Five Powerful Practices in Hotel Media Outreach

By Lanny Grossman President, EM50 Communications | April 01, 2010

The competition is fierce. New hotels open each day, older ones undergo renovations and everyone in the middle is vying for the attention of the media as well. Whether a small boutique hotel, large chain hotel, far off country estate or a city center business hotel, one thing remains true across the board. In order to garner the desired media attention, you need a story.

There are said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,000 hotels worldwide. In major cities like New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris there are in excess of 50 "luxury" hotels per city alone. If you divide the number of total luxury hotels by the number of available editorial travel pages each month, they, to no surprise, do not match. Hence, the importance of effective media outreach and most importantly, the need to differentiate one's property with an intriguing story. An existing hotel with nice clean rooms, room service and maybe even a spa, is not press worthy by itself. There are plenty of nice hotels with clean rooms and good service. After all, that is the general idea of the hotel industry to begin with. What is new? What is different? How is what you are doing relevant to today's traveler?

Create A Unique Guest Experience

Over the last several years, guests have become more sophisticated, more discerning and have an increasing number of hospitality choices at all levels. In choosing a hotel and / or a destination, there are now more criteria and requirements that are taken into consideration during a traveler's search. Guests are concerned with the overall experience and how it matches either who they are, or quite often, who they want to be. The unique guest experience is not only going to attract the end consumer but it will generate the appropriate media in order to get the guests there in the first place. As such, hotels must identify one or a few attributes that are representative of the property and hang their proverbial hat on them. For example, there is a small hotel in Mexico where the staff comes from the local village. The chef is an older local woman who makes homemade guacamole at every meal with locally grown ingredients. Guests always seem delighted by the snack as it is representative of their location. Although that's nice and rewarding for guests, it is not good enough for a story or memorable guest experience unto itself. To take it a step further, the chef provides guests private classes on how to make the perfect guacamole themselves so they can replicate the experience at home. Those guests are not going to go home and talk about lying on the beach. They are going to brag about learning how to make guacamole from a local Mexican chef at the hotel. That experience, can now be 'sold' to the media as a trend and unique guest experience worthy of coverage; the idea of 'authentic, indigenous culinary education.'

It's All About Value

In addition to the Unique Guest Experience stories, the media, particularly during the current economic uncertainty, is very interested and focused on 'value' and/or 'deals.' Most daily newspapers and now numerous online websites / blogs have weekly "Deal" columns or e-newsletters. Combine the unique guest experience offering with financial value and you have a winning combination for media worthiness. Hotels do not have to give it away free to offer value. The perceived value is equally as important. Be clever; use the amenities and offerings at your disposal. Even better, use those that have little or no cost to you but have value to the guest. For example, if you have a parking lot and normally charge $50 per night for parking, you can include parking in a package and immediately pass along a $50 cushion of value to the guest, all the while maintaining your revenue per room. A good rule of thumb for "deal" coverage is that the package or offer needs to represent a 20-30 percent savings compared to published retail prices. You can also use the deal or offer to drive business where you want or need it. For example, if Sunday night is the slowest night of the week, offer a weekend package where guests can stay for Sunday night at half off and enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine at dinner. It drives additional room revenue, food and beverage revenue, as well as gives the travel media something new to talk about. Remember, a combination of creativity and value gives you the best chances at coverage…and happy guests.

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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.