Knowing your market is imperative to a successful business but research can be expensive. Here are ways you can do on your own and without much money or training.
Welcome to another addition of hospitality property school.
Today, I’m going talk about how to conduct market research with little money.
When hospitality properties develop an idea, whether it’s a new service or a redesigned website, marketing research is often the first thing cut due to time or financial limitations.
That can make sense.
Working with marketing research firms can be very expensive and time consuming. If you haven’t done research before, it is very tempting to skip it and jump right into the development stage.
Hold on before you take that next step.
There’s a lot of research you can do on your own and without much money or training.
Here are some low-budget ways to do some research and give your service, idea, or designs a better chance.
1) Interview Potential and Current Guests
Nothing is freer or more valuable than a conversation.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how willing and forthcoming people will be when prompted by some questions. They could give you insights into what’s working for them and what’s not. That is information that could spin off to other ideas.
You can’t generalise public opinion from a small group, but you can get a sense of which direction to pursue. Building an ongoing message-testing program can take some time but it’s entirely achievable.
2) Look at Your Employees
Don’t underestimate the power of gathering data from your current employees.
Your sales and customer service teams can be a valuable resource when it comes to competition, customer feedback, new products and new markets. There is a wealth of data already sitting at your front door, you just need to know how to access it and then interpret it.
This may not result in a high quantity of data, but its quality will be unmatched.
3) Take Advantage of Free Secondary Research
Census data, industry associations and other local authorities can give you insight into the bigger picture of your target market and where you will not want to invest.
These secondary research sources collect information on consumer demographics, industry trends and market share — all things that will immediately impact your business and any new ideas you may have.
And don’t forget that a simple Google search can go a long way.
4) Use Social Media to Discover Who Cares
Social media can be a valuable tool to test new ideas and concepts and uncover who actually cares about you and your services. Use it to ask questions and then carefully note who responds.
It provides key information about who’s following and interacting with your brand.
5) Test Ideas on Your Website
Test your ideas on your website through small tweaks. You can get a lot of information about your site performance from basic analytics about which pages are converting the best or garnering the most consistent traffic.
In addition to basic analytics though, there are some free such as Google Analytics and low-cost tools out there to help you run user testing on your website.
6) Trust Your Instincts
Although it may not be the most scientific method of research, “gut instinct” can be very important when launching a new idea or concept.
If you know your customers, your intuition can play a big role in how your brand is developed. This is not to say it should be your only source of research but it should not be discounted when you have gathered information from other factors.
7) Observation is a Valuable Tool
Paying close attention to customers and how their needs are changing can be critical to the growth of your business.
By simply observing customer, any small or medium-sized hospitality property should be able to change and adapt very quickly. It may sound obvious, but properties can learn a lot by watching the market and listening to their customers in this way.
Keep in mind, in order for market research to have any real benefit to your overall business plan it will need to be done accurately. Poorly executed research can produce results that lead you off course. This means that you should take hearsay and observational research with a grain of salt.
As beneficial as they may be, you don’t want to make major decisions off only one source.
If you have any interesting stories about market research with little money and would like to share or have any questions or feedback you can leave them in the comments section of the show notes.
You can find them at:
That’s it for this session of hospitality property school.
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Until next time, have a fun day.
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