Why PR is essential for the hospitality industry

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January 2018, a new year, a fresh start for many. For hoteliers this marks the centre point of the hospitality season, and a good time to consolidate strategies for the year ahead. Being such a highly competitive field, an effective public relations (PR) strategy is paramount, as this will enable long term, sustained messaging to assist in keeping the establishment top of mind.

With new developments constantly on the rise increasing rooms for occupancy, compounded by a shared economy with the likes of Airbnb, the hospitality industry, globally, is extremely competitive. Hotel public relations is a highly effective marketing tool for generating visibility and telling the story of the guest experience and connecting with your audience.

South Africa, and Cape Town more specifically, enjoys a consistent ebb and flow of tourism and a generous influx of locals visiting the Cape to relish its yield of world-class vineyards, beaches and restaurant offerings. However, with a recent drop of 28% in the travel and tourism sector, largely due to the repercussions of our drought, the time for hoteliers to sit up and get proactive is now!

Says Jade Allen, Managing Director of hospitality and lifestyle communications agency, Red Carpet Concepts: “Formulating a six to 12-month forecast is essential for establishments to align strategies with their consumers’ interests and curiosities. Announcements, news releases, and events should be carefully spaced apart so there is no period of inactivity through the year. A strong PR partnership, with a field specialist, is highly recommended for the conceptualization, curation and implementation of a long-term communication strategy. Taking into consideration seasonal temperaments and travel climates an equipped PR agency will assist in measuring and tapping into consumer interests to help drive campaigns and secure desired results.”

High and low seasons must both be accounted for, with packages and season specials to attract bookings even during the slow months. Corporate or family packages, couple’s getaways and local travel specials are always a win. Off-season is also an opportune time to invite travel and lifestyle media to stay at the establishment and fully experience everything it has to offer in order to report on their first-hand experiences. Readers tend to gravitate towards reviews rather than advertisements as they carry a greater weight in integrity and honesty.

Other interesting topics to map out along the annual forecast to create hype and accrue bookings include: new restaurants or restaurant specials, seasonal menu launches, hotel awards, new appointments, spa specials, interior design upgrades, as well as special events and experiences. Collectively these types of talk factor topics keep the brand active and relevant in a competitive space, specifically pertaining to the luxury hotel business being predominantly service based.

“Brand journalism and content marketing must be newsworthy, relevant and drive a strong call-to-action. In the current climate of our tech driven world it is important to ensure that strategy covers traditional press channels of print and broadcast as well as the digital sphere, where social media has largely taken an upper hand in our personal and business engagements. As more traditional PR methods tend to be more timeous, online media portals, digital magazines and blogs are platforms which offer us immediate results. Thus a good mix of sustained messaging across a multitude of platforms is essential for sustained messaging” adds Allen.

Gaining visibility in the hospitality industry means being creative in what you plan, as well as what you promote. Content curation or content creation must be meaningful. Hoteliers should be investing in placing stories with press releases, diary listings, social media and direct marketing channels to enjoy a healthy return on investment. For well written, compelling stories journalists and copy writers key to the field will have a better understanding of the internal workings of the media and a good harness of what will grasp the customers’

Hospitality, Industry, PRJade Allen