With several different hotel properties vying for the same customer, it’s now crucial for hospitality owners and managers to use a variety of hotel marketing efforts and social media to get more visibility. Getting potential guests to choose your hotel over others takes a varied marketing strategy, and adding a public relations (PR) plan can strengthen your efforts.
It’s no secret that people love to travel. In fact, in 2017 travel bookings reached close to $1.6 trillion and with healthy consumer spending, a rise in low-cost airlines, and a growing demand for corporate travel, that number is projected to grow even more. With a growing consumer demand and an ever-increasing amount of new hospitality trends – like the rise of Airbnb and the shared accommodations market – the hotel industry is the most competitive it’s ever been.
Gaining visibility in the hospitality market means getting creative, and most hoteliers turn to social media, advertising, and digital marketing campaigns to promote their property. However, even if you run a small independent property and do all of your hotel marketing in-house, adding a solid PR plan to your strategy can prove to be extremely beneficial and get you more visibility than your competitors.
While other marketing strategies are often built around getting the word out about you and your brand, a public relations strategy aims to maintain a positive reputation for a business or a brand experience as a whole. Thus, the tactics used in a PR strategy will vary from a hotel marketing plan. Some examples of different PR strategies in hospitality industry include:
News coverage – Is your property hosting a community event or celebrating the opening of a new on-site bar? A timely event or story that would be significant to a large number of people could be particularly attractive to local news stations and newspapers, especially if the topic is relevant to the local community or includes a human-interest aspect. Positive, newsworthy stories will help your brand connect with your target audience.
Speaking spots – Securing speaking spots at hospitality conferences or relevant podcasts that cater to your target market is a great way to create brand awareness and establish you and your hotel as thought leaders in the industry. See if there are any trade shows or events happening near you or that you’re willing to travel to and participate in. Speaking spots can also create excellent networking opportunities.
Apply for awards – Winning an award often helps bring free publicity to your hotel and brand. You can start by searching for small, locally-sponsored awards within your own city or state and work your way up to bigger nominations. You can even search the web for national contests that your property may be eligible for.
Press conferences/Press releases – You may not have many opportunities to call a press conference, but these events are great for announcing collaborations, new attractions or renovations to your property or perhaps the opening of additional locations. You can also try putting out a press release to announce things like “we hired a new manager” or “we’re giving back 1% of our profit this year to a local charity” to see if the announcement gets picked up by local media.
Ultimately the key to a good PR strategy lies in the relationship you or your PR team (if you have one) has with various players in the hospitality and media industry. You may also want to consider the power that social media influencers and hospitality bloggers can have in drawing an audience to your property. Reputable travelers with a large following can help you showcase what a real experience at your property is like to the general public.
The first step to creating your hotel marketing PR plan is to assess the opportunities available to you. Put some time into researching the events, podcasts, awards, etc. that you can apply to. If you don’t have a dedicated PR team to do the legwork for you, then make sure you set aside time on your calendar, maybe once a month or so, to spend a few hours proactively searching for PR opportunities.
The public relations plan you design is only as good as the follow-up communication strategy that drives it, so be sure to be responsive to any contacts that reach out to you and have a press kit ready with materials like your property’s history, a list of awards, good-quality images and headshots, contact information and any other resources that reporters or publishers may need to complete a story about your property. Today it’s common to have your press kit available online as part of your website.
While most of your energy should be spent finding proactive PR opportunities, recognize that sometimes bad reviews and negative stories are going to happen. Include a section in your plan for how to constructively and quickly react to negative press. How you react to unfavorable situations involving your business could ultimately define your brand in a customer’s eyes.
A great PR plan doesn’t necessarily require a large investment. There are a few free resources you can use to add a little extra to your PR plans, including:
HARO (Help A Reporter Out) – The HARO website connects journalists with news resources and breaking stories submitted by website visitors. You can register as a news resource on the site and journalists will contact you to let you know if they’re interested in using you or a story you submitted. For instance, if you run a ski chalet, then reporters may reach out touch base with you at the start of ski season.
Google Alerts – You can set up Google Alerts to receive an email when new references to your property are used online based on specified keywords – for example, your hotel name. This is an easy way to track where your property is being mentioned on the internet so you can better share and manage the publicity you recieve.
Hotel public relations is a highly effective hotel marketing tool for generating visibility and new business for your property or brand. Use a PR plan to effectively tell the brand’s story all while connecting with your customers on a human level.
For more information on how Cloudbeds can help with your hotel marketing and PR strategies, or if you’d like more information on software implementation or products that will help your property business grow, contact us now. We’re happy to chat anytime.
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