Hotel Public Relations: Rethinking Outdated Media Tactics

By Jennifer Nagy President, jlnpr | October 09, 2011

When most people think about the public relations profession, they think of two things: spin and propaganda. Sometimes, people will even go so far as to think that public relations professionals are nothing more than paid mouthpieces with questionable morality. Being a PR person, I definitely object to this incorrect portrayal of my beloved career choice. With that being said, I definitely understand where people get this misconception.

The first PR people, like the ‘Father of Spin’ Edward Bernays, used much different tools than the ones that I employ every day in promoting and publicizing my clients. In the early years of PR, propaganda – defined by Edward Bernays as “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” - was a commonly used tool. In the past, publicists were viewed as deceptive manipulators, whereas today, PR people are embraced by journalists as a credible, trustworthy source of information.

This change in perception has been greatly influenced by the continual update of the beliefs, actions and strategies used by professionals in the field. As such, it’s important for the industry to continue moving forward as the world of media and technology changes, updating yesterday’s strategies and tactics to ensure that we, as an industry, are most effective at spreading the word for our clients, our companies or our brands.

So to help you to update your PR strategies, here are three ways that you can rethink your outdated hotel marketing and media strategies and become more effective at generating consumer interest and inspiring action (i.e. bookings!).

Outdated tactic: The press release

I know that you’re probably reading this wondering: “What? But the press release is the basic tool in every PR person’s arsenal. Without the press release, how am I going to inform media about my property’s news?”

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.