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Podcast: How do I sell the dream for luxury hotels?

04 April 2022


Tom Morgan-Grenville 0:19
Good afternoon, Harry.

Harry Fielder 0:21
We’re delighted that you can be joining us today we are today exploring how we can sell the dream. How do we sell luxury? There are so many intangibles when it comes to luxury hotels, that it’s actually really hard to communicate that in digital messaging and messaging in general.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 0:44
Yeah, it’s, I think, something which when we’ve spent time, visiting clients and spending time at these amazing properties and seeing all of the elements they win you at the hotel themselves, are really apparent, it’s really hard to put that through messaging clearly with in a way that people are going to pick up.

Harry Fielder 1:06
Yes, I agree. And I think so much of it, is very intangible. You can’t it’s based on so many tiny moments that can’t really be listed or can’t really be sold as features. You know, you’ve recently come back from the Oberoi Marrakech and you know, absolutely bowled over by the level of service and, and luxury there. But it was just so acute and accumulation of so many tiny little moments that you felt.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 1:33
Yeah, it’s, it’s just, it’s the way that it makes you feel. And I think that’s what we’re trying to get into today is, how can you sell a feeling? Yep, agreed, where all you have to sell that feeling? Are two dimensional words, images, videos, what can you use? What can you? Is there a way that you can curate things? Is there a way that you can use your language differently? Is there something through channels or audio? Like? Yeah, how do we sell that best?

Harry Fielder 2:02
Yes. So that is that is the big question. So I think maybe maybe kick off by I guess exploring to exploring different ways that we’ve seen it done well, perhaps I’ve got one example of the Stafford they had a, what they try and do is kind of elevate individuals within the property. So like the concierge, the Somalia, Gino and Frank when he was there, that actually when they were both there, yeah. But you know, a bit they had a big part of their website and big part of their messaging was, frankly speaking, it was creating personality behind the expertise and service in the, in the, in the property. And I think what that did was take the folk take the guests focus away from the the sort of itemized list of services and benefits and the square footage and all of the, you know, wonderful quality product that The wonderful quality product that it is, and actually create personality, which I can, you know, going going on to another example, resonant hotels, so much of their so much of their focus is around that services, that person experience. And it all comes from the people. I don’t know how you think about what do you think

Tom Morgan-Grenville 3:19
about that? I was gonna respond to your first one first and say that I think that that’s such a good way of Yeah, I think when we were out in Marrakech, and we were talking about the fact that you’ve got almost product focused luxury or process focused luxury, and then guests focused, and what the staffers are trying to do there, and what they are succeeding and doing, whether they’re trying to do that or just bring people up through it, is to make people feel like they’re part of an intimate collection of people there and that you’re being looked after by friends or most the people you know, that people you’re aware of. Yeah. And yeah, that the way that the Oberoi when we were there, we were only there for a couple of nights. But every single member of staff almost makes you feel like it’s a personal connection. And I think that it’s the thing that you and you do get this and it’s a luxury that you can get in a non five star hotel, that you can go to a two star in somewhere. And they can give you that luxury, like this isn’t to say, luxury as something that’s you can exclusively market. If you’re high end, if you’re charging huge Wonga per night. It’s a good use of longer. You can sell the luxuries and the things in your property and it’s how do you do that? How do you sell the things? How do you sell a feeling?

Harry Fielder 4:37
Okay, and so what have you have you considered how that kind of thing might be then applied to digital messaging?

