How to cultivate a local hotel brand identity

By Jessica L on 13 September 2021

Staycations have formed most UK hotel bookings this year and that looks set to continue for some time, with overseas travel expected to remain shaky until at least 2024. Many hotel brands will need to rethink their marketing efforts to attract local guests and stand out in a highly competitive domestic market, both in terms of brand visibility and appeal. Much of this involves becoming more neighbourhood-focused, something that certainly won’t alienate international travellers looking for a more authentic and unique experience.

Create local content

One of the best ways to create an identity that is rooted in the local area is to post regular content that promotes your neighbourhood through the lens of your brand. Give context to your location by highlighting nearby places to visit, including big-ticket attractions and lesser-known, non-competing businesses that are a nice fit with yours and help define what your brand represents. Showing your proximity to a small contemporary gallery, bookshop, bakery or arthouse cinema, et cetera, states that your hotel is central to the local experience, not separate from it, and positions you as a useful guide and concierge.

If resources allow, consider adding a blog to your website and update it consistently, ideally once a week. Some insights show that long-form content (upwards of 1,500 words) performs especially well, but length is not as important as quality; don’t shoot for a high word count if the topic can be covered in 500 words or it’s going to prevent regular posting. That being said, if it’s under 300 words, assess whether it needs to be a standalone piece, or adapt it for use in a newsletter or social media post. Repurposing content is good practice to make your creative go further and pull together your various digital touchpoints. 

When it comes to what to write about, that will depend on your guest interests, destination and brand. Look to competitors for inspiration and come up with content pillars that will help to keep your writing on brand and in line with what your audience expects from you. Formats you might want to explore could be interviews with interesting locals, itineraries, area guides and event news.

Bring the neighbourhood in

‘Hyperlocal’ hotels are on the rise as travellers seek out accommodation with a strong sense of place and ties to the community. For boutique and chain hotels alike, localising the guest experience will resonate with discerning travellers and create greater distinction in your market. What draws people to your region, your city, your particular enclave? The hotel should be a reflection and distillation of what sets the destination apart and can’t be found elsewhere.

Local partnerships set the tone for community-based tourism that’s more meaningful than a standard-issue hotel stay. Cultivate the feeling that the fullness of the experience comes from local collaborations and knowledge of the area, from food sourcing through to bathroom amenities, art, tours, wine and furnishings. Sustainability and environmentally friendly procurement matters to many guests, and supporting the small businesses that make the area a desirable place to visit can only be a good thing.

Incentivise locals to stay

Get to know your local demographic and entice them with specifically targeted marketing offers. Promote the lifestyle elements of a stay first (restaurant, work spaces, spa, an event) and package it into an overnight or weekend break. Some of the most noteworthy staycation venues have a restaurant that has that magic, this-could-only-exist-here vibe, with seasonally changing menus to keep returning patrons interested. Ensure some of the unromantic but relevant selling points are clear (like decent Wi-Fi), bearing in mind those who might be blending business and leisure. 

Strengthening your hotel brand’s local cachet can result in word-of-mouth marketing buzz, an increase in favourable online reviews and higher revenue during off season. Moreover, the presence of local guests only serves to reinforce the authentic character of a hotel and its positive perception by those who live nearby – something that will resonate with your target audiences both near and far.

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