Most hotels think of hotel public relations and marketing as afterthoughts. Advertising a hotel is a great first step, but in these days of both out-of-the box thinking and remarkable new ways to approach media, advertising alone won’t do it. A strong, strategic message that encompasses everything from social media to event planning, along with more traditional marketing/advertising such as direct mail, ensures that your hotel or chain will stand out from the crowd.
What is Hotel PR?
Hotel public relations includes a diverse set of activities, such as newsletters and traditional press relations, planning special events, creating trips for travel writers (so they will favorably cover your hotel), and online marketing including developing a social media presence, as well as some unexpected choices, such as community philanthropy.
PR is the unsung hero in the sales/marketing/branding world. Done right, it can establish your credibility with potential new clients, raise awareness of your brand, and cost you much less than traditional advertising. In fact, probably the most cost-effective method available to you is hotel public relations. Creating story seeds, or even full-blown stories, with the modern media means being featured in blogs, on web sites, and with aggregators, as well as in traditional print and online magazines, trade journals, and newspapers.
You’ve seen the hotels on the Vegas strip, each more gaudy than the last, or more elegant, or both. How do they stand out in a marketplace so crowded there is literally nothing else? They learn to differentiate themselves (the hook), to tell a story unlike the others (the theme) and to build relationships with the media and their clients (the network).
Hotel public relations starts by determining your PR strategies and allocating a budget. This will include distribution of traditional media releases (which these days include multimedia elements such as photography), developing special events, and creating opportunities to interact with and entertain reporters and travel writers. Skip the clipping service in favor of having your PR rep set up Google Alerts, and know that everything in this area of your business is changing faster than you can keep up. That’s where your PR expert will really earn their money.
Allocate staff to act as spokespersons to each hotel – a media rep – and start by outsourcing your PR. Hotel public relations must be done properly, by experts and not as an afterthought; you can always change your mind later and bring the position in-house, but the job will require someone who can speak to the media, write a strong well-worded press release with a headline that will make the phone ring, and who will bring existing media relationships to the table, thereby jump-starting your PR with no ramp-up time, which translates into dollars saved for you.
If you can give yourself a year’s window to see the results of your hotel public relations campaign, you’ll note an uptick in awareness and an ongoing strategic base you can draw your customers from, which should also translate into increased sales and perhaps also a welcome reduction in your advertising budget.
Stick with hotel PR and you will notice the long-term benefits of continued awareness and loyalty among customers who demand that they are not just advertised to, and appreciate the more subtle marketing of good PR.