Give Your Guests an Experience Before They Ever Walk in the Door

Now, more than ever, travelers are looking for more than just accommodations when planning their trip. The focus has shifted away from simply booking a place to stay, and centers more around engaging travel experiences. Whether you are an international vacation destination or a smaller hotelier, you can make experience marketing work for you by providing your future guests with an authentic experience before they ever walk in your door.

What is experience marketing?

The concept is not a new one, and many in the hospitality industry have been doing it well for years. In essence, experience marketing is taking your images and videos further than just room shots and videos of photo slideshows. It’s more than even showing great pictures of kids in the pool or mouth-watering food in your restaurant. Instead, share the experience of kids squealing under a fountain or water splashing into the pool. Show business travelers biting into a juicy burger and reaching for that frosty mug of brew.

Put yourself in your guests’ shoes.

Experience marketing starts with getting to know your guests. At a recent Skift Global Forum, Hyatt Hotels CEO, Mark Hoplmazian, spoke on reverse perspective and empathy. He recalled a recent stay with a friend while on a business trip. During his stay, he didn’t want to disrupt his friend’s routine. He was concerned about being too loud as he could hear everything in the house. It was an uncomfortable situation. Then, he related it back to hotel guests, and how hotels need to put themselves in guests’ shoes. By having empathy, hotels can gain valuable customer insights. The hotels that act on these insights can come up with “user-centric” marketing that appeals to guest’s needs.

Example of a picture to use in promotions

Think in pictures.

Instagram is the perfect platform for sharing snapshots of on-property experiences in an authentic manner, and you put your guests right behind the lens of the camera. Referred to by some as the Instagram effect, you can inspire your guests by sharing unique and personal vignettes of how a stay at your property could really look. Users crave beautiful travel photography.

Many major hoteliers have embraced Instagram and Pinterest, among other image sharing platforms, to share these snapshots. You can see while exotic locations are great, they certainly are not required to show an artistic insight into your own property’s beauty. (Perhaps you could post a "Wish You Were Here" shot of the pool?)

Say more with video.

If pictures say 1,000 words, how much can you convey with a video? Short videos of what your property has to offer as far as on-site amenities as well as nearby attractions can go a long way in building that first impression. According to a study by the Travel Channel, 71% of their network viewers watched video to get vacation ideas. 

Brands such as Marriott have taken this concept a step further. They asked their users to show them what their experience with them was like, and provided guests with a GoPro upon check-in. After, the hotel compiled their guest’s experiences on a mini site.

Show your personality.

The best part of experience marketing is that it not only gives potential guests insights into what your brand and property provides, but also gives them a snapshot of your personality. Is your personality quirky, laid back, and outgoing? Is your experience more for kids? Then market your brand with lots of great action shots of families. Or is it more smooth, edgy, and professional—perhaps suited for the business traveler? Then promote happy hour specials and hot breakfast room service. Find your niche market and appeal to those guests. 

Take this opportunity to let your guests experience what it is like to stay with you before they step a foot in your hotel, and there is a good chance they will experience it for real.