Important Trends Transforming How Hotel Public Relations is Practiced Today

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

Trends born out of new technology - some unheard just months ago - are rapidly transforming how public relations is being practiced today. The sooner these can be acknowledged, examined and considered, the better equipped we will be to develop and maintain the optimum strategy for our organizations or our clients. And the better prepared we will be to anticipate and incorporate the next wave of innovation in our business.

When you think about it, early public relations tools consisted of the telephone, the typewriter and the handshake. These were the forerunners of the high-tech/high-touch approach that would follow in the latter part of the 20th Century. Public relations professionals - both in-house and agency -- would launch, nurture and grow their practices based on getting to know the press and their needs through a call or a face-to-face meeting.

Initial contacts made over the phone, a cup of coffee, or a cocktail could develop into long term relationships based on the journalist's respect and trust of the PR practitioner - earned, always, by providing him or her with timely, useful, and accurate information that the journalist viewed as newsworthy for readers or viewers.

The relationship that existed between public relations and editorial was a direct connection. The constituent (end-user, consumer, potential customer) was involved as the reader or viewer of any press coverage resulting from the exchange.

This time-honored practice, still in place today in hotels and public relations agencies, became enhanced by technology introduced in the 1980s and 1990s. The enhancements increased productivity as well as competition while speeding up the process of public relations from a brisk walk to a fast run.

As recently as the 1980s, widespread use of the personal computer, fax machine and affordable, reliable overnight courier services were added as new, useful tools which made communication with the press quicker and easier than ever. No longer did a personal letter need to be retyped over and over again to be mailed to each press contact. A basic letter could easily be personalized and an original printed, then sent out the door...or faxed...or couriered from coast to coast to arrive, with accompanying press materials, on an editor's desk the very next morning.

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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.