In this exclusive editorial with Clockwork Marketing, Senior Marketing Strategist, Daniel Twigg, explores the importance of initiating purpose throughout your hotel’s marketing strategy. 

Have you ever thought about why you run your hotel? For some hoteliers it’s to make money or profit. For others it might be to pass on their life’s work to their children. But for some, beyond profit, there may be a deeper reason or belief – a purpose that drives everything they do. 

These are the hotels that will be the most successful businesses of tomorrow, as guests increasingly make purchase decisions based on whether the venue they are buying from has purpose at its core. 

Tomorrow’s travellers

Hotel guests are fickle. When deciding where to stay, one four start hotel looks much the same as another. To stand out to tomorrow’s travellers, hotels first need to understand their needs and motivations. During the current cost of living crisis, many people may be looking for the best deal. But for those with more disposable income, or younger audiences, price is no longer their first consideration when making a buying decision. 

In a recent survey* of 27, 730 people in 33 countries worldwide, 60% of those global travellers said they want to see sustainability in action. In the UK, a new report Clockwork commissioned found 68% of UK hospitality businesses view sustainability as extremely important or very important. Yet 73% of UK hospitality venues don’t have a sustainability accreditation.

Some hotels are already focused on improving their green credentials because it makes financial sense. Installing solar panels and using food waste to generate renewable energy offers costs savings. Particularly in the light of inflated energy prices, that will only continue as the world’s resources become more and more scare. 

But putting sustainability at the heart of everything you do, can provide a real purpose to attract tomorrow’s travellers, who, as evidenced by the research, want to see hotels taking action. 

Many hospitality businesses marketing themselves start with “what” they do, focusing on their facilities and features, but those that start with the “why” can demonstrate real purpose behind the business. 

Those businesses become the best and brightest brands in the sector that standout from the norm. People believe in what they do and what to be part of it. For example, a brand like The Pig, has had sustainability as its core purpose from day one and considers its “why” in every decision it makes, from choosing a new location, to the local and seasonal food it serves on its menus.

The Golden Circle 

The most valuable companies in the world also start with “why”. So says Simon Sinek, the motivational business guru, who developed the theory of the Golden Circle – why, how, what. 

Companies that put purpose at the heart of everything they do, start with the “why”, aligning with people’s values, what they believe in, or what they personally aspire to be. These businesses connect with their customers, or guests, on a deeper, more emotional level. 

If we apply the Golden Circle to the hotel world, then a hospitality business that works to “reduce the impact of travel on the planet” or “makes people’s lives better” has its “why”. 

“How” the hotel takes actions to realise the “why” might be to provide more accessible rooms, reduce its food waste or use clean energy. “What” the hotel does is sell hotel rooms or spa experiences, as does every other hotel. But if you find your “why”, you have a route to providing true value to your guests and a hotel brand they can believe in.

There are more and more great examples of hotels putting purpose at the heart of everything they do. Zedwell in London’s is “making sleep better” as its core purpose. A simple idea but one that permeates everything the hotel does, from its name, to sound proof underground rooms, to a customer-controlled temperature and lighting app, ensuring the very best night’s sleep possible. 

Buying is about biology

The reason the “why” and “how” are critical in guests’ buying decisions is based on biology and how our brains work. 

The limbic part of our brain is where we make our emotionally-driven choice to buy. The “why” and the “how” provides the feeling that this part of the brain needs for us to take action.

The rational part of the brain is where we mentally tick off the features or what the hotel offers – a swimming pool, spa, four-star accommodation etc. but why we buy is emotional. We can have all the facts in the world about a location to stay but if it doesn’t feel right, we won’t click the book now button. 

Putting purpose at the core of your hotel business is not only the right thing to do ethically, its critical to attract tomorrow’s travellers.  Finding your “why” offers a stronger reason for guests to purchase and can change your hotel from run of the mill to one that stands out from your competition. Discovering your purpose can build more value for your guests, and your business, while setting your hotel brand up for the future. Have you discovered what’s your purpose? 

*Source: 2023