The Top 5 Nontraditional Hotel Marketing Stunts

If you’re perusing hotel websites as much as I am for a living, then you’re bound to come across some of the wittiest and off-the-cuff hotel marketing ideas on the planet. Whether completely out-of-the-box  or unprecedented versions of the box itself, these hospitality marketing strategies aren’t just selling rooms, they’re starting conversations. They’re standing out. They’re the industry’s instigators breaking the patterns of typical marketing toward group travel and leisure travel. Best of all, they’re making sure that guests never forget them.

Here is a collection of recent clever hotel marketing plays that are winning hearts and reeling in reservations across the globe:

Wowing Guests with Afternoon Freebies

The Hyatt Palm Springs has learned how to wow guests on wheels. Each evening for happy hour, a staff member  (usually from the management team) will knock on each guests’ door and offer them complimentary items from the “Wow Cart” (aptly named for the reaction that guests have), a double-deck push cart loaded with complimentary water bottles, fresh fruit, sodas, candy, and chips. Depending on how many people are in their rooms, it can take the management team from 20 minutes to two hours to make the rounds to each guestroom. One Hyatt Diamond Member described his reaction after encountering the free Wow Cart items, “I can’t remember the last time something like this made an impression on me. It’s simple, but it sets the hotel apart and makes you remember it.”

Using A Hotel Tradition to Beat Competitors at Their Own Game

citizenM is the industry’s non-cliché. Their hospitality philosophy? According to Kessels Kramer, citizenM’s brand and communications agency:

“Take away everything you don’t need from a hotel and add more of what you do: A huge bed, great technology, free WiFi, free movies, a cool lobby to hang out in and a glorious rooftop bar. No extortionate prices, no towel swans and no bellhops.”

So when they opened their first U.S. property in New York, citizenM turned the tables and used some of the hotel world’s predictable staples to not only introduce themselves, but also to celebrate their new home and their new neighbors.

My favorite of their marketing moves was sending a traditionally dressed bellhop throughout the streets of New York pushing this message around. Mobile marketing at its least cliché.

Showcasing Staff As Purveyors of Your Experience

The Refinery Hotel in New York knows that their staff members are more than just employees – they’re the real-life characters that make up their property’s story and who influence their guests’ experience more than anything else. So, in a recent post in their aptly named hotel blog, Refinery Times, the hotel turned their photographer’s lens to capture lifestyle photography of their much celebrated bellhop, Basha. You’ll learn that he is a self-taught, fluent Italian speaker, knows how to get people to like him within two minutes, and that ‘Basha’ is actually his last name (you’ll have to ask him in person what his first name is). The result? Successfully capturing the human side of the Refinery brand and allowing guests to know who will greet them when they arrive.

Using Drones to Capture Breathtaking Aerial Views

They’re not just for helping to find missing persons, for military reconnaissance, or Amazon.com deliveries, drones are setting the scene for amazing travel storytelling. Hotels and resorts across the globe are using drones to capture soaring video of their properties, giving guests a birds-eye view of sweeping landscapes, 360-degree tours of rooms and the feeling that they are flying throughout. Take a look how Barnes Creative Studios shot a resort overview video for Cap Maison in St. Lucia using a drone.

Elevating A Hotel Brand with a Fictional Host

When the minds behind the new boutique Archer Hotels were nailing down a concept, they kept coming back to the idea of a ‘consummate host.’ So, Archer was born – a fictional host, who is a visionary, prefers to remain behind the scenes, and has an exceptional knack for hosting. He inserts himself playfully throughout the brand experience. For example, he left behind a custom deck of playing cards touting courtesy tips curated by Archer himself. If a staff member catches a hotel guest displaying one of the acts of kindness or etiquette outlined in the cards, they’re awarded a ‘Class Act’ card worth $10 to use during their stay at the property. The mystery man is also behind the hotel’s social media accounts and blog posts, where he shares his favorite travel experiences and local finds. With Archer, the hotel can tell a consistent brand story in an innovative and fresh way.

Written by Junvi Ola.


Written by Cvent Guest