Experience, excite, engage

By Natalie Blachford

Think experiential is just a buzzword for big brands that isn’t impacting on hotel marketing? Think again – from VR to popup performances, creating new and memorable experiences should be an essential element of every hotel’s marketing plan.

Often when people think of experiential marketing it’s heavily-themed immersive experiences or wild and outrageous stunts that come to mind, but actually anything that creates interaction between a brand and consumer can be experiential.

Almost every hotel is already creating experiences for its guests – tasting menus, spa treatments, on-site activities, in-room technology – and these are all things that build connections with guests and allow them to create their own content, which, once posted on social media, turns those guests into your brand ambassadors.

To take this further, think about how you can offer something unique or bespoke – nothing makes consumers feel more valued than being treated as an individual. Have a signature dish in your restaurant? Why not host exclusive masterclasses with your head chef to learn how to make it?

Location can provide great hooks for experiential marketing. Use what your local area is famous for or tie into events or activities happening nearby: if you’ve got a thriving local arts scene you could host a pop-up exhibition or meet and greet with an artist, or if there’s a festival happening you could run a competition to win backstage passes.

Personalisation is a huge opportunity for hotels to improve the guest experience and make customers feel more valued. From asking what their favourite drinks are to create a personalised minibar or have their favourite cocktail waiting on arrival, to creating a loyalty programme based on their preferences, the growth of personalisation is limitless.

Research supports the value of personalisation too – Hubspot reported that personalised calls to action convert 202% better than generic versions, while Revinate found that 86% of consumers said that personalisation plays a role in their purchasing decisions.

It’s not just about consumer marketing either; experiential can also be a great way to reach corporate markets. It’s worth remembering that even if your focus is B2B, the decision makers you’re trying to reach are consumers too.

For example, if you’re trying to sell your meeting space it’s all well and good reeling off the capacities of every room, but is that really what’s going to convince an event organiser that your hotel or venue is better than any other? They say a picture is worth a thousand words but think how much greater that could be amplified if you could take people on a virtual tour of your venue through VR, allowing them to walk through the space and see the set-up for themselves.

Experiential isn’t about blowing all your marketing budget on one make-or-break activity – it’s about identifying new ways to engage with your audience, amplifying social sharing, reaching potential new audiences and using what you already do well to set you apart from the competition.

This article first appeared in Curious, issue one.