The Real Marketing Challenge: Favoring Adventure Over 'Awareness'

By Dale Scott Marion Founder, SpareCash | November 09, 2014

The greatest marketing challenge for hoteliers is not, all print and TV promotions to the contrary, an issue of building "awareness."

From luxury brands and their respective catchphrases that emphasize wealth and exclusivity to a chain of roadside motels, their number-as-logo shining like a beacon to tired travelers and corporate journeymen throughout America's interstate highways, there is no confusion or ignorance about the many players within the hospitality industry.

Nor is there any ambiguity, in terms of marketing, of how to reach potential guests.

Simply approximate the weight and the grade of paper stock of that lifestyle or business publication before you. If the distance between the table of contents and the first article is a flip book of seemingly animated sports cars, undulating palm fronds, and sparkling platinum and diamond necklaces, bracelets and earrings; if this makeshift Mutoscope is also an olfactory experience, courtesy of Chanel, Joy and Christian Dior – and if, in this parade of decadence and "scented cinema," there is a full-page advertisement of a luxury hotelier's marquee property – then there is no problem about awareness.

But there is a marketing problem just the same because, in their effort to sell luxury or affordable adventure, these companies – regardless of their station across the pricing spectrum – fail to make marketing an adventure.

Yes, indeed, marketing is (or should be) an interactive adventure. Otherwise, all those dollars spent attempting to make this subject more "scientific" only prove the naysayers' point: That there is nothing scientific about a social science, except its predictable descent into "scientism," a distorted use of the tools and language of science on behalf of something immeasurable and inherently unscientific.

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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.