Creative Marketing for Hospitality
Big ideas, emotive copy and vivid imagery make great creative marketing, helping your hospitality business stand-out. Be memorable. Different.
SKETCHPAD is where we share the best creative marketing ideas for hotels and hospitality businesses to inspire you.
Bring your guest experience to life, bold and bright, with creative, colourful, brilliant campaigns.
Check out some of our creative work and follow us on Instagram - @clockwork_marketing
As a marketing agency that works with hospitality businesses across the UK, an island country, it may come as no surprise that many of our clients are based on the coast. For this reason and as part of our own journey to become a more sustainable tourism business, we are excited to attend this year's Blue Earth Summit in Bristol on 11-13 October 2023. The conference aims to harness the power of being outdoors to bring people together and build a more positive future for our planet. 5,000+ decision makers, industry pioneers, provocative thought-leaders, and sustainability trailblazers will be in attendance and a few of us! Blue Earth Summit.
IHG Hotels and Resorts has announced a new "Instagram Boos" initiative for solo travellers to help them capture the perfect Instagram moment on their trip. Guests simply have to ask "Where's the Insta Boo?" at reception to gain their own personal photography assistant to capture best shots around the hotel at set times. More at Boutique Hotelier.
Mayfair restuarant, 20 Berkley, has food provenance, or where its produce is sourced, at the centre of its new brand identity by AM Studioworks. The new identity features an origami menu, which is the first we have seen. The design follows a theme emphasising “traditional craftsmanship” with tactility, such as the folded puzzle, purse-inspired, private dining menus and translucent maps, showing where its suppliers are based. The translucent map overlays the menu, adding an element of “discovery” to the whole experience. More at Design Week.
Regular commuters can take the hassle out of travel with a new subscription service hotel made from Sea Containers. As well as accommodation, the Commuter Club service offers 'gym access and secure storage for clothes, toiletries, shoes and anything else you’d rather not drag around in a wheelie case'. All aboard!
Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester reported recenlty a revenue increase of £217,000 from its accessible rooms, which it neatly marketed as "liberty rooms". The "Blue Pound" is a target for marketers and using positive language is a great starting point, but backing it up with a great product is even more important.
We've mentioned the rise of brand partnerships in previous Sketchpad posts and increasingly guests are choosing where they stay based on brands that reflect their wider lifestyle or values. Pioneering hospitality brands like Soho House, have become so successful with their designer offerings they are now able to sell interior products like those carefully curated for their accomodation or restaurants. Skincare ranges, kitchen utensils and sleep apps are all being sold online by hotels such as Citizen M, Mama Shelter and Aman. What new product partnership could your hotel launch?
It's not just hip London hotels driving industry change. World renowed, The Belfry in Sutton Coalfield, has recently made two announcements demonstrating its strong vision for a sustainable future for the resort. It's aiming to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has also introduced "unlimited" mental health support for employees. The hotel and resort has already saved three million kWh of energy combined across electricity and gas in 2022. And its partnership with The Burnt Chef Project and Thrive Mental Wellbeing, will provide staff with immediate 24/7 access to resources helping common mental health conditions. More at Boutique Hotelier.
It's no secret that there's a lot of wastage in the hospitlaity sector but many operators are working towards a more sustainable future and green accreditations such as BCorp and Green Key England. Those forward-looking organisations may be interested in a new bottle that's made from potatoe, that can be eaten, composted or dissolved. Design studio, Tomorrow Machine has partnered with juice company, Eckes Granini, to create the bottle, inspired by the way fruit is protected by its skin. Once used the bottle can be peeled for sustainable disposal. More at Design Week.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority has created some ground-breaking dynamic video ads with Google, encouraging UK travellers to "Follow the Sun". The ads were cleverly linked to a live weather data API to show particular ads in different cities, relevant to the weather in the individual city at that time. For example, if it was snowing in Birmingham then a video ad featuring snow in the city was juxtaposed with sunshine skies in Egypt. Our obession with the weather led to 134% year-on-year rise in British travellers searching for Egyptian holidays.
As a forward-thinking agency, we've been keeping our eye on recent AI developments. Many artists are doing interesting things with AI to challenge our preconceived ideas. None more than Nigerian filmmaker and artist, Malik Afegbua, who's recently created an AI-generated fashion show for older people, with models that don't exist. With the images generated, the artist challenges what he sees as the marginalisation of older people in society and perceptions around ageing. Marketing to older travellers shouldn't make any assumptions either.
