GLOBAL REPORT—With leisure travel expected to increase in 2012, hoteliers around the world are pairing up with local and global destination marketing organizations, as well as beefing up their own efforts, to reel in the extra business.
New York-based Loews Hotels, for example, dropped out of the AAA Tour Books, which were major resources for destination marketing in the past, in favor of more influential communications from groups that could provide stronger messages such as local chambers of commerce.
It’s a new approach for the hotel owner and operator, said Bill Tucker, CEO of Agency212, a New York-based advertising company that works with Loews.
“We are very much involved with the local chambers of commerce in our markets. A good deal of that is convention traffic, but a surprisingly higher percentage is leisure,” Tucker said.
CEO of Agency212
Loews, which has 18 hotels in its portfolio in the United States and Canada, is not in the business of selling destinations, Tucker said. As a brand, they most likely will not be able to persuade a company to hold its annual convention or a family to host its reunion in a particular city.
“That’s why we partner with the chambers of commerce, because they will be able to influence (travelers). Once they’ve made their decision, they’ll be able to see we partnered with (the chambers of commerce),” he said.
The economic downturn played a role in shaping Loews’s destination marketing efforts. Tucker said Loews previously was focused on an “all about me” approach when it came to advertising.
“Every ad was locally based, meaning there was an ad for each city and always a deal in every piece of communication,” he said.
Once the bottom fell out, he said, the advertising message became more about value. The concept is now “value is the new luxury.”
The lone exception through the downturn was the Miami market, Tucker said. Loews focuses on the market’s characteristic as an alleviator from the rest of the nation’s winter. “There’s an instant understanding that we are selling sunshine, beaches and a great pool,” Tucker said.
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Promoting the destination
Executives at the 540-room Fairmont Orchid and 450-room Fairmont Kea Lani, both in Hawaii, also work closely with regional organizations to promote the destination.
“Both hotels have representatives on (Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau) and support these organizations in any way they can,” said Christof Luedi, regional VP of Hawaii for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and GM of the Fairmont Orchid, in an email.
Luxury travel advisers play a key role, as well, in the hotels’ success in the leisure segment in Hawaii.
“Our leisure sales teams and senior managers are regularly in the field, visiting with our partners and assisting them in selling our state and our hotels in the most effective and comprehensive way,” Luedi said.
Destination marketing efforts at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin are approached from a more global perspective, said Bardia Torabi, director of sales and marketing at the 5-star hotel.
In addition to partnering with German tourism offices in New York, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the hotel’s marketing team works with health agencies in the Middle East to promote Berlin as a medical tourism destination.
Torabi said his team started the plans about a year ago in an effort to boost Berlin as a medical care capital comparable to Munich. The campaign is targeted toward consumers in the Middle East that travel to Europe for surgeries and important medical procedures. Hotel management coordinates everything with the patient from the travel accommodations, to the hotel stay and a hires a translator, if needed. After the medical procedure, patients can stay at the hotel, as they recover.
As for leisure travel, Torabi said, “We try to sell emotion … These (local) points are very historical and very emotional.”
The hotel promotes its packages that highlight the Berlin experience on its website. The “Ich bin ein Berliner …”, for example, simulates John F. Kennedy’s legendary trip to the city in 1963.
“The idea is to take the customer on a journey,” Torabi said.