Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig? Hotel Marketing Begins With a Great Product.


It was David Ogilvy who famously said, “Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.”

In short, lipstick on a pig is still a pig.

Too many hotels are relying on their marketing dollars to magically attract more travelers. They invest money in clever campaigns, in hopes that it will turn things around without making significant improvements to the property itself or investing in experiences that will delight guests and keep them coming back for more.

The reality is: Hotel marketing starts with a great product.

Marketing should never get the credit for a hotel’s success or the blame for its failure.

If you’re trying to sell a tired, flawed, aging or otherwise inferior hotel experience, no amount of marketing – no matter how innovative or brilliant – can avoid the inevitable downward spiral.

Before blindly heading into a new marketing campaign, turn your attention first to your hotel itself. Can you offer a better experience? Deliver better service? Or, offer better amenities?

Here are three ways you can make sure you’re not using marketing ploys to camouflage a less-than-stellar hotel product:

1. Examine Your Reviews To Pinpoint Needed Improvements

Read your reviews, tally what complaints come up most often and actually act on them! Too many hotels will respond to reviewers with the assurance that “we’ll look into it” without really doing so. Making those empty promises is a disservice not just to your hotel guests, but to your hotel, your owners, your management, and your employees.  By ignoring the direct feedback, suggestions, and complaints that your own guests are giving to you to improve your property, you’re missing out on more business, increased profits, happier guests, and yes – even better marketing campaigns. 

Read: Want Better TripAdvisor Rankings? Do These 3 Things

2. Correlate Improvements to Sales Targets

Before you accept next year’s revenue targets, you’ll need to convince whoever holds the reins to the budget that improvements are required to achieve the target. Meet often with your general manager and asset manager, armed with the most common feedback that you get in your travel reviews and ideas on how to improve your guest experience. Show them the photos of the ripping wallpaper and stained carpets that guests are posting to TripAdvisor, let them know what your comp set is doing to improve their properties, and assist them on a plan on what to tackle first and the potential ROI once you can start marketing an enhanced product in earnest.

3. Remember That Memorable Guest Experiences Always Win

In the end, the only thing that will attract guests to come back again and again AND sing your praises to their social circle is an amazing and standout guest experience. Look at the major aspects of hotel and your ancillary products. How can you make each touchpoint significant… epic even? The world’s most clever ad for your restaurant won’t be able to mask a lackluster menu or fading ambiance. So, invest in making your F&B, your spa, your outdoor activities, etc an experience that guests will want to talk about long after they check out.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: