Gone are the days when hotel marketing means boasting about how elegant your property and amenities are. Today’s marketing strategies are leaning toward building a lasting connection between brands and guests. We don’t just sell rooms anymore — we sell meaningful experiences that last a lifetime.
Enter experiential marketing, a form of content marketing that attracts guests through memorable experiences that go beyond hotel rooms and facilities. Also called “hotel experiential branding”, this kind of marketing aims includes curated destination guides through blogs and videos, and social media campaigns.
When done right, experiential marketing can foster loyalty and trust with your existing customers. You can also build brand awareness by encouraging loyal visitors to do your hotel’s word-of-mouth marketing for you.
In this article, we’ll list down tips on how to do your hotel experiential marketing right.
1. Understand your guest’s travel journey
A traveller goes through different stages:
- Research and Booking
Before making a reservation, they plan ahead and use online platforms for research. They compare hotels, research more about the destination, and determine how to get around.
- Pre-arrival and anticipation
After having confirmed hotel and flight bookings, your guest is in their anticipation phase. They start looking for interesting places nearby, from tourist attractions to hidden gems. They also list down fun things to do during their stay.
- During their stay
Research doesn’t stop at home — many travellers embrace the beauty of spontaneous travels by coming up with an itinerary on the day itself. In fact, some of the best travel experiences include attractions discovered by accident and last-minute plans curated while lying on a hotel bed.
This is the best time to reflect on photos and videos taken during the trip and share them online. Such travel posts inspire their friends, relatives, and other followers to plan a trip too, and even book the same hotel.
Your hotel’s goal is to step in and take advantage of these four stages. Through valuable content pieces delivered to the right guest at the right time using the right platform, your hotel can be a significant part of your guests’ travel experience from start to finish.
2. Come up with engaging destination-specific guides
Leverage your guests’ need for valuable information and pre-vacation excitement by providing digital travel guides. It can be in a form of engaging articles on your website’s blog section, videos, images, Pinterest boards, and social media posts.
Think about destination-specific guides like local attractions, free or cheap experiences, weekend ideas, events, heritage sites, and dining and drinking spots. You can also share helpful travel tips and tricks like items to pack or ideas to save money.
To give you an example, this hotel digital marketing agency in Dublin includes content marketing in its strategy for its clients. They have seasoned writers that update the website’s blog section with informative and engaging articles about Dublin attractions, activities, dining spots, and more. A well-written content saves them the trouble of having to research elsewhere, even building your reputation in the hospitality sector.
3. Send pre-arrival emails with valuable content
After coming up with a few engaging articles and videos, you can build up your guest’s anticipation by sending a pre-arrival email. Next to the confirmation message that nails down the important details of their stay, your pre-arrival email may include links that lead guests to your content.
You can also make the approach more personalised. For instance, if you’re expecting a romantic couple, you may lead them to blogs about unique date ideas in the city, romantic restaurants and cafes, and local events for couples. As for guests booking family rooms, you may add links to your family travel tips and blogs on kid-approved attractions.
4. Think about digitalised guest experiences
Worried that your pre-arrival emails will go unread? You still can do something during their actual stay with digitalised guest experiences.
While your guests are staying at the hotel, you can share your insights on the best attractions and hidden gems in the area. You can do this using your hotel’s Wi-Fi login page or even by sending a “turn down” email with a suggested itinerary for the weekend. You may also give them personalised printed maps with notes on your suggestions.
5. User-generated content and word-of-mouth marketing
At the end of their stay, guests tend to look back on the images and videos taken and share them on social media. You can use this opportunity to increase brand awareness and encourage your satisfied guests to do your word-of-mouth marketing on your behalf.
Ask them to follow you online, tag your property in their posts, and write a review. You can also come up with a unique hashtag and encourage your guests to use them.
Don’t forget to catch up with guests after their stay with follow-up emails. Like pre-arrival emails, attach relevant content that not only promotes your hotel but also reminds your guests of their vacation experience. Updating them with new hotel features, events, and local attractions may also give them clear reasons to come back.