by Robert Bloxham, managing director MD of branding agency ORB
Hotels deal directly with people. Marketing hotels these days isn’t about big-budget ads and single-track campaigns; it’s about starting a conversation and getting people talking.
Marketing is always changing. Whether it’s audience, channel, device or platform, the challenge of telling a brand’s story effectively is driven by ludicrously fast-paced changes in culture and technology.
While some old-hats will always argue for the effectiveness of traditional big-budget advertising, campaigns need to take a much smarter multi-platform and multi-channel approach to communicate, engage and kick-start conversation.
Consumers are more savvy than ever. Simply throwing some money at television or billboard advertising with no real context or value for the audience will fall flat with the modern consumer. As we saw in 2014, the most successful marketing campaigns took a multi-channel approach and gave consumers multiple opportunities to consume and engage.
By 2016, the global hotel industry is predicted to be worth £3.6bn, but even the biggest names in the industry have been slow to move towards a more customer-centric and considered marketing strategy. As an industry that is built on reputation, experience and human relationships, hotel marketeers should be leveraging these values to more effectively tell their story.
With each new generation, opposition to traditional advertising is growing. So how should hotels market themselves in 2015?
In the last five years we’ve seen a huge shift in the way audiences of all ages consume information. The most successful hotel marketing this year will come from brands that deliver a consistent experience across all channels. Marketing via one isolated channel isn’t marketing, it’s advertising, and it’s lazy advertising at that.
Effective marketing always considers its audience, but with so much demographic data freely available online, hotel marketing should go beyond simple marital status, age and gender profiling to hone in on specifically what guests and prospective guests want and why they want it.
Marketing isn’t a one-size fits all approach any more. Every channel you use for marketing is different, just like hotel guests. Marketing messaging should tell a continuous and relevant story across all channels, but needs to be tailored for each medium of communication. Sending out the same email to all of your guests won’t pack the same punch as it used to. Even your content on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook should be tweaked and personalised to better engage with your audience.
Marketing communications are no longer a single blast. Effective marketing is about cultivating relationships with existing and prospective customers, and giving them a reason to share their own user-generated content and opinions. The success of hotels is largely driven by reputation and leveraging positive content from guests is key to painting the right picture.
These are the new ways hotel brands can get to know new customers, and talk to them in a meaningful and impactful way in 2015.