The Pig announced a new brand partnership with sustainable shoe brand, Cariuma, in January. The boutique hotel brand kitted out 400 staff with the consciously-sourced shoes, which for every pair sold plants two trees. Brand partnerships are nothing new with The Pilgrm in London partnering with clothing brands like Universal Works, artists and artisan food and drink brands. But it's a great way to position your business alongside like-minded brands or boost your supplier sustainability credentials, for example.
What would you do if you were handed the keys to your own hotel for a night? At The Clockwork Hotel (no relation) you have a one hour challenge to find the hotel keys and unlock your own hotel. Discover rooms and hidden secrets and follow clues to win the ultimate prize. Invite your friends over for a big dinner party, play the bartender, sip cocktails, snoop around the rooms, have the spa to yourselves...go wild!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will shape our world in ways we don't know yet. Some predicitons say it will contribute a reduction of one third of jobs globally. AI is being used in different ways. An amazing example is "thispersondoesnotexist", an AI-linked website that generates images of people that don't exist. Refresh the page to see a new person each time.
Market research and marketers are all talking about the importance of authenticity in appealing to new guests. It's what people want and particularly younger audiences. We found a great example in Zetter hotels and its amazing history of its owner's family and their behaviour through the ages. It makes for a fascinating read and brings the building to life with a human interest story. The characters in the history are woven into the fabric of the building and names of different rooms.
A new outdoor charity, It's Great Out There Coalition, backed by some of the biggest outdoor clothing brands in the World is promoting the positive benefits of the great outdoors on individuals and society more widely.
Its first pilot programme, Opening Up The Outdoors (OUTO), supported six people from different ethnic backgrounds whose organisations and businesses are working to build a pro-diversity outdoor community. Great work for all. More at Creative Review.
The House of Gods is an amazing hotel where more is more. Unshamedly opulent, it's not sympathetic to the current cost of living crisis. But people that stay here probably won't have that on their minds. Its VIP package is squarely aimed at those who want to flaunt it and indulge - completely. The hotel's a backlash to Scandi minimalism and a great example of how to use clever interior design to transform a more traditional building.
This month self-styled digital natives hotel chain NoMad, launches a new subterranean bar called Common Decency. It's a great example of how the history of a hotel or its location can be an inspiration for a brand name or story. The NoMad building was originally The Bow Street Magistrates’ Court where Oscar Wilde was repeatedly held by police along with others on account of their ‘affront to common decency’. More at Boutique Hotelier.
Yvon Chouinard near broke the internet when he announced that outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, has given 100% of its stock to sister charity, Patagonia Purpose Trust. Any profit made by the company each year will be paid in full as a dividend to the charity. A revolutionary act demonstrating business for good. Read more at Creative Review.
Digital 3D versions of hospitality venues are revolutionising the travel and tourism sector. Matterport has been around for a while, providing a digital tour of rooms and venues and giving guests a more indepth experience before a real world visit. It'll be interesting to see whether these digital twins will easily transfer to different Metaverse environments and how they will develop.
You would expect a London townhouse hotel to have a restaurant to capitalise on brisk city dining trade. But The Adria has ditiched an onsite restaurant in favour of pointing its guests to London's best dining via the food delivery app, Supper. Wireless handsets in its rooms make it easier for guests to order. Click to eat.
Amsterdam-based hotel group, Citizen M has bought land in The Sandbox, a metaverse game that looks like Minecraft, to experiment with interactive and real world ideas. The group will sell artwork with digital artists as Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and if successful, build a virtual hotel, offering perks such as free drinks redeemable in its real world hotels. One to watch. More at Hospitality Design
Ruby Hotels has introduced a 35 hour working week for all its staff with no change in salary from 1st October. The forward-thinking group has also introduced an employee profit-sharing scheme to attract new talent and retain its existing team. Any overtime worked will be paid or accrured as holiday going forward. More at Boutique Hotelier.
The serviced apartments sector fared better during covid-lockdowns than other hospitality providers due to lower operating costs and flexible longer term or short term lets. The market is expanding quickly across European cities with quality accommodation available. The Gessner is a new design-led project in Tottenham Hale with apartments including Borough Kitchens, Buster and Punch ironmongery and Earl of East bathroom products alongside hand-made ceramics. While Kasar recently launched its new brand and website targeting "blended travellers" staying for business and leisure, with a strapline communicating the benefits of serviced apartments offering "More space for life".
