Partnering with consumer brands can help hotels lower the costs and maximize the benefits of hosting media
Like a gleaming Corvette speeding on an interstate in some places, and an old banger chugging across a blue highway in others, travel certainly appears to be experiencing a resurgence these days. With the varying upticks come new opportunities for hotels to reveal to the media what waits for guests behind their doors.
One of the best ways to do that is tried and true: a press trip. But given that hotels weren’t making much money during the pandemic, many are now watching their budgets carefully and have little to splurge on hosting reporters. So to make the most of any opportunity to welcome media, consider splitting the cost and heightening the potential of a press trip by bringing on a consumer brand as a partner.
The potential benefits of press trip partnerships are myriad:
- Flush consumer brands can help defray the cost of things like airfare for invitees and daily activities to show off onsite amenities and local destinations.
- Partnerships can widen the field of media that attend. A luxury beauty brand, for instance, can open the door for writers and editors on the beauty, wellness and spa beats, while an upscale liquor or food brand may attract food and beverage writers and dining reviewers.
- Partnerships can also keep press trips fresh, enabling more concentrated promotion of revenue-driving aspects of a hotel such as a new signature facial at the spa, a new personal trainer or yoga programming at the fitness center, and new dishes and cocktails on the menu at the restaurant and the bar.
“It was the easiest partnership I ever did,” recalls Jennifer Hawkins, Founder and President of Hawkins International, of a press trip partnership she once put together between a luxury boutique hotel and a global fashion and accessories brand that was preparing to unveil its new product line. “It had something for both: The hotel was already partnering with the brand for in-room amenities, and the brand understood that the hotel’s loyal clientele intersected with its own.”
While Jennifer didn’t promote the press trip as a partnership per se, invited guests received a gift box featuring mini versions of the new product line, so both the brand and hotel ended up on the media’s radar.
Just as a hotel is only a building on a street until its guest rooms are full, so the latest lotion or liquor is just liquid in a bottle until it is showcased and savored in an appealing environment. Neither a hotel nor a brand should underestimate the other’s ability to deliver on their behalf for the media on a press trip, that is. “Each has a platform and an audience, and press trips are opportunities to capitalize on both,” notes Jennifer. “The coverage that results will be a boon all around.”
So – how to approach initiating a press trip partnership? Look at the brands that are part of your hotel’s guest experience, and let them know the benefits that you believe partnering will provide. Be upfront that they’ll need to split costs, but remind them that your property will be doing the essential work of ensuring the media are enjoying themselves – and the brand’s product – during the trip. And don’t forget to detail your hotel’s success with past press trips: Nothing sells like experience.
One more angle to consider on press trip partnerships as the world gets back into the swing of travel: With hotel budgets tight, Maverick Creative recently got two non-competing clients to partner and split the costs of a press trip within the same country. One was an historic city-center hotel; the other a lakeside castle. The distance between them was about 150 miles.
Each property did a “fabulous job on its half of the press trip,” recalls Catherine Colford, Managing Director of Maverick Creative, who notes that journalists aren’t nearly as interested in writing straightforward hotel reviews as they used to be. “They’re in it for an experience, and the partnership really delivered.”
Result? Some attendees wrote separate articles on each hotel, while others did joint pieces that sketched out a full itinerary for travelers to visit both properties. Either way, the partnership was a win-win.