Creating Brand Relevancy Through Brand Bonding

By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Eric Mower & Associates | March 15, 2010

When I started in this business almost three decades ago, marketing was still relatively new as a core discipline within the hospitality industry. Hotel companies had just recently added senior level marketing positions at the corporate level. Most individual hotels had a Director of Sales position only, and those with a Director of Sales & Marketing position were few and far between. Moreover, the person with that title tended to be heavily engaged in on-the-job learning since there typically was no predecessor to learn from and few, if any, available training programs tailored specifically to the hospitality specialty.

As industry competition heated up and the traveling public became more savvy about choosing where to stay, marketing became an increasing priority. It was no longer "if you build it, they will come", but rather "if you build it, will they come?"

From its beginnings to 2007, hospitality marketing has progressed and, arguably, has caught up to other industries, such as consumer package goods, that embraced the discipline much earlier. Today, it is at a level of sophistication that was unthinkable when the first Vice Presidents of Marketing accepted their new corporate positions within growing hospitality entities back in the 1970s.

Public relations, a vital component of hospitality marketing, has seen dramatic growth as well, both in approach and in practice. Thirty years ago, it was all about publicity - sometimes for publicity's sake. The phrase "there's no such thing as bad publicity" is an extreme example of this idea. The goal was primarily to create awareness and to inform. The word "branding" hadn't yet come into PR focus.

Today, while publicity remains at the heart of most hospitality public relations efforts -- whether on a corporate or unit level - it is approached in the context of a broader marketing initiative...and branding is key. For the sake of image, business building and efficiency, it is targeted to a specific audience and it seeks not just to inform, but to engage the prospect in a relationship - one that will have long-lasting benefit for both the constituent and the client.

Over the years, we found our public relations efforts becoming increasingly tied to our clients' overall marketing objectives. Publicity efforts, in particular, became aligned with clients' specific brand-building objectives. The PR conversation gradually took on a larger role, working hand-in-glove with (and in some cases, supplanting) traditional advertising as an effective tool for reaching constituencies of all kinds.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.