Fact: 200 million people now use ad blockers, and those who don’t have tuned out advertising in general. Think about it: when was the last time you noticed those ads on the side of the page as you scrolled through a website?
These days, it’s difficult to succeed in getting your product notice by relying on paid ads alone. But, what if you can get people to come to you? That’s what good content marketing can do.
Hotel content marketing is the way of the future for hotels looking to get noticed. It costs 62% less to produce than outbound marketing and generates three times as many leads, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Many hotel managers, however, may not even be aware of what content marketing is, let alone know how to make it work for them. They’re in the business of managing hotels, not writing and producing content.
Don’t worry. Everyone has a story to tell and the ability to connect with an audience—hoteliers included. There’s a myriad of ways to approach content marketing; what’s important is tailoring your approach to fit your organization.
Rather than take you through Hotel Content Marketing 101, I’m going to show you four campaigns that were well-received by hotel guests paired with key takeaways to kick-start idea generation for your own hotel.
1. Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal, “La Valise”
La Valise Marketing Film (2012)
Strategy: A short film
This four-star, four-diamond independent boutique hotel in Montreal really went the extra mile when they developed a video to celebrate the hotel’s 10th anniversary in 2012: they created a 15-minute artistic film titled “La Valise” (The Suitcase).
It’s a pretty incredible idea, when you think about it. It entertains the audience while creating an aura of romanticism that is useful for boutique hotels trying to sell their more intimate, personalized brand of luxury as superior to the experience of staying at a glitzy big brand hotel.
Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal’s management took a gamble: they allocated 30% of their annual marketing budget to producing a film about “obsession, ambition, and beauty,” meaning they’d have to give up portions of their traditional marketing programs in the meantime.
The film was a tremendous success for the hotel, earning it a lot of publicity after it was named the “Best Marketing Campaign” by the Worldwide Hospitality Awards. The video has been viewed more than 15,000 times.
Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal’s success shows that sometimes in order to win big in content marketing, you’ve got to be willing to take a bold risk. Content marketing is about knowing who your audience is and creating content that speaks to them. In this case, a story of romance and intrigue centered around the hotel spoke to guests seeking adventure.
How to use this strategy
Use an unexpected medium: Gather your employees for a brainstorming session about what type of story you can tell about your hotel, and what unexpected medium you could use to convey it.
If you’ve got a marketing budget with unallocated funds, great! But, even if you don’t have much to spend on marketing, you can adapt this idea to other formats. Think shorter videos, such as 360-degree panoramas of your best rooms paired with a written story.
2. Loews Hotels, #TravelForReal
An example of a guest-created photo you could take advantage of (via Carlos Pacheco)
Strategy: Direct connection with your guests
Why not let your guests do the content creation for you? That’s the approach Loews Hotels took by showcasing on-location experiences using Instagram pictures taken by their guests. Your cost-savings come from opting out of hiring a professional photographer to take stylized shots of guests in hotel spaces.
If you check out Loews Hotels’ #TravelForReal campaign by searching the hashtag on Instagram, you’ll notice something unique that you won’t find on a hotel website: guest perspective. Loews Hotels reached out directly to their guests, asking them to share their hotel experiences on social media. The campaign was a success: the hashtag was used in 6,500 posts across all channels.
By selecting and featuring guest-captured experiences, you benefit from a customer focus on something that may entirely differ from what you thought was important. You’ll also foster a general feeling of authenticity and make your guests feel as though they’re getting a real picture of what you can bring to their travel experience.
How to use this strategy
Ask your guests for help: Your guests are probably already sharing their experiences on social media. Loews saw this happening and began sorting through tagged photos to find those they felt best represented their brand. They then reached out to the poster for permission to include the photo in their #TravelForReal campaign.
Search social media for photos taken at your hotel; it’s likely that a portion of your guests have tagged you in past photos. Then, build your own hashtag campaign using selected photos after obtaining guest permission to repost.
You can directly solicit guest photos via your website or signs throughout your hotel; be sure to clearly list your hotel’s social media handles and the campaign hashtag.
3. Morgans Hotel Group, “Back of the House”
“Back of the House” Home Page Screenshot
Strategy: Connect with clientele through a niche blog
In this vein, Morgans Hotel Group created the “Back of the House” blog, which profiles people involved in the arts world. They also invite prominent fashion bloggers to stay on their properties for free, who may then give a shout-out to the hotel on their blog or social media.
Morgans’ goal is to connect with its targeted consumer audience by adding value outside of a night’s stay, equating their hotel brand with quality, arts-focused content. By appealing to this particular niche, the group is attempting to increase their brand awareness among the type of guests they hope to attract.
How to use this strategy
Figure out who your guests are: Sit down with your concierge, front desk manager, or anyone other staff members who frequently interact with guests to create a detailed profile of your desired customers.
What is their profession? What are their age and income demographics? What about hobbies and interests? If you find that you lack most of this information, consider surveying your guests using hotel management software with guest experience management features.
Once you have a comprehensive profile, create a blog with a narrow focus and publish quality content that appeals to the specific tastes you’ve carefully defined.
4. Doubletree by Hilton, “Little Things Project”
DoubleTree Little Things Project Logo
Strategy: Inviting feedback
Doubletree by Hilton asked customers what “little things” would make their hotel stays better, and received thousands of responses ranging from free Wi-Fi requests to guests just looking for some chocolate chip cookies. Often, hotel managers review and file suggestions away, ultimately using them to create a better hotel experience. That’s not what Doubletree did. The brand spent a year traveling around the U.S. to give individual customers the “little things” listed in their survey responses, and followed up with an email marketing campaign—including images and video—and sweepstakes that led to thousands of new loyalty members.
How to use this strategy
Get your guests involved: On a set schedule—weekly or biweekly—choose one or more guests to interview and highlight (with their permission). Before they check in, as guests—selected through surveys completed during booking or randomly pulled from your pool of guests—to identify small acts your staff can take to make their stay more comfortable, and pull out all the stops to make it happen. Capture their reactions on video or in photos, and feature them on your blog or website.
This content will resonate with potential guests who are searching the internet to determine the level of guest care and focus you bring to the table.
Have you run a successful content marketing campaign?
Conceptual content marketing strategies are useful, but nothing beats hearing a real-life success story. Have you pulled off a successful content marketing campaign? What was your idea, and how did you put it into practice? What about something innovative you’ve seen another hotel do? Share in the comments below!