Welcome to the Content Marketing Playbook series in which our expert shares best content marketing practices with hotel marketers! This is part 2 of the blog series.
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The words you use to describe your hotel tell a story. They introduce potential guests to your hotel’s unique personality and the lifestyle your brand is geared toward. With the right choice of language and communication style, you can begin to build rapport, inspire your guests to imagine themselves in your destination, and ultimately influence their booking decisions.
Crafting a unique brand voice helps you create the appropriate parameters to communicate consistently throughout your marketing cycles and showcase the property’s unique personality. Using words that strike a chord with your audience can even encourage potential visitors to book directly on your website instead of heading out to the generically-worded OTA booking engines.
How do you create a unique brand voice for your own hotel? Our detailed guide will take you through the process.
Define your personality
Before developing a brand voice, it’s important to define your hotel’s personality. A good place to start is to think about the human-like qualities that best describe the property. If your hotel was a person, how would you describe it to a stranger? Try to avoid vague or “buzz” words. Your persona should bring a specific image to mind.
Is your hotel outgoing, eccentric, adventurous, playful, quirky, edgy, reserved or sophisticated? Try to narrow the list down to three-four words.
Next, think about how someone with those traits would behave and communicate. What kind of language would they use? How expressive would they be? Would they be formal or informal? Make sure your personality is distinct and well-defined so it translates easily into your marketing and website copy.
Radisson RED is a great example of a brand voice that leaps off the page. It’s sharp, punchy, self-assured, and fun. Here’s how Radisson RED describes its Premium King room:
The phrase “love-yourself lighting” is a little bit cheeky but pitched just right at the brand’s millennial-focused audience.
The same hip and playful tone continues in the location section:
In contrast, Beach Terrace Inn adopts a relaxed and laid-back tone that feels altogether softer and more intimate.
The sensory-rich language matches their idyllic beachside location and reinforces the tranquil experience that guests can expect:
“We cherish the “ahhh moments — those little instances where the distractions of the rest of the world are drowned out and you can finally relax — like that moment when you first hear the waves of the Pacific, or the moment you first feel the sand in your toes …”
In both examples, you can see how a unique brand voice can create a distinct mood and differentiate you from the competition.
Think about your audience
To help build an appropriate brand voice, it’s also critical to consider who you’re talking to. With a clear understanding of the target market you wish to impact, it’s far easier to craft messages that resonate with their needs, pain points, and preferences.
Of course, you might have more than one typical guest. But trying to appeal to everyone will dilute your brand voice. So who are you mostly aiming at? What might most of your guests have in common? You’re looking for typical traits rather than trying to represent every potential guest.
Think beyond basic criteria such as age, gender, profession, and marital status. What interests and hobbies does your typical guest have? What moves them, and why do they travel? What do they love most about your hotel?
Dive into your data
To find out more about your guests, start by diving into your own data. Analyze on-property purchases, requests, and booking details. Are there any consistent patterns that tell you more about your typical customers?
Check out social media and review sites
Comments on review sites and social media are ideal for building up a picture of your guests. What do they like about your hotel and destination? Are they raving about your cocktail happy hour, your kid-friendly swimming pool, your neighborhood dining scene? The more you know, the better you can build a personable and relatable brand voice.
Conduct a survey
Need more specific information to flesh out your guest persona? Create a free survey with Google Forms and send it to your email list. Potential questions might include:
- How would you describe our hotel in a sentence?
- What do you love most about our destination?
- What are the main reasons you travel?
- What blogs or publications do you read?
- What one essential travel item can’t you leave home without?
Create a guest persona
After gathering customer responses, you should find patterns among the data. Next, it’s time to create a guest persona. Remember, this is supposed to be an amalgamation of your customers that fits the ‘typical’ guest.
Make sure your persona is detailed, distinct, and authentic. Hubspot has a comprehensive guide on how to do this.
Here’s how an example persona might sound:
“Our target guest is a 30-something female traveler called Amy. She’s a busy professional who travels twice a year to de-stress from her city-based office job. Amy spends her free time hiking, surfing, binging on Netflix box-sets, and having dinner with friends. She likes hotels with a social environment and chatty staff who make great recommendations. She loves sharing her vacation photos on Instagram and never travels without her laptop.”
To really bring them to life, create a visual template of your guest persona. Here’s a nice example for inspiration:
Having a visual template like this can be used as a reference to keep your brand voice consistent and focused on the specific guest persona you’ve identified.
Look for inspiration
When you initially begin to define your brand voice, it can help to look to other brands for inspiration. These brands don’t necessarily have to be from your industry.
For instance, if your target audience is a luxury fifty-plus traveler, look at how other luxury brands address this demographic. How do they communicate through their websites, marketing, and social channels? The goal isn’t to copy others but to find inspiration in order to define your own tone of voice.
A competitor analysis of hotels in your destination can also be beneficial to ensure your own voice differentiates you from the crowd. Look for mistakes or missed opportunities that a competing hotel might be making in their messaging. You might find a new angle to connect with your target customers more effectively.
This is also a good time to ensure you avoid using the same old buzzwords everyone uses for the destination. A skilled copywriter should be able to evoke feelings and sensations through the intelligent selection of key adjectives; not general terms.
Create your brand voice guidelines
Once you’ve created your brand personality and customer persona, it’s time to put together a formal brand document. This will provide clear writing guidelines to everyone in your organization to ensure they all follow clear and concise guidelines – ie. everyone stays on brand.
Here’s a great example of a brand document by Gather Content:
Fill out the blanks as above and feel free to add your own categories. You might want to include specific words to be avoided, both to avoid portraying the property in an inappropriate way and turning off your target market. You can also feature before and after examples that further illustrate how your new brand voice should sound.
Putting it into action
Once the hard work of defining your brand voice is done, you need to put it into action. Consistency is key, and your documented guidelines should help with this. Of course, different tones may be necessary depending on the circumstances. If your tone is fun and quirky, you’ll obviously need a different approach if you’re delivering bad news. Your tone will also vary according to seasonality, campaigns to promote different experiences, and connecting with different segments of your market.
Before you write anything, think about the context. It’s worth having a formal document that describes how your brand voice should change based on the circumstances or medium. For instance, you might want to include specific examples for blog posts, website pages, social media posts, and sales letters.
Finally, remember that your brand personality is part of your hotel’s identity. A unique and well-defined tone that feels consistent with your brand and connects with your guests will instantly elevate you above the competition.