Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.

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Last month's feature articles...

David Quintana

To attract modern holidaymakers, hotel operators must offer not only a top-notch complex, amenities and services, but a unique and sustainable experience that cares for the local culture, environment and people. David Quintana, vice president of strategy and development at Grupo Xcaret, explores these new challenges facing the hospitality and tourism industry. As the Mexican company's lead architect, he faced this very question when designing and building the first hotel in one of the company's popular ecotourism parks in the Mexican Caribbean. The hotel had to be both eco-friendly and luxurious if it was to be successful, and that's no easy feat for any architect. READ MORE

Jeff Clark

The hotel industry is taking great steps to improve the sustainability of their businesses, but onsite dining might be inadvertently overlooked. Restaurants are complex businesses and improving the environmental performance of foodservice can be challenging, oftentimes because of this complexity. Should you start with sustainable food sourcing or plant-based burgers? What about replacing old equipment with their Energy Star qualified equivalents? What about cage-free eggs, or LED lighting, or demand-controlled ventilation? You can quickly get bogged down in decision paralysis. Learn about four ideas to get started on your restaurant sustainability journey from the National Restaurant Association's Jeffrey Clark. READ MORE

Anna Zora

Six Senses Zil Pasyon is nestled in the lush vegetation of Felicite. Staying true to its core value of sustainability the resort is committed to have responsible operations and with a Sustainability team on site, it strives to preserve the surrounding natural habitat and nature. This includes marine projects as well as island rehabilitation, while efforts are made in collaboration with the local community and NGOs. Raising awareness among hosts and the local communities has also played a key role in the success of these projects which are all driven by the goal of eventually reaching zero waste. READ MORE

Apurv Johari

Fact: Heating and cooling represent almost 40 percent of the electricity and more than half of the natural gas used by hotels and motels.1 Utility fees are a variable expense that have a direct impact on property profitability. This makes minimizing utility costs a goal for most hotel operators. An equally important goal for operators is providing a comfortable environment for guests. Optimizing guestroom energy efficiency while creating a comfortable environment can reduce energy expenses and increase property revenue. This article examines effective strategies, practices and systems that hotel operators can use to lower utility costs and deliver a more comfortable guest experience. It specifically focuses on the value of integrating a hotel's property management system (PMS) and other systems with energy management, and how to reduce humidity and its negative impact on guest comfort and guestroom interiors READ MORE

Rick Skinker

This article details how hotels can reduce and control the costs of water, sewer and energy and improve and maintain guest satisfaction. It describes the importance of Balanced Flows and why most hotels don't have them and don't know they don't have them. The elements that drive actual flow rates in showers and sinks are discussed in a way that clarifies their importance to understand why most hotels have unbalanced flows. Because water, sewer and energy rates are rising all over the globe, it is becoming more important for owners and managers to understand what can be done so that they do not continue to waste more water and costs. READ MORE

Jan Peter Bergkvist

What if… the transformation to sustainability is happening right now? In a recent global survey, a majority (69%) of the 1500+ participating top executives stated that their organizations are integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into their business strategy. Young people are taking to the streets inspired by the Swedish 15 year old activist Greta Thunberg, and in March this year students at 2052 places in 123 countries participate in this grassroots protest against the lack of powerful initiative to fight climate change, by us grownups. Great things are happening in all corners of the world, - What if, this is the start of the change of a paradigm that we see right now; and could it be a good idea to be prepared and part of the solution? READ MORE

Bill Meade

Bali's international reputation as a leading tourism destination has come under a growing threat – plastic waste on beaches and in popular dive sites. Bali Province, consisting of the main island of Bali and several small neighboring islands, accounts for approximately 40% of all of Indonesia's international visitors. The growing numbers of foreign and domestic visitors as well as the prevalence of single use plastics is challenging Bali's the waste management infrastructure. Well publicized videos, visitor photos and media coverage have drawn international, national and local authorities' attention and call to action. The hotel industry, local entrepreneurs and community-based and charitable organizations have initiated beach and ocean clean-up, plastic recycling, education and awareness campaigns while looking for longer term solutions. READ MORE

