Marketplace Secrets Of The Hospitality Industry

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Hotels and resorts are in the business of pleasing. Promotional products – as gifts for our guests, employee appreciation and souvenirs – are a constant in this business. As long as we exist, we’ll be buying promotional products.
To put this industry in perspective, consider that travelers in the United States spend an average of $1.9 billion per day – that’s $21,000 per second! – according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. With more than 47,000 hotel properties in the nation and $133 billion in total industry revenue, money flows in the hospitality industry.
Whether we are doing something internally for customers or perhaps to wow a special client, we use a lot of promotional items in many different price ranges, but we are always working within an established budget. Keep in mind, the budget can vary widely depending on the marketing goal.
Events. Since conferences and meetings make up a large portion of the revenue stream at hotel properties, it’s in our best interest to recruit events and to keep attendees happy. Therefore, hotels will purchase nice gifts for location scouts to entice their organizations to host their annual meetings, trade shows, conferences or other occasions with us. The right item here will be something upscale that communicates appreciation for their (potential) business.
Once a hotel has secured a large event, it’s common to buy items for attendees – these promos are often imprinted with the attending group’s logo, not the hotel’s. Product choices can vary, but notebooks are a standard item for business engagements since they are both useful for attendees and a nice keepsake.
Promotions. Often, products are chosen to promote a change within the resort. At the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., we once gave our VIP clients a gift set of glasses with a margarita pitcher. Conversely, we sometimes choose items as inexpensive as simple magnets to be used as trade-show traffic builders to gain exposure. Hotel and resort sales staffs are a mainstay at trade shows, too. Here, inexpensive, often travel-related giveaways, such as luggage tags, are best. Items such as pensnotebooks, golf balls, water bottles, spa products, hats and shirts are also popular.
Any chance that we have to get our name out there to our customers adds value to what we consider “free advertising.” Internal programs are also developed to promote the hotel. This may be something as simple as a large drinkware product sold in the hotel bar or by the pool in a “buy a large drink and get this free glass/bottle” promotion.
Kids. Many resorts have kids’ programs to occupy the little ones on family trips. (Properties geared toward business travelers are less likely to have such programs.) The Hyatt has used several promotions for our kids’ programs, including coloring books, neon shoelaces, painters’ caps, aprons and more. Ours was a promotional campaign that linked a mascot to our new program and gave the children something to take home to create a memory.
While some promos are purchased at the national level for all brand properties, much is still left to each location.
This allows properties to center their campaigns around local geography and culture. Camp Hyatt in Scottsdale, for example, focuses on the Native American and cowboy cultures and the local flora and fauna.
A colleague of mine who works for the resort group Shell Vacations Hospitality says almost all of its kids’ programs are centered around one theme: a mascot they call “Buddy the Beach Ball.” This started out as something catchy to use internally with associates – who each received a Buddy stuffed animal – and then developed into a guest program. The properties are currently running a photo contest called “Show me the Buddy,” in which they encourage guests to take Buddy on vacation and then send in a snapshot of them with their Buddy. The photos have been pouring in.
Employees. At the Hyatt, we often give logoed items to employees as gifts and in structured programs. In an effort to go green at the Hyatt and limit disposable cups, we gave all our associates water bottles imprinted with our logo to use at work. Also within the organization, we have monthly internal programs on which we spend a couple hundred dollars each month. Among the associate-recognition items we’ve used are lapel pins, key chains and crystal pieces for our management-level employees.
The resort also hosts an awards banquet and manager’s outings for team building. For our next outing, we will purchase T-shirts for everyone. We have done several different giveaways at our manager’s outings or on associate appreciation days, such as koozies, magnets, key chains, stuffed animals, hats and shirts, visors, cups, shoulder bags and more.
Associations. Once you’ve made connections with hotel buyers, check whether they’re involved with any other groups or associations. Through the Arizona chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), there are many uses for promotional products, namely the annual awards banquet, golf tournament and fundraising. For the banquet, HSMAI buys table favors such as candies or picture frames, and the golf event requires all the standards, including balls, tees, visors and other golf-related products that promote the event or a sponsor. While budgets are always determined by events, our latest golf-tournament budget allowed $250 for awards (much is donated for this event) and we allotted $1,200 for our holiday party.
This article was written by Janet Hof for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Janet Hof, CMP, LES, is an assistant rooms executive at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale (Ariz.) Resort and Spa. She has been with the resort for 20 years in numerous positions. Hof is the 2009 president-elect for Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International – Arizona Chapter (HSMAI) and is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Learning Environment Specialist (LES).

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