Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

Today’s guests are growing increasingly aware of sustainability efforts in travel. What marketing messages best convey a hotel’s sustainability efforts? (Question proposed by Alessandro Inversini)

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Susanne Williams
Susanne WilliamsPerformance and Revenue Director, Journey Hospitality

“I opened up a discussion in the office around this topic. Sustainability and the travel industry are not comfortable bed fellows so it was an interesting debate.

We all care about the efforts hotels are making and the decisions they make that show how they care and align with their guests’ values. Do we truly understand our guests’ values in this regard? Being authentic and transparent is the place to start… but messages must be clear, easy to digest and align with your guests.

So it is a good idea to ensure your hotel is partnered with like-minded charities and organisations that resonate with your guests. Sustainability initiatives should be conveyed regularly as part of your business as usual newsletters, social media posts and on collateral around the hotel. Set your carbon neutral intentions and be consistent with your messaging.

However, it is also nice to include this as part of bigger campaigns, for example, during sales like Black Friday or Christmas you could plant a tree / donate for every £xxxx amount of revenue generated.

Giving back to good causes and showcasing initiatives to sustainable causes also provides for the hotel as it encourages more sales.”

Daphne Beers
Daphne BeersOwner, Your-Q Hospitality Academy

“Before you start focusing on what the message should be, in my opinion, you should have a look at some earlier steps first.

  1. Is the sustainability message in line with your purpose, vision and strategy? Or is it a freight train that you think you need to jump on? If there is no strategy behind it, don’t waste your time on it.
  2. Look at your target audience. Are THEY focused on sustainability? Or do you only THINK they are? Have you done the research?
  3. Within sustainability, WHAT is it that they find important? There are so many ways of creating sustainability and you cannot do everything, so focus on the things that your target audience wants you to focus on.
  4. What is the goal of using sustainability in your marketing messages? Is it informing, building a community or hardcore sales?

If you have all of this clear, it then becomes evident what type of message will contribute to your strategy and help you to attract the right guests.”

Stephanie Smith-Sparks
Stephanie Smith-SparksFounder, Cogwheel Marketing

“Sustainability needs to be localized to be truly effective, then carried throughout operations, sales and marketing. It takes community involvement and these efforts cannot be done within a silo of the hotel. One hotel we work with, the Renaissance Asheville, has bee boxes on the roof that is serviced by a local organization.

Going a step farther, they have a section of the property designated and certified as a pollinator garden. Then, they created a learning piece for the front desk to share with guests on how they can further their efforts to save the bees at home. The messaging is also communicated on social media and other channels via the sales team.”

Tamie Matthews
Tamie MatthewsRevenue, Sales & Marketing Consultant, RevenYou

“Your marketing message will depend on the sustainable options you are investing in. Some items can be turned into super fun social media posts, like replacing your showerheads, whilst others, like electric car charging stations, can be marketed on websites that EV owners use for planning journeys.
Whatever you choose to do, the message must be that we are doing this to improve our own footprint in the world and that we are the owners of the change rather than jumping on the latest trend to cut costs and save on time. Looking at you, “hang up your towel to save the world” stickers!

To summarize, I think we need to be on top of all the above-mentioned elements to be able to forecast as accurately as possible.”

Nicole Sideris
Nicole SiderisFounder & Prinicipal Consultant, X Hospitality

Communicating the hotel’s actions offers the knowledge so that potential guests and companies can identify your awareness and actions for sustainability. I found it best to adapt the messages depending on your target market and their corresponding communication and distribution channels.

I have found the best marketing messages for sustainability are through storytelling and being creative. Writing a story based on the data and goals achieved and making a hotel’s marketing extra efficient. Travellers like to know those special things about a place, its inhabitants, and the company that provides their services and/or products. Going for a simple “We look after the environment” message almost feels like a necessity to write without validation. But taking a step further and the values, the purpose, the team behind it, the actions taken, and their importance to the hotel, solidifies conviction.”

Tim Kolman
Tim KolmanCommercial Strategy Expert, three&six

“2 words: Keyless Entry.

This not only addresses the issue of contactless, but also addresses the reduction of plastic initiatives for hotels. (Also, selfishly I am one who constantly loses keys, so this will reduce the number of trips I take to the front desk!).

Another favorite of mine (because I love to eat) is locally produced ingredients on your menus! Who does not love, and will likely pay more for, Farm to Table! Local sourcing helps reduce emissions from limiting the transportation distance and additionally will help ease supply chain issues.”

Max Starkov
Max StarkovAdjunct Professor Hospitality Technology, New York University

“The best channel to convey to the outside world your property’s sustainability initiatives is via Content Marketing. Content Marketing is all about telling your story, explaining your value proposition and sustainability efforts and achievements. Content Marketing has always been an integral and increasingly important part of the hotel digital marketer’s toolbox. It engages and entices the travel consumer in the Dreaming and Planning Phases and creates ready-to-book sustainability-conscious customers for the Booking Phase of the digital customer journey.

You can promote your property’s sustainability efforts via two types of Content Marketing:

  • B2C Content Marketing and all of its formats: website content, SEO, social media, hotel and travel blogs, PR, influencer marketing, etc. – allows smart hotel marketers to engage leisure travelers, family travelers, seniors, couples, LGTB, unmanaged business travelers, leisure group organizers, social event and wedding planners, etc.
  • B2B Content Marketing allow hotels to reach corporate travel managers, corporate group planners, conference and convention organizers, company decision makers, etc.”

Moriya Rockman
Moriya RockmanChief of Marketing, Smiling House Luxury Global

“It’s very important that your messages that promote sustainability will meet the guest before the booking, and also during the stay. Among the hotel pictures, in all different channels and websites, it’s highly recommended that a visual with a declaration of the hotel’s effort will be shown.

This message should be spread through all social media as well. When the guests arrive at the hotel, they should see the message in common areas and in their bedroom.”