Seize the Culinary Craze With a Strong PR Push

By Lorraine Abelow Founder & President, Abelow PR | July 31, 2016

Food has become a magnetic force that steers people's travels and often dictates what hotel they choose. So, it is vital to get the word out through traditional and social media about your hotel's offerings. With the exploding culinary craze, travelers are making decisions on what destinations to visit based on the cuisine they see covered in the media. Preferences, such as farm-to-table, locally sourced produce, and the innovative creations of chefs, are what your property should be publicizing through feature stories in important media outlets and social media channels. It is more critical than ever to publicize the cuisine at your hotel to reach the burgeoning "foodies" market.

Your goal should be to generate media coverage in such vital outlets as Saveur, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetit. The New York Times and The Wall Street journal also cover cuisine. Use these publications to show future guests how your hotel can tantalize their appetites for new culinary experiences. Emphasize your use of regional ingredients and show visuals of the local markets they can explore. In both magazines and social media, images are paramount to entice food enthusiasts so make sure you have a comprehensive image bank.

While dining has always been a highlight of people's vacations, getaways, and business trips, it has taken on a new life in the past few years. According to the American Culinary Traveler, "The percentage of U.S. leisure travelers who travel to learn about unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013." It's obvious to everyone in the industry that this is an important market to go after. With this knowledge in mind, hotels should focus energy on reaching the foodie market using a strong public relations campaign that is guaranteed to bring a new wave of reservations.

Images Speak Volumes

Stunning pictures and videos are the most influential way to grab the attention of future guests. You have to make your enticing menu items and juicy produce come alive through images. While for Instagram, someone who's adept with their phone can take artful pictures, a professional photographer who can produce high resolution images is necessary for such sought after publications as Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast. Post frequently and with variety to your social media pages.

We have found that Instagram is the most valuable tool to use to convey messages on the topic of cuisine. It is a platform that moves at lightning speed. Brands of all kinds and every day consumers are constantly posting, which is why your hotel should invest time in creating a social media strategy here. Images of your executive chef's latest creations and fresh ingredients growing on your property or found in your local market are sure to make an impression when someone is deciding where to stay. On a daily basis, maintain your social media pages and make sure you use short, punchy, and compelling text.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.