Customer Story with Simmi Duffin
Managing a hotel is hectic, especially during tourist season. There are signs and maps to be set up, menus to be created, posters and standees to be designed.
Banqueting manager Simmi Duffin at Coast Rosslare Strand, Ireland, does it all, with a cherry on top: she takes special care to prioritize accessibility for older customers in all her decisions.
We stole Simmi away from the whirlwind of Coast Rosslare for a moment to talk about how exactly she creates the ideal experience to reach senior customers. Her valuable tips will help you cater to your older customers.
Hello Simmi! Please tell us a bit about Coast Rosslare Strand.
We are a 32-bedroom hotel in Wexford in Ireland and have been operational since 2018. We’re located right by the beach, and we’re a family friendly hotel. In the summer, we get a lot of families coming in on holiday, both locally from around Ireland, including Dublin, and from the UK and Europe. So it’s a nice mixture of people.
We have quite a big communal space downstairs. This includes a very large bar, a very large function room, a second bar, and several smaller rooms, and meeting rooms. We host weddings, christenings and birthday parties.
I head the banqueting team, which is one of the management teams. I do a combination of roles: events, sales and marketing. The management team is quite small, about six or seven of us. But the majority of the marketing is done by me.
Hotel marketing tips using print promotion
What types of printed promotional material do you most commonly use?
I tend to just go for images, because it’s easier just to reuse them across mediums like social media and printed materials.
We do a lot of print promotion. We post menus in the breakfast room and for wedding tastings. For the weddings themselves, I do the seating plan, and also the menus. If customers ask me to do things like name tags for the tables and the order of service, I do those.
As for signs, if we’re doing work somewhere in the hotel, we put up cautionary and informational signs. We had a funeral last week in one of our furthest rooms, so we had standees dotted throughout the hotel to guide people to the right room. We make all of these using PosterMyWall.
Did you have to update your signs for COVID restrictions?
Yes, yes, absolutely. A lot of our COVID signage included elements of a government-mandated pack, which we cropped out and inserted into our own posters and signs.
How do you promote your hotel?
I create quite a lot of newspaper content and we advertise often. Personally, I create wedding adverts. But we also advertise room sales, local band performances, and offers that we’re running in the hotel. We hand out flyers at any event that we host, e.g. trade fairs.
We have also created standees on PosterMyWall. I’d say there’s probably not a workday that goes by that I don’t use it for something.
Do you incorporate customer feedback into your hotel marketing strategy?
Definitely. In fact, we’re in the middle of applying for the Age Friendly Ireland Charter which is aimed at businesses that want to ensure they are suitable for people of all ages, particularly older people. The motivation behind this is that our society is getting older since people are living longer. Therefore, we need to make sure that we’re including them as much as possible.
That’s one of the things I’m working on at the moment. And that’s involved quite a lot of talking to our customers to find out what they like about the hotel, what they don’t like.
The Age Friendly Ireland Charter
Tell us a little about the Age-Friendly Charter, what it entails for hotels and other businesses.
The national Age Friendly Ireland Programme supports businesses across Ireland to prepare for the rapid aging of our population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults. This is particularly relevant for hotels, as older people in our society have more money than they used to, which means many more are traveling. The Charter will show our guests that we have considered how the needs of older people are different from younger, more able guests and that we have taken those into consideration. In fact, many of the changes we are making may well benefit younger guests too.
Making your hotel more accessible via assistive devices and mobility aids
We have free reading glasses for any hotel guest who may need them. Obviously as we all get older, the need for items like reading glasses increases, but many younger people also need them due to heavy computer work.We have added more chairs with arm rests to our bar to make it easier for older guests to get in and out of the chairs. But again, there will be younger visitors who are less able, for whom these chairs will also be beneficial.
Also, we have purchased a wheelchair for the hotel, which can be used by guests. One of our hopes is that people who need it will use it to go to the beach, which is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel.
Make your hotel marketing more accessible for an older target audience
What are some of the specific tactics you use to keep your graphics and marketing accessible to older customers?
1. Use larger fonts, and comfortably spaced designs
One of the things that came up while I was gathering feedback from our customers was to create things like menus in larger sizes, so that people can read them more easily.
When I’m designing marketing material, I consciously check that I don’t have too much text packed in–which makes it harder for older customers to read.
2. Target the correct social media platform
There are definite target markets for each type of marketing. Facebook is traditionally thought of as being an older target audience. In reality I think our younger guests also use Facebook widely, but the difference is the older audience is less likely to use other online platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Our older customers are more likely to spend time on LinkedIn and YouTube, so these are platforms we target more heavily.
3. Utilize physical advertising
Our customers are members of the local community, for whom physical advertising works equally as well as Facebook. We reach them by actively promoting the hotel and the activities through posters (both onsite and in the local area) and tabletop advertising.
Understand the importance of accessible marketing
Why do you think is it important to make your marketing accessible?
Without accessible marketing, you could have the best product in the world, but fail to reach half of your potential customers. Accessible marketing ensures that you’re both serving your customers well and helping to bring business into the hotel.
How have customers responded to your approach to accessible marketing?
Our customers have been so enthusiastic towards the changes we have been making, which is great to see. Our social media posts are getting a lot more interaction, and customers coming into the hotel have mentioned where and when they’ve seen our advertising.
Coast Rosslare’s future plans for accessibility
Going forward, what other plans do you have for making Coast Rosslare Strand accessible for the elderly?
We are introducing Age Friendly car parking spaces, which will be close to the entrance to the hotel and next to our disabled bays. There will not be any official documentation required to use them, but the idea is that they will be available for anyone with impared mobility. The spaces will have the Age Friendly logo painted on them and a sign inviting those with reduced mobility to use them.
Lastly, do you have any tips for other businesses that want to become accessible to a diverse audience?
Part of our process for achieving our Age Friendly Charter is to have older guests complete a short survey. We invite them to specify elements of their visit that could be improved – so their voices are heard and their suggestions considered.
It is essentially about looking at your business, from the moment the consumer decides to engage with you (be it by phone, online, email, or in person) and trying to see the process from their point of view. We all have someone in our lives who we see struggle with things as they get older, so that is a great starting point.
Being empathetic is certainly key when it comes to providing accessibility. Thank you for sharing your tips for making hotel marketing accessible, Simmi!
Senior editor at PosterMyWall.