At the core of any memorable hotel stay is the experience. The experience of travel, the experience of your hotel and the experience of the destination itself.
Every hotel has a room and in that room lives a bed, a desk, a bathroom and perhaps even an iron! Of course, you need to provide those details, but telling that story alone is unlikely to whet the appetite. Telling the story of how your hotel came to be, how it’s just moments from an award winning bakery, how within minutes you can be exploring hundreds of years of history… these are the stories that pique the interest of prospective guests. These are the stories that can start to shape your guest’s experience, long before they consider booking.
So why should you tell stories as part of your hotel marketing strategy? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…
Stories Inspire Us to Travel, Often Impulsively
As Google’s Travel Trends 2016 report showed, travelers increasingly illustrate impulsive behavior in I-want-to-get-away moments, instigated by the content they’re digesting. Indeed, 82% of travelers hadn’t chosen their accommodation provider and 78% hadn’t thought about which airline they’d fly with when they first started thinking about taking a trip. Often they’ll turn to search engines or YouTube for inspiration – a well optimized, structured and edited story in these channels could help steer customers your way. As Google’s study suggests, brands must “be there and be useful”.
And being useful has benefit for you too; 67% of travelers are more likely to book with a travel brand that provides relevant information for the destinations they’re interested in visiting.
Stories Stick in the Mind
Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, conducted a study that suggested stories are remembered up to 22 times more effectively than just facts/stats alone. Now the irony is, this blog post contains quite a few stats, but it’s a challenge to write a ‘once upon a time’ post on the theory!
Stories Help Place Guests in Your Hotel
Evocative messaging, strong imagery, compelling video, 360 tours… all of these types of content help contribute to your hotel’s story. What’s it like to stay at your hotel? What’s in the local area? What atmosphere does the city have? Conjuring up an experience through a computer screen helps guests visualize themselves staying with you, long before they reach your check in desk.
Stories Aren’t Just Written
The written word is perhaps how many of us are used to digesting stories, but digitization has meant a shift towards more visual storytelling.
In fact, imagery is cognitively easier for us to process. Studies have shown that our brains process imagery 60,000 times faster than text; thus exceeding the adage that an image speaks a thousand words! And if a picture speaks 60,000 words, what about video? Today as much as 65% of leisure travelers watch a video when thinking about taking a trip.
It’s also worth noting that simple visual storytelling can transcend language – meaning a more inclusive, wide reaching opportunity to speak to multiple audiences from many different countries.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that written content has had its day – a balanced approach will cater to all tastes, just make sure you avoid the clichés!
Your Brand Story Should be Consistent
Ensure a consistent story when it comes to your brand. If guests read differing facts and perspectives about your hotel on various sites and channels, they’ll lose faith. However, consistency shouldn’t be at the cost of platform-specific messaging. As a basic example, you’d be hard pressed writing much of a story on Twitter within 140 characters, whereas your language can be much more expressive in a 700-word blog post!
Stories Help Position Your Hotel as Being Integral to the Experience – The Adventure Couldn’t Happen Without You!
Take a look at Marriott’s Traveler site as a prime example. They’ve taken storytelling to the next level with a wide variety of travel content that offers value to travelers, while softly promoting their hotel brands at the destinations they’re discussing. In doing so, they draw a strong association between their hotels and the destinations themselves.
Yes, Marriott has a large team feverishly creating vast amounts of content and you may feel daunted at the prospect of trying to compete. However, often these teams are centralized, working far from the city they’re writing about, placing the advantage back with the independent hotelier, on the ground in the city they’re based.
What’s your story?
Tell your stories and entice guests to your hotel, then help them create their own. Even help them share their stories after their trip on your blog or social media. The success of sites like TripAdvisor is founded upon our inquisitiveness to read about other people’s experiences and stories!
Sam Weston is an experienced digital marketing professional who has worked both client and agency side with a focus on the hospitality industry. Currently, he is Marketing Manager for a full service creative and digital marketing agency specialising in luxury hospitality and travel, 80 DAYS, and principal editor of the hotel and travel marketing community Hotel Speak.