Tom Morgan-Grenville 4:45
I have. I was lucky. I have a bit of a think about this not? Not hugely. I think one way that I’ve sort of considered it is around messaging. Obviously, messaging is a key part of my role. Advertising, it’s about making sure that what you get across is on brand. And so what I’ve looked at is how aspirational messaging should feel. And should it be exclusive? Should it be inclusive? Should it be all these different sorts of things and I think a few of the key things I have looked at with this are you’ve got imagery, wording and video are your kind of three ways you’re getting things across. Not many hotels are selling with audio, and video yet, yet, hotel podcasts, video and imagery, I’ve kind of I think video is something that’s crucial, it’s important to put good effort into it. If you’re getting a brand video done. Actually think about how do you want to show it how like, don’t just get like a nice drone shot like a drone shot, great, but it’s not selling the feeling it’s selling the property. If you can actually curate and direct a video, and you’re selling the experience, and so what sort of things might showcase a feeling. So it’s walking into a room, it’s the interaction between staff members and guests, it’s sitting down at a dinner table. And the Stafford have a really wonderful brand video of this another brand who I know do videos really well is a man. Each of their properties has sort of a sound scaped video, and it’s it is more similar to the drone shot than the acted thing. But it’s picking out little elements of the property that give you a feeling, okay? And we were talking about this with the team in Marrakesh and saying how, actually, when I said audio isn’t used to us, our hotels that you don’t actually want a soundtrack to some of these videos. Sometimes if it’s a property in a beautiful place, you want to be able to hear what’s going on around it, especially if you’re a countryside hotel that you can be in the gardens walking through and there’s like birds and water maybe

Harry Fielder 6:53
who uses sound quite well. Slightly different different kettle of fish, but the Gordon’s advert, the gordon’s ‘shall we’?, and the sound of the fizz pouring over ice and the tonic water pouring over the gin and the ice is just yeah. That is a feeling isn’t it that bursting a thirst thing exactly that.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 7:14
So I think that from from a video perspective, having something directed, having something that’s thought through is important. And then from an imagery perspective, I guess going on the same

Harry Fielder 7:25
I suppose it’s what they actually storyboarding that video exactly into into rather than storyboarding it through scenes, you storyboard it through through feelings, and, and perhaps understand, okay, what are the what are the main emotions? Or what are the main sort of personality traits? And I don’t know experiential traits that that our property has, and then making sure that those are actually plotted into the into the storyboard as well.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 7:49
Yeah. How can we show this guest how they’re going to feel in 30 seconds? Yeah, imagery wise, I think one of the big things I was looking at is consistency. So two things, actually, each image needs to be a part of that story that we’re talking about. You don’t want to waste time with filler images. If you’re making a carousel for Instagram, that you want to show a few different things on. And don’t just put one in because you think that it should be there. If it’s not a strong image. It shouldn’t be representing your brand, or your your imagery and your video. And we say this every single hotel time and time again. And some people are phenomenal with their investment in imagery and their investment in video. But it’s so hard to get sign off for it. Because when you sign off on an ad, you can see what the ad is doing. And you can see this ad was done with an objective to get this when you sign off on imagery. As a hotel manager, it’s it’s a much harder thing to see the return on that.

Harry Fielder 8:48
Yeah, agreed. I think we’ve kind of become, we’ve almost gone backwards in the sense that several years ago, when you had newspaper ads, and you had journal ads, and you were just general PR without so much tracking and itemization of of ads, it was far more, let’s just pay for pay for exposure and pay for communicating, communicating through imagery. And that was that was almost an end in itself. Yes, there were sort of root kind of basic levels of attribution to that. But then now we’ve gone to this phase, arguably, which is going to go backwards again, but of hyper attribution, where every single asset every single ad has a direct return on adspend. And that it’s really tricky to then see the whole holistic approach to it. And so imagery, even though it’s an important underlying principle of all the adverts and all of the thick messaging that you’re running, isn’t a kind of a cost isn’t doesn’t have a return on it’s an attribute will return in its on its own. It’s the there’s like if the ads that have the return as opposed to the image itself,

Tom Morgan-Grenville 9:56
I think pulling you back one step there Actually what you were talking about, which I think probably would be quite an important to dive into is why we’re going to be going backwards.

Harry Fielder 10:08
topic for another day, probably for another snapshot snapshot of that topic

Tom Morgan-Grenville 10:11
is that tracking the way it’s known at the moment with Google Analytics is June next year, June or July next year, we’re going to be completely changing to go to a cookieless methods racking, which will make attribution a lot harder and will most likely make it something. Something like having good imagery, having good branding, is gonna probably be seen as more important. Yeah. But again, we will definitely deep dive at another time, one of the iOS

Harry Fielder 10:41
changes as well, kind of iOS, Facebook, server side, Facebook, tracking and stuff. Yeah, it’s

