Hospitality brands must learn how to speak to their customers
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Everyone has caught on to content marketing, unless the rock you are living under has no access to Wi-Fi. It is no longer of a question of whether you should have a budget for content or social marketing practices. The question, instead, is what kind of strategy you should apply within these umbrella points.
For the hospitality industry, it needs to be value-added content all the way. All the multisensory messages that are created for your target audience need to deliver a sense of value.
Smart content creation and distribution through various online media has opened vistas of opportunities for all businesses. The marketing channels are no longer dominated by the larger brands with deep pockets. If you know how to leverage your content intelligently, you can build a brand and get extensive coverage.
A key strategy applied here is using Big Data to personalize the content and drive the message in. This applies particularly to the travel and hospitality industry, which has seen a paradigm shift in both content and selling strategies in recent years.
A study by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research states that 50 percent of all travelers to the United States by the year 2025 will be millennials. With millennials becoming the majority spenders, the emphasis is on reaching out to the target audience based on their interests.
We need to understand that what matters most for the millennial generation is personalized experiences. Avaya's Hospitality Industry Report shows that 55 percent of hospitality companies struggle to engage their guests during the booking process, while 70 percent struggle during and after the visit.
According to the report, 60 percent of survey respondents have admitted ineffective communication between guests and staff. The study highlights not only the gaps but also the potential for future business growth if a five-star personalized experience can be delivered.
The idea is to sell experiences, to create and deliver content that can attract the audience and invite them to participate — to make them brand ambassadors. The brand experience needs to be as wonderful as always, but the content cannot be far behind. The latter needs to be as irresistible as well. It's the first step to attracting the customer and the first step in building brand loyalty.
So, what are today's customers looking for?
Connectivity — The tech-savvy consumer wants to stay always connected. Hotels, airlines, airports, restaurants, cafes need to ensure this connectivity, not just by offering great Wi-Fi but also by providing a plethora of social platforms for guests to share their experiences with the world. An agile online and mobile presence will be imperative, including options for responsive and interactive videos. The online industry is set to grow from $534 billion in 2015 to $762 billion by 2019. To attract new business and foster guest loyalty, companies must stay on top of the trends.
Sustainability — For the young and environment-friendly jet-setters, everything in the business — from the infrastructure to the food — should be eco-friendly. It is important for millennial consumers that they are not inadvertently contributing to harming the planet, and any such detail may lead them to forego the brand. Hospitality brands are responsible for delivering a feeling of fun and good times, and a green consciousness is intrinsic to this approach.
Local flavor — The "going local" buzzword is strong with millennials, and more hotels should adopt this strategy to woo the next generation of guests. Strategies like offering local gourmet experience during social hours to changing the décor to reflect local arts and culture will go a long way to instill and increase brand loyalty.
Unlike the baby boomer generation, which preferred a good deal above all else, millennials want something memorable and are willing to pay more for a more unique experience. Speak to your consumers — not via the traditional one-directional approach but through feedback and user-generated content, which will not only increase audience engagement but also provide a wealth of data for future campaigns.
It is important for the hospitality industry to understand each communication medium and how it works, how they handle content and what their specific audience wants. Going generic or opting for paid search methods only won't work anymore.
The entire content marketing approach should feel organic and experiential. While building the reputation is as important as ever, managing the online reputation has become even more important for the hospitality industry.
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