When consumers are faced with endless choices everyday how do they make decisions? What makes them choose one brand over another? Typically it comes down to emotion. A successful brand strategy makes us feel something when we see a particular product. Think about how a woman feels when she sees a L’Oreal product, “Because You’re Worth It”, or when a consumer sees the Nike swoosh and the “Just Do It” brand message moves them towards that product subconsciously.
Branding is incredibly powerful and when it comes to the travel industry there are some leading examples when it comes to building a recognisable brand. Think Ryanair’s “Low Fares, Made Simple” or Airbnb’s “Belong Anywhere”. But can an independent hotel create a recognisable brand on a low budget? The answer is yes. With some creativity and planning, every hotel can define their own brand identity and communicate this with their target audience. In fact some of the more successful hotels have now moved away from long standardised campaigns to bite-sized narratives told though bold photography and short videos on social channels like Instagram and Snapchat.
Think about everything that happens in a hotel day to day and how you can showcase that, whether it’s a video of your Head Chef preparing their signature dish, a photo of the wedding couple arriving for their celebrations or a photo of the family relaxing on the hotel grounds with a picnic – all of these can be packaged as a form of storytelling through your social channels.
So how do you get started?
1. Define your Brand Narrative
Do you understand what makes your hotel stand out? Maybe you find it hard to define. Get your staff together and ask them for their insights. Also ask your returning guests why they keep coming back time after time. A pattern will start to emerge. Maybe it’s your relaxed and homely service, your beach location or perhaps your outdoor spa facilities, but whatever defines you as a hotel needs to become the central focus of your brand narrative. You need to create a distinct brand personality with clear values and messaging that drives all your social media activity and helps you create a memorable brand.
Look at the Hotel Indigo website and you’ll notice they have a page dedicated to their brand story which is all about their slogan “Travel like an explorer. Stay like a local”. They aim to achieve this through providing insider knowledge on local destinations. Is this something that you could utilise in your own hotel?
Or what about the new Moxy brand from Marriott International? It’s a boutique brand targeting millennial travellers who want affordable, chic accommodation with cool communal facilities and an all-night bar. The marketing team communicates this message consistently in all their social activity such as their recent Do Disturb video series featuring social media influencers performing their cheekiest online antics. They also have a brilliant Instagram account that alludes to their brand message in every uber cool shot, and they let the images speak for themselves. As the old adage goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”.
Source: Moxy Hotels Instagram
So do you want to tell your potential guests how family-friendly your establishment is? Let a picture of a happy family enjoying your facilities do it for you. Want to tell your guests you take cuisine seriously, post videos of your chef’s attention to detail on every plate.
2. Key Message Development
Now you have defined your brand narrative you need to break it down into a strategic marketing plan for your target audience. A good idea is to generate particular keywords you want to focus on in your content marketing efforts. Make sure to create hashtags around these keywords and have them inform your content ideas. Then create a content calendar. Planning social media posts ensures you always have excellent content to share on a consistent basis. A social media calendar builds the framework for what you’re going to share. After that you can fill in any gaps with topical content or by engaging with your community.
Hotels are perfectly positioned to leverage the dreaming stage of travel using brand storytelling. People often take inspiration for their next holiday after seeing a picture on their friend’s social media update or by following an influencer stories abroad. With the photo, video and stories advertising tools you can also buy the exposure rather than rely on purely organic reach.
One example of an independent hotel punching above their weight is the 23 bedroom Villa Honegg in the Swiss Alps. With just over 400 posts on Instagram they have already managed to gain over 159k followers! For specific Instagram strategies to boost awareness and bookings see an older post we wrote here.
Source: Villa Honegg Instagram
Remember that targeting your niche market with your key messages is what will develop brand awareness for your hotel so define your target audience, your top keywords and make sure your content is speaking to them at all times.
3. Build A Community
When it comes to social media start following users similar to yourself and other hospitality businesses in your area to build a relevant community. Is your hotel restaurant famed for their food? Follow people who love posting photos of food. Does your hotel have remarkable interior design? Follow people with the same passion for design and interact with them by engaging on their posts. Remember no one likes the person at the party who talks about themselves constantly. Social media is the same; it’s not just about talking, but listening. Pay attention to what your followers are saying, and share posts from other Instagram users when they suit your style. This will help bring your brand to a wider audience organically. Remember to also look at the paid advertising options across these channels though to really amplify your best content.
Good branding is all about making your business memorable. In the crowded space of hotels and accommodation it’s about standing out from the crowd too. A compelling brand story can most certainly do that and will attract guests back to your hotel time and time again. Interested in developing your brand story on social media? Talk to one of our marketing specialists. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org today.