Overview: Effective Public Relations For Your Hotel

By Doug Luciani Chief Associate, PRofit from PR - Public Relations & Marketing | May 06, 2010

Regardless of the size of your property or business, you can benefit from PR. Public Relations is perhaps one of the most misunderstood marketing disciplines. It is also perhaps, one of the most under utilized. Forget what you have seen on television or the movies. It's not about spin. It's not about a cover up. It's not about lying. Public Relations IS about building relationships with the key bottom line your balance sheet - your customers. It is about generating business and revenue. It involves supplying factual, interesting and newsworthy information to the media (local, national and international), communicating with customers/clients, and employees. It's a commitment to the community through participation in activities that support important local groups and their causes.

Public relations is an important component of any integrated marketing campaign. Dollars spent on advertising can only go so far. Effective public relations strategies and tactics can help spread your message to an even wider audience. PR also helps establish name recognition and brand awareness opening the door for your sales team to sell a recognized product.

How effective is PR? In December 2004, Visit Florida, the state of Florida's official tourism promotion corporation, conducted research to determine what influenced travelers the most to plan a trip to the Sunshine State. Word of mouth was by far the greatest influence at 71 percent. That was followed by their official web site at 60 percent. The third highest influence, travel articles at 49 percent. Travel articles that are the result of effective public relations efforts. Advertising and travel agents only received 27 and 26 percent respectively.

I don't think Visit Florida's research would indicate that advertising is not an effective marketing tool. But, I do think it reinforces the value and the influence public relations has with audiences. Is PR more effective than advertising? That's another debate and we don't have enough time to cover that here. I do think it is safe to say that an integrated effort involving both is more effective than either one separately.

It's important to first establish what public relations is and what it can do for you. One of the greatest values of public relations is its ability to create third-person endorsements to:

Because it is often misunderstood, it is also important to understand that public relations is different from advertising. Here are just a few ways in which PR is different:

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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.