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Even luxury brands are having trouble moving with the times. What is certain is that the static brochure style website featuring a photoshoped image of an infinity pool is dead.
Luxury hotels, like every industry, are having to be more imaginative and rethink their marketing strategy.
The first rule in content marketing is that content needs a purpose: to stimulate, engage, convert and build a buzz around a brand. It’s got to be useful, visible, desirable, engaging and provide a platform to position the hotel as a socially-connected brand.
Why is content so powerful? It’s is the modern day convergence of PR, social, SEO and good old-fashioned storytelling.
Building a hotel’s reach in this way, with existing and potential customer base, is a valuable way of staying fresh. In the competitive online world it gives people a reason (new content) to go back to a hotel's website - it makes a site a place to go for interesting reading rather than just regurgitating hotel-centric information.
When the content’s good it will be shared and sourced by others, building a community for the customer.
The clientele of these luxury hotels want more for their dollar. They want to feel special, like a VIP and have their views and custom valued. That goes without saying, but they also want a little extra.
In same way that the young millennials are thrill seeking and experiential in their demands from brands, so too are the lux customers (they just have more cash in their pockets to spend).
Here's a seven-step easy-to-implement action plan that is focused on increasing a hotel’s direct bookings, that sells the dream of it being special place to stay and builds a community with the fans and followers. Here's a sneek preview of our plan.
1. Create a glossy social magazine-style blog
This style of blog will enable the hotel brand to become a publisher. A beautifully crafted, customised blog will mean an in-house team can create, customise and publish engaging editorial that’s attractive to search engines and ultimately brings in new customers.
We love the ones created by Flockler. They're social, optimised for mobile and tablets and increase the customer reach.
2. Fresh content for the blog
The blog should cover stories that your customers will be interested in. We love the COMO hotel group's blog as an example. It's a classic in-bound marketing technique applied in a B2C world.
From the “Mind, Body & Spirit” column teaching you how to do yoga at home to “Tales from the front desk” column it gives its customers a reason to come back for more.
It promises "inside access to exclusive stories" happening in its hotels around the world and secret tips from all the locations where its hotels are.
3. A blogging outreach programme
The blog should have multiple authors and voices. By indentifying influential bloggers and inviting them to a “VIP bloggers evening” will give them an experience, a reason to write for you and about you on their popular blog.
The Standard Hotels group in the States does this well. Its Standard Culture blog is filled with guest posts and unique behehind the scenes footage and collaborations with brands collaborations such as Warby Parker further cementing it into popular culture.
4. Engaging with the audience
Earned media (social, blogging) is a high-growth area. Consumers trust word-of mouth recommendations and reviews are 80% more trusted traditional marketing and paid for media.
Hotels that tap into this market and facilitate user generated content have a double win. Fairmont Hotels New York Plaza's recent "The Great Gatsby Getaway Contest" was a good example of how this can work.
The hotel asked people to submit a photo that evoked the 1920s or of a wannabe guest standing in front of The Plaza hotel tagged with the hashtag #ThePlazaPremiere to win a night's stay at the hotel and entrance to a premier screening of the Great Gatsby Film.
The contest was a fantastic way to promote both the hotels name, its rich history and provided the winner with an unforgettable experience. The #hashtag is still out there. Give it a search on Instagram and look at some of the amazing entries.
5. Creating an app
Build an easy-to-use simple app that acts as a guide to what’s on in the hotel, but also beyond (best restaurants, local & time specific concerts, sight-seeing tours etc). The app would be available to buy in the app store for non-guests but guests get an access code to download it free on check-in.
The idea is that people can socialize everything they do in-app and share with their social networks, as well as continue to communicate with the hotel during and after their stay (via push notifications).
The app could also easily be developed to pre-order room service, other hotel services and eventually act as a payment card for contactless payment.
6. Remember the good old fashioned email
Incentivise your customers and those visiting your site for the first time to sign up to your weekly/monthly mobile optimised email. Give exclusive deals and promotions only available to those on your list.
Showcase the latest news from your blog and provide something ‘exclusive’ such as “pop-up” events at the hotel.
7. Think beyond the hotel
Take the publishing mantle further and create up-to-date themed 'Beyond the Hotel' online mini guides to exploring your region.
This would give your potential guests a flavour of the entire destination and what to expect when they arrive. The Standard Hotel's Culture blog does this brilliantly. It's become a destination for hotel guests and locals alike to celebrate their love for travel, discerning taste and modern culture.
Readers can digest all sorts of articles and original content on the latest buzz in Miami, Los Angeles and New York City and hear about upcoming, exciting events.