Gaynor Reid

The tourism industry relies on the beauty of nature and its creatures to attract visitors, but at the same time the industry is creating negative impacts through the over-use of single-use plastics. With some predicting that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight in the next 30 years, the time for action is now. With 4700 hotels globally and more than 1000 in Asia Pacific, Accor is doing its bit to act sustainably by committing to reducing its use of plastics and signing on to the WWF PACT: Plastic ACTion. READ MORE

James Gieselman

Resilience can mean a lot of things to different people. In the real estate world, resilience is becoming a much talked-about topic relating to the ability of a building to withstand environmental threats. Understanding what those threats are, their magnitude, and their likelihood of occurrence are all part of the assessment of building resilience. While the topic itself can be depressing, resilience should be viewed as something to be embraced. Knowing the worst threats your building faces and its chances for surviving those threats will have a big impact on your long-term planning. READ MORE

Jackie Collins

What makes a hotel eco-friendly? While there are numerous green certifications a hotel can earn, a hotel that works to minimize its impact on the natural environment through any number of green efforts can proclaim itself eco-friendly. Everything from installing water efficient toilets to starting composting programs falls under the eco-friendly category. So, if a hotel is considering exploring some environmentally friendly actions, who should they call? An insurance broker might not seem like the first person a hotel should contact when considering green efforts, but having the right insurance coverage in place ahead of time will not only help the hotel with its plans to go green, but might even help save some green in the process. READ MORE

Katarina Tesarova

The unintentional outcomes of meeting and exceeding guest expectations can come in different shapes and forms. However, there are not many that involve economic, environmental and social impacts all nicely bundled together as the issue of food waste. Many tried to find a solution, but there is no silver bullet for now. However, that should not take away from the number of initiatives, technologies and projects that have been successfully carried out in many hotels and restaurants. Exploring the clever ways people and organizations looked to tackle this challenge only underscores the complex nature of food waste in hospitality. READ MORE

Suzanne Owens

Welcoming the new generation of cooktops into hospitality follows the technological progression over the past twenty years to move from coil cooktops, to ceramic cooktops, to the new induction cooktops being introduced into the marketplace. Each iteration has improved the sustainability profile of the cooking equipment, while also improving the safety for both the user and the facility, but has been met with challenges based on costs per key. This article will provide detailed calculations of the savings attributable to sustainably selected cooktops used in the extended stay segment as an example of the fiscal benefits to socially responsible green product selection. READ MORE

Douglas Gatlin

With the link between health and sustainability going mainstream, travelers increasingly expect hotels to include health and wellness features along with their environmental commitments. Forward-looking hotels are capturing this market with initiatives that reach both to the front and the back of the house, enlisting employees in a mission that contributes to a better guest experience and a positive workplace culture. From air-quality improvements to the use of greener cleaning chemicals to sourcing local food, Green Seal CEO Doug Gatlin shares how industry-leading hotels are prioritizing health and wellness for both guests and associates -- and reaping business rewards. READ MORE

Eric Ricaurte

The boundless ocean provides a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fish. But this is untrue, and statistics are showing - an overwhelming 85 percent of fisheries have been fully exploited or overfished. If the trajectory continues, seafood stocks may collapse altogether by 2048. An increasing number of hotels and chains have committed to sourcing their seafood sustainably. In fact, seven in ten claim to have sustainable seafood purchasing policies according to a survey by Green Lodging Trends Report 2018. Here, we explain what sustainable seafood is all about and provide the steps for hotels to implement their own sustainable seafood programs. READ MORE

Ewald Biemans

There are more than one million hotels in the world. As hoteliers, we can help prevent further global warming and therefore climate change, which is the biggest global issue among us. The enormity of the problem can make individual efforts seem miniscule. However, with one million hotels having the opportunity to make an impact, the change can be monumental, and it will need to be especially since everyone has contributed to it. Discover easy-to-implement, practical solutions while preparing your property for more complex sustainability initiatives in the shared responsibility to prevent further global warming. READ MORE

