Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

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.

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This month's feature articles...

Janet Gerhard

Curiosity has been defined as the "disposition to inquire, investigate or seek after knowledge; a desire to gratify the mind with new information or objects of interest; inquisitiveness." It is our position that trait curiosity is critical to the new reality of continual innovation and has an increasingly important role in business success. While there are many environmental factors inside organizations that nurture or suppress an individual's curiosity, very little has been done to help hiring managers identify curious people. Moreover, we see little evidence organizations have done anything to improve curiosity levels across the business. That is until NOW…we've closed this gap and hotels that can effectively foster curiosity in their employees (and guests) will have the competitive advantage. READ MORE

Margaret Rogers

Why do you travel? For the majority of people, a hotel is simply a place to sleep and keep their valuables while they explore new and exciting locations and activities. With the (possible) exception of a few ultraluxe all-inclusive resorts, nobody travels somewhere just for a hotel. They travel for the immersive experiences they'll have. A report by Google noted that 82% of leisure travelers don't consider choosing an accommodation provider when they first start thinking about a trip. This might strike many hoteliers as a harsh reality, but savvy industry pros will see it as an opportunity. Understanding a hotel's role in creating a guest's overall travel experience is the first step in delivering tangible value. READ MORE

Michael McCartan

Looking back over the history of hospitality and the evolution of hotel operations, it's fair to say revenue management is a relatively new discipline. After all, it wasn't so long ago that hotels changed their rates just for weekends and peak season. But times have changed, and today's revenue managers are no longer operating in a silo, stuck in the basement office. Today, it's more important than ever for hotel operators to install a holistic, coordinated strategy where revenue, marketing and sales teams are working together to build and sell a hotel's story. READ MORE

David Allison

Much has been written and said about hotels becoming more focused on the customer experience. And in fact, this is not unique to the hotel sector. Creating unique customer experiences is one of a handful of topics that seem to be presented as a kind of panacea for fixing whatever we think might be wrong with whichever industry we might be thinking about at the moment. But is customer experience all it's cracked up to be? Is getting the experience right the right answer? David Allison from Valuegraphics reveals some truths behind the importance of customer experience, and some surprising facts. READ MORE

Bobby Martyna

Hotel brand designers, developers and owner/operators focus attention on the guest experience throughout the hotel – everything is directed toward creating a delightful and memorable guest experience. One often overlooked area is the lobby food experience – whether at the bar, fast casual restaurant or retail store. With the increasing focus on social and communal aspects and occasions of the guest stay, food is becoming a center point. When the lobby includes food merchandising and is thoughtfully integrated into the hotel and lobby experience it becomes is a surprisingly meaningful contributor to memorable guest stays and return visits. READ MORE

Court Williams

Hotel sales and marketing have evolved vastly in recent years, mainly as a result of technological advancements. With the proliferation of new brands leading to stiffer industry competition, hotels are increasingly adding technology to their marketing strategies in an effort to stay abreast. Social media, big data, online reviews, video advertising and the use of mobile devices are all instrumental in constantly shifting the goal posts. Technology is also impacting hotel staffing and operations, but brands have little choice but to implement new systems as fast as they can. This doesn't necessarily translate into a decreased human touch, but rather into creating a new way of using technology to personalize connections with current and potential guests. READ MORE

Kim Butler

In today's crowded marketing landscape, it is easy to overlook everyday interactions and not view them as opportunities for marketing. The mutually beneficial relationships you build with industry, business and community associates can be a profitable endeavor that generates goodwill and fills rooms. It's time to bring these traditional cross-promotional partnerships back to the forefront of our marketing strategies. The three key types of partnerships for lasting success- industry, business, and community partnerships- should be at the center of your marketing plan. By engaging and supporting your partners, you too can bring in additional guests and affect your bottom line. READ MORE

Mary Gendron

The plethora of hotel brands and sub-brands, combined with a proliferation of independent properties, challenges hoteliers to effectively reach target audiences. This article suggests ways to identify and connect with guests on a personal level, transforming them not only into customers but brand ambassadors. Offering singular, signature experiences based in a philosophy that positions the hotel as a true friend captures the imagination of travelers, drawing them in, and bringing them back again and again. Based on nine scientifically proven drivers of friendship, this article provides examples of hotels that are doing it right, serving as an inspiration to others. READ MORE

