Relieving Pre-Opening Jitters.... It's Never Too Early to Start Thinking About PR.
By Leora Lanz & Barbara Wiener
Friday, 25th January 2008
You've read about the importance of putting public relations into the marketing mix in this column before.

It's the most cost-effective method for promoting your product, establishing third party credibility and getting your name in front of the public. And best of all, the cost is minimal when compared with the results.

If you're a hotel owner or manager just starting to assess your specific marketing needs and develop a pre-opening plan and strategy, how well are you looking out for your public relations?

It's never too early to "Think P.R." and create that buzz. Launching a strong pre-opening public relations effort in your community will help boost visibility at a time when you need it most. This means getting connected, creating a network and getting involved.

Here are some examples for getting started:

  • Do your research. Read the neighborhood newspapers, listen to the local news and get to know who the influential local players are.
  • Join in. Become a member of such local groups and service groups as Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, Lion's Club or Hadassah.
  • Ask the organization to book you as a guest speaker. Discuss why you are opening a hotel in this particular locale, how it will boost the local economy and then invite local news personnel to "cover" your speech.
  • Get to know the local Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and how it works. Most CVB's or Chambers of Commerce offer invaluable partnership opportunities and assistance with special promotions.
  • Talk it up! Take a newspaper editor to lunch and invite local writers on a personal "hard hat" tour of your property.
  • Forge alliances. Get to know neighboring businesses and start thinking of creative ways to partner and bring in business together, i.e. invite organizations to meet at the hotel, tie-in with local events, adopt a school or charity.
  • Volunteer to be a guest on a local radio talk show. Share information about the hospitality industry in general and your hotel specifically.
Recognizing the value of public relations early will not only go a long way to relieve pre-opening jitters, but will certainly reap rewards later when it's time to effectively kick-in your professional and specific public relations tactics and strategies.

These include everything from writing your necessary press releases and press kit, to developing the guest lists and planning grand opening events, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and working with the appropriate media to get your word out. Then of course, there's creating promotions, press familiarizations, etc...

We can advise you on how to create that pre-opening buzz as well as how to best launch and execute the most effective public relations campaign at the right time. If you would like assistance, or if you would like us to review and enhance your existing public relations efforts, please let us know.

Leora Lanz, who serves as HVS International's Director of Marketing, also spearheads HVS Marketing Communications. We conduct sales department assessments; operational reviews; and (pre-opening) sales, marketing and public-relations programs for numerous hospitality clients.

Barbara Wiener has 15-plus years of public relations and marketing experience in the hospitality industry, having represented cruise line, airline, hotel, travel trade and other travel-related organizations. She relocated to Atlanta from Manhattan in 1997 to become vice president of corporate communications for US Franchise Systems.

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