Tom Morgan-Grenville 10:48
everything. Exactly. So one of the other things I was thinking is about fitting images. So again, we’re talking, we’re not talking about technical, digital advertising here. Because what you need when you’re selling luxury, what you’re trying to do is it’s a step above that, it’s making sure that you’ve got everything in place that when we’re putting out those ads, we’ve got all of the content that we can use to really sell the hotel. The wording and the sort of the what do people feel how do we consent condense this into small phrases? That’s part of the ads technique, I guess. But secret sauce, yeah, but that’s a little sprinkling on top, the actual bigger picture thing is making sure that if you’ve got a landing page, you’ve got killer imagery, you’ve got possibly a good video. And actually, then with the wording that on that landing page, you’re explaining, trying to condense feelings into a bullet point list does feel quite pretentious, I’m aware. But almost like taking small sentences that don’t feel to brandy. Depends who you are, though.

Harry Fielder 11:58
I’d say also don’t feel too broad. I think it’d be quite easy to, to come up with a list like relaxation, and quite general words. I don’t know if it’s I kind of struggle with that. Because I reckon, on the face of it. Most brand most luxury black brands are probably trying to achieve the same thing. But actually, there will be more unique elements within that. Yeah.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 12:21
And that’s what you’re trying to sell. You’re not selling the fact that you are a brand that people instead you’re saying why they want to stay at your brand over all of the other phenomenal brands.

Harry Fielder 12:32
I think like with you know, the go back to that Gordon’s example, you know that they are literally selling the time of 530 on a Friday. And that feeling of just real. Our intent? There, yeah.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 12:49
But I do I definitely agree that that that’s a really good example

Harry Fielder 12:54
that encapsulate something that’s way more focused and detailed. And yes, it’s not luxury, but it’s the same principle that we’re talking about. Yeah.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 13:02
Have you got?

Harry Fielder 13:03
Well, I wanted to talk a little bit about empowering word of mouth, because I feel like it’s not necessarily going down the the ads route, but I feel like small, delightful moments, shared with friends are some of the like, the most some is some of the most powerful messaging that you can ever have. So for example, possibly. So as an example, you know, let’s, one of our developers, Christina to stay at the resonant recently. Part, Part relaxation part, client visits, part COVID recovery. Part, everything really. But you know, there was a handwritten note in the in the room ready to go. And she was welcomed by name. And it was just those those moments that actually she then came back and said, that is that that was that really stood out to me. Yeah. And I know, you know, in the obrah, you had a she had a picture of you on your table. You know, that’s, that’s his personal touch as it gets really,

Tom Morgan-Grenville 14:07
it is. And it’s one of those things that I think it’s part of the charm, and it’s part of what they were talking about, of this legendary Indian hospitality. And I think it was incredibly walking in and seeing that there was very like, Oh, my God was a picture of me there, but you’ve spoken about it, but I’ve spoken about it to people. And actually, it did make me feel special. It made me feel like they’ve gone the extra effort and gone and done that. And whilst as a 26 year old person who stays at hostels predominantly, that felt incredibly different to me. It made me feel good in like, overwhelmed, like way, way. Yeah. And it’s just that I think it’s also the context that that on top of everything else was like, oh, it’s really sweet. It’s the little touches that on top of a bad experience would have been like, why is there a picture of me there?

Harry Fielder 14:57
Yeah, no, I understand. I understand. So one thing I was thinking about is going through the whole sort of bought the customer journey, or that guest journey of right from booking all the way through to posting, right, what? Typically, what are all the steps that that person makes? And what if there are unique memorable moments that we try and deliver, such as a personalized, a nice handwritten note or a picture on the table? How can we maximize the number of different different items without going overboard? But at different stages of that? So? Are we having a follow up? Is it a personalized follow up is it we’re really excited for you to come in a really personal personal way, I’ve thought of these things that you might want to do based on based on the information that you provided the booking, you know, little things that are ultimately going to create those little word of mouth moments, those delightful moments. It’s important to plan and it’s important to kind of actually map out from, from research through to post day, what are all those where do those moments lie? And so you can actually strategically see where they sit?

