How to use Inhouse magazines, Custom Media and Social Media to brand and promote hotels, resorts, spas, and the hospitality industry.

The Hospitality Industry is one of the most “shallow” industries in the world. Why shallow?! Well, because the guests want everything to be just beautiful! The suites have to be beautiful, the employees have to be gorgeous, the food has to be delicious, and what not. I’m sure we can come up with many more shallow requirements if we ponder over shallow thoughts and hotels for a few minutes. So can any other industry get any more shallow than that? I think not. So that clears up one of the most obvious requirements or factors that make a hotel or a resort a good one. Branding.

Surprisingly and not unexpectedly, guests at spas, hotels and resorts are extremely picky. There’s something about hotel hallways and luxury suites that bring out the “dung-under-the-nose” expression in most people. Perhaps, it’s because they have to use a room that’s been used by many people, or maybe it’s because people like being bitchy to the hospitality industry! But the flipside to all the dung in bad hotels is this, if you keep your guests happy in a good hotel, they will market your hotel even better than your “marketer-of-the-month”! And for free!

From my own experience, people love to talk to other people about great hotels. Great hotels are like great dates and relationships. You’re looking for them all the time, but you’re left disappointed almost all the time. But on that rare occurrence when you find a great one, heck, you can’t stop talking about it with others! So as much as this talking trend sucks for the irresponsible hotels, this human tendency to talk about great hotels is a boon for the hotels that really care about their guests (and make good money while they’re at it!).

So what’s the point?

All theories apart, let’s get to the point. So you have a good hotel or a spa? A few people do come by, but there’s really not much happening for you? Or your place may have had a bad past, and you may have revamped the whole hotel and the staff, but people still don’t come back in droves. What on earth could be going wrong? Well, at times like these, unfortunately, the proverbial shit happens, or the constellations have just aligned themselves to read “your hotel sucks!” Sometimes, all the guests in the world can’t really evangelise for you or sell your hotel rooms. Perhaps, your hotel’s just to rich to afford on a daily basis, or your spa provides a service that’s just too niche, or maybe your luxury club’s just too exclusive. No one knows the reason, but we all know that we can’t just sit back and wait for the grey goose to drop golden guests. At times, we have to take a step ahead and go where the potential guests go. Catch them when they’re least expecting to be caught.

The two most important criteria. And Custom Media.

There are just two important criteria to sell your hospitality product in today’s world. One, the reach of your brand. Two, the feedback. Nothing else matters in today’s world. You could be hidden on a faraway island lost in the middle of deep oceans and may never have advertised a single day in your hotel’s lifetime. But if you have created a brand, and got good feedback, no one’s going to stop you from singing ka-ching! If hotels in Antarctica could stash money, why can’t you, especially when you’re plonked right in the middle of a big city?!

But nevertheless, how do you collect brownie points with these two key factors, reach and feedback? And how do you get this fast? As confusing as it may all seem, my advice to you is two words for these two factors. Custom Media. Custom Media can literally nuke your worries away if you use the strategies well.

Irrespective of whether you’re a heritage hotel or a new boy in the block, Custom Media can change the way you work, and make money. For example, let’s say you’ve hit the big time and started a swanky star hotel. One of your key interests at the beginning is to promote it well. If you advertise in a newspaper spending hundreds of thousands of rupees, it’s going to reach out to a lot of people, true, but how many people are really going to come by and stay at your hotel or even remember your hotel after they roll the newspaper and fling it into the “recycle” bin?

As good as traditional media may seem to be, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the return on investment is just too darn low! And to top that, consumers don’t really like being bombarded by your advertisements everyday. It only spreads word that your hotel is on a mass advertising spree to get some attention. People hate attention seekers, and love exclusivity, even if it’s just “artificial exclusivity”. Therefore, exclusivity is the key to branding.  I’m going to give a small piece of advice to all the traditional thinkers (unfortunately we’ve got far too many of them in the world). You may think you’re running the Buckingham Palace replica for all anyone cares, and you may love it. But no one gives that a thought, they want to hear what others say about it. What do your guests say about your hotel? If you want to start making a difference, learn to read your customers’ minds.

The Story of the Blacksmith and the Mare

Just the other day, I had a chance meeting with one of the key thinkers behind a grand chain of hotels that’s spread across India. Their brochures were terrible, their newsletter was completely lacking editorial and design skills, their website was a template straight out of the most popular sections of cheapest-templates-in-the-world.com, and the whole package was literally repulsive.

But their hotels were flawless and magnificent! What have we learnt today? If a blacksmith has to create a faster chariot, he should stick with banging metal to create the best wheels. Don’t try to make a better horse by banging the mare! Leave that part of the job to that magnificent palomino you found on eBay! If you’ve got a great hotel, give your guests the full package. If you’re good at running a hotel, stick with it. Hire a good custom media team on full employment or partner with a custom media company. Think about it, instead of spending millions on a marketing team that’s equipped with weak brochures and presentations, spend a small percentage of that money on working with a good custom media team to prepare better products that can talk for themselves and create better word of mouth campaigns for you.

We all have egos, and so does your communications team. They may say your media inventory is the best in the world, but really, can you trust your communications team on that? Don’t listen to their feedback, especially when it’s their fault your company’s media skills suck. Listen to your guests, and ask them what they think about your custom mediaware. Do they like your brochures, magazines, newsletters, and all the other media works? Try to find out which hotel’s media offerings they like more, so you can understand how you can make things better for your hotel.

What’s Apple got to do with it?

Apple may be one of the most revolutionary companies in the world. Their products have been blessed with the boon of buy-without-seeing! Everyone talks about Apple and their products months before the launch of a product. But what makes Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc., such a cool guy is his passion to take it to the next step. At every one of his launches, he creates a presentation that can put some of the best speakers to shame! He doesn’t need to do that, especially when his products do that for him anyways, but here’s a man who will not compromise on anything. And that’s what makes Apple, Apple.

If you really want to make a difference and get people talking about your hotel, spa, resort or just about any other name under the hospitality industry, learn to be good at everything that you do. And if you and your team are not good at something, outsource the job or get someone who’s good enough. Remember, in today’s world of social media awareness, there is nothing more important than the spreading of an idea (your reach) and the receiving back of ideas (feedback).

The Definitive Checklist to use Custom Media, Social Media and Content Marketing to brand your hotel in Six Months (and make more money!)

I’ve created a checklist that every marketing head of a hospitality company should consider heavily in today’s internet savvy world in the link that I’ve provided below. Perhaps, that can help you start moving the wheels of change in your company. After all, traditional is called traditional for a reason. The faster we understand that, the better prepared we’d be for evolutionary jumps in the hospitality industry.

Internet Marketing Strategies for Hotels and Hospitality – The Four Most Important Factors to Influence Customers’ Minds.