Hospitality Brands & The Rise of Experiential Marketing

Hospitality marketing isn't just about the amenities, rooms, or lobbies. Consumer preferences and behaviors have shifted, and brands must shift as well

Written by
Monique Lorette
June 13, 2023

Hospitality marketing isn't just about the amenities, rooms, or lobbies. Consumer preferences and behaviors have shifted, and brands must shift as well. More than ever, consumers are craving experiences over things. Travelers desire unique opportunities for authentic experiences and pay attention to the brands that satisfy this need. The digital space is crowded–inboxes and social feeds are full. To remain effective, your hospitality brand must evolve beyond traditional advertising and toward experiential marketing. 

What is experiential marketing? 

Experiential marketing aims to create a more personal and meaningful interaction between a customer and a brand. This strategy engages consumers with memorable content, highlighting the "real-life" experiences a brand offers. The goal is to develop a more emotional connection between brands and consumers and make consumers feel part of the destination, culture, and environment. To effectively use experiential marketing, brands should highlight their unique destination in every aspect of the guest experience. 

Why is it important? 

Experiential marketing leaves a lasting impression, enhances brand awareness, and attracts media attention. Each step of the customer journey is an opportunity to use experiential marketing to develop a stronger relationship with your guests. We will break down the travel buyer's journey and provide an example of experiential marketing in each stage. 

Planning Stage

In the planning stage, consumers need help determining where they want to go and what they want to do. Many turn to websites, social networks, and other internet media to research various destinations. In this stage, brands must highlight their destination's unique experiences and adventures. Think about what guests would be searching for and develop your content strategy around that. 

  • Some destinations offer virtual reality tours of the property, including restaurants, living accommodations, and activities. These tours give consumers a better idea of what to expect from the experience and can be a deciding factor in choosing a destination. 

Pre-Arrival Stage

In the pre-arrival stage, consumers have booked their flights and hotels, and the anticipation starts kicking in. They ask questions like "What's nearby?" or "What can I experience there?" Content at this stage must be thoughtful and valuable to guests. Provide them with the information they want to know and save them the time and trouble of looking it up themselves. Think about what will get them excited about their trip and develop your content strategy around that. 

  • Provide your guests with a destination guide to plan their vacation. Show and tell them everything to do and get them excited about future experiences. This content can be attached to pre-arrival emails and repurposed for other uses as well. 

Vacation Stage

The work isn't over just yet! During the vacation stage, guests are still looking for new experiences. Traveling can be time-consuming, so maybe they weren't able to plan out their adventures for each day. The on-property experience should reflect all other aspects of the customer journey and inform and encourage guests to try new things. 

  • Use that same destination guide as an in-room pamphlet or provide recommended itineraries for different guests. Highlight hidden gems and must-dos so the guests feel like they are part of the local experience.  

Post-Vacation Stage

During the post-vacation stage, consumers are likely browsing through their pictures, maybe uploading them to social media, and thinking back to their unique experiences. However, hospitality brands can do a few things to boost that nostalgic feeling. Maintaining communication with past guests can help increase your brand loyalty. Remind them of their stay, keep them updated on new features, and give them a reason to return. 

  • Send a post-stay email and encourage guests to share their vacation pictures on social media. Hashtags and photo contests are excellent ways to get guests thinking about their vacation and wanting to return for more. 

The main goal of experiential marketing is to offer consumers a more lifelike experience with a brand. Because face-to-face interactions with hospitality and travel brands are likely impossible, these companies must focus on providing an excellent guest experience throughout the entire customer journey. 

Is your hospitality or travel brand ready to take on experiential marketing? Delicious Digital Marketing helps businesses connect with guests through traditional and digital marketing services. Learn more about how we can bring your brand's unique experiences directly to your customers' fingertips.