As a property flying a global brand flag – such as Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham or Best Western – you’re fortunate to have a respected reputation behind you. Even to those travelers who have never set foot in your hotel, you’ll always be recognized and trusted regardless of how many other neighboring hotels are competing for business.
However, being connected to a famous international hotel brand often has one major downfall online. For example, you surrender control of your sales and marketing.
The mistake that many branded hotels make is that they rely solely on the marketing efforts of their flag to put heads in beds.
For many properties, this has created a dangerous misalignment: the property-level management team is responsible for delivering the required revenue goals… but the remote brand marketing team is not.
Your brand marketing team handles hundreds of properties and simply does not have the resources to do any significant targeted hotel marketing that specifically tells your unique story, reaches your key target markets or quickly helps you overcome periods of booking weakness.
If your property falls short of revenue projections, will the brand’s marketing and sales team take the heat with you? Probably not. Which is why more and more forward-thinking hoteliers have taken marketing matters into their own hands and augmented the basic marketing program that their brand provides.
Here are the three critical things that frustrate flagged property marketers and what they’re doing about it:
1. Your Brand.Com Website is Sterile and Impersonal
The biggest limitation of your property’s page on the global brand website is that it doesn’t showcase your property for what it really is or what makes you unique. Instead, you share the same bland website template as all other properties under that brand, whether a mountain resort in Vail, an urban skyscraper in Chicago or a seaside resort in Monterey.
There is nothing that conveys your hotel’s individual story, destination or personality. By investing in a hotel vanity website, you can customize the design, copy, photos and every other element that helps tell your unique story to your core audiences. This is especially important if you have popular F&B outlets on property. Your brand.com page will most likely give those only a superficial treatment.
And then, imagine if the biggest event in your area is the Annual Strawberry Festival. Your brand.com page will not celebrate the Strawberry Festival or showcase your location near the Strawberry Festival. You need the ability to drive traffic to your own website where relevant events can be showcased and key audiences welcomed appropriately!
Most important of all, if your property ever decides to leave its current flag, your vanity site will remain your property, enabling you to redirect your hard-earned traffic from (as an example) “BestWesternBoston.com” to “WyndhamBostonDowntown.com.”
2. You Have No Control of Proactive Marketing Campaigns
Creating your own separate, online presence means you can control and aggressively pursue direct bookings, rather than waiting on your brand team.
Having your own “vanity” website also enables you to launch any number of best practice programs pushing traffic direct to an online environment you control, including the basic/core assets every hotel needs to compete in the digital world:
1. Publishing custom/timely packages, specials, guest photos or special events.
2. Automatic emails to people who abandon your booking engine.
3. Retargeting ads to bring people back to the site.
All of these standard marketing activities would normally require filling out a request form and waiting on your brand’s corporate web department, making you lose precious time when trying to capture bookings.
3. The Brand is Boring. Your Property is Not.
Today’s experience-hungry travelers want to "travel like the locals." They crave authentic local adventures. Even business travelers are now forgoing their loyalty programs to choose hotels that offer a richer “bleisure” experience. And your brand is simply not able to convey your property’s unique story in a way that satisfies the new mindset of travel consumers. When you are in control of your hotel’s own marketing, you can tell a much more compelling story
You can share the hidden gems, highlight locally inspired activities and expose local secret favorites.
This storytelling limitation extends to traffic generation campaigns as well. While your brand may conduct search engine marketing campaigns on your behalf, it is almost always extremely limited. As an example, your brand’s efforts may help you rank for “Hiltons in Chicago,” but its highly unlikely the brand team is optimizing your page for “hotels near Wrigley Field.”
If you’re a flagged hotel wondering if you need to augment your brand’s marketing efforts, ask yourself these three simple questions:
- Am I satisfied with my current DIRECT booking results?
- Can my flag team react quickly and help me fill urgent periods of need?
- Is my property’s unique story being told effectively?
If the answer to any of these is NO, perhaps its time to consider taking marketing matters into your own hands as well.