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Experiential Marketing Trend Watch: Hospitality Experiences

Experiential Marketing Trend Watch: Hospitality Experiences

Examples of Hospitality Experiences At Experiential Marketing Activations

Brands across various industries have hosted successful experiential marketing events that involved unique hospitality experiences. One of these brands is Audi, which set up a “Dome of Quattro” for 16 weeks at the Denver International Airport. Guests inside the 30-foot dome could visit the bar, watch sports documentaries on one of the many flat-screened TVs, or simply lounge on the sleek and sophisticated furniture. There were no Audi cars within the dome—in fact, there were not even salespeople pressuring guests to buy a car. However, guests could take a short trip to another dome located a few dozen feet away in order to sit behind the wheel of an Audi and take a virtual test drive.

Pepsi recently incorporated a unique hospitality experience into an experiential marketing event that took place in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. The brand invited guests to attend the event to celebrate the launch of the new Pepsi Generations campaign. At the event, guests were able to mix and mingle with various celebrities, including Cindy Crawford and Jeff Gordon. Guests were also offered passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails as they moved throughout the event to look at the different exhibits featuring some of the biggest moments in Pepsi’s history.

Multiple companies often partner together to create the ultimate hospitality experience. This was the case when Tesla, the Standard Hotel, and Casper mattresses joined forces to host an experiential marketing event at the SXSW conference last year. SXSW guests were able to book a hotel room in the area using the Standard’s One Night app. Guests were welcomed into their rooms with a plate of warm cookies and a glass of milk to help them kick back and relax. They were even given the opportunity to request an “on-site mom” that would visit their room and read them bedtime stories. If guests did not want to book a room for the entire night, they had the option of reserving a “refresh” room where they could unwind for a few hours before heading back to the SXSW conference. These brands went above and beyond to make guests feel right at home.

How to Make This Trend Work

Every brand can successfully incorporate this trend into their experiential marketing event as they follow a few basic rules.

First, keep in mind that creating hospitality experiences can be expensive, so it’s best to take advantage of your brand’s assets to cut costs. For example, Grant Thornton, an accounting firm, wanted to plan a luxurious hospitality experience for a few of their top clients. Since the firm provides accounting services to the Tony Awards, they contacted the organizers of this annual award show and asked for a favor. The marketers at Grant Thornton were able to offer their top customers an unforgettable evening at the Tony Awards because they took advantage of their connections, which are company assets. Your company may not have connections at the Tony Awards, but it’s very likely that your company has other assets that can be used in a similar manner. Think about how you can use these assets to your advantage.

Although the main goal of a hospitality experience is to entertain guests, marketers also need to use these events as opportunities to teach guests about the brand. Guests should be fairly relaxed in this setting, so keep the conversation light and informal so they don’t feel as if they’re in a seminar or being bombarded with a sales pitch. Hiring the right brand ambassadors that can pull this off is key.

Since planning hospitality experiences is becoming increasingly popular, marketers need to conduct research when planning an event to see what other brands are doing. If you want guests to remember the event, it shouldn’t be like other hospitality experiences hosted by your competitors. Read industry blogs and check social media on a regular basis to see what competitors are doing. If you find yourself planning something that is similar to what a competitor recently did, make adjustments so it doesn’t seem as if you’re copying their ideas. No one wants to attend the same event—with different branding—thousands of times.

Some marketers are used to planning large events for hundreds of guests. But, it’s important for marketers to realize that a hospitality experience may be more intimate. Inviting too many guests could affect the relaxed and exclusive atmosphere of a hospitality experience. Plus, this type of event can be expensive, so businesses with limited budgets may have no other choice but to only invite small groups of customers.

Finally, marketers need to remember that service is key at these events. The purpose of creating a hospitality experience is to make guests feel welcome and cater to their needs. However, this is hard to do if guests are offered poor service. For example, if the event is understaffed, guests’ needs will not be met promptly. To avoid this problem, brands need to invest a great deal of resources in hiring experienced brand ambassadors that know how to give guests a warm welcome.

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