How Can I Get Hotel Referrals For Local Small Businesses?

We are a small retail company that sells locally made products, souvenirs, and gift baskets. We have opened a new downtown location in a mid-size city with multiple hotels in close proximity. We have been brainstorming ideas about how to develop a rewards program for the hotels to encourage them to refer their guests to our store.

So far the only good idea we have is to give the hotels business cards with our info and possibly a discount or some sort for the customer. The card would also have the hotel name on it and when the guest comes to the store, they would give us the card and we track how many referrals have been given from that hotel.

This idea is the only functional one we have come up with. Please give any input on this idea, positive or negative or a completely different idea. I am very new to the industry and would appreciate any advice!


Jay’s Answer: Focus on the reason for someone who’s staying at a nearby hotel to come to your store. Is it for a souvenir of their stay or a last-minute gift?

If you have attractive gift baskets, then see if there’s a public space (ideally, behind glass) in the hotel lobby that you could put your baskets in with your card.

A rewards program is just too hard to manage in your case. When someone new purchases from you, ask them if they’re staying at a local hotel, and if so, which one (and/or “How Did You Hear About Us?”). Then call the hotel (or write) to thank them for their referrals at the end of the month. If you want to make the referral tangible, gift the front desk & concierge with something you sell or a gift card for them to use (and visit your store).

Likewise, ask the local hotels for brochures of theirs to leave in your store. You can put them in a book (“Where To Stay”), etc.

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