Getting Media Coverage Beyond the Travel Pages

By Doug Luciani Chief Associate, PRofit from PR - Public Relations & Marketing | October 28, 2008

For hotels, as with any business, getting positive coverage in the news media is a great marketing tool. Getting this coverage is not easy and takes regular on-going media relations efforts. Information abounds on how to go about doing this. However, the perception is often these tactics and strategies only work with media that cover travel, such as travel writers and travel magazines. But, if your media relations efforts start and end with travel writers you are missing countless opportunities to generate positive exposure and publicity for your property.

For the hospitality industry, it makes sense to target and seek media coverage in the travel section of newspapers and magazines of all sorts, including family magazines, women's magazines, sports magazines, and more. This certainly should be a priority for any hospitality media campaign. With this type of diversity, hotels can reach many target audiences.

There are more ways to generate exposure for your property than just the travel pages. The key is to understand the media and look for new story ideas and then pitch the appropriate publications. To come up with new story ideas for your hotel or resort, just step back and take a look at everything you have to offer. Your property offers more than beds and packages. Consider restaurants, kids programs, spas, and recreation programs as the basis for a story other than travel. When looking at newspapers and magazines, consider how your property might be appropriate for the food section, lifestyles section, even the sports pages.

Let's start with the food and beverage angle. If your property has a restaurant, it's an easy story to develop and pitch to the press. There is, of course, the local angle by pitching your restaurant to the food writer at the local newspaper or regional magazine. Invite them to experience your restaurant and meet with the chef. The F&B angle has more reach than just the local coverage. There are numerous culinary magazines across the country, and the world for that matter. Pitch story ideas about unique menu items or unique ingredients that your chef may use because they are specific to the region. In fact, many chefs make a great feature story because of their skills and experiences. Finally, submitting a unique recipe from your hotel's kitchen and chef presents an excellent opportunity for exposure.

The many amenities and recreation programs offered by a property can also be culled for story ideas and publicity opportunities. Do you have a kids or teen program? If so, you've probably pitched the travel writer at family magazines about your program. But, there is more to the story, so to speak. What kind of activities does your program offer and can these be replicated by families at home? For example, pitch an art project that the magazine can publish as something parents can do with their kids while home for summer vacation. The exposure of the activity, coming straight from the kids program at your resort, opens up a new avenue of exposure. It might even lead to the travel writer returning to you for another travel story, getting you back into the travel section.

This doesn't just apply to family magazines. Newspaper's have lifestyle and feature sections or parenting sections where this information can be of value to the writer and their readers.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.