Hotel content marketing is increasingly important simply because in the hotel (and wider business) world, content is a vital part of the mix in building loyal customers.
And, as all businesses know, loyal customers are literally worth their weight in gold: one often cited piece of research concluded that improving customer retention by just five per cent can improve profitability by between 25 per cent and 95 per cent.
Are clients loyal to hotels?
The hotel sector has the advantage of having always understood the enormous value of loyal guests who return over and over again ‒ something that the legendary Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, a Dialogue client, prides itself on.
Josef Vielhuber, resident manager at the hotel, gave us an insight into how it has secured a legendary reputation dating back 125 years, along with a ‘family’ of repeat visitors. Read the article in full.
“It’s our job to know our guests and find out what they love, to know their preferences, the flowers they like in their room, their favourite aperitif. If someone tells me their mattress was slightly too soft we would replace it. By building a relationship with our guests, they feel comfortable and can confide in us if they need anything.
“The best compliment we could ask for is our repeat guests ‒ when they return here again and again, they tell us they are coming home. They are part of our Badrutt’s Palace Hotel family. One of our guests has been coming here for 60 years.”
The success of Badrutt’s Palace is based on the century-old conversation the hotel has conducted with its guests, understanding their preferences and creating an experience tailored to their needs – the principles that underpin successful hotel loyalty programmes. And now translated through hotel content marketing.
Check out our work with Badrutt’s Palace.
Loyalty and hotels
Travel media company Ink recently convened a panel of more than 100 industry experts to look at travel post-pandemic and found many consumers yearned to return to places they had been before:
“Seeking the familiar, from favourite foods to places that feel like a second home, was a recurring motif… the desire to return to somewhere that holds a special place in our hearts highlights the emotional quality of travel.”
Our tendency to be creatures of habit predisposes us to be loyal, which hotel content marketing and loyalty programmes can use to encourage return visits and maximise returns.
As professional services firm Deloitte says in its report Winning the Race for Guest Loyalty:
“Engaged loyalty makes a customer’s value greater than the sum of its parts. A business traveller who is actively loyal to one brand might do far more business with that brand than the aggregate amount of business he or she might do with five brands to whom he or she feels no real attraction. So sharing five indifferent travellers with four other brands might be less valuable than winning the active loyalty of a single traveller.”
According to The Loyalty Report 2020 from Bond, research among almost 70,000 consumers globally indicates that hotels have a strong advantage in building guest loyalty. The report found strong levels of support for loyalty programmes, which underlines the importance of the hotel and wider business world’s mantra of ‘say, stay, spend’ as a route to success.
- Say – 72 per cent said: ‘I am more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programmes.’
- Stay – 78 per cent said: ‘Programmes make me more likely to continue doing business with brands.’
- Spend – 64 per cent said: ‘I modify amount spent to maximise points.’
The evolution of hotel loyalty programmes
What makes a successful hotel loyalty programme? While consumers have a desire for them, research by US travel loyalty and booking technology platform arrivia suggests many companies are falling short in delivering value. Their survey of industry decision-makers revealed 27 per cent admitting they fail to offer enough variety when it comes to travel options, and 28 per cent report that they struggle to demonstrate the value of their rewards.
Approaches to initiatives need to evolve. Simply earning points now feels very 20th century to today’s socially and digitally clued-up millennial and Gen Z consumers.
Content plays a key role in building brand awareness and loyalty, helping the consumer understand more about the business they’ve bought from – especially when consumers are often a member of multiple loyalty schemes.
Discover the role content marketing plays in customer retention.
Meanwhile, new research from travel industry intelligence platform Skift suggests that companies have the potential to unlock value at every stage of the user journey. But when it comes to loyalty, what is significant is ensuring consumer-first choices to build loyalty, as well as using AI to make offers feel more human.
Hyatt’s loyalty programme
Brands such as Hyatt are building loyalty by going ‘beyond the stay’, offering a carefully curated mix of strategic alliances, unique experiences and new opportunities for guests to earn from their daily spending, based on customer feedback.
As Gretchen Kloke, Hyatt’s Vice President of Global Marketing says of the brand’s World of Hyatt loyalty programme:
“World of Hyatt is grounded in listening… we are more committed than ever to understanding our guests’ and members’ needs in order to deliver personalised care, distinct experiences, and tailored content.”
Members of World of Hyatt, which launched in 2017, can access its offer in a variety of ways. Different membership levels enable members to earn and redeem points for hotel stays, dining, spa services and wellbeing-focused experiences, via the scheme’s FIND platform, with members also enjoying benefits through Hyatt’s strategic collaborations.
- American Airlines AAdvantage – World of Hyatt members earn AAdvantage miles on top of World of Hyatt points.
