Five Non-traditional Ways of Getting Your Hotel Exposure

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

Whatever happened to just having a good product, excellent service and an interesting history in order to get great media exposure? The simple answer is increased competition in a crowded travel landscape and the everyday shrinking of the travel media. With travel pages disappearing and newspapers and magazines folding by the day, there are far fewer places to secure coverage so hotels have to fight amongst themselves for those coveted column inches. In the following several paragraphs, I will outline innovative, smart and non-traditional approaches to getting your hotel more exposure.

PR-able ideas:

There are two main reasons to create packages or promotions: to get media attention and/or to actually drive reservations. If they do both, that's terrific but for the purposes of this topic we will focus on the first one. Every hotel from the smallest to the largest, whether a city center property or a remote island retreat, offers simple packages and promotions such as bed and breakfast or a romantic package with accommodations and a bottle of champagne. Those things may get booked from time to time, but they are not going to get you press. The two types of packages that get picked up by the media either have terrific value and are rate driven (the media loves guest savings) or it is an out of the box, exciting idea or experience that it is worth mentioning. Find aspects of your local surroundings and/or property that can be incorporated. Instead of the simple champagne and strawberries romance package, organize a couples' chocolate tasting with a local vendor or your own pastry chef. With advance notice, order a custom label bottle of wine for the couple marking their special occasion. On the value side of things, use your local resources to increase the value to the guest. Approach a local vendor about gifting something to guests as a way to increase exposure for their store or service. For example, a local restaurant or clothing store can contribute a gift card to each guest to get them in the door while providing value to the package price in advance. Very simply, whenever you are creating a package or a promotion, ask yourself, would I want to read about this? Is it interesting and unique?

Alternative Outlets:

In the era of disappearing traditional media, we are forced to look outside the historically targeted media outlets like daily newspapers and glossy travel magazines. Most properties these days want to attract guests to book directly to their proprietary website to avoid paying outside fees and commissions to third party distribution companies. These efforts target Internet-using guests in an online world. So, in that respect, seek out travel blogs and websites that reach your desired end user. There area a growing number of blogs, daily lifestyle emails and websites that feature travel content on a daily basis. With new content needed daily, or maybe even weekly, there is a much greater opportunity to have your share of the pie. The bloggers or web editors need your content as much as you need their help reaching your target audience who can click on a link directly from the editorial site to your homepage. The clippings may not be as fancy and bragging rights may shrink a bit, but online outlets and alternative blogs are a great tool to reach your core customer in a timely fashion.

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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.