Marketing is often thought of as an external strategy — a way to persuade consumers to buy into your service or product. Companies often overlook the need for internal marketing to connect their brand to their employees for better engagement, higher productivity, and better customer service.
Before the pandemic upended the world economy in 2020, the hotel industry was experiencing continual growth with customers, but it was also facing one of the biggest labor shortages in history.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates there were over a million job openings in the hospitality industry in 2018 — a record number. On top of that, turnover was close to 75%.
Most of these jobs were frontline workers — those essential hospitality employees who have many of the industry’s customer-facing positions, like room attendants, restaurant staff, and front desk teams. It’s a major gap that no doubt negatively impacted customer service and hotel revenues.
Hotels were facing this massive labor shortage for several reasons:
- Competition for hourly workers was fierce. Hotels needed to compete for talent against other hotels, as well as other industries who hired hourly frontline employees like healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.
- The gig economy was luring potential candidates away with greater flexibility, like giving workers the power to make their own schedules.
- Millennials make up the largest segment of today’s workforce and are opting for higher-skilled, salaried positions over hourly shift work.
- Stricter immigration policies drastically reduced a vital hospitality labor population. Though immigrants make up only 13% of the U.S. population, they represent 31% of the hotel industry’s workforce.
As hotels recover from the COVID-19 crisis, they have the power to recover from the labor crisis as well, but they need to invest in their frontline workers.
Here are three great internal marketing strategies for hotels to elevate their employer brand, attract new candidates, and rebuild a thriving workforce with a well-crafted internal marketing strategy.
Design an Internal Marketing Strategy for Frontline Employees
Approach internal marketing the same as any other external campaign: have the marketing department design a well-conceived, goal-oriented strategy that targets frontline employees, the often overlooked but most valuable workforce in hospitality.
Why do companies need to market their own employees?
50% of hotel employees don’t feel their jobs are important enough to be proud of.
An internal marketing campaign should aim to boost morale and increase employee engagement through targeted messaging. The ultimate goal is to retain current employees and recruit new talent.
Here are three important elements of internal marketing strategies for service industry employees:
- Conduct an internal survey. Start your campaign by surveying every employee. Find out what they need to make them happier at work. If you’ve already connected your employees to a team communications app you can send out surveys directly to their mobile devices. The benefit of a digital survey is the high reply rate. Make sure to do follow-up surveys throughout the year, and always act on their feedback.
- Align external and internal messaging. Review effective messaging you use to attract customers. Use that to develop content for your employees (and use that when recruiting and interviewing, too) to make them believers of the brand.
- Leverage mobile technology. Internal marketing will be most effective when it reaches every single employee. The best way to do this is through a mobile employee app.
Two things to remember before you launch your internal marketing campaign:
- Be authentic.
- Make internal marketing part of your culture.
Brand-Building Content for Frontline Employees
Internal marketing strategies for service industry employees need to communicate content that achieves three goals to ultimately increase employee engagement and retention:
- Employees feel valued.
- Employees are proud of the brand.
- Employees buy into the hotel’s mission and vision.
Internal marketing content should be detailed and transparent. Trust your employees with company information that will allow them to provide better service and be more productive.
A mere 13% of employees believe their managers communicate effectively and that creates a disengaged workforce.
Deliver this content through storytelling, which stirs emotions and creates connections. Share stories from guests about their stays with employees that demonstrate how everyone’s work impacts other people.
Also, give every employee the opportunity to share their story with the company and colleagues. Personal narratives connect and inspire, and giving employees a voice in the workplace is a powerful engagement strategy.
When 1 Hotels, with locations in New York, Miami, and LA, wanted to build their internal brand and deepen employee engagement, they connected their staff across locations and across shifts with Beekeeper’s mobile team communications app. The two-way operational platform gave every employee a voice to create content internally, boosting engagement and increasing retention.
Watch the video to learn more about how 1 Hotels uses Beekeeper to reach and engage their employees.
Employees are also a hotel’s best spokespeople. When they’re happy at work, that job positivity is great marketing. Whether they’re talking about the brand to the guests, or talking about their job online (which 50% of employees do), their message should be positive and specific.
When hotel employees love their job, they have the power to create a great guest experience and recruit new talent. The internal marketing content will shape the information they share online and with guests.
Leverage Technology to Grow and Retain Your Workforce
Internal marketing is only as good as its reach.
83% of hotel employees work without a company email address, but new technology designed for mobile devices empowers frontline employees through dedicated messaging.
This employee-centered technology creates the perfect medium to deliver internal marketing strategies for the service industry with a large mobile workforce.
A team communications app also offers:
- Consistency: Internal marketing has to be an ongoing function of a hotel’s employment strategy, woven into the workplace and culture. A team app creates a channel for constant internal brand-building content to engage employees.
- Surveys: Keep a finger on the pulse of employee engagement with regular check ins through digital surveys to track engagement.
- Real-time analytics. As you implement internal marketing strategies track employee engagement through the team app’s analytics dashboard.
- Recognition: Internal marketing should get personal. Recognition is one thing most employees want from management. A team app is the perfect place to give employees the public recognition they deserve.
- Inclusivity: Internal marketing needs to reach every employee for maximum effectiveness. Beekeeper’s team app has features that connect employees across shifts, locations, and even languages.
- Training and upskilling: As employee engagement shows an upward spike, hotels need to start promoting from within. A team app can relay multimedia training for employee upskilling and growth.
Create an employee-supported workplace with internal marketing strategies designed to engage and build a hotel workforce dedicated to their work and the brand.