- Small Luxury Hotels of the World – World of Hyatt members enjoy a range of exclusive privileges.
- Lindblad Expeditions – World of Hyatt members can earn and redeem World of Hyatt points for Lindblad Expeditions journeys, with other perks such as access to specially curated Lindblad Expedition experiences through FIND.
Meanwhile, the World of Hyatt App allows members to track points and view hotel bills, connect to member support and, in participating hotels, enjoy enhanced digital check-ins and digital key access to their rooms. It also enables members to explore Hyatt’s hotels, search for special offers and book stays, while Headspace provides the app’s meditations and mindfulness content and members can stream entertainment or fitness workouts to their in-room TV through Chromecast.
Does World of Hyatt work? The fact that it now has 22 million members seems to speak for itself.
“The World of Hyatt … loyalty programme focuses on deepening relationships with members, driving repeat stays, guest satisfaction, recognition, and differential services and experiences for our most loyal guests. Our digital platforms are our primary distribution channels…with a combined focus on increasing brand awareness, building a community of loyalists, and enhancing digital engagement.”
Hyatt 2020 annual report
Best hotel loyalty programmes
The Bond Loyalty Report highlights three other brands with leading hotel loyalty programmes – Hilton Honors, MGM M life Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy Rewards.
In seeking to build their own ‘community of loyalists’, these brands’ programmes offer similar benefits to World of Hyatt, though with some interesting differences. MGM, for example, has close casino business connections and recognises the likely interest of its hotel users by offering MGM M life Rewards members gaming-related benefits.
The Marriott Bonvoy Rewards has all the elements you would expect from a high-level hotel loyalty programme, but also offers a dedicated online travel magazine, Marriot Bonvoy Traveler, which describes its ethos as:
“We tell the stories that awaken the wanderlust that lives in you; the stories that inspire you to explore the world’s greatest destinations and empower you to travel well. Good travel starts here.”
The magazine has its own YouTube channel and offers podcasts, including the Let’s Talk Points strand, which taps into the ‘word of mouth is the best advertising’ theme by featuring:
“Inspiring stories of Marriott Bonvoy members who have redeemed points for unique experiences around the world like concerts and sporting events offered exclusively by the Marriott Bonvoy programme.”
The magazine and podcasts are also available to non-members, using Marriott Bonvoy’s content marketing to spread the word on its loyalty programme to help convert non-member users to members.
The future of hotels?
Despite this, hotels face huge new challenges.
Although still negotiating a post-Covid landscape, there are new opportunities too. Skift Research’s Global Travel Outlook 2022 suggests that consumers are now taking advantage of hybrid working to extend their stays. As a result, loyalty programmes and related content needs to work much harder - just 47 per cent of leisure travellers belong to hotel loyalty programmes versus 64 per cent of business travellers.
This has a knock-on effect for hotels and how they market to their target and existing consumers, as well as their bigger picture initiatives.
Consumer companies in luxury goods, clothing, drinks and even fast food are disrupting the status quo by positioning themselves as lifestyle brands, with a growing presence in the travel and hospitality sectors tailor-made to attract social media-savvy younger consumers looking for unique and Instagram-friendly experiences to populate their feeds.
Capitalising on this interest in stepping outside the mainstream, non-hospitality brands see hotels as a new avenue to connect with consumers. The jeweller and luxury goods firm Bulgari has a string of hotels, including one in London, and designer Christian Louboutin is following in the footsteps of fashion houses such as Versace and Armani by launching a hotel, which is due to open in Portugal in 2021.
Meanwhile, the Equinox Fitness Company has opened a luxury hotel in New York, and household and clothing firm Muji has one hotel in its home country Japan and two in China. As one commentator wrote:
“Muji has successfully created hospitality spaces which offer continuous consumer touch points and enhances rich customer experiences.”
To combat these new entrants to their market – and the attractions of alternatives such as Airbnb – major hotel chains are responding to consumers’ desire for original experiences with their own boutique brands and partnerships designed specifically for hotel loyalty programme members.
World of Hyatt’s exclusive alliance with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) gives members the opportunity to earn and redeem points and receive exclusive on-property benefits at any participating SLH hotel.
Another Hyatt innovation is the hotel experience, in your own ‘home’. Its Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London – part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection of one-of-a-kind hotels – includes the two-bedroom Townhouse, where a stay combines all the comforts and individuality of a high-end private home with the five-star service and amenities of a luxury hotel.
Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph Collection adopts a similar approach in its 200 independent hotels worldwide (‘No two Autograph Collection hotels are the same, but they all leave their mark with a unique point of distinction and a singular story to tell’), while Hilton describes its Tapestry Collection as an opportunity to “immerse yourself in the local community through our collection of independent hotels”.
