Written by Aisha Kellaway on 21st Jul 2019
Gone are the days of purely relying on column inches and advertising value equivalent (AVE) to measure PR success. With the help of online tracking and analysis, it’s now possible for luxury hotels to determine the reach of PR content and to measure the engagement coverage receives.
Using Google Analytics, we’re able to attribute on-site conversions (such as bookings or enquiries) to PR activity if a specific article referred the user who booked, or unique URL from a PR campaign was used.
We all know how much work goes into securing earned coverage, both from your PR agency’s side and from the hotel team. So, to just file PR coverage in a folder means missing out on valuable opportunities to make that coverage work harder and increase the awareness and reputation of your property amongst potential and existing guests as well as industry parties such as tour operators and agents.
Here are six ways you can use PR coverage to increase awareness of your hotel and boost your reputation and credibility:
We always share our clients’ media coverage with our broader online community, but it’s amazing how many hotels don’t think to share coverage they receive through their own social media channels.
Your social media channels are places where you’ve cultivated a community of followers; this community will likely be a combination of previous guests who want to stay connected with your hotel, potential guests who have come across your feeds, industry partners (such as contracted tour operators or luxury travel agents), tourist boards and even other journalists. In other words, you have a waiting and receptive audience ready to help you amplify your message. And the beauty is that in this case, it’s not even your message – it’s someone else’s, which immediately gives it more credibility.
By sharing coverage through your hotel’s channel, you’ll also be likely to reinforce relationships with the author of the post who will be thrilled to see their work pushed out in front of your entire online community. Your amplification and any engagement that results will help them hit their own professional targets and build loyalty between you.
When sharing coverage on social media, go beyond a basic share or retweet of the original article. Add some of your brand voice: as a minimum, tag in the author or publication, or even prompt discussion and ask followers to engage and contribute to the conversation. It’s amazing how much more engagement you can elicit just by asking for it.
The most exciting pieces of coverage are usually where a respected journalist has experienced your hotel first-hand and writes a glowing spread in a coveted or incredibly targeted publication.
When this happens, don’t just thank your PR team – we can only do so much until it’s over to you and your staff to deliver an incredible experience that the journalist will want to shout about from the rooftops.
When you receive coverage like this, print the online article or, if it’s a really special feature, ask your PR team to send you the print version and circulate the coverage internally. Share via email, pin up in the kitchens and staff areas, and make sure all staff members, no matter how small a role they may have had to play, feel as if it’s their win too.
Encourage staff to share the coverage on their own social channels. Having the coverage shared from their individual accounts will help gain more traction and reach a broader network than if you’re only sharing from the hotel’s profile.
But, most importantly, if you can make your staff feel part of the success I guarantee morale will be boosted and your staff will have one more reason to continue delivering the absolute best levels of service.
The more coverage your brand gets, the stronger your reputation becomes.
For potential guests that have read wonderful things about you in the media, confirmation bias will be working in your favour; Immediately you’ll appear more credible and when these guests have to decide between you and a competitor, they are going to be looking for signals that confirm their existing understanding of your hotel being as wonderful as it sounded in that article.
Ensure your website looks great and is functional, make the user journey simple and you have a very high chance of turning these visitors into booking guests.
Also, don’t forget that not all of your potential guests, or industry partners who you’re trying to strike a relationship with, will have seen all of the articles out there about your hotel. Maybe they’ve come from a Google search of hotels in the area, or directly from TripAdvisor; These are the users who are going to be actively looking at your website for signals of your hotel being credible and trustworthy.
As soon as you include titles of publications where your hotel has been featured or, even better, include quotes and a photo of the journalist, you will immediately be sticking an extra feather in your credibility cap. This, coupled with positive reviews and great user experience may help tip a potential guest into booking with you over one of your competitors.
Having a dedicated press page is brilliant, but it still pays to have the best known or respected publications you’ve been featured in referenced on the homepage, and at significant stages of the user journey where guests might have concerns (such as your booking page). This will be one extra signal to guests to help them decide to book with you and ease any last minute concerns that might arise.
Being a luxury hotel, chances are that you will be contracted with a number of luxury tour operators. Most of the reputable UK and Irish tour operators have their own social media channels. At Lemongrass, we have detailed databases of all the social media managers at luxury operators and agents. We’ve found that social media marketing teams at tour operators who are already working with our clients are keen to receive relevant content that they can share with their audience of high net worth clients—if you sell through an operator, then they’re very likely to share great coverage about your hotel via their own social channels, securing you free joint marketing material and potentially bagging you extra sales!
Just as I recommended sharing your coverage with staff, share it with your current guests as well. If there are any areas where guests may spend idle time, potentially in reception or other communal areas, it pays to hang a framed copy of the features you’re most proud of.
True, you’re guests have already bought into your brand, but reading positive reviews and features about your hotel will help to frame their perspective and the way they experience their time with you.
Being exposed to glowing features of the hotel where they’re choosing to spend their holiday will also help make your guests feel a part of something special and coveted.
You’re also subtly providing them with references they can use when, after they arrive home after a truly remarkable holiday, they talk about your hotel and how amazing it is to friends and family—and that can only be a good thing!
Not all the people you’re trying to reach with your brand message are going to be actively researching for their next holiday, but the beauty of the travel industry is that travel inspiration is always a welcome distraction to internet browsers, even if they’ve just returned home from their latest trip abroad.
If you notice that a particular piece of coverage is generating significant amounts of positive engagement, or referring valuable users to your hotel website, it may be worth considering putting some of your online advertising budget into pushing this content to your target audience through a programmatic advertising platform like Outbrain or Taboola.
These sites will match the article you want to promote with your specified target audiences, and feature previews and links to the article on targeted publications.
Remember that you’re not looking to generate sales here. You need to be willing to invest in promoting a positive message about your hotel to a carefully targeted audience base. What this will help achieve is a boost in brand awareness within your target market when a sales-focused message is not going to work.
If you didn’t want to jump right into display advertising, you could use social media advertising to promote the article instead. Facebook makes it very easy to create targeted audiences to push your posts in front of, and it’s very easy to start with small budgets until you get more confident or start to see results.
PR efforts shouldn’t stop when an article or feature is published.
Always think about how you can make the most of the coverage you and your hotel receives. Could this coverage help boost sales? Absolutely. Is that always going to be the case? Unfortunately, no. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
Beyond column inches, quality coverage is a golden ticket to boosted online credibility, greater brand awareness, and stronger relationships with staff, tour operators, luxury agents, journalists & guests – sometimes you just need to give it a helping hand.
We’re Lemongrass Marketing – we help travel brands grow by delivering PR and content strategies based on digital audience insights. Let’s talk about your next PR, Digital PR and content campaign. Message Mirjam@lemongrassmarketing.com or call +44 (0)1865 237 990.