Still Selling Rooms? Here’s How to Start Selling an Experience
One of the most frequently uttered hotel marketing catchphrases of recent years has been “selling experiences,” but while many marketers talk the talk, more than a few are a long way from truly walking the walk. After decades of touting their vast array of in-room amenities, fitness centers, pools and large-screen TVs, many hotel marketers are still too self-indulgent and product-focused to recognize that it’s what happens outside of the property that really matters these days.
Millennials are leading the way amid a rapidly growing consumer trend among all generations that places emphasis on spending on experiences rather than material goods, and hotels are directly in the crosshairs of this purchasing revolution. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that hotel marketers dig deep, review all their hotel digital marketing touchpoints and set a course of action for turning their property’s messaging from being product-focused, to experience focused.
Ready to make the selling shift? Here are some key suggestions for hotel marketers operating in the “age of experience”:
1. Position your hotel as the epicenter of the destination.
Modern travelers are increasingly basing their trip planning, research and booking activities around the destination in question, rather than searching for any specific hotel brands in a given area. According to Google’s 2015 “The Traveler’s Road to Decision” report, destination-related keywords are the primary search terms consumers use when planning trips. (51% of the time when planning, compared to 31% usage of brand or specific website names.)
That means your hotel’s location is your most appealing asset to new-era travelers.
A great example of this theory in practice comes from the venerable Driskill in Austin, Tex., built in 1886. The hotel uses a combination of experiential methods to delight guests, focusing on history tours of the stunning Romanesque Victorian property, deep-rooted immersion in Texas culinary culture, as well as opportunities to take in the expansive Austin music and nightlife scene.
“We really highlight the fact that compared to every other hotel in Austin, we are the hotel that guests can visit when they’re here in Austin where they can get a truly authentic Texas experience,” says Ashley Hartert, Director of Sales, Marketing and Events at the Driskill. “Our competitors are much more traditional in hotel style, so those hotels can exist in just about every other city in the country. But the Driskill is singular, in that from the moment our guests walk in, they’re inspired. We infuse that throughout the sales process and then throughout the guests’ experience once they’re on site.”
2. Your advertising and website messaging should promise a unique experience.
Building upon suggestion #1, be sure all messaging — website, banner ads, social — focuses on the unique experience your hotel provides. Play up the reasons why it’s best to stay at your hotel to experience the location, aside from saving $15 per night compared to your competitor next door.