Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 January 2017

Three Trends That Will Rock Hotel Marketing in 2017

By Babs Harrison, Managing director of Phoenix based Babs Harrison and Partners

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The revolution continues. The driving forces in hotel and resort marketing continue to morph, as the search for a winning formula drives innovation, experimentation, and change. Right now three big arenas loom as the most exciting - and impactful - especially for hotel marketers at the higher price points.

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That's because the fight for guests at the four and five star is fierce and it is not getting any easier. Successful marketers know that their path to prosperity is paved with bright, new ideas.

Like what?

The embrace of visual storytelling in social media.

Admit it: many of your hotel's posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the other channels you may use are too frequently cringe-worthy. "Book your New Year's Eve table now. Don't be disappointed."

Let's hope your team did not post exactly that Tweet - maybe with a picture of a Happy New Year balloon.

Already, though, I have seen way too many such posts, just as I saw similar posts about Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner before it, and you get the drift.

If social media posts are advertisements - and plainly some think that is what they in fact are - these are failing ads that honestly will not do much more than bore and mildly annoy consumers.

It is time for a big re-think of what gets posted on social media and I have two words that will guide successful posts in 2017: visual storytelling.

Stop shouting. No one listens to carnival barkers, do they?

Start using clever - engaging - images to tell a story.

Open a best-selling cookbook and you will see images that pop out and tell a story. Nobody wants a static photo of a dish. What we want is an image that tells the story of this cook's take on the food and why it matters.

Think too of the kinds of images you'd see in National Geographic. Exactly that is what you want. These are images that may be stop action - but they also often explode with action.

What stories do your social media images tell?

You need to know if you hope to succeed in 2017 in social media because this will be the year where story is what triumphs.

Use video. Really up the visual storytelling by using more video in 2017. Smart hotels and resorts are doing exactly this.

 

Think short. Storyboard the video before shooting. Rehearse. And shoot again.

 

Don't stop with posting a photo of a new cocktail. Shoot a 60- to 90-second video where the bartender demonstrates how to make it, step by step.

 

Don't just show a hiking trail. Do a 90-second video where a hiker walks and talks and brings us into the action.

 

Keep pushing the bar higher. Does your property offer an indigenous wellness treatment administered by an elder? Great. Storyboard a 90-second video and make this come to life for guests.

 

Cellphone video will usually be adequate. Don't overcomplicate this. Most views will be on cellphones too - definitely not on big screen HD TVs.

 

Ask yourself: if a resort holiday, often, is filled with action - mountain biking, hikes, a painting class, some yoga - can it be adequately conveyed in still photos only?

 

Video ups the game and it is just the thing for posting on a property's website. Ditto on Facebook. Realtors tumbled to the power of video a decade ago. Many hoteliers have been slow to this party.

 

But that will change in 2017, as cutting edge resort marketers see the power of video in telling their story. Be one of them.

Earned media.

Many in hotel marketing have written off chasing coverage in traditional media, in the belief that social media can replace that.

 

This is wrong. The two complement each other and, in 2017, we will see more resorts and hotels renewing their efforts to garner earned media.

 

Getting good coverage isn't easy. Opportunities seem more slender than they had been. But that is also why the power of earned media becomes so plain.

 

It takes a plan. It takes effort. It takes a good story. It takes knowhow in smartly pursuing media.

 

Many in hospitality marketing just don't seem to get it and they also don't get much coverage that matters.

 

But those who do are delivering the ink that still dazzles hoteliers and guests alike.

 

Come up with a plan, execute it, and watch the pay-offs.

 

Rediscover traditional, earned media in 2017 and reap the benefits.

 

Right here you have three action steps that will transform your 2017 marketing. The new year is here. Get moving on your to-dos.

Babs Harrison

Babs Harrison is managing director of Phoenix based Babs Harrison and Partners, a boutique public relations/marketing consultancy for select luxury resorts, hotels, and spas. Harrison has 25 years of experience in hospitality and has worked with leading brands in the US and internationally .

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