I have lived and breathed tourism and hospitality Public Relations and marketing for 13 years. I’ve witnessed clever marketing move audiences to make reservations...
I’ve helped used a re-branding campaign to change the way the world looks at one of Australia’s most loved destinations.
I’ve seen clever communication turn a restaurant’s value for money rating from average and excellent.
I’ve watched good copywriting transform damaging reviews into powerful sales tools.
When done well powerful PR and marketing transform’s everything from a person’s perception of a destination to the smallest element of a guest’s weekend away.
Here are my top 5 high impact lessons to be learned from tourism and hospitality PR.
1. Emotional Connection
There are almost endless studies demonstrating that consumers make purchase decisions based on an emotional connection they feel with the product/service/brand.
And this is certainly true of tourism and hospitality industry.
There are two extraordinary campaigns that I recall as being especially powerful in terms of evoking emotional responses from audiences that transferred into reservations.
Come Walkabout Campaign for Tourism Australia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQGMuxJ0vCc
This advertisement featured in the Come Walkabout campaign. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann and timed after the release of the Australia movie. While some of its strength undoubtedly arises from its connection with the movie there is only one single sprawling landscape shot ‘selling’ the destination. Brilliant!
It’s In Our Nature Campaign for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZeS0Un3jwk
This advertisement from Shangri-La’s campaign is stunning. Its production is film quality, but it is the content that provides an emotional connection. Not a single word is spoken nor a single shot of a hotel or resort shown throughout the 1 minute and 30 seconds.
How can you tell a story that creates an emotional connection between your brand and an element of your target market’s life?
What keeps them awake at night? What do they hope for? What do they need?
2. The Power of Surprise
The element of surprise is often employed by hospitality professionals on a much smaller scale than the grand advertisements I’ve just discussed.
Yet it is powerful enough to make people tell their friends about their holiday or re-book a vacation upon check out.
Here is one of my favourite surprise moments.
During a breakfast service a guest was coughing and clearly suffering from a cold or flu. The fact that she was sick on her holiday was written all over her face. One of the food and beverage attendants went outside, picked some wild lemon myrtle and eucalyptus then mixed them in hot water with honey. She gave the natural remedy to the woman who was delighted and surprised. I watched her and she smiled and laughed for the remainder of her dining experience.
How can you surprise your customers? Do you collect information about your customers? Do you know when their birthday or anniversary is? Can you tell if it is their 10th repeat purchase?
3. The Unforgettable Farewell
I have rarely encountered a farewell experience from a hospitality business that is anything less than the standard check out or settling up procedure.
So when working with a Fijian Resort and Spa I routinely saw guests crying upon departure, it was blatantly obvious that the holiday had had an emotional and utterly unforgettable impact on these guests.
It is a Fijian traditional to sing a song entitled Isa Lei.
It is a farewell and a blessing for a safe journey and a hope for return.
In the Resort I worked with if staff knew it was a guest’s final day (and they made it their business to know this) they would gather from across the restaurant, around the beach activities or throughout the reception hall and sing this song in perfect harmony.
In the course of almost four years, I would see this at least once per week.
Studies indicate that our perception of an experience in its entirety is largely dictated by the last third of the time spent on this experience.
What can you do to ensure the final stages of interaction with your customers is not only positive but unforgettable?
4. The Art of Recovery
There is indeed an art to recovering an unhappy guest.
When done superbly recovery can transform an unhappy guest into a brand champion.
Here are the key steps of professional recovery:
Service recovery is a subtle and powerful form of PR communication that is often avoided due to the prickly nature of these conversations.
However, tourism and hospitality operators have learnt the power a bad review on TripAdvisor or any other social media forum can have.
Does your team need training to gain confidence in service recovery?
5. The Wish You Were Here Reminder
Keeping in the forefront of your target markets mind is one of the most effective ways you can create repeat business.
In another stunning example of targeted and personalised marketing communication from my time in Fiji, any child that used the kids club or nanny service at the resort would received a personally written birthday card.
A famous New York steakhouse would send tiny bottles of their renowned steak sauce to regular customers who hadn’t dined in a month, telling them they were missed.
One of the easiest ways you can keep in the front of your customers’ minds and prompt repeat business is to offer high quality, regular content in the form of a blog or newsletter.
High quality content boosts your search engine ranking, grows you tribe of followers, converts followers into customers, prompts customers to become repeat clients and offers social proof of your position as a leader in your field.