Adam Deflorian is the Founder and CEO of AZDS Interactive Group, an agency based in Denver, Colorado.
As hotels continue to evolve their business models amid the Covid-19 pandemic, one initiative that seems to be here to stay is the growing work-from-hotel movement. Weeks after Hilton launched its “WorkSpaces by Hilton” program — offering day-use rooms, including amenities and other perks, at many of its hotels — Marriott launched its work-from-hotel counterpart, “Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy,” offering both day-use and multi-day use of rooms at select properties.
From an independent hotel standpoint, the news comes as a confirmation that selling hotel rooms as remote office space is a viable business model — at the very least during the pandemic. Independents, after all, were some of the first properties to pioneer these sorts of initiatives.
On the other hand, independent hotels and smaller brands will now face the prospect of increased competition from industry behemoths. Given Marriott and Hilton’s vast resources, that competition will have the advantage both in terms of financial backing as well as quantity of rooms.
That said, if independents play to their strengths — character, personalization, privacy, etc. — there’s no reason why work-from-hotel programs shouldn’t continue to be a smart business decision going forward. Based on my agency’s work with independent hotel companies, here are a few digital marketing recommendations to help you compete and stand out online.
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Get Creative With Your Packages
Marketing a hotel room as an office space leaves quite a bit of room for creativity. Think about the amenities your particular hotel offers that most office environments don’t, from gourmet in-room dining to wellness and fitness experiences to on-property child care (in the case of resorts). Use these selling points to create packages that appeal to workers who are stuck at home and might be tempted by a change of scenery.
One of our clients, for instance, has created an entire program directed at families. There’s private working space for the parents, distance learning facilities for the kids, day care for young kids and once the workweek is over, an overnight stay package offering a range of quality time opportunities from outdoor recreation to spa treatments. Another client has added a culinary twist to day-use bookings, offering personalized gourmet food experiences to break up the workday.
Offer Work-From-Hotel Incentives For Booking Direct
In the competitive landscape of online booking, hoteliers are always looking for ways to incentivize guests to book directly with the hotel (and not through online travel agencies). Work-from-hotel benefits could be a great new incentive, whether it’s for people who are booking nightly stays and don’t yet know about day use, or for day-use guests who would benefit from amenities like extra high-speed internet or lunch service.
I’ve seen examples, for instance, where hotels offer overnight guests future discounts on day-use rooms, or where day-use guests receive added benefits like a resort credit for use toward dining, wellness or fitness. You’ll increase your chances of winning the direct booking, plus you’ll train the guest to book direct again when they return for an overnight stay.
Pay Close Attention To Your Target Demographic
Selling a day-use room works much like selling an overnight room; it requires a holistic digital approach with a strategic blend of organic search, advertising, email, social media, retargeting, you name it. What’s different is that you have to operate within a much narrower target demographic scope — it’s not just a hyperlocal audience living near the hotel, but most likely an affluent consumer who can afford to pay for an alternative office arrangement, plus someone who might need office privacy or an escape from “home-schooled” kids.
Before you build your work-from-hotel program, figure out exactly what your hotel’s unique selling point is for office space, and then create a digital strategy that is razor-sharp in its targeting. This is especially important in your organic search strategy, which requires your website to rank well for the specific long-tail keywords that your target consumer will be entering when researching day-use opportunities.
Roll Out Your Program With Engaging Content
Content is the key to engaging your consumers across all online campaigns, and work-from-hotel is no different. Whether it’s on your blog, social media, website or ideally all three, creating actionable content not only educates your consumers about your day-use offerings, but it also positions your brand to rank well for relevant organic keywords (which convert at a high level).
In order to rank well, make sure your content is getting ample social sharing and traction — I recommend connecting with partner brands and strategic online influencers for online sharing as part of a dedicated social influencer outreach campaign.
Promote Loyalty Programs With Special Rates
If a first-time, day-use guest is happy with their experience, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in returning on a regular basis. This creates an opportunity for loyalty and membership rates, targeting local consumers who might be inclined to purchase a certain amount of work-from-hotel days per month.
Ultimately, marketing a day-use room for an independent hotel should reflect the differences a guest will experience compared to a large brand like Hilton or Marriott. You may not be able to fall back on enormous distribution networks and brand recognition, but you can certainly tap into the unique personality that draws consumers to independents in the first place. Whether that’s a singular room product, top-notch culinary experiences or one-of-a-kind wellness offerings, communicating this message to the right consumer demographic will set you apart and ensure that day-use rooms can be a viable business strategy for years to come.
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Author: Adam Deflorian, Forbes Councils Member