Podcasts continue to be one of our favorite ways to drum up new ideas and get the latest news when it comes to industry trends, but it’s also a great medium for us to chat strategy! This week, our very own Jennifer Hawkins sat down with Craig Sullivan, Founder & President of California Lodging Investment Conference to talk about the travel landscape, how hotels are coping with the crisis, and why now is the time to double down on tailoring messaging through PR and social media.
The podcast is only 30 minutes long making it the perfect tool to tap into before your next brainstorm or strategy meeting (give it a listen here), but for those who digest information better in quick and concise sound bites, we’ve pulled out some key quotes and typed them up for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
“The media world is different today, as is how hotels are welcoming back their guests. We’re here to help them pivot. We know that no one can operate under business as usual and we’ve found that our clients are being a lot more tactical.”
Despite the world being turned upside down, hotels still have a story to tell – even if that story looks a little different. Marketing budgets are tight and stress levels are high, but it’s as important to tell your story as ever before. Our key takeaway? Don’t be silent! When asked about communicating with a hotel’s audience, right now, Jennifer explains that we as an agency have rethought what it means to connect with media, beyond just email interactions. We recently held a virtual roundtable for a few of our clients, including Montage International, which was received very well by the media and the General Managers who participated in the event. “We have to keep those dialogues open, and that is what I would suggest to hotels, really be engaged with all of your audiences and there are so many creative ways to do this.”
Montage is also getting creative in what they are offering travelers. They recently kicked off Montage Academy in partnership with tutor.com which allows students who are attending school remotely to stay at the hotel, have access to these services, and participate in fun activities after school is done for the day. Creativity is key moving forward, Jennifer explained, “let’s adapt to the moment instead of encouraging guests to come to a hotel for the same past reasons.” Travel looks different now – the way we approach guest experiences (and messaging) needs to be too.
There’s no denying that low occupancy is a gut-wrenching problem for hotels, but we here at Hawkins International are the silver-lining type and know that there is opportunity to be found. “We’re suggesting to our clients that they use this downtime to do things they wouldn’t normally do, such as renovations or a content capture trip.” As renovations can sometimes take out a whole floor or a hotel lobby out of commission, now is the time to do it with the least disruptions to guests or bookings. If we’re talking about opportunities on the marketing and communications front, now is an opportune time to dedicate resources to visual content creation! On a recent content capture trip, which took place just before the property reopened, our team had the whole resort to themselves and were able to capture images and videos without having to worry about preserving guests’ privacy – which should be a concern for all luxury hotels. Even if a hotel isn’t closed, this low-occupancy time can be used to get time with the staff, for videos of a hotel’s chef in action or capture those visual assets a property would normally not have availability for.
For hotels that may be thinking about public relations and social media marketing at this time, Hawkins says, “we’d love to engage with any hotel that knows they have an amazing story to tell.” With writers on staff and excellent relationships with editors, Hawkins International’s bread and butter is getting hotel news and information to the press and bridging those relationships between the client and the media, and prospective and past guests on social media.