Susan Tinnish

Potential guests are seeking "experiences" when they consider upcoming travel. When travelers are researching, they hunt for an inspiring experience which aligns with their personal interests and desires. As a result, marketing efforts need to be pitched accordingly and content marketing is the ideal way to appeal to potential guests and existing customers. Content marketing is the creation, publication, and distribution of unique content to a target audience to drive new traffic and create loyal, sticky customers. Using a case study approach, authors Tinnish and Mangal explore how hoteliers can customize content marketing to achieve their goals of creating a differentiated, unique customer experience. READ MORE

Allison Handy

With successful hotel properties increasingly emphasizing activities, experiences, and memory-making moments, the industry is in the midst of a correspondingly profound shift in the kinds of imagery it produces, distributes and leverages. More hoteliers are moving beyond the cold guest room photo and embracing a new generation of dynamic visual content. There is a vast and growing universe of compelling alternatives to the sterile empty-room photos of the past. Hotels are using lifestyle images, event photography, and video footage to create and share more animated, engaging and relatable content that will resonate with viewers and ultimately lead to more conversions. READ MORE

Todd Beechey

Twenty-first century selling means reaching your target audience in a way they like to consume information. OceanScape Yachts produces its own podcasts as a way to tell the story about yachting. Through interviews with different guest touch points including captains, crew, chefs, and more, we share conversations about different facets of the experience in a fun, informative, storytelling style. This same technique can be applied to hotels with podcasts on producing a flawless wedding experience from the perspective of the catering manager and even the bride and groom to chats with meeting planners about how your hotel solved a unique meeting challenge. READ MORE

Clifford Ferrara

The hospitality business has long been about personal attention and human interaction. But new tools and technologies-and new demographic priorities and practices-either ignore or place less of an emphasis on facetime and personal engagement. Hoteliers are wrestling with the troubling irony that, even as technical marvels and new digital dimensions open thrilling new frontiers, we are unwittingly closing doors that must remain open if we want to get the most out of our properties and personnel. In other words: even as we become more connected, we are drifting apart in fundamental ways-and members of your sales team may not be making the most of their opportunities. READ MORE

John Yeadon

There is a widely recognized theory that change is the only constant in life. In its simplest form, this philosophy impacts every facet of our reality from relationships to career progression to new technology. While it's an easy enough concept to grasp, a much smaller population actually feels comfortable adapting and using change as a tool to propel them forward. In this article I will share with you a process I've developed to help navigate change and use it to impact your mental state and those around you for the better. READ MORE

Janelle Schwartz

With consumers increasingly eager to amass interesting, diverse and unusual experiences when they travel, hotels are equally eager to be of assistance. They rightly view it as another way of providing value and, by extension, helping ensure repeat business. Upscale and luxury hotels have teams of concierges on staff to assist guests in this regard, while limited and select-service hotels have no such resource at hand. Consequently, they end up leaning on ever-resourceful guest services managers and even front desk agents to get the job done, matching guests with the right recommendations and then providing reservations as needed and directions. READ MORE

Kristen Pryor

While hotels ultimately strive to be an inviting place where people can relax and recharge while traveling, many hotels & resorts have embarked on a new mission: becoming ambassadors to help to educate visitors about their unique location and the interesting people who live there. Every destination has a story to tell. And we're all in the business of creating and sharing "experiences" these days. Establishing partnerships with key local community organizations can nurture unique guests moments, build buzz through traditional media outlets, provide exciting new content for social media and ultimately result in brand loyalty. READ MORE

Henry Woodman

Every year, hoteliers and hotel groups evaluate where their bookings come from, and more importantly, which channels are most profitable. This is no easy task, and there are pros and cons associated with many of the hotels options. In this article, we will take a look at the battlefield of OTA vs. direct bookings. Does it make sense for the hoteliers, and if so, when would it make sense, and what are some of the things that hoteliers can do to optimize the value they would see from the OTAs. READ MORE

Coming up in March 1970...