Creating Brand Relevancy Through Brand Bonding
By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Mower | 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.