The Real Effects of Good PR: Q&A with Three Leading Hoteliers

By Lanny Grossman President, EM50 Communications | July 24, 2010

When words like "recession" and "economic downturn" punctuate the daily news, companies across industries begin to look for ways of cutting costs and reigning in expenses. In the hotel industry, that is particularly true as properties already battle ongoing challenges like seasonality and are generally more susceptible overall to negative effects from an economic decline. Business travel slows down, events are canceled, and weddings are made smaller. One thing is certain; the hotel industry feels a significant amount of the brunt when the economy tumbles.

As hoteliers look to make cuts, first it will usually be a 'trimming of the fat' i.e. replacing floral arrangements every other week instead of every week. But when it really comes down to saving significant dollars, many wrongly jump the gun to pull back on what they refer to as "ancillary" services – such as PR & Marketing. Although it can be an immediate, clear reduction in expenses, it is the opposite of what should happen. It is similar to chopping off one's leg to lose weight prior to running a marathon. PR is the mechanism that builds awareness, communicates a property's message and subsequently drives business to a property. It is something that should be increased during challenging times.

That said, to really look at the value of PR and the effects that its efforts can truly have on a hotel's bottom line, I asked three industry insiders about their belief in (and faith of) the timeless art of Public Relations. Below are answers from: Ed Donaldson, Senior Vice President for JG Blackbook of Travel, a hotel sales and marketing company based in New York with properties across the globe; David Morgan-Hewitt, the Managing Director of the 100-year old, family owned Goring Hotel in London and Ilan Segal, Managing Partner of Tcherassi Hotels, a luxury boutique hotel brand in Latin America.

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Mr. Morgan-Hewitt

David Morgan-Hewitt, Managing Director The Goring Hotel; London

Have you always believed in the power of PR?

When I first came to London I worked in a PR company. I have always believed that good PR is invaluable. Advertising can help build a brand but it is PR that makes you want it. If you look at Calvin Klein underwear the ads are beautiful, the people exceptional but it's whose wearing it that makes you want to own it. Knowing that celebs and image-makers are wearing it makes you want to be part of the gang. It's the information that causes you to purchase as much as, if not more than, the images.

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