Sleep is big business. By 2030 the global sleep aids market is expected to generate $111.9 billion acccording to a report from Allied Market Research. With more understanding and science around the benefits of good sleep to protect against diabetes, obesity and mental health issues, people are spending more money on everything from weighted blankets to luxury bed linens. Some hotels are capitalising on this new interest and providing premium services such as sleep butlers or branded sleep kits to help their guests maximise relaxing sleep at their properties. Ideas not to be slept on.
A new hotel opened in Manchester this month offering guests the change to pillow-fight in one of its rooms. For £250 guests can pillow-fight with full feather pillows at the Hotel Brooklyn Leicester, with the hotel cleaning up the mess. A simple but different idea to launch.
The hotel has also named its 18 accessible rooms "Liberty Rooms", framing the rooms in a more positive and celebratory light. Pioneering work that should be applauded. From Boutique Hotelier.
Center Parcs is updating its business offering with a £2.5 million investment to offer “nature-rich escapes” for corporate events, including conferences, team building and away days, product launches and gala dinners. The resort is capitalising on the trend for more outdoor team building post-covid and updating its conference rooms with the times. More at Hotel Owner.
A new installation to highlight the global impact of food production and consumption on the planet has been created by Georgia Lupi called Around the World’s Table. The exhibition is in the lush surroundings of the New York Botanical Gardens until 11 September and includes Lupi’s signature data visualisation techniques. Using the basin of the reflection pool as a visual metaphor for the World, the installation represents the amount of habitable land used for agriculture (around half). Major food groups and their carbon footprints are illustrated by 100 partly submerged sculptures. Food source, production, consumption and waste will remain high on the agenda for consumers with campaigning artists like Lupi and media focus. Read more at Design Week.
Ruby Hotels is offering free tattoos, piercing or hair colouring with a grant of up to 500 euros for staff that stay with the hotel for six months or longer. The offer sounds strange but the vice president of human resources explained: "Ruby is a brand for team players who value character, soul and individuality. We love people with personality and that is what we want to communicate with our campaign.”
If less eye-catching, but equally effective, The Nare in Cornwall, has unveiled brand-new staff accommodation to provide for those struggling to rent in the county, as a result of second home owners and Air BnBs. And the Eden Hotel Collection has simply added to staff's wage packets with up to a 14% pay increase to help with the cost of living and staff retention.
Ace & Tate has just dropped its summer sunglasses collection for 2022 but – plot twist – the majority of the ad campaign features no eyewear at all.
‘Bring on the Sun’ features new hues and a wide range of frames, but in a bold move the brand has put emphasis on the functionality of sunglasses rather than their aesthetic. The ads feature different people squinting in the Sun, a feeling everyone knows.
The photographs play on the excitement that the upcoming sunny weather brings, while setting the brand apart from an influx of competing eyewear retailers. A great example of highlighting the customer benefit of a product in a clever way, without pushing cliched product images. Watch the ad now.
The ultimate sustainable drink packaging has been created by graphic designer and lettering artist, Abraham Lule for Mezcal Vago Elote, a corn-based mezcal. Printed on recycled agave fibre (a key ingredient in Mezcal) using leftovers from the mezcal distilling process, the paper is developed from the pulp by local artisans. The label design aims to add "romance and a hint of nostalgia to the [brand] storytelling" with wood-engraved vignettes. The branding illustrates the lengths independent drinks companies will go to, to create an authentic brand that resonates with consumers.
Teapigs encourages everyone to live their best tea life in this vibrant ad.
The 30-second ad is made up of stop frame stills, photographed by Dan Burn-Fonti, which move together to illustrate the life of an eccentric couple who love a good sip of tea.
The ad ends with a voiceover by Friday Night Dinner actress Tamsin Greig telling fellow tea lovers to: "‘Live large. Brew big." Possible inspiration for how to position your hotel's high tea marketing.
When creating an identity for a new venue, strong branding helps establish atmosphere or quirkiness that keeps customers coming back - and telling friends about it too. The Seed Library, a new cocktail bar in Shoreditch, east London has done just that. With a visual brand to match the 'lo-fi analogue' vision for the bar, its design uses patterns inspired by scientific and mathematical diagrams, reflecting the search to find alternative flavour sources for their cocktails. The brand is aimed at those with creative and eclectic minds while, communicating the scientific approach to its mixology - keying into customer desires in a post-covid world.
It’s an obvious idea to offer outdoor dining to guests post-covid. But how you package your offering is critical in how many people you attract to book. All venues are competing for a share of the bigger staycation pie, so you need your outdoor offering to stand out. The Pig is particular suited to benefit with its hotels with walled gardens and ample outside space. It hasn’t rested on its laurels though and promoted a Big Outdoor Lunch at its venues to capitalise on the outdoor dining need. Very nice.