Tom Morgan-Grenville 16:11
Yes, yeah, I think the Yeah. Your thing about empowering word of mouth, though, is, is incredibly word of mouth is going to be the most sellable thing and taking those little moments and building that into it. Yeah, someone talking about a booking process being easy. Like it, it feels like nothing. But if someone’s, like, I’ll call this is look at these little, little details. Like, I guess it’s taking what travel agents used to do and make you feel excited. And you get that little brochure about like, yeah, back in, whenever you get a personalized thing about your trip, and about what you might be doing and kind of having that feeling of concierge almost Yeah. My other point that I had, is quite a lot more like technical on advertising. It’s how to, I guess, sell luxury. And one of the things that we see consistently, in terms of people’s attitudes to budget is that it’s we have X to spend, and that’s what we’ll spend. And that’s fine. That’s the way that marketing has done, been done for years and years. But with tracking. It’s something that you can look at a CPA, and you’ll still be able to look at CPAs cost per acquisition, cost per acquisition. Thank you, Harry. Yeah, I do this, I have to define all of his terms. For him, I got into marketing deciding that I’d never be one of the people who espouse jargon. And

Harry Fielder 17:43
and you become an ID everything that you swore to defeat everything

Tom Morgan-Grenville 17:48
like ro Aslam return on adspend, then this things that I will throw out there, and but going back to what I was saying the CPA, cost per acquisition, boom, having

Harry Fielder 17:59
a unique marketing ideas. Now, I’m just trolling you, that’s not actually what it is.

Tom Morgan-Grenville 18:03
Going back into what I’m saying though, having a CPA and having that in mind, we are happy to get to put more budget in if we’re achieving x, or more realistically, we want to sell X many rooms. Understanding that if you put 400 pounds on to a discovery campaign, and you’re expecting it to sell 20 room, that’s unrealistic if your rooms are 400 pounds a night, and a discovery campaign is maybe 30%. CPA would be really strong. You’re never gonna sell anything like that. So it’s knowing how, what the the scales of budget are like you can spend 400 pounds on something that’s going at 20 to one on a branded campaign a great, that’s going to get you a lot more. But I think, you know, talking to someone about what the scales are, what the return that you’re likely to achieve is and saying to them? Well, this is what we want this to achieve for us like what’s the best place to put this in. And I get that this isn’t specific to luxury, but I think it’s a problem that even luxury will have because you’ve got a higher cost. The user needs to be coaxed more into it. We talked about this last night more of a considered purchase. We talked about considered purchases and how it’s something that people the more expensive something is and the more things surrounding it. Flights travel, the longer they’re gonna need to think about it. If you’re selling a room that 600 pounds a night, people are going to need to see it quite a lot of different touch points

Harry Fielder 19:41
to book that. Yeah. i That makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. So, I guess what would be your one takeaway from from all of this in terms of if, if you could sort of advise someone to do one thing to do, what would that be in terms of selling the dream? That is their that is their experience

Tom Morgan-Grenville 20:05
Get a brand video that’s going to knock everyone’s socks off, just get a brand video that you would watch and go like, I need to be there. Yep. Every luxury property looks amazing. Every luxury property has amazing stuff. Every luxury property has an offering that’s unique. It wouldn’t be a functioning luxury property if it didn’t. And you can take that with a video and make it really strong. Yeah, I know that we’ve talked to a lot of people about sort of videos. And you’ve recently been doing some video work of yourself,

Harry Fielder 20:39
I have soon to be published. So I’m going to augment my one, yeah, nugget of information is going to be slightly built on that, in that I think it’s in really important to be incredibly focused with the feelings that you’re trying to communicate. So that when you’re when you’re planning that brand video, you are mapping out all of the small, unique feelings and making sure that they feature throughout that and so that video, actually make someone feel something and it doesn’t become a brochure, it doesn’t become a showcase of the property. It becomes a showcase of emotion and feeling. Yeah, because images can can they they’ll showcase the features. They’ll showcase the property. But video has a really unique opportunity as the as the audio to be to be honest, but I don’t know if we’re I don’t know where audio fits in, in the hotel thing. Well, we can explore that in another day maybe. But it’s been wonderful to chat to you again to be really interesting, and we will catch you on the next one. Thanks, guys. Have a good one.

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