Write the story and tell it
Although independent hotels don’t carry a flag, Gerry Chase, COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, said each hotel is its own brand. New Castle has six independent hotels, including soft-branded assets, in its portfolio of 23.

“An independent in its unique state has to become a brand in its own right,” Chase said. “You can’t do that solely through advertising because it’s expensive, so the best way is through the (public relations) process.”

He said independent hoteliers first should focus on what makes their property unique: Is the hotel a historic property? Have famous people stayed there? Is the hotel in a unique location? Does the building have unique design aspects or rooms?

Once the hotel’s uniqueness is determined, hoteliers should go into branding mode—and public relations is a big part of that. If outside help is employed, he said, the PR Firm or manager needs to be intimately involved in the branding process to help write the hotel’s story.

After the story is written, it’s time to construct a multi-strategic plan to get the story out to the press, Chase said.

Sources identified several ways to tell a hotel’s story:

  • News releases: PR firms might have contacts they have built personal relationships with or database lists to blast via email. In some cases, a wire service can be used.
  • Consistent messaging: The story needs to stay consistent throughout any content that is shared—so don’t overlook the copy on the hotel’s website.
  • Blogging: Although independent hoteliers might target bloggers to write about their properties, hoteliers also can blog for their hotel as a way to get their story out to the media.
  • Social media: Media and bloggers often will look toward social channels such as Twitter and Facebook to discover information about hotels, so it’s important to share content regularly, making sure the messaging is consistent to the hotel’s “brand.”
  • Host the media: Familiarization trips, or fam trips, allow hoteliers to invite writers to experience their property. Sources said don’t always expect a story out of it, but more often than not coverage will result. Sources said a comped room or two is worth its weight if positive coverage comes out of it, and in most cases it is cheaper than buying advertising.

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