Marci Zaroff

In recent years, humanity has entered a stage of awakening-what I have labeled an ECOrenaissance. This rebirth in thinking is elevating our awareness of what stimulates, fulfills and resonates within. We can't ignore this shift in society; it drives enormous change in all aspects of living-travel included. The ECOrenaissance movement is marked by five pillars: Creativity, Connection, Collaboration, Community and Consciousness. These elements weave themselves through every shift we can observe in the hospitality sector. As humanity wakes up, so must all aspects of our businesses. We are no longer solitary providers of accommodation, dining and entertainment: we are holistic partners with our ever-evolving guests. READ MORE

Taryn Holowka

With the practice of green building having been around for several decades, the business and environmental benefits that green hotels can offer are becoming more widely understood within the hospitality industry. A lesser known advantage of green hotels is the host of benefits for employees and the people within the hotels. In fact, "people" are one of the three pillars in the triple bottom line of green building: people, planet and profit. Known as one of the most resource-intensive building types and conventionally believed to be one of the more reluctant to join the green movement, the hospitality industry is making strides in the green building world. READ MORE

Ann Brown

With a focus on holistic wellness that extends from their clients to their company to the overall environmental, spas often keep sustainability at the center of their mission, and that intentional focus on how products, services and practices affect the world around us can serve as a great jumping-off point for hotels and resorts looking to implement eco-friendly practices on a larger scale. Learn how to tap into your spa's sustainable practices, and be inspired by amazing properties that are helping to shape the way we define our corporate responsibility to the planet. READ MORE

Glenn Hasek

Thanks to entrepreneurs whose focus is on waste reduction and energy and water conservation, hoteliers are finding it much easier to cut costs while maintaining a five-star guest experience. Because of advancements in solar technology by a well-known maker of electric automobiles, the day of the net zero hotel is here. Yet another innovator has developed recyclable linens. Others have found ways to more easily recover "waste" heat. Still others have married guestroom energy management technology with voice command systems to make temperature change or lighting adjustments as easy as a "hello". READ MORE

Jeff Johnson

Sustainable practices are something nearly every venue strives to implement as responsible community partners. They can also be a selling point for planners and guests who want their event to have a positive impact. A truly effective program takes planning, measurable results, and above all, employee buy-in. It generally falls on employees to implement a comprehensive sustainability program, and the question becomes, how do you motivate employees to take on additional work? At the Minneapolis Convention Center, we found the way to create a culture of sustainability was to put our employees first. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2020...

Sales & Marketing: Technology Rules

It is impossible for any hotel to develop an effective sales and marketing plan that doesn't include a wide-ranging digital strategy. Online platforms have impacted virtually every aspect of their business, due to major changes in how Internet users research, plan, and book their hotel visits. As a result, a successful plan includes generating traffic through the use of a hotel website, social media, email and a myriad of other digital marketing technologies. One such strategy uses data collection and automation technology to create personalized content to individual customers. The goal of personalization marketing is to engage potential customers by communicating with them as individuals - to establish a more personal relationship - as a way of encouraging them to visit a property. Video marketing is also extremely important. Showing someone authentic video from a specific location is immersive and engaging, and video is still the preferred way for customers to interact with a hotel brand. Voice and Visual Search are increasingly in demand, as consumers are moving away from typing queries into a search engine. Instead, they can simply speak their request into their phone, and find and book a hotel without ever typing a word. Similarly, other platforms allow consumers to search visually for almost any image, and find out pricing information, shopping comparisons and how-to-buy - all from the app. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence is also becoming popular. The ability of chatbots to answer simple questions or fulfill requests 24/7 is undeniably appealing. In addition, A.I. seems best positioned to qualify leads that can be later nurtured and closed by a human sales expert - all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional support team. The June Hotel Business Review will examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating these innovative technologies into their operations.