Do we confuse Hotel Marketing with Self Promotion?

Business, Hotels, News, Trends

In this article Jeremy Bassett considers whether investors owners and operators confuse Hotel Marketing with Self Promotion.

Many years ago, when I first started serious international travel on behalf of the banking organisations that employed me, I was always drawn to Holiday Inn. In those days, their hotel marketing was along the lines of “you can wake up anywhere in the World in a Holiday Inn and not know where you are”.

This was meant as a reassurance that, from Alaska to Zaire, you’d get the same standard of hotel accommodation and service. In the days when mobile phones were just a vision on Star Trek and our Travel Department made all the arrangements through the ‘corporate travel agent’, knowing that there was something thousands of miles away that would be familiar and comfortable, made travel to new and remote places much less stressful.

Nowadays of course, we live in a completely different, and much smaller, world, where Google maps and travel ratings websites have moved the power from supplier to buyer. I no longer hope for something that will provide a semblance of “home comfort” in a far flung corner of a developing economy. Home comfort is just the entry level nowadays – I want a far more expanded experience that meets 21st century expectations rather than allaying 20th century misgivings.

So has the Hotel and broader hospitality sector realised that now they need to talk to me about my needs and experiences, rather than talk about themselves in that way I found reassuring decades ago? Have they stopped confusing self promotion with Hotel Marketing?

It appears not.

Here are a few statements from websites of leading, global, 5-star hotels, that show how little they understand niche marketing (that’s talking to you and me, about you and me) as opposed to promotion (that’s them talking about them).

“Whether you are visiting for a corporate engagement or family holiday…” Well in my book there is a world of difference, and I’m not drawn to anyone who lumps us all together and thinks it will make me happy!

“The hotel itself is well-equipped to handle your business requirements. We have fast, reliable wifi connectivity throughout the establishment, various conference facilities, quiet sitting areas for more intimate meetings and an exceptional restaurant and bar area should you wish to entertain….” These are basic entry level facilities that I could get in any 3-star Hotel in the UK. Where is the experience for the business traveller, why would this entice me to stay in this 5-star hotel on business?

And finally under the heading ‘5 Star Service’ we get this; “Expect a prompt response to every request, courteous room service and impressive attention to detail…..” Wow! That’s the clincher……………..NOT!!

So who has got it right? Well the ever expanding UK Boutique Hotel market is doing well. These Hoteliers have based their business model on niching and it soon becomes obvious that they know exactly who they are targeting and how to engage with them. No scattergun – ‘one messages reaches all’ nonsense here.

Yes, they also use intelligent promotional communications, but within the niche, sub dividing still further, not just throwing something out and hoping the attendant glossy image of the spa area will convince me this Hotel knows me and understands me.

At Hospitality Business Development, we put niche, target Hotel Marketing high up on our agenda in conversations with Hotel owners and investors who want to be maximising hotel profitability. It’s not the panacea for all ills, far from it, but as a key component of any successful Hotel’s business mix, the move from self promotion to hotel marketing is critical.


Jeremy Bassett is Head of Strategic Marketing at Hospitality Business Development

He is a Chartered Marketer; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Founder and Fellow of the Strategic Management Forum.  



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