Room bookings are, in most cases, the main revenue channel for luxury hotels and resorts. Optimizing for ALOS and RevPAR should always be the main priority of each luxury hospitality marketer and general manager. No surprises here, but there are several other lucrative (and marketing-wise sadly often neglected) up and cross-sell opportunities hoteliers can aim for if their properties offer unique amenities like gorgeous event spaces, wellness and spa offers, or unique food and beverage experiences. Let’s take a closer look at some digital marketing tactics that aim specifically at amplifying these offers in the eyes of your affluent guests.
Common luxury MICE, F&B or entertainment amenities
MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions, so having an open or closed space (depending on the climate) that can be used for sales, shareholder, or board meetings on-site offers the hotelier unique opportunities for lucrative deals, depending on the size, scope, and time of the year. Also common are trade shows, weddings, family reunions, seminars, and parties. One thing these events have in common is that people who book them are usually looking for a more refined aesthetic when it comes to the space itself and a selection of fine dining catering options to service their guests. Status and value signaling can be a factor too.
Food and beverage includes the in-house (Micheline star) restaurants, (cocktail) bars, cafes, lounges, cigar rooms, and sometimes high-end nightclubs. Spa, beauty, wellness, and mindfulness options like yoga or meditation courses are increasingly becoming popular among luxury travelers as well, since people these days are overworked and have an issue with switching off even when they travel for leisure.
Things have changed after the pandemic
Let’s face reality: remote work and hybrid work are here to stay. Even the most old-fashioned executives have realized that they can save costs and still get a lot of productivity by implementing virtual events, sales processes, or trainings in their organization. So the business focused MICE opportunities might not be coming back at the same level as they existed pre-pandemic. The demographic shift towards millennials and Gen Z is just amplifying that trend.
What does that mean for luxury hospitality marketers, though? Well, a smart thing to do would be to focus their advertising and promotion budgets on b2c MICE lead generation for weddings, private parties, galas, premieres, self-development seminars, and family or college reunions. The human need for contact and interaction in a personal way is not going away any time soon. Evolution has built us this way; we crave physical interaction with each other from time to time as a part of our human experience.
F&B offers will always work as a up or cross sell if done right, and now social occasions like diner, drinks, and dancing have come back as well (luckily). Like mentioned before, more and more strife and uncertainty in the world, less work life balance, and more earning pressure for future generations as well as the overflow of information and digital stimulus in our daily lives drives more and more people towards rewarding themselves with relaxation, stillness, mindfulness, and the beauty of nature instead of high-octane adrenalin trips when they book their luxury vacation.
Content is key (the luxury factor)
Now that we know the baseline of how demand for MICE and other amenities at luxury hotels and resorts looks like in 2022, we can start focusing on digital marketing efforts that capture the desire for these services more efficiently. I mentioned earlier that aesthetics play a huge role in this whole endeavor. Every luxury hospitality or travel experience in terms of online presentation must work on multiple layers if done correctly. You can only expect consistent results and extra revenue if all of these boxes are ticked in the mind of the affluent consumer when he or she is first exposed to your property. These layers are usually:
- Design & beauty
- High level service
- Sensual stimulation
In this article, we are not going to deep dive into how content marketing in luxury hospitality and travel should be expressed through images, UX/UI, copywriting, audio, and video since that is an art-form in itself. But if there are issues with luxury brand equity and pricing power, a lack of direct conversions or bookings on the website, and/or a mismatch in terms of guest profiles, affordability, and offers it can often be traced back to weaknesses in presentation and correct implementation of respective advertising targeting. Our one recommendation here would be to start with solid luxury marketing personas that include basic and advanced criteria that are data and psychographics driven and to develop all the content with these personas in mind.
I cannot count the times anymore I have seen a case where the luxury branding and content for a hospitality brand was clearly only developed with a corporate guideline in mind without taking the unique advantages of the property and location itself into account. Other times it has been quite obvious that the marketing content was developed for one type of affluent guest, but the kind of guest that would book these experiences in the real world instead has been completely ignored in the initial content production and promotion campaign efforts. There has to be a red string that goes through everything you do content and campaign wise, starting with your personas, if you want to generate a solid return on your marketing investment.
Some campaign and channel ideas for MICE
If you still want to generate business event-focused MICE leads for your hotel sales reps, we would recommend focusing on high level business publications like the Financial Times, WSJ, etc. and LinkedIn advertising to capture what remains of that high-net-worth demand in the market. Based on your geography and location, of course. Your marketing collateral, content, USPs, data capture forms, and follow-up communication should be geared towards amplifying your sales reps efforts to showcase the uniqueness of your property and space through design and technology support, while capturing, nurturing, and qualifying inbound leads for them through marketing automation and personalization.
A simple contact form on your hotel website where every sales rep calls everybody who raises a hand or spams a bought email list of human resource, event, and public relations managers on LinkedIn or via email can still work but the results you get from that time investment will be more and more diminished in our modern attention-focused, permission marketing based buying environment. Being a luxury property aiming for high-net-worth events can help differentiate you, but is no guarantee at all when it comes to driving consistent results.
If you want to generate b2c MICE leads going for channels like wedding or event planner magazines, event planning companies on LinkedIn, or direct-to-consumer campaigns in luxury magazines or on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube can work wonders given you have the right customer data to model your advertising targeting sets based on your luxury personas. Again, there are a ton of digital advertising options you can tap into for achieving a solid amount of new leads for your MICE space each month. I would even go as far to say that segmenting and focusing your b2c efforts for MICE is probably a better move these days than putting all your eggs in the b2b event basket.
Selling F&B, spa or entertainment offerings
Timing-wise there are four touchpoints that are suitable for promoting luxury F&B, spa, or entertainment offers to an affluent guest on his or her direct booking journey. As you might have realized, I wrote “direct” booking journey, because guess what, if the guest is booking through a trade partner, OTA, or meta search engine, you will have zero to none control over how much exposure and context they receive about additional offerings. The opportunity for real luxury marketing and branding here is usually zero. This is one of the main reason we as an agency promote a reduction of overreliance on trade partners, OTAs, and public relations in our thought leadership content.
Only if you have designed and influenced the booking journey from start to finish you can inject the right messaging at the right time and increase the conversions in terms of up and cross sells across your funnel. So without any further delay, these are the ideal moments in time to promote your F&B, spa, and entertainment offerings to a new or recurring guest:
- Before the booking happens (through your content in your ad campaigns, on your website, in an email, etc.)
- While the booking happens on the website (at checkout, through a multi-step booking process, etc.)
- After the booking has happened, but before the check-in (through email nurtures, retargeting ad campaigns, etc.)
- At the check-in (the front of house or concierge staff can attempt a last ditch effort here, this is usually the least effective moment to do so, though)
Injecting these offers and related content marketing at these moments has to be done with finesse to not come off as pushy or vulgar, of course. But if done with personalization, data, and personas in mind you would be blown away at how much more effective your customer lifetime value funnel at your property or cluster can become over time. Combine that with regular conversion rate optimization A/B experiments in case you have a larger property, and you will have a highly performing up and cross sell engine up and running in no time. As a digital marketing agency specialized in luxury hospitality, we work on content, campaigns and tactics like these all the time, so feel free to check out our services page or reach out directly to us if you want to improve your results in these areas.