In 2022, hotel room revenues in the United States are expected to exceed 2019 levels, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. But how can hotel chains build loyalty and win new business when there are so many competitors trying to do the same? One method used by many large chains is national or global advertising. Smaller brands can also participate on a regional or local scale.
However, it’s important for media spend to have an impact, especially when hotel chains or independent operations have tight marketing budgets. Brands need to figure out how to develop effective ads that will encourage customers to book their next getaway at one of their properties.
How Advertising Turns Businesses Into Brands
Hotel brands can approach advertising in two different ways. The first is wide-reach or brand-building advertising, which takes advantage of repeated exposure over a longer period of time. Entertainment is a must, as some people might not be familiar with the brand. To entertain, eliciting an emotional response, preferably happiness, is necessary.
The second method is sales activation or performance advertising, which calls a brand back at a specific time to prompt an action such as a purchase. The effects are more immediate and short-term, but won’t be felt if a brand hasn’t dedicated its spend to brand building efforts.
- Improves brand recall. Brand building advertising implants a brand in the long-term memory of a large population and can help that same brand enter the mind of a traveler before their competitors when they wish to book travel. The creation of mental availability does not happen instantly: brands must invest in the long term to increase their notoriety.
- Drives market share growth. The hotel industry is made up of several major global brands and many small and medium-sized brands. Advertising that entertains the audience generates long-term market share growth.
- Reduces price sensitivity. With many hotels facing increased employee salaries and food expenses, as well as fluctuating booking patterns, costs may need to be passed on to guests to remain profitable. Brand building advertising helps improve customer loyalty and reduce sensitivity to price increases.
Reserving media spend for commercially effective ads
The key to making hotel brands stand out from their competition is to invest in brand building advertising that accomplishes the following:
- Make people feel. The most successful campaigns use an emotional strategy because ads that elicit positive emotions like happiness have been proven to lead to greater long-term growth. Brands should play on the right hemisphere of the brain, which is more emotionally receptive and can more easily process humor.
- Use fluid appliances. Distinctive brand assets include everything from colors to logos to fonts. When a branded asset focuses on the living, such as recurring characters or storylines, it’s called a fluid device. Fluent devices speed processing and entertain audiences.
- Celebrate diversity. Hotels have a diverse customer base, and when ads celebrate diversity through inclusive casting and storytelling, they perform better than the average ad with the general population. Various advertisements also generally generate higher feelings of happiness among the underrepresented groups that are featured. Thus, highlighting the experiences of underrepresented groups is essential. However, diversity cannot be seen as a ‘tick box’ exercise. There are still various ads that miss the mark, so it’s important for brands to leverage other right-brain characteristics like humor, characters with agency, distinctive assets, and nostalgia to encourage viewers to pay attention.
- Use the right channels. TV, outdoor and radio ads still offer the widest exposure, so brands interested in digital channels should weigh the potential reach of platforms such as streaming TV and TikTok to determine whether their target audiences use them regularly.
Attract customers’ attention
In a competitive market, every hotel brand wants to attract new customers and retain them. Investing in brand building advertising is essential. With the above best practices in mind, brands can develop memorable ads that help them gain more market share and profits.
About the Author
Lisa Buckler is senior vice president of growth and partnerships for System1.