Stories matter: what hotels can learn from content marketers at large

Forrester defines content marketing as:

“A marketing strategy where brands create interest, relevance and relationships with customers by producing, curating and sharing content that addresses specific customer needs and delivers visible value.”

Notice that it’s more than just creating content to put in front of your guests. It’s creating effective content with a purpose—to educate and inspire.

And when it comes to this strategy, in particular, hoteliers can take cues from brands across every industry. From the most extreme examples like Red Bull TV to the more subtle like Leadpages, they all have one thing is common: incredible content marketing and storytelling.

The case for better content

There’s no shortage of content out there on the internet. Just about everyone is creating it. But is it effective? It’s critical to measure if your content marketing is working. To do this, you need to define what success is from the start. What metrics are important to your hotel? What are the wins (both large and small) to get you there?

Without a clear plan in place, it’s easy to fall into a trap of creating more content rather than creating content that’s actually effective at meeting your goals. Remember the endgame here—create interest, relevance and relationships with your guests.

According to Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, there’s no one way to do just that. But she does offer a few suggestions to consider for your next piece:

  • Focus on empathy and experiences
  • Focus on relevant and inspiring stories
  • Focus on making it useful

Great content = Useful x Empathic x Inspirational

It’s important to note that all three factors are needed. Without one, the system (and it’s effectiveness) fails.

The case for storytelling

The medium you use to distribute your work and even what you define as useful or relevant is completely dependent on your brand, guests and business goals. For hoteliers, in particular, stories have an important role to play.

Stories help build powerful connections with guests, creating loyalty and trust that can make a hotel stand out from the competition. Let’s dig into why.

Stories are useful

For centuries, humans have told stories to share information and teach important lessons. Over time they shape our perceptions and beliefs, whether that’s about individuals, food, political views, or even your hotel.

As your story is cultivated, it develops into a powerful means for future travelers to learn about your hotel and the experiences your property has to offer in an authentic way. When all of these things come together, that’s when your guest is ready to book.

Stories are empathetic

Your guests are the core characters of your hotel’s story and they have relevance to the people they know—future travelers perfect for your hotel. It’s hard for these prospective guests to identify with a building. But your guests’ perspectives offer an authentic connection that resonates. They’ll breathe life into your hotel with messages that traditional advertising can’t touch.

Don’t just take my word for it. Robert McKee, regarded as one of the best brand storytellers, said in this interview, “When a story stars a consumer, there’s a kind of natural empathy. That character is a human being, just like me.”

Stories are inspirational

Stories engage consumers, pulling them in to participate in the conversation, rather than telling them what to think. Plus, stories evoke emotions, and emotions inspire us to take action.

Just remember that authenticity matters here. Travelers see right through content that’s not authentic and you’re running the risk of losing valuable credibility with your audience.

Brands across every industry recognize that storytelling is an effective avenue for marketing. It captures what today’s consumers want: useful, empathetic and inspirational content. For the hospitality industry, adapting this mindset while enlisting the help of your guests will be a win-win for your hotel.

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Meet Matt: team player and pun champion

At, we’ve made our careers in hospitality. Now, we’re certified in advocology. (Our science-y approach to turning advocacy into revenue.)

On this team, we aim to hire amazing people, which is why we’d like to introduce Matt—dedicated Account Manager and “punny” guy who settles for nothing less than huge wins for every customer.


Want to dig in? Say hello to Matt, or peek at the rest of our advocologists at work here.

Hospitality headlines: the massive growth of Airbnb and what it means for hoteliers

Airbnb is big in media, sweeping the airwaves and grabbing a huge share of attention across the web. But one topic in particular is close to home for hoteliers—a new Morgan Stanley report on their incredible growth from 2016 into the new year. It’s hit every news outlet in the hospitality sector and beyond, from Skift, to Tnooz, to Bloomberg.

According to the new report, Airbnb currently holds about 18–19% market penetration in the accommodation sector (up from 12% last year,) and is expected to grow to 23-25% over the course of the year. It’s being felt in both leisure and corporate travel, with nearly a fifth of both types being hosted by an Airbnb member.

The bottom line, hoteliers are feeling the pressure. But what else? OTAs aren’t. Tnooz reports that according to Morgan Stanley, almost half of respondents shifted stays away from traditional hotels, with the same outlook on the horizon for 2017.

What’s interesting is that this is a decidedly different message than the same Morgan Stanley report on Airbnb a year prior stating that, “we don’t see Airbnb materially impacting the hotel industry,” and, “Airbnb’s threat to the OTAs is larger and multifaceted.”

So why is the demand for Airbnb coming out of the pockets of hotels and not online travel agencies? OTAs have the tech and capital to keep up.

OTAs have big marketing budgets to compete for travelers’ attention at the moment of booking.

Add to this the ability to grow and develop their own alternative accommodations, and the OTAs are ready.

Take Expedia. In 2015, Expedia paid $3.9 billion for HomeAway, an Airbnb-like home rental platform, and in the same year also purchased Orbitz. In all, Expedia reported revenue increasing 33% last quarter.

Hoteliers have a competitive edge

The good news is that hoteliers can compete with Airbnb and OTAs. Here are some tips hoteliers should consider for regaining the attention of travelers making the switch to alternative accommodations.

