You’ll Need More Than Good Looks and Flash
In 2013 more than 53,000 new hotel rooms opened in the United States hotel industry and it has been forecasted that approximately 145,000 new hotel rooms would open in 2018. It is no secret that consumers love to travel and those with a high propensity to spend on such experiences happily tend to gravitate to their favorite brands. With increasing consumer demand and new developments, like Airbnb and the shared economy, the hotel industry has become one of the most competitive to date. To maintain market share, let alone grow, hotels need, yes we said need, strategic public relations.
Gaining visibility in the hospitality industry means being creative in what you plan, as well as what you promote. A fast-growing city, such as Seattle, is bursting with news about new restaurants, hotel launches, events, and experiences. Understanding what consumers are being drawn to and aligning your strategies with such curiosities will ensure that you are standing out from the crowd and staying relevant in a highly active, competitive space.
No matter what, the relationship your PR team has with media should always take precedence in your PR strategy. Solidifying a collaborative, beneficial relationship with your target media will allow you to build the most influential relationships for your brand and ultimately create the kind of narrative your business wants. The media will be the best avenue to share firsthand experiences that your hotel and its varying venues and amenities have to offer. As such, it is important to keep hospitality top of mind and extend gracious opportunities for media to experience the very aspects that you aim to highlight.
In addition to media relations, here are the top four reasons why public relations can make a difference in the hotel industry.
Planning is everything
Any marketing campaign, tactic or initiative, is as good as the strategic communication plans that drive it. This is especially important for hotel brands, which rely heavily on consumer spending and travel patterns. A foundational hotel PR strategy encapsulates the obvious high seasons, such as holidays and summer travel, but also plans creative initiatives to drive what’s missing during the slower shoulder season months. As such, it is important for a hotel PR strategy to be based on the pursuit of proactive partnerships such as brand presence during an event or, a creative season-based consumer roll out.
Hotels require nimble staff… and nimble partners
Let’s be honest. Reactive opportunities will pop up, and having a public relations strategy (and team) that easily integrates and adjusts to such opportunities will drive maximum value for the hotel property/brand.
Despite planning year-round to ensure you’re always capitalizing on opportunities and travel patterns, having the means to engage with reactive opportunities will take your hotel marketing to the next level. National consumer-facing blogs and digital outlets that push their content directly to readers through active social channels are eager for content related to hotel programming, events, deals, and partnerships – news that flies quick and in-the-moment. Additionally, in a service-charged business, like hotels, it is incredibly easy to lose good favor with the public. For instance, a TripAdvisor complaint can plummet your ratings and the negativity can snowball in a small period. In the end, it will be apparent that your PR is only as good as it is nimble. Being able to respond quickly to any need that arises, both planned and unexpected, will determine the effectiveness and value of your PR efforts.
No one understands the guest better than the person who becomes one
A solid PR strategy will mirror the guest persona. If a hotel is highly driven by an outdoor event season and outdoor activities, we would recommend an opening that aligns with Spring or Summer, despite that being slightly off course with a construction schedule. The reason? PR will recognize that coming guns-a-blazing during the consumer season that aligns best with your hotel’s experience will create long-lasting buzz during slower months and build anticipation for the following high season.
Not to mention, a hotel will have evergreen opportunities that are worth touting, whether a jaw-dropping spa treatment or awe-inspiring interior design. Your hotel PR should be equipped to focus on the differentiators and shine a spotlight on what sets you apart.
A solid crisis communications plan cannot be beat
Whether you run a boutique hotel with less than 100-keys or manage a conference destination with over 1,000, no one can predict when a crisis will strike. From preparing staff with messaging to immediately handle a crisis situation, to understanding the chain of contact that should take place. A concrete hotel PR strategy will take into consideration the immediate guest touchpoints, arming the front desk with customer-first talking points, and being prepared to share statements with the media. Additionally, as an experience business, a hotel has a greater social presence than other lifestyle brands and a PR strategy should include social media alignment that best connects with its audience by addressing top questions and concerns.
Before you check out….
Overall, hotel public relations can be a high value-driver, if you’re willing to put in the effort or a hire an outside team of specialists. Innovative and inviting content paired with touch points that engage your audience will build a loyal and eager fan base and create brand recognition. Even the most nightmare-worthy crisis situations can be mitigated with a thoughtful PR strategy and crisis communications plan.
Hotel public relations is a highly effective marketing tool for generating visibility and consideration for an individual property or brand. It’s all about telling the story of the guest experience and connecting with your audience. Never underestimate the value of being creative, nimble and enthusiastic. Give us a call if you want to talk PR for your hotel!
Written by Daniella DelaOsa, Fearey’s Consumer + Lifestyle Division Lead.
Stay tuned for more insights from our Consumer + Lifestyle team.