Where Does Traditional Media Fit in the Marketing Plan of a 21st Century Hotel?

By Babs S. Harrison Managing Director, Babs Harrison & Partners | February 10, 2019

It's 2019 and of course you know that social media rule in resort and hotel marketing but then there is the secret known by the smartest properties who are using strategic traditional media to help fuel and direct the social media outputs. Think of it as powdered sugar sprinkled on top of chocolate ganache (and isn't that yummy and visually captivating). What's old is new again and it also has tremendous power precisely because so few still get that these tools deliver extraordinary results when pursued by adept practitioners who understand the media and their needs. 

Right now every hotel marketer is seeking to optimize presence on social media (last year Facebook, this year Instagram) and many are pursuing influencer relationships. All to the good but, listen up, traditional media just may be the OG influencers, the originals, because back in the pre-Internet era where did travelers look for, say, advice on restaurants? In the leading newspapers and some city magazines because there they had good, informed journalists covering the food scene. 

And who hasn't flipped through the deliciously rich New York Times Sunday travel section in search of ideas about where to go next? The big newspapers and a dozen or two magazines and websites are where many of us turn when we want information, advice, suggestions on where to travel and what to do when we get there. 

Where do you think Facebook posters, bloggers, influencers get their big ideas from? Traditional media is the right answer. Just look at how many Facebook posts are links to stories in mainstream media outlets. Ditto for Tweets. Both channels now are major sources of readers for the best outlets and that also is why those outlets encourage their reporters and contributors to maintain active presences on the key social outlets. 

Social and legacy media have an undeniable symbiotic relationship, they play off each other, to mutual benefit. 

While we are at this, who doesn't pay attention to a sprinkling of the admittedly too many "world's best" lists focused on hotels, resorts, and spas? I have worked with a number of clients named world's best in major publication lists and, I assure you, such an honor is a cause for celebration because being named as such wins notice from potential guests, past guests (who may decide on a return visit), and also - crucially - travel agents. We all may sniff at some "best" lists - not all are prestigious - but some carry enormous prestige and weight. Making one of those is a PR home run and smart PR people know the steps to take to optimize chances of selection. 

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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.