Such developments illustrate these brands’ increasing willingness to innovate and diversify as part of their pursuit of hotel loyalty by responding to customers’ desire for a personalised, more individual, experience. It is this focus on guests’ motivation, and building an offering that provides meaningful rewards, that the Deloitte report concludes will tip visitors from passive to active loyalty and create a sense of belonging around the hotel brand: “From that point forward, every step through your lobby door will be a welcome home.”
Sustainability and hotel marketing
And of course, it’s also important to consider the role that sustainability must now play when it comes to travel.
Sustainable travel is increasingly a nebulous term meaning different things to different people. However, any travel or tourism initiatives must now consider current and future economic, social and environmental impacts that they’re having through their business.
Sustainability is significant for all consumers now and something escalated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new travel consumer is emerging and they want safety (of course), personalisation and what is being called ‘meaningful travel’: i.e. it supports minorities and the environment. Find out more about who is the new travel consumer.
However, the idea that hotels are inviting visitors to keep coming back doesn’t look so good through the lens of sustainability.
But how to approach this? It’s an important issue and one that hotels must get to grips with. Take a look at our blog on how to get sustainable travel content marketing right.
How can Dialogue support hotel content marketing and loyalty programmes?
The stakes are high for hotel brands in the face of new and emerging challenges, but investment in activities and content marketing designed to convert guests from occasional customers to regular guests is likely to deliver valuable returns.
As Badrutt’s Palace Hotel highlights, the ability and desire to identify what consumers want, customise each guest’s experience and fine-tune the hotel’s offering are crucial to building hotel loyalty.
Alongside Dialogue’s print and digital expertise, we have extensive experience in working with luxury clients and building brand communities, including through the use of bespoke apps which can be used for concierge services. The app can be populated and managed in the first instance and then updated by the hotel brand’s own concierge team and clients. The information gathered through the app, such as analysis of what hotel guests are recommending, will enhance the brand’s understanding of its clients and informs further marketing and content based on this insight.
We are also experienced in creating bespoke partnerships between brands, aligning collaborators for mutual benefit, such as pairing hotel groups with travel brands offering subscription services.
After the huge disruption of the pandemic, those with an appetite for travel will be hungrier than ever. The upheaval has also led us to re-evaluate what is important to us and be more focused on experiences that enrich and add meaning to our lives. Hotel brands that tailor their content marketing to support guest loyalty in this new era are likely to build a community of guests that see their hotels as a second home.
Hotel content marketing examples
There are numerous hotel content marketing examples - after all, the richness of travel and tourism aligns itself nicely with content. But some examples to whet your appetite...
Marriott Bonvoy uses podcasts to build relationships with its loyalty club members (which recently combined that of Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest). The podcasts focus on niche topics, but ones that seek to engage regular visitors and sync with the Marriott Bonvoy Traveler magazine.
Find out more about creating podcasts for brands.
Meanwhile, Shangri La Hotels and Resorts run a user-generated campaign, asking users to take pictures of their ‘Shangri-La’ moments and share them on Instagram. They are incentivised with the potential to win a free stay at one of the 10 hotels.
The Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam has a digital magazine, bringing to life the hotel experience through gastronomy, leisure and culture in the city, all the while adapting to the user journey.
Find out more about getting the most out of digital magazines.
Design Hotels is another brand leaning into the value of quality hotel content writing and visual content. Aimed at visitors who love technology, art, and well-being, their beautifully curated Experiences pages showcase hotel content marketing that creates all the inspiration for the next trip.
Hotel content marketing case study
Since 2019, Dialogue has worked with Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, known internationally for its luxury and attention to customer care, to support the hotel’s content marketing in reaching out to the ultra-high net worth individuals who are its returning guests and potential new ones.
As Richard Leuenberger, managing director of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, says:
“Most of our guests come back again and again, so we understand their needs and preferences. It allows us to deliver an exemplary and unique experience. We stay true to our roots and maintain the style and spirit for which we are renowned and loved. At the same time, my job is to evolve and innovate our offering so we are always relevant to our guests.”
Read the full article.
In line with the hotel’s desire for relevance, we provided a full refresh for its bilingual magazine Tower Revue, to ensure excellence in content, design, production quality and advertising. Distributed at the hotel and mailed to regular bookers, the print magazine helps connect guests to Badrutt’s Palace.
Meanwhile, a new digital strategy is designed to attract new visitors and promote the hotel to a wider audience. A microsite supports the magazine with a feed of fresh content that has amplified to reach another audience of potential guests.
Find out more about our hotel content marketing with Badrutt’s Palace.
We can help you with any of your hotel content marketing issues, take advantage of our FREE accessible digital content consultation here.