Marketing-Focused: Attracting Travelers Through Effective Advertising

In 2022, U.S. hotel room revenue is projected to surpass 2019 levels, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. But how can hospitality chains gain loyalty and win new business when there are so many competitors trying to do the same? One method that many large chains use is advertising on a national or global scale. Smaller brands can also participate on a regional or local scale.

However, it’s important for media spend to make an impact, especially when hospitality chains or independent operations have tight marketing budgets. Brands must understand how to develop effective ads that will encourage guests to book their next getaway at one of their properties.

How Advertising Transforms Companies Into Brands

Hospitality brands can approach advertising in two different ways. The first is broad-reach or brand-building advertising, which leverages repeated exposure over a longer period. Entertainment is a must, as some people might not be familiar with the brand. To entertain, eliciting an emotional response, preferably happiness, is necessary.

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The second method is sales activation or performance advertising, which reminds people about a brand at a specific moment to encourage an action such as a purchase. The effects are more immediate and short-term but will not be felt if a brand has failed to devote spend to brand-building efforts.

Brand-building advertising:

  • Improves brand recall. Brand-building advertising plants a brand in the long-term memory of a broad population and can help that same brand enter a traveler’s mind before competitors when they want to book a trip. Creating mental availability doesn’t happen instantaneously—brands must invest over the long term to increase their fame.
  • Drives market share growth. The hospitality industry is comprised of several large global brands and many smaller and mid-sized brands. Advertising that entertains audiences generates market-share growth over the long term.
  • Reduces price sensitivity. With many hotels facing rising employee wages and food expenses, as well as fluctuating booking patterns, costs may need to be passed onto customers to remain profitable. Brand-building advertising helps improve customer loyalty and reduce sensitivity to price increases.
Reserving Media Spend for Commercially Effective Ads

The key for hospitality brands to stand out from competitors is to invest in brand-building advertising that accomplishes the following:

  • Makes people feel. The most successful campaigns use an emotional strategy, as ads that elicit positive emotions like happiness are proven to drive greater long-term growth. Brands should play to the right hemisphere of the brain, which is more emotionally receptive and can more easily process humor.
  • Uses fluent devices. Distinctive brand assets include everything from colors to logos to fonts. When a brand asset focuses on the living, like recurring characters or scenarios, this is known as a fluent device. Fluent devices speed up processing and entertain audiences.
  • Celebrates diversity. Hotels have a diverse customer base, and when ads celebrate diversity through inclusive casting and storytelling, they perform better than the average ad with the general population. Diverse ads also typically drive higher feelings of happiness among the underrepresented groups who are featured. Thus, showcasing the experiences of underrepresented groups is essential. Diversity can’t be viewed as a “check-the-box” exercise, however. There are still diverse ads that miss the mark, so it’s important for brands to leverage other right-brained features like humor, characters with agency, distinctive assets, and nostalgia to encourage viewers to pay attention.
  • Leverages the right channels. TV, outdoor, and radio ads still offer the broadest exposure, so brands interested in digital channels should weigh the potential reach of platforms like streaming TV and TikTok to determine if their target audiences are using them regularly.
Garnering Guests’ Attention

In a competitive market, every hotel brand wants to attract new customers and maintain loyalty. Investing in brand-building advertising is key. With the above best practices in mind, brands can develop memorable advertisements that help them gain more market share and profit.

About the Author

Lisa Buckler is senior vice president of growth and partnerships for System1.

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Lisa Buckler is Senior Vice President of Growth and Partnerships for System1, a marketing decision-making platform that helps predict and improve the commercial impact of ads and innovation.

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