  • Be the local expert. Travel has always been deeply rooted in experiences. Who better to guide the local experience that your hotel is a part of than your team on the ground? Use your onsite employees for perspective when communicating with guests. Plus, develop close partnerships with local businesses to offer guests unique experiences that satisfy their curiosity to explore new places.
  • Make your communication personal. Travelers have been pelted with marketing jargon—so much so that many are tuning it out. Hospitality thrives because of the personal relationships hosts build with their guests. Bring your staff to light. Make the communication in your digital experience the same level of personalized service you provide on site.
  • Compete for travelers’ attention long before they’re ready to book. Travel decisions start well before a person is ready to buy, yet there’s a huge amount of advertising effort (and dollars) spent here. Use this as an opportunity to target inspiring content to travelers long before it’s time to purchase. The inspiration and discovery phases are a prime opportunity to make an impression and hook future travelers.

Airbnb is here to stay. But hotels still have their own competitive edge. It’s important for hoteliers to play up those strengths and build on the personal relationships that define hospitality.

If you come across any articles you’d like us to feature on our next rundown let us know!

Stories that inspire: our favorite guest moments from December

Every guest story is an opportunity for a hotel to unveil something new. Stories reach & inspire—they’re truly memorable, sometimes magical, and a lot of times, a bit of fun.

In a way, we’ve fallen in love with guest stories, and every day see firsthand the impact they’re making for hotels. That’s why we’re sharing them with you! Check out a handful of our recent favorites below:

Tanque Verde Ranch a favorite guest story from December

Tanque Verde Ranch — Tucson, Arizona

“We had our daughter’s wedding at TVGR and we couldn’t be happier with the staff, the accommodations, and the views, they even provided a dramatic appearance of a small herd of deer just behind the ceremony, like a scene from a Disney movie! Her guests were blown away and several mentioned, that this was the best Wedding venue ever. “Best Wedding Ever”!” – Gary W.

Show some love

The staff at Tanque Verde Ranch left Gary and his family amazed after an unforgettable wedding. Not only did Gary help the ranch tell a richer story, but he’s already shared this special moment with 416 of his friends and relatives, leading to 15 leads.

Grand View Lodge a favorite guest story from December

Grand View Lodge — Nisswa, Minnesota

“The chance to have family time during the holidays.” – Therese S.

Admire more

The ability to spend quality time with the whole family during the holidays meant the world to Therese, who shared this moment with 639 friends and relatives. So far, she and her fellow guests have reached 15,506, and there’s still 3 months to go!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa a favorite guest story from December

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa — Temecula, California

“The best part was enjoying the private patio at night with the stars and my family and some wine. Then again in the morning with the Hot Air Balloons, coffee, and my wife.” – Jaime R.

Explore the vineyard

Nothing beats taking time to relax during the holidays to enjoy time with family. Jamie, a recent guest of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, captured this special moment with his wife one morning on their trip. He and his fellow guests have reached 116,000 friends and family members with authentic stories since the resort went live just 4 months ago.

Red Mountain Resort a favorite guest story from December

Red Mountain Resort — Ivins, Utah

“The hikes are always my favorite! Also love all the vegetarian food options.” – Michelle R.

Experience Utah

A peaceful hike across the deep red rock cliffs and canyons of southern Utah make for a beautiful moment captured by Michelle, a recent guest of Red Mountain Resort.

South Seas Island Resort a favorite guest story from December

South Seas Island Resort — Captiva Island, Florida

“The best part of our experience was definitely the staff. I think the front desk staff are so authentically sweet, all the staff at the restaurants and at the pool are truly excellent at their jobs, and the cleaning staff are excellent. But most of all, Miguel was a member of your team that we loved. We met him when he assisted with helping us change rooms, but once we met, we would see him around and he always greeted us hello offered any assistance. He loves his job and it shows. We loved the Holiday Stroll. What a special event.” – Heather T.

Enjoy more

A staff at South Seas Island Resort makes all the difference for Heather and her family, even calling out a staff member by name! It’s true hospitality like this that get future travelers excited to visit South Seas Island Resort!

Crystal Lodge a favorite guest story from December

Crystal Lodge — Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

“Close to the action. Short walk to the gondola and restaurants. Nice atmosphere.” – Richard P.

Hit the slopes

It’s that time of the year to hit the slopes at Crystal Lodge! This special moment caught by Richard was shared with 606 friends and relatives, bringing 78 of them to the Crystal Lodge website and generating 8 warm leads in only the first week.

Adrift Hotel & Spa a favorite guest story from December

Adrift Hotel & Spa — Long Beach, Washington

“I spent my birthday at Adrift during December. The staff made our stay so special. Upon arriving to our room, a “happy birthday” sign hung from the wall, along with confetti, balloons and champagne. The hotel was quiet and cozy. I’ll never forget waking up and taking a walk along the beach with my dog and seeing the pinks and oranges reflected in the wet sand from the sunrise. I returned to have a complimentary hot cup of coffee in the lobby. So wonderful!” – Anna R.

Discover more

Adrift puts the love back into hospitality, treating Anna like a true superstar on her birthday getaway. With such a lasting impression made, it’s no wonder why Anna shared this moment with 431 friends and family members, drawing 60 site visitors and 9 warm leads in only the first a week.

Alyeska Resort a favorite guest story from December

Alyeska Resort — Girdwood, Alaska

“I always love coming to the lodge and feeling like it’s home. No matter how long I have been away.” – Stephen T.

Check out the view

Stephen, a recent guest of Alyeska Resort, took a moment to stop and enjoy the breathtaking view at Alyeska Resort, later sharing this special moment with 587 friends and relatives. In less than a week he’s brought 112 to the resort’s site and generating 14 warm leads.

Check back next month for even more. See any stories that stand out? Let us know!

Adventure back to November’s stories