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Luxury hotel marketing: 5 key strategies to succeed

luxury marketingInfinity pools with breathtaking views, spacious beachfront bungalows, exclusive spa treatments, Michelin-star restaurants, exquisite design, and exemplary service are all elements we typically associate with luxury hotels. But how do you communicate the elements that make your hotel exceptional to prospective customers?

To be effective, your luxury hotel marketing strategy must tell a story that shows your customers what sets you apart and makes the experiences you offer unique. Importantly, you must actively target a distinct group of customers and ensure your messages appear in all the right places.

In this article, we’ll explore the innovative marketing strategies luxury hotels can use to differentiate their brands and drive customer engagement and loyalty.

1. Harness the power of storytelling

In a luxury market where everyone offers fantastic service and incredible facilities, how do you communicate in a way that sets your hotel apart? The first thing many people think about when they think about luxury hotels is the price, but the art of storytelling and content marketing shift the focus away from the cost and onto the experience.

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Storytelling goes beyond merely providing your customers with information. It enables you to create a deeper, more emotional connection between your brand and customers. An effective way to tell a story is to think about what makes your hotel unique. It may be a historically significant building or a spa that has an interesting history all its own. Telling its origin story can set your hotel apart and start creating that deeper connection.

Aspirational narratives are also compelling for the customers you want to target. As a luxury hotel, you’re not just selling a comfortable room in a building. You are inviting customers into a world where they can achieve their dreams and desires. You can drive that narrative by focusing on the prestige and excellence of the hotel. You can also collaborate with successful influencers to co-create content that resonates with your audience and reflects their aspirations.

Consider this story, shared by an EHL Alumni Mael Le Pousard in an article about the value of storytelling in the restaurant business:

“Years ago, I went to a restaurant in a suburb of Glasgow. To this day, I remember, and cherish that meal as one of the best restaurant experiences I have had. The story they were telling was simple: They were the proud, convivial, Scottish neighborhood restaurant. What stuck with me, is how this story seemed to be at the core of everything they did, and how it manifested itself in every detail. The tableware crafted by the local artisan, the friendly, local waitstaff, the carefully curated whisky list, and of course, the dishes featuring the best the region has to offer. In retrospect, it was a simple experience, but it vividly stuck with me years later.”

You should also think about who you’re telling your story to. People tend to associate an older demographic with luxury hotels, and while that may have been the case some years ago, now 25-44-year-olds account for 64% of the luxury goods market. These people use social media, see beautiful images and videos online, follow travel bloggers (influencer marketing), and want to have the same experiences. They want to hear your story.

2. Guest experience is everything

Anyone who books a luxury hotel pays far more than necessary for a comfortable bed. But they’re not interested in price; they care about value. They want to know how your hotel will make them feel and what experiences they’ll have, and that’s where experiential marketing comes in.

Experiential marketing allows you to showcase your value. Experiences are critical drivers behind the decisions of luxury travelers. They want to have exceptional and wonderful experiences, and it’s your job to showcase how your hotel will make them feel that. Consumer-generated content can play a big part in painting that picture. A 2019 study found that 60% of consumers were influenced by content created by consumers when making travel plans, compared with just 19% who were influenced by professional brand images.

You can harness the power of consumer-generated content by curating your Instagram feed to showcase your guests’ experiences and incorporating it seamlessly into your website. Luxury travelers are also highly active on social media, with 55% of luxury travelers believing that creating social media content increases their ability to have meaningful experiences. Hence the importance of a solid social media strategy.

3. Visual storytelling: Use powerful words and strong imagery

For your luxury hotel marketing strategy to be effective, every customer touchpoint must be part of the same exclusive narrative. That extends to the words you use on your website, in articles, brochures, and across your social media platforms. Those words should tell a story of exclusivity, luxury, exceptional experiences, and the highest levels of service quality. But while words are powerful, they’re nothing without imagery that reinforces your messaging.

Luxury brand consumers will not book a hotel on words alone. They want to see professional images of your interior and exterior spaces, the dining experience, and leisure facilities to ensure the aesthetics match their expectations. You should also include images of other prominent facilities, such as swimming pools and spa areas, golf courses, gardens, and beaches or wildlife areas close to your hotel.

Finally, video content is a must-have in your luxury hotel marketing strategy to effectively target audience and catch the attention of the GenZ crowd.

4. Find ways to differentiate

As of 2023, there were over 4,400 four and five-star hotels around the world, all competing for their share of a global luxury hotel market valued at USD 97.53 billion in 2023. With so much competition, it’s essential, even in this exclusive sector, that you take steps to differentiate your hotel from the competition.

Exclusivity is a cornerstone of luxury branding. Consumers are drawn to the allure of something truly unique, and that extends from the product and service to the entire purchasing experience. By finding the unique elements of your hotel and service offering, you can create a luxury hotel marketing strategy that helps you stand out in the crowd.

In this market, everyone goes the extra mile for their customers and offers exclusive guest experiences, so you need to focus on the small details. Personalization and personalized services can be something that gives you the edge. Treating all your guests like VIPs, addressing them by name, offering personalized perks (having their favorite bottle of bubbly on ice for their arrival), and providing personalized gifts for their family can lead to five-star reviews and personal recommendations.

Really going out of your way to help guests make the most of your location can also help you stand out from the crowd. Creating high-quality (and Instagrammable) guides to the local activities, eateries, and bars will help your guests fall in love with the local area and build the brand trust and loyalty that lead to repeat bookings.

5. Create emotional connections

The American poet Maya Angelou said:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The same can be said of businesses. According to a 2014 study by Fast Company, advertising campaigns containing purely emotional content performed almost twice as well (31% compared to 16%) as those with only rational content. Luxury hospitality is inherently emotional. As luxury hotels prioritize providing comfort, enjoyment, and positive experiences, incorporating a well-designed “loyalty program” can further leverage these emotional connections to strengthen customer relationships and enhance long-term loyalty.

To benefit from the power of emotional marketing, your campaigns should not only showcase the design and amenities of your hotel. They should also focus on the way you make your guests feel. An important part of that process is understanding what the emotional motivators for your guests are. Once you know that, whether it’s a sense of belonging, freedom, or well-being, you can leverage those insights to tell stories that help you build those emotional connections.

Start boosting your hotel marketing efforts

Although many luxury hotels implement similar marketing techniques, embracing a more personalized approach, focusing on storytelling, and marketing value over price can give you an edge over the competition. The key is to focus on what makes your hotel unique and how it makes your guests feel.

Throughout this article, we see that the keys to promoting a luxury experience all have to do with the motivations and feelings that drive luxury clients. It’s all about knowing what makes people tick. This common theme reminds us that the essence of the hospitality industry is the focus on people. It’s a human-centric business.

Tags: guest experience, Luxury hotel marketing, storytelling

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EHL Hospitality Business School, founded in 1893 as Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, is renowned as a center of excellence for service-focused industries. Learn more at https://ehl.ch/

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