What’s good for the goose is not so for the gander
A homogenous approach has run its course in marketing campaigns, as customers seek neutrality and novelty
by Vinita Bhatia
Hospitality marketing is a completely different kettle of fish when compared to any other sector. In this industry, marketers have to deliver on multiple fronts and a wide range of audience. They have to don their creative hats to think about what will tickle their customer’s fancy, whether it pertains to accommodations, F&B, beauty and wellness services, or travel.
Their marketing strategy begins by conceptualising ways to attract guests, graduates to creating positive experience and later retaining their loyalty. Moreover, all of these have to be pushed out on various channels for better customer footfall and increase in revenue, which is the endgame.
Things were fairly simpler until a couple of years ago. A few posts on social media platforms about upcoming events or offers coupled with ad spots in mainstream media usually helped hotel marketers achieve this goal. But, along came COVID-19 and upended it all.
Suddenly, guests were not so enthused about offers or freebies; they sought the assurance of hygiene and safety while dining or staying at a hotel. Smart marketers quickly changed the narrative of their guest marketing campaigns to highlight this. Some missed the bus, though, all because they stuck to an analogous model when it came to customer communications.
The transition to digital notwithstanding, many brands still approach marketing from a homogenous angle. This strategy has run its course in contemporary times, according to Prapti Walia, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Radisson Blu Hyderabad.
While hotel companies feel compelled to subscribe to this model given the wide breadth of their target audience, their marketing strategies have to embrace changes like shift from traditional print media to digital platforms. Over the years, this transition has emerged as the best way to reiterate their brand’s ethos.
“One change that will be most prominent in the next few years is how most brands lose their one size fits all approach. More companies are embracing causes close to their brand’s identity, as part of their marketing strategy without worrying whether it is politically correct,” she pointed out. “They would rather be looked as a brand with a voice than be homogenous to blend in.”
A good example of this is Dove, which keeps releasing a series of campaigns promoting body positivity despite having a range of beauty products. Closer home, apparels brand Viva N Diva signed up Laxmi Saa, an acid attack survivor, as its brand ambassador to promote the message that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Last month, Mercure Hyderabad KCP celebrated the International Transgender Day to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by this community. All these instances show that marketing need not be limited to simplistically selling products and wares; it can be used to create compelling narratives to entrench the principles that the brand believes in.
TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, DON’T JUST SELL
Hoteliers need to adopt an individualistic marketing strategy keeping in mind their target audience in their outreach campaigns. Walia suggested that for every campaign, they should first define the goal, identify their target audience, keeping other demographics like age, gender and geographic location in mind, and then craft unique promotions.
Gender, especially, plays a critical role while conceptualising marketing strategies. “For instance, a generic campaign for room sales does not require a different strategy for men and women. However, a ‘Women’s Day Brunch’ or ‘Ladies Night’ has to be sold differently to both genders considering that the primary target audience for this campaign is women,” Walia pointed out.
While research has shown that men and women have different intellectual stimulants, it is funny how brands often lean into stereotyping for special events. So any women-oriented event sees a flurry of ‘pinkification’ marketing activities, offering cute toys or flowery versions of their regular services.
Surely, this approach needs a major rethink. It is high time that hotel brands come up with contemporary marketing strategies that reflect the ground reality with respect to unique experiences.
Walia could not agree more. “At the grass route level, it is important for the management to first remove all types of stereotypes, especially if this is targeted at women customers. Adjectives like delicate and dainty hardly represent femininity, just like rough and tough are not solely reserved for men. Doing away with these stereotypes will be a massive step towards bringing neutrality in marketing strategies,” she said.
In fact, gender stereotyping is counter-productive; it often alienates the very audience it is supposed to entice. A case in point is the rising number of women bikers who often find themselves excluded from biker brunches organised by hotels. Bias, much?
It is pertinent for hotel brands to stop limiting their marketing activities to all types of stereotypes, gender or otherwise. These have the potential to backfire, which is definitely not the end result that they seek.
Courtesy : Hotelier India