It must be wonderful to be famous. The best-known hotels around the world must have customers falling over themselves to stay. No need to worry about expensive advertising costs or complicated publicity campaigns. Just rely on your name and watch the money roll in.
Hotels such as the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, Raffles in Singapore, the Waldorf Astoria in New York, or Claridge’s in London sit at the summit of worldwide recognition. The path to success for these places is simple: you need unique architecture, a long and interesting history, famous guests, appearances in literature and movies, or perhaps invent your own drink. Unfortunately this is harder to achieve if you are a three-star property of mediocre design which overlooks a bus station. But we can try.
- Tell your story
This one is a suggestion from marketing consultants to foster customer engagement with the brand and to create interest in your hotel. The technique involved is often called ‘brand storytelling’, and is based on sharing the stories behind how your hotel came into existence, how it is motivated to provide its services, and who the people involved really are. It gives customers special insights behind the scenes, and helps them to form an emotional connection with the brand. The proliferation of social media makes it easier than ever before to connect with guests, so if you can identify what is special about your daily mission, you may be able to make yourself stand out from the competition by sharing your story. Those hotels with a long history, unusual background, or interesting guests will obviously have more exciting stories to tell, but the principle remains the same.
- Do something unique
The invention of the Singapore Sling worked well for Raffles, while other hotels have gained fame by being the biggest, or tallest, or oldest. If you’re not already one of these things, you can still make a name for yourself locally by adding something like your town’s biggest Christmas tree – something that stands out visually and draws attention. Or an enormous illuminated sign, perhaps, that local people or passing visitors simply cannot miss. Alternatively you could invest in a fleet of bicycles for guests to use around the town, making sure your name is prominently displayed. Offering the best homemade burger in the region could work, as might keeping unusual animals, such as llamas, on the premises. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
- Host something interesting
If you can play host to special events, you can gain more widespread exposure. One great example would be the Montien Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, which has often hosted major international snooker tournaments. The hotel gets television and other media exposure as well as the benefits of having large numbers of visitors during the event itself. If not sports, it is also possible to build a reputation through hosting conferences or annual conventions. Smaller local events would have a similar effect, but on a much smaller scale, as long as the hotel uses social media effectively to let people know what is going on.
- Be associated with something exciting
Instead of hosting events at the property, hotels could also use the brand name to sponsor other events. Sports are one possibility, as are individual sportsmen, while concerts can also serve as a vehicle to get the hotel name recognized. Whichever approach you choose, it can be incorporated into the idea of social media and brand storytelling
- Get yourself on the news
The Grand Hotel in Brighton made all the newspaper front pages along with extensive television coverage when it was the target of an IRA bomb in 1984. While this exact approach cannot be recommended, the fact that the hotel is remembered over thirty years later certainly shows the power of the media spotlight. Whenever there is a reason to get the press or the TV cameras into your property, there is an opportunity to raise your profile. Celebrity guests, pop stars, world leaders and international sports teams can all attract the paparazzi – but if they’re not realistically going to stay with you, then you’ll need to come up with other newsworthy ideas to spark some media interest.
The problem faced by hotels who wish to follow any of this advice is that it is not easy. It is hard to hit upon that unique idea which attracts attention and sets you apart, and originality cannot simply be copied. Communicating your idea is less complicated, however, and is something which you can control. Sharing what you’re doing should therefore be your first step, while you keep looking for that creative spark.