not get to you, or will get in a bad mood, which, in turn, will reduce the likelihood of a sale.

Surprisingly, you can very easily make life easier for your potential customers by additionally placing a photo of the facade of your office or the building where your office is located on the “Contacts” page. Thus, a potential client will be able to quickly orient himself on the spot, find you quickly, and also appreciate your concern for his comfort and be in a good mood, which will increase the likelihood of a sale.

How much effort is needed to implement such a solution? Until business hours. And how many travel agencies do you know that have implemented this on their website?


7. Wrong preparation for the season.

Based on the results of studying statistics in the tourism business segment, we found that a small part of site visitors start searching for tours and monitoring companies already a year before the desired vacation date.

Of course, during this period, purchases do not occur, and the user will read, watch and analyze for many more months before he finally matures. However, if you are attracting customers through the site, you must be able to work with this audience as well.

Such information forces site owners to ensure that tour offers are posted at least a year in advance. Otherwise, such a visitor will not find what he was interested in and will go to the site to another, despite the fact that you have already paid for the click of this visitor.

The peak of activity of the audience, which is very well beginning to be converted into purchases of tours, increases noticeably 2-2.5 months before the planned vacation date. That is, this suggests that the travel company should start advertising 2-2.5 months before the start of the season.

You have to start smart. It is important not to inject all the money in one fell swoop, correctly distributing the budget for the entire period of advertising activity. Direct the user to the page with the most targeted information, which will describe the benefits of buying tickets early in order to convince him to do it in advance, and of course, gently remind him to buy tickets in advance by launching a series of banners using remarketing on Google, Yandex, Facebook and In contact with.

It will be nice if you add some valuable reason to book early, then you will get the desired client, otherwise you risk still giving it to more nimble competitors.

But almost no one does this. The main companies either start advertising only in the season itself, giving odds to competitors, or waste their budget aimlessly, recklessly launching advertising at full speed 3 months before the start of the season.


8. Bad service.

Poor service in the field of HORECA is manifested in the absence of prepared informative marketing materials for customers, the lack of standards and high requirements for service personnel (to appearance, communication style, etc.), the absence of prescribed speech modules for all service personnel, the ability to smooth out the indignation of dissatisfied customers or poor technical support, and sometimes even non-compliance with the mandatory requirements for the quality of the products offered - a delicious dish or fresh products in a restaurant, a clean hotel room, normal knowledge of a foreign language by staff when working with a foreign client, knowledge of the tours offered by a travel company etc.

Probably the problem of good service will be a kind of Augean stables for businessmen in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries for a long time to come.

It is very difficult to communicate the right values and the need to follow these values to all employees. However, Western companies are much better at this process, and they manage to leave our companies out of work, entering the Ukrainian markets with their branches, representative offices or franchises.

Great service is much easier to create with an effective marketing strategy and the owner's love for his business. Therefore, if you have the second one, ask yourself if you have a worthy marketing strategy that absolutely all employees of your company agree to implement with you.


9. No emotional attachment.

94% all purchases occur on emotions or under their decisive influence. This is especially important for B2C, when your customer is the end consumer, and especially important for the HORECA segment.

Figure out how to add positive emotions to your customers or strengthen the emotional attachment to your business and you will get an incredible number of happy and satisfied customers.

For example, after a user leaves a request on your site, show the user a fun and funny short video about how you are happy about his request and start working on it with the whole company.


10. Low trust.

Everything you are trying to communicate to your potential client may not make sense if you do not inspire trust or this trust is not enough.

Study your competitors, market leaders, how they solve this issue. Think about how, with the help of what information you can increase the credibility of your company, and place this information on your website and in other marketing materials.

For example, if your hotel was used by recognizable stars, take photos with them and post their photos on the site. This is a very simple and effective way to increase the credibility of your business.


11. Trends are not used.

Do you keep track of trends in your business in advance? Do you collect statistics and compare the current year with the past? Are you able to quickly make changes to your product based on a new trend?

For example, due to the large number of terrorist attacks and various wars, the need for maximum security has come to the fore in the needs of the target audience of travel companies. Do you use this information? Does it say somewhere on the site about the safety of your tours? Do your managers talk about it?


12. No loyalty programs.

Any business in the field of HORECA is very dependent on returning or regular customers. What loyalty programs do you use to increase the proportion of repeat customers and keep them with you for as long as possible? What programs do your competitors have? What programs do you have planned?

With loyalty programs, you can increase the overall satisfaction of your customers. Having received a unique value that is available only to regular customers, they will feel that they are really valued in your company.

A good loyalty program is a must-have tool for building strong partnerships with your customers. Customer loyalty is the most important and most valuable asset, without which any crisis can be fatal for a business.


13. Low brand awareness.

For travel companies, brand awareness is of paramount importance. Several marketing studies have found that, for sustainable brand awareness, it is necessary to make at least 7 “touches” with a potential client.

Touches in this case are different views or interactions with ads. For example, contextual advertising on search, displaying ads on third-party sites, displaying banner ads, Youtube video ads, social media banners, email newsletters. And here you can add “touches” with a potential client offline - a billboard, advertising on vehicles, in the subway, a sign in your office, etc.

That is why in niches with strong competition, a multi-channel strategy becomes very important with the reasonable use of different methods of advertising on the Internet, which allow you to provide a large number of effective touches with a potential client, which will ultimately give high recognition to your brand.


14. Ineffective multi-channel marketing.

In continuation of the previous paragraph, it should be emphasized that it is not enough to have many different ways of advertising. They must be subordinated to a single strategy. In this case, a synergy effect is achieved, that is, when 1+1+1 = 5 or more.

For example, if you use banner remarketing, show the user different banners with a specific chain of meanings in order to be remembered better and give more compelling arguments in favor of working with your company.


15. Social networks are not used.

Which business in the HORECA segment does not care about regular customers? Just social networks allow you to best engage and retain your loyal target audience, increasing the satisfaction of new customers, motivating them to repeat purchases. And yet, not all companies use this marketing tool in their advertising strategy.

For any business in the HORECA segment, it is imperative to have professionally designed communities, work on communication and management of this community, and also set up remarketing so that all site visitors subscribe to your communities on social networks.

According to statistics, the cost of a subscriber attracted through remarketing is 7-10 times cheaper than through regular targeting.


16. No work with online analytics.

Google Analytics and Yandex Metrica are a treasure trove of valuable marketing information for every business. It is simply impossible to teach how to use these tools correctly in two sentences.

The main thing is to be aware of the importance of these tools and hire an employee who will be responsible for collecting and analyzing data from Google and Yandex analytics services.

If you work with an Internet marketing agency, ask them to provide you with detailed data on your statistics.


17. Wrong choice of online media.

The choice of any advertising method, be it targeted advertising on Facebook or contextual advertising on Google Adwords, must be justified by KPI calculations.

The most common mistake is that marketers launch contextual advertising in Google Adwords, where both competition and the cost of attracting a client are sometimes very high, while completely forgetting about inexpensive contextual advertising in Yandex.Direct or targeted advertising on Facebook and Vkontakte, where You can also get relatively inexpensive clients.


All of the above problems and errors are just the tip of the iceberg, and the solution of these issues will undoubtedly help many companies rise in the ranking of leaders among competitors.


Author: Vlad Sidnev

About the author - Vadim Steblinsky