5 Experiential Marketing Examples That Hotels Use to Hook Guests

It has probably already been drilled into your head: Now, more than ever, consumers crave experiences over material things. In fact, according to a 2019 report from Momentum Worldwide, 76 percent of all polled consumers said they would rather spend their money on experiences (versus material items), 58 percent want to be part of an experience that allows them to escape from everyday life, and 63 percent want to be part of an experience where they learn something new.

For hotel brands, this means they now have a unique opportunity to connect and make an impactful impression on consumers by capitalizing on this “experience economy.” Because the fact of the matter is: Prospective hotel guests first look – and definitely spend more time studying – a particular destination before they even start to think about where they’re going to stay. So, while yes, it’s great to show off a resort’s gorgeous property and unique amenities on a website, in email campaigns, and on social media, it’s just as important to market the destination as well. And we’ve got just the experiential marketing examples from hotels – several of which we’ve written for our clients (just think of us as your friendly experiential marketing agency) – that are quenching consumers’ thirst for fulfillment. And more important to the hotels: driving bookings.

Online Guide 

Having been recently restored to its original 1920s art deco grandeur with palazzo-inspired architecture, lofty chandeliers, with an upscale restaurant, and lavish spa, Hotel Saranac is something of the marquee hotel in downtown Saranac Lake, New York. But another draw to this property that it wisely capitalizes on? The fact that it’s located in the heart of the Adirondacks of Upstate New York and uniquely positioned to take advantage of all the iconic attractions that call this place home: 46 famous 4,000-foot peaks, all located within an hour’s drive; the neighboring Olympic village of Lake Placid; and scores of arts, culture, and gastronomic gems.

Enter Field Guide, a trusted local resource written and built by Hawthorn Creative that lives on the hotel’s property website to showcase all there is to do in the destination. Divided into four separate categories (Adventure, Explore, Drink & Dine, and Unwind), the guide is easily navigable based on interests, and, once a user clicks into a category, showcases an array of locally vetted activities, highlights, and reasons to visit paired with punchy copy and engaging web design. The benefit to our client is two-fold: If a potential guest is Googling “things to do in the Adirondacks,” Hotel Saranac is in a prime position to populate and deliver that info – and that, my friend, leads to conversion. Additionally, if someone is considering booking the hotel, but isn’t quite sold yet, this type of things-to-do content often helps tip the scale so they feel confident that they’re not just booking a hotel, they’re booking an experience.

Hotel Saranac Field Guide

Destination-Focused Email Campaigns

Scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Key West, Florida, Opal Collection comprises 19 luxury, waterside resort properties and, like Hotel Saranac, recognizes the need to capitalize on their respective resort destination experiences. And that they do: not just with a custom blog site we built for them, called Opal Unpacked – for which we also still manage copy, imagery sourcing and selection, and loading – but by pushing out those various valuable pieces of destination content marketing in the form of three email campaign types.

The first is an “Opal-wide” campaign, which delivers monthly to blog subscribers and past resort guests, to share a hand-selected assortment of content that cross-promotes the different resort destinations. The second is a “property-specific” campaign, sent out twice a year for each of the 19 properties, which pushes out content about new happenings, attractions, and ways to maximize your time during an upcoming visit to target past guests. And, lastly, the “pre-arrival” campaigns. Scheduled to fire within a week of guests’ booked visits, the campaign utilizes content that serves as inspiration for how to truly take advantage of their upcoming vacation. In a nutshell, it’s a strategy that positions Opal Collection as the utmost expert on how to best experience the destinations.

Opal Unpacked email campaign

Digital Concierge

Encircled by the famous Topa Topa mountain range in Southern California’s upscale bohemian village of Ojai, the 220-acre Ojai Valley Inn is quite the destination in itself, offering cooking classes with celeb chefs, beekeeping and honey tastings, horseback riding, yoga, golf – the list goes on. To help guests best take advantage of the dizzying array of activities offered on-site and beyond, in 2017, the resort unveiled its Discovery Center, a one-stop vacation planning hub located on the grounds. Here, guests visit to work with “experience planners,” who provide hands-on immediate planning. But it’s not merely limited to folks already on-site. A comprehensive digital version of the center also lives on the resort’s website, giving potential consumers a peek at all that is at their fingertips. For those who eventually book, an experience planner works with guests prior to arrival to help create custom itineraries and make any necessary activity reservations. The result is a finely tuned visit, where the best of the valley is catered to each guest’s taste.

Historical Web Series

When Belleview Inn, formerly one of Florida’s grandest grand hotels dating back to the nineteenth century, was undergoing renovations after decades of disrepair, our client was looking to build momentum for the hotel’s reopening in 2018. So we created a four-part digital series, called the Belleview Inn Story, rolled out in chapters on the property website as the restoration project neared completion.

While part of the goal was to capture the storied past that lives on in the new hotel, it also promoted the unique historical experiences that guests could become a part of on-site. For example, the several restored spaces to visit, including Morton’s Reading Room, a wood-paneled den-like space packed with historical artifacts from the hotel’s heyday; the Tiffany Room, boasting the original Tiffany glass panels that made up the room’s iconic curved ceiling; and Maisie’s Marketplace, mimicking the hotel’s original ice cream parlor from the ’20s and ’30s with a black and white tile floor and tin ceiling. The content series lives on as a top-nav section on the hotel’s website for users to continue to explore today – and soak in the history as if they were a previous guest visiting during the hotel’s Gilded Age.

Destination Content Integrated on Landing Page

Surrounded by more than 5,000 acres of countryside and forested areas in Amenia, New York, the newly renovated Troutbeck offers upscale lodging in an eighteenth-century estate where Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson all once stayed. But rather than focus exclusively on this Hudson Valley hideaway’s historic, low-key, and luxurious accommodations on the hotel’s landing page, it integrates experiential content in the form of clickable tiles that look at the local hiking, skiing, fishing, and horseback-riding scenes, among others. The message? That Troutbeck is an estate for an escape with all the activities an outdoor enthusiast could ask for, just two hours north of New York City.

Feeling inspired?

If you’re ready to take your experiential destination marketing to the next level, we can help. We power the content marketing of top hotel brands by crafting stories that spark travelers’ interest and getting that content into the right hands with custom magazines, multiple websites, email marketing, blogs, social media, and more. Check out these case studies to see our work in action:

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