Passion-Based Marketing | Hotel and Lifestyle Marketing | San Diego | What if Darth Vader Was Your VIP Guest?
Are you looking to attract, convert and delight potential guests. Find out how inbound marketing for hotels can delight the hardest of VIP's... even Darth Vader.
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What if Darth Vader Was Your VIP Guest?

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What if Darth Vader Was Your VIP Guest?

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Our Team consisting of Cory Falter, Michael Duffy and myself recently offered the following content as a presentation at a conference. Want the slides? Let me know! 

In a galaxy not so far, far, far away…  a brave leader is trying to grow the outpost he and his followers believe so deeply in. But their methods, although historic and heroic, are no match for the new world. All of a sudden, inbound out of the sky, comes a prophet in white – who promises a connection that could grow their outpost beyond their wildest imaginations. But, before he can share his secrets, a test will prove the worthiness of the outposters…

The Force of Inbound Marketing for Hotels

inbound marketing for hotelsDarth Vader is our VIP guest, and we know that we need to learn a little more in order to attract, convert and delight him. Here are some questions (and answers) we’d ask in order to better understand the needs, goals and desires of this targeted potential guest. Let’s get started.

Q: Darth Vader is a semi-fictional character based on a representation of an ideal customer. What is Darth Vader?

A: A Guest Persona

A guest persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data about your existing customers and market research. While it helps marketers like you define a target audience, it can also help sales teams qualify leads. When you have a defined set of guest personas, you can then create content to attract them, through blogging, email, and social media channels. Basically, understanding who you are targeting can help you “speak their language” (even if it is dark and disturbing).

So, What is the Guest Persona for Darth Vader, anyway? What are his…

– Demographics – Age, Gender, Married? 45-5400, Male, Married to his job
– Values? Power and family legacy
– Goals & Challenges? Balancing the dark side with the light side
– Fears? Objections to purchase? Time away from work, appropriate business/leisure attire

HOMEWORK: How many Guest Personas would your property appeal to? Can you put a personality and name to each? Ex., Engaged Eva, Business Bill. Download our Guest Persona Worksheet to get started.

Q: Darth has been invited to speak at a conference on the Death Star, and he has decided to turn his business trip into a “bleisure” trip. He knows it’s time to book, but hasn’t decided where to stay just yet. What would a marketer call where he is in his process?

A: Lifecycle Stage or Buyer’s Journey

The stages a prospect goes through from thought to purchase are called Lifestyle Stages and can generally be broken down into three stages: awareness,  evaluation, and purchase. What’s important to understand about each of these stages is that not every piece of content you create is appropriate, depending on what stage your audience might fall in at that moment.

Examples of Content Ideas for each phase of Darth Vader’s Buyer’s Journey.

AWARENESS: The buyer realizes they have a problem.

Blog Post – Three Easy Reasons Why the Death Star Will Seamlessly Turn Your Business Trip Into a Bleisure Trip

CONSIDERATION: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.

Blog Post – Hotel Rooms Vs. Residential Suites – Which Will Best Fit Your Personal Clan of Storm Troopers

DECISION: The buyer chooses a solution.

Video – 10 Reasons Hotel Death Star Appeals to Your Dark Side  (Plus an intro offer for you!)

HOMEWORK: Think about the three phases of the Buyer’s Journey.  What type of content ideas can you come up with to fit into each bucket? Use this Buyer’s Journey Worksheet as a prompt.

inbound marketing for hotelsQ:  You’ve gathered that Darth has chosen to turn his “bleisure” trip into an opportunity to reconnect with his son and daughter. Your follow-up to provide drip emails that are relevant and timely based on this information is called what?

A: Contextual Marketing

Contextual Marketing is a set of best practices designed to amplify the value of your content to your prospects and customers. More specifically, it’s about using known qualities of your prospect to present your content in a natural, noteworthy and useful frame of reference.

Drip nurturing emails are one of the strongest – and earliest – examples of the strategy’s success. 

Here are some examples of contextual follow-up email subject lines that Darth Vader may respond to:

– How was your bleisure trip, Darth?
– 5 Ways to re-live your bleisure trip with your family
– Darth, Need a “Real” Vacation After Your Family Trip?

Some additional examples of contextual marketing include triggering an email based on a page visited on your website (an email once the wedding page is visited for example), a Birthday or Anniversary email or an Abandoned Cart email.

RELATED: Stop the Madness: Is Your Hospitality Email Marketing a Complete Waste of Time?

Q: While staying at the Death Star Hotel with his family, Darth posted a picture of the pool on the social media site, FaceClone. His ‘friends’ commented, liked and shared the post. How does this benefit the brand?

inbound marketing for hotelsA: Social Proof

Social Proof is the idea that consumers will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing. In social media, Social Proof can be qualified by the number of interactions a piece of content receives or the number of followers you have. The idea is that if others are sharing something or following someone, it must be good.

Study after study show, consumer are 10x more likely to purchase from a third-party referral.

In addition to sharing their own content (UGC) in relation to a brand through their social media channels, examples of Social Proof also include:

– Customer reviews and testimonials
Blog posts, quotes, or photographs by influencers, thought leaders, celebrities and/or experts
– FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – When lots of people are using or buying a product, others want to follow suit.

HOMEWORK: Explore ways you can set up opportunities for guests to excitedly share the experiential nature the property. Some examples could be Snapchat filters, Share to Win, or Photo Booths (with logo, shareable directly from the booth to social channels).

Q: Still a-buzz from his amazing stay at the Death Star Hotel, Darth decides to visit the hotel website for a trip down memory lane. Before he realizes it, he’s spent nearly an hour browsing. His browsing behavior is contributing to what?

A: Lead Score

Lead scoring is a methodology used by sales and marketing departments to determine the worthiness of a potential customer, or lead, by attaching values to them based on their online behavior relating to their interest in products or services.

Scores can be set based on:

– Number of Web Pages Viewed and Duration
– The Types of Pages Viewed (Reservations, Meetings, Events, etc.)
– Number of Forms Completed (Content Downloaded or Inquiries Made)
– The Typical Sales Cycle (How long before a lead will never buy?)

HOMEWORK: Determine what score would make a lead sales-ready. Set a point value for each digital engagement and “keep score.”

Now, the Force (of Inbound Marketing!) saved the galaxy, once again.

You, our valiant leaders, in your hero’s journey, have gone through this right of passage and embraced the power of the force to connect with even your most challenging guest: Darth Vader, by creating communications and an experience relevant to his needs.

Darth Vader hosted an awesome presentation and was also able to reconnect with Luke and Leia. He chose the Death Star Hotel for eternity for his business and leisure trips….

Remember… DO or DO NOT, there is not try.

Is your independent hotel looking for an out-of-the-box way to connect with guests and make them raving fans? Contact us to learn more about our effective programs for properties just like yours!


Susan TuckerSusan Tucker, Director of Digital Strategy

Susan brings her experience and enthusiasm as Director of Digital Strategy. A certified Inbound Marketing professional, she believes consumers should not be “sold to” but that they should find value in brands that are providing the products and services they are seeking. Outside of work, you can find her chasing her boys on the ski slopes or watching them on the sidelines of the soccer field.

Have a pressing digital marketing question for Susan? Contact her here.

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