Stay authentic: How to develop a unique hotel narrative

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Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge, hospitality consultant and founder of Room22.agency, shares three top tips on how how hotels can create an authentic narrative.

It has been a buzzword for years, storytelling, but rarely has it been as important as it is now. In the midst of the pandemic, we’re looking for connections, for engagement and for meaning. The brands we engage with on a regular basis must provide us with these things in order for us to truly care and buy into them – and it certainly also applies to hotels. 

Hotels are treasure chests filled to the brim with interesting stories and anecdotes. Long gone are the days where a hotel was just that – a hotel. Instead, they’ve become social and cultural institutions in an ever-changing society. In many ways, a hotel is a gateway to another world – a world that could be. Then how do they convey that? How does a hotel develop a unique narrative while still being true to its roots? And how are they supposed to use storytelling in practice? Let’s dive into that. 

Develop a unique brand voice

In a crowded marketplace, it’s absolutely essential for a hotel to uncover its USP’s and brand voice and communicate that to their audience. Travellers have plenty of options these days, so they should have a good reason to book one certain hotel over another. This is where the development of a so-called brand voice comes into the picture. 

First off, start by looking at a hotel as a human with a personality. How would it be, act and speak? What opinions would it have? How would it dress? Observing a hotel from this – slightly different – angle is fascinating, and the result should help you create stronger communication moving forward. Whether it’s eccentric, playful or relaxed, defining a hotel’s brand voice will open the door to consistent communication and attract more guests in the long run. Not two people are exactly the same, so why should hotels be? 

Look for stories in-house

In order to tell engaging stories, one must first know where to look. A hotel, regardless of its size and age, usually is full of little details and characteristics that make up for wonderful stories. Look into the different departments, F&B, reception, housekeeping etc., and you’ll probably encounter a lot of funny anecdotes and events that can be converted into stories. On top of that, the people working in these different departments each have their own unique narrative to share. Does the F&B manager know where to find the best speakeasy bar in the area? Where does the chef go grocery shopping? What fascinating anecdotes about the area can the porter share? We always say: “If only walls could speak…”, but sometimes, the employees of a hotel can say just as much and more.  

Whatever makes a hotel unique, that should be shared in an engaging way via social media, newsletters and through the hotel’s website. Looking behind the curtains, e.g. into the different departments, the everyday operations and the history and heritage of the hotel (if any), is a great way to start! Whatever you choose, just remember to keep it authentic. 

Tap into the local community 

Few things are as powerful for a hotel as its surroundings and local community. Instead of only branding a hotel based on its appearance and services, try looking into the local life and how it can contribute to a better guest experience.  

Many hotels are already doing this, and with good reason. Creating a local tour guide (digital or physical) or a hand-drawn map of the area, will not only make it more fun for guests, but also testament a hotel as a local authority; a place rooted in its area and supporting local life, which is in high course these days. 

In the quest of creating a unique hotel narrative, implementing storytelling is vital part of the journey. As the American psychologist Roger Schank says: “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories”. 

Storytelling must be seen and understood as a valuable tool in line with any other marketing initiative. By tapping into all the things above, hotels will quickly set themselves apart from competitors and create connections while doing it. 

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