Six Ways to Tell a Story About Your Hotel
By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | March 20, 2016
Most of us have a favorite teacher from our school days. You know the kind. He or she was the one who made the subject come alive. Who made you feel like you really wanted to come to class. To study. To learn. To remember. For me, it was the American history teacher that I had in my junior year in high school. Mr. Waltz. He would come bounding into the room, sometimes wearing a hat, cape, or shoes from the period. He would exaggerate his gestures. He would stroll around the room, sit on an old wooden stool that he kept in the corner, bend, twirl, or hunch down to the floor. And was even known to jump up on the desk a.k.a. Mr. Keating in Dead Poet's Society. His voice would range from a high pitched imitation of a Jane Adams to a deep drawl of Danial Boone.
He made the words in the text book breathe. They became not historical facts, but historical stories. And he immersed us into them. More importantly, he sold the subject to us and we bought it.
Isn't that exactly what we want for our hotel? To tell our brand's story so that our target market is sold and then buys. But the question I always get from managers is: Do stories create the brand or does the brand create the stories? Or is it a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? The jury is still out on that.
Storytelling is an ancient art. Cavemen drew stick figures on the walls of their caves. Monks spent countless hours copying manuscripts onto parchments. Like many cultures, Native Americans told stories as a way to pass down their customs, history and heritage. Fast forward to today. Storytelling has never been as hotter. Never mind Disney, Netflix, or TNT. Think about business - your hotel business. And think about your hotel's story and how you can most effectively tell it.
No matter how hot storytelling is in brand marketing and building, it is often misunderstood. One of the world's greatest brand storyteller, Guido Everaert, reminds us that good brand storytelling is not about the language, it is about creating and telling stories in a compelling way. (The operative word is compelling.) It is about finding the right metaphors, and structure in which to tell your story. It's about hitting a hot button in the hearts and minds of the target markets. By doing so, you create a part of life and generate a story that is unique to your brand and, more importantly, can easily be readily remembered. In other words, the story has to be relevant to consumers and move them to act. (Here, the operative phrase is move them to act.)
There are countless books and articles about how to interject life into your brand story. While each has its own approach, there are several common threads that run through the. I'll call them the Storied Six.
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