Hotel Public Relations: Your Fifteen Minutes

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | October 28, 2008

The power of a well-executed public relations plan can go a long way in promoting your brand, telling people what you are doing, and ultimately driving business to your hotel, all with more credibility than advertising and at a fraction of the cost. Building a relationship with your public relations team will allow you to be successful in these goals and bring you the fifteen minutes - and more - that your hotel deserves.

What is public relations? Most immediately associate it with media relations, working with journalists to secure coverage about your hotel, a significant part of any public relations plan. On a greater scale, public relations encompasses all of your "publics," including new and repeat guests, employees, media, community and vendors.

The power that a solid public relations plan holds comes through integrating a consistent message for all of these publics, especially on a long-term basis. The power also comes from the inherent credibility that public relations, especially media relations, has. Traditional advertising brings results from only that publication, and everyone is clear you paid for it. With public relations and media coverage, there is more crossover; oftentimes a story appearing in print will then be broadcast or shared with sister publications and outlets, resulting in significantly more coverage and more time in the spotlight. In addition, since media is not typically perceived as trying to sell something, they are a more trusted source, which in turn provides more credibility when it comes to making buying decisions.

How can a public relations team help represent your hotel?

Are you ready for the spotlight? When is the right time or the wrong time to launch a public relations campaign? Oftentimes, clients will complain their PR team is not getting the results they want. Alternatively, the biggest complaint public relations teams have is that help is offered to the client, but then there aren't any differentiating factors about the hotel or 'news' to share with the media, or the client is not available. Before your PR team can pitch the media on news about your hotel, you need to be prepared. Is your message clear? (Some companies spend more than two years getting the message perfected before presenting it to all their publics. For instance, when I launched to cabaret at the legendary Russian Tea Room in New York City, we took almost a year to create all of the program's elements before we went live). What are the elements that make you shine above the rest? Has your property recently been renovated? Is your staff ready? Do the services and amenities you offer stand out for the level of your hotel? Would you be proud to invite media to your hotel? Inviting media to your property is like inviting a critic to a play. You want to be certain the script is well written, the sets are complete and the cast and crew are ready for the performance. Public relations teams are wasting your money if you're not enthusiastically taking the steps to both prepare for the coverage. You must be involved in the process!

How do you manage your public relations team?

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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.