Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Everybody likes to laugh

Everybody likes to laugh.

Over the years, we’ve used humor in hotel advertising. Like these ads for the Pier House Resort in Key West – for the hotel and one of the bars there.

If you Google “funny hotel advertising” you are guaranteed to come across a wide selection of very funny ads for a happily (even proudly) shabby hotel/youth hostel/something-or-other, the Hans Brinker Hotel – “quite honestly not the best, but definitely the most memorable hostel in Lisbon and Amsterdam.”

Definitely not for everybody, but very much for their target. Their ads have been winning awards for years – and this budget hotel is known around the world. This is fairly typical of what they do.

They have a great not-for-everybody-but-just-right-for-the-right-people website too.

A salesman once said “nobody ever bought anything when they weren’t smiling.” We’d suggest that perhaps a casket for a loved one might be an exception, but the point is well-taken. And a bit of humor could be just what we all need these days, don’t you think?

Humor isn’t all that easy and not everybody is good at it, but here’s a little secret: Your ad agency loves. So maybe let ‘em take a run at it.

Everybody likes to laugh.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The path to direct bookings

The path to direct booking is really pretty clear.

In almost any Google Analytics report you see, branded searches produce the most website visits. That is, a search for "Your Hotel," not "Hotels in Town."

So it seems to us to be fairly simple:

Increase awareness for "Your Hotel" . . .

        which will generate more branded searches . . .

                which will generate more website visits . . .

                        which, if your website is doing what it ought to do, will generate
                         more direct bookings.

Of course, if your goal is increased occupancy at any rate, garden-variety PPC alone can do a fine job of pushing discounted rates. But in a way, that sort of fights with the goal of increasing revenue with more direct bookings. You can give away revenue on an OTA. So maybe PPC alone isn't the answer.

So it begs the question - how do you generate more awareness for something other than discounted rate?

Advertising (online, print, social media, etc.) and public relations.

It really doesn't have to be that complicated.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The difference between a Brand a a tag line

That's not a Brand. That's a tag line.

It's probaby a good idea, now and then, to remind everybody the difference between a Brand and a tag line.

A Brand can be a tag line, but not all tag lines are actual Brands. (Sort of like all hens are chickens, but not all chickens are hens. Or something like that.)

A Brand is a supportable differentiation around which you deliver a unique value. It’s a guide and a way of thinking that can drive everything you do to market yourself.

A tag line is something else altogether. It's an expression of your Brand or a hook to illustrate your Brand. A couple of Brand positions we developed and like are "Undeniably Key West" for the Pier House Resort, "Sensory Magic" for Sunset at the Palms in Jamaica. "Sensory Magic" is also used as a tag line.

In the case of Pier House, over the course of eight years, we used both "Flagship hotel of the Key West state of mind" and "This is Key West" as tag lines. The Brand is reflected in both of them.

Both of those Brand positions are supportable and deliver unique value. Something like "Timeless Luxury" or "New England's oldest all-inclusive" don’t either one deliver anything unique.

The idea of a Brand is to distinguish yourself from your competition. Sometimes people come up with tag lines they think sound pretty snappy, and think they've got themselves a Brand.

Maybe. But probably not.

Monday, August 5, 2019

So what?

People don't buy features. They buy benefits.

It’s one of the first things anybody studying or breaking into advertising learns. At least it should be.

Good advertising is built around benefits, not features.

Truth is, people don’t come to your hotel for the beach or the restaurant or the 300-thread-count sheets. They come for the joy of the beach, the culinary thrill of a good restaurant or the comfort of those sheets.

Maybe even the escape from reality you offer or all that extra legroom in your oversized suites.

In fact, ad agency creatives often use the “so what?” test when evaluating headlines or ad ideas. Answer the question and lead with that.

So take a look at what you’re saying on your website or in your ads.

Are you selling benefits?


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Squirt guns and budgets

An inadequate ad budget is like bringing a squirt gun to a street fight.

Maybe it's because people don't think advertising is worth spending anything on or it's because they think advertising is such a powerful tool that they don't need to spend much on it to get a benefit.

Maybe they think that simply throwing up a Facebook page or hopping on the Twitter Autobahn is enough. Or they are thrilled that social media seems to be free. 

Who knows?

But we do know that when someone is investing several million dollars in a new property or improvements to an existing one, it is the height of folly not to make an adequate investment in telling people about it. It seems a bit shortsighted not to include a healthy marketing communications budget as a key part of the up-front planning.

Because, make no mistake about it, the whole arena of getting attention for your business is a big, nasty, wild-west street fight. With some smart, aggressive characters in it. 

Whether you do it on the web (in paid or social media), in a newspaper or a magazine or on a billboard, radio or television, if you want people to know about whateverthehellitisyou'redoing, you're going to have to tell them.

It doesn't matter how nice your hotel is, how great your restaurant will be or how much meeting space you have. It won't count for much if nobody knows about it.

"If you build it they will come" only works in the movies.

And only in one movie at that. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Five chefs make a meal together

Five chefs make a meal together.

Each one is on his or her own, with his or her own ideas about what makes a good meal. And his or her own particular strengths, specialties and abilities. Naturally, each of them wants to be the Big Dog in the Kitchen.

This is kind of like hotel marketing today. There's an ad agency for the ads, a graphic designer or firm for the collateral, a digital firm (or maybe just a "web guy") for the website and PPC. There’s someone doing the public relations – maybe a firm and maybe just somebody internally who isn't too busy. And e-mails and social media in there somewhere.

That's a lot of people. And it's easy to see how each of them could sincerely believe that their particular channel is the best for the client. (Just look how often you read some digital agency executive proclaim that print is dead or television is dead or social media is the only thing that matters anymore.)

It's a lot to manage. Especially for a DOSM who already has a full plate.

Doubling up may seem to simplify things, but it usually doesn’t work so well. A web firm can’t do collateral or advertising as well as a design studio or an ad agency. Nor can a PR firm do a website as well as a digital firm. And an ad agency usually can’t do PR nearly as well as a PR professional. Design studios are rarely built to handle social media. And on and on.

Point is, almost nobody does everything best, but everybody does something best. But how do you to make sure those everybodys are all rowing in the same direction while they do what they do best?

Have a clear Brand position and an equally clear strategy for delivering it, that’s how. A Brand your whole team understands and a strategy they all know how to deliver.

Almost nothing can make your marketing as effective and cost-efficient as a clearly defined Brand. With a clear Brand – and a clear strategy for delivering it – all of the players on your marketing team can more easily work together. And what one does will enhance and reinforce what the others are doing. Not fight with it.

Investing in Brand development or Brand clarification is what's known in the biz as a "Good Investment." Read more about Brand here

Remember, a moose is a horse designed by a committee. Or a bunch of chefs. Or a thousand monkeys with typewriters. Or something like that.