Different approaches to web marketing: visiting York

28 09 2010

This summer we went to York for two days (one night). Looking for a nice but cheap accommodation in the city centre we found a nice Hostel – The Fort Boutique. It was open from just three weeks, but there was a good amount of information on the web: facebook, twitter and a blog. It had especially a good rating on hostelworld and travellerspoint with many reviews. They’ve started their web marketing before it was open, starting from Twitter and Facebook accounts and posting pictures of the work in progress.
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When we arrived we had to go at Kennedy’s bar, just beside the Hostel, to check in and drop the baggage (only a small one, but still..). The Hostel was very nice, still with some works on the way to be finished, but the welcome was warm from the Duty Manager, the cleanliness was perfect, the environment gave an idea of youngness and we were very happy. Until the night (!). The problem wasn’t what we were expecting (noise coming from the road –  as other comments reported online), but the bathroom in the room didn’t have a door (yet) but only a curtain and the fan in it was on for 1 hour after you’d switched off the light. Of course the first thing we thought was that, being the room an “artistic room” probably the artist arranged the toilet to be like that. But that wouldn’t explain how I could have scratched my hand on a sharp tile by the door frame. So definitely a door was in plan to be put there. Too much hurry in opening before the York Races going on that very week-end and the Hostel wasn’t finished.

Definitely the web marketing strategy the Hostel had was paying back. It was fully booked and had (and has) an excellent rating online. The blog is updated at least once a month (answering customer questions and complaints) and the facebook page at least every ten days (not much though).

To find something to eat for dinner that night hasn’t been very easy. Every nice restaurant we had advised on the guide (and checked online) was fully booked or with a table at 6 pm (too early for us) or by the toilet door (not a very nice place where to eat: I wonder why you place a table there!). But, while walking in the city center, we came across a nice looking restaurant Kuja Lounge. It didn’t look expensive and seemed to have a nice choice on the evening menu.

Problem: we couldn’t find any information about it online. Not even the official website was  coming up on Google.  Time was running low (around 5 pm – late to book a table in UK) so we decided to take the chance and book a table for two at 8.30. When the owner (or the manager, I don’t know) opened the restaurant diary it was pretty much empty. We were scared for sure. If a restaurant is good, in a week-end where York has about half a million visitors you expect it to be full. But we were wrong.

Kuja Lounge is a very nice restaurant where very good food is served and attention to details and to the customer are given. There were about 8 tables in when we arrived including a table of 10 people (noisy) and there were 1 bar tender and 3 waiting on staffs. We had to wait some minute before they could have taken the order but the waitresses were always kind and apologizing for the delay. Water came even before we could have ordered it, just to give us something for the waiting time (10-15 minutes… nothing!). We really enjoyed the evening.

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Kuja doesn’t have a web marketing strategy and we decided to go there only because more popular restaurants (online and on the touristic guide) were too busy. It definitely has a good product and is in a very central position (even if a bit hidden). But its positioning online is poor and that affects the business. In the long-term I’m sure that the word of mouth will do. But how many customers has it lost during the years that it will take? When we went to Kuja it was open from just 3 months. But the hostel web strategy proved us that the customer relation is built even before you open.

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