by Dale Nixon
As any marketing professional can attest, there are countless aspects of effective brand management. And as many hotels are discovering, the art of storytelling can be an indispensable tool in the marketing approach.
1 Why Use Storytelling in Marketing?
Simply put, a hotel’s efforts must go beyond simply offering rooms at a certain price with a few amenities thrown in for good measure. Anyone can do that, and everyone is already doing that. You need to connect with your customer base on an emotional level to make yourself stand out in a crowded and increasingly competitive market.
People tell, and listen to, stories every day – often without even realizing it – and stories resonate with each of us on a deeply human level. The digital age has created myriad opportunities for marketers to incorporate storytelling into their efforts, which dovetails nicely with the wariness that many customers have toward many conventional marketing tactics.
2 Visual Storytelling and Online Hotel Marketing Online
So, what exactly is online storytelling, and how do we use the concept effectively? Essentially, you need to find creative ways to describe your property to someone who wants more than a picture of a room or a list of amenities, being mindful to weave together the different strands that make your property unique to create an interesting and engaging narrative.
It’s not that room pictures or amenities lists aren’t important; in the digital age, people are looking to better experience what you have to offer. For example, you can provide this through a combination of high-resolution photographs combined with riveting narratives. Does your hotel have an especially interesting wellness center or co-workspace? Hire a photographer to capture creative images of the space and write a short narrative that goes into some of the detail of what makes the space so special. Or, you could create a short video walkthrough for any of the unique areas in your hotel. Keep in mind, however, that online attention spans can be relatively short.
3 Shaping Your Digital Story
Your No. 1 job when crafting your story is to create a connection with your audience. People make purchasing decisions based on how they feel, not how they think. If you want to connect with your audience with emotion instead of logic, you need to get to know them first. In a nutshell: Identify the audience you want to pursue, learn what they’re looking for, and create content that appeals to them and their needs. Different segments and groups will respond differently to different forms of content, so a shotgun approach that tries to market to everyone at once won’t work well for any group. A great story told poorly is often less effective than a poor story told well.
4 Make Your Stories Authentic
Your stories should feel real and have a natural flow to them, and stories that come directly from your guests are often better than those that are developed in the lab of a consulting firm. And there’s certainly no cause to invent stories; you should have a wealth of stories and experiences at your hotel that are worth sharing. To find them, identify the strongest aspect of your hotel – what’s your biggest draw? – and figure out what makes it so interesting. To dip your toe into the shallow end of the storytelling pool, you might want to start out by recording yourself or your employees talking about what you love about the hotel and posting it as an audio file on your website. Or you could post interesting factoids to your social media account(s) about the hotel from time to time.
5 Different Ways To Tell a Story
There are countless ways to tell a story, and you’ll probably find there are multiple approaches that work for your situation and audience. Will you take advantage of the two-way communication that using social media offers? Maybe you’ll even put the call out to your audience to create some content for you. Your methods will depend on your audience and your goals, but it’s critical to have a goal that can be measured to determine the effectiveness of your storytelling. Your data collecting should work to steer your storytelling strategy back on course if you find it needs correcting or adjusting.
6 “Talent Borrows. Genius Steals.”
This quote, often attributed to Oscar Wilde, might be somewhat glib, but it offers cutting insight into the creative process. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when so many others are already using storytelling to great effect, and not just those within the hospitality space. Countless multinational brands have managed to engage with their audiences in a tangible way through storytelling and direct-engagement tactics. If you see a company or individual doing this well, take notes and use what works and is practical for you.
People have a ton of options when it comes to hotels, so it’s crucial to get creative. Good storytelling can differentiate your hotel from the crowd and allow you to form an emotional connection with your audience. Follow these six tips to use storytelling to increase hotel revenue.