Dog-friendly venues can add some new excitement for any four-legged guests staying with them this summer thanks to Marshfield Ice Cream. The Bath-based ice cream company has added Scoops to its range, a specially designed dog-friendly ice cream. As well as keeping dogs cool in the sunshine, the ice cream offers a range of benefits including, reduced fat, sugar and lactose content, glucosamine for joint care, Vitamin C for the immune system and Omega 3 for a glossy coat. Include it in your dog-friendly package and watch dogs drag their owners to your venue.
Slow living as a movement has been around since before Coronavirus but it’s grown over the last year with pace. According to Google, there were four times more You Tube videos with slow living in the title in 2020 compared to 2019. We are baking more bread, gardening, upcycling furniture, and making proper coffee while searching how to do these meditative tasks better. Hospitality providers can offer chef’s recipes, gardener or barista tips on their social channels to ride the trend.
Many in hospitality are promoting Valentine’s Day gift vouchers this year as romantic breaks for two or gourmet dining with flexible booking options. But florist, Bloom & Wild ran a fantastic campaign on why it isn’t selling red roses. Along with an ode that explains why not, there’s a dozen reasons provided too, including that their bouquets are more complex, like love. A great idea that smashes clichés around the day.
With Mother’s Day on the way in March, we look back at a heart-warming ad from Holiday Inn. Targeting professional women, the ad focuses on the story of a little girl missing her Mum, who’s away on business. The ad finishes with her parents taking her away on a surprise overnight trip to a Holiday Inn. The ad focuses on the customer’s needs and emotions when staying away from home, instead of promoting the hotel’s amenities - thereby connecting more deeply with the business Mum.
While we can’t go on holiday at present, we can still dream. Easyjet has tapped into the power of imagination with a series of #holidaydreaming extended social media ads launched on the flight company’s Instagram page. The ads remind us how lovely life was pre-lockdowns. Use the hashtag for your social posts with dreamy shots of your hotel or location.
While high street shops and hotels are shut some are making use of their window displays in creative ways. Fortnum & Mason enlisted six artists to dress their windows with artworks themed around “Joy” to brighten up people’s lives as they take their daily walks. For those with public rights of way nearby, you could create a memorable campaign with local artists to give something back to your community while supporting the struggling creative sector.
Many hotels and accommodation providers are offering takeaway services but some have gone further to allow guests to recreate their own version of iconic dishes. D and D in London is a great example but why stop at dining? Wellness packs or cocktail making sets could also provide some much needed home fun.
We love the bravery of St Moritz Hotel in Cornwall that has claimed socially-distanced dining as its own with The Anti-Social Club. Instead of viewing social distancing as a necessary evil, the hotel has turned it into a selling point with exclusive, private dining for bubble groups of guests. Shows us all how even the most negative situation can be turned on its head and into an experience benefit. Great stuff.
For outdoor swimmers, the lockdown has proved a long time to wait for some to get back into the water. In the meantime. The Outdoor Swimming Society ran a photography competition of beautiful locations where people swim. The results in are stunning. A great idea for hospitality providers to run similar contests and promote their locations via guests photography. Photo: John Stubbs
World Ocean Day
To raise awareness of World Ocean Day, swimwear brand StayWildSwim exchanged free shipping codes with followers who participated in a litter pick and tagged a photo of their work to the brand. Neat idea that seaside hotels, cottages and holiday parks could replicate with a value added gift of their choice. Photo: jonoimages
The Cary Arms in Devon has launched a waiting list for people who want to register their interest in staying prior to its re-opening. The list gives the hotel an idea of the level of interest in people wanting to stay while also creating a sense of special treatment for those on the list, who will get some free champagne when they come to stay.
For some, the idea of crowds of day trippers coming to their picturesque locations before their businesses are open is a sensitive issue. For others, perhaps more forward-thinking, they are offering free car parking to alleviate pressure on seaside villages. A smart idea to encourage some reciprocal good will post 4th July.
This was one we spotted earlier in the lockdown but it didn’t make the cut then (record pun). The Pig Group launched a Spotify list to help guests remember the experience and sounds of visiting one of its country house hotels while at home. Sounds like a hit.
Whilst follow Government guidelines, Woolacombe Bay Hotel have come up with a neat reverse psychology blog of 20 reasons why you shouldn’t ever visit the beautiful 1km beach. Ever. No really you shouldn’t.
If you’ve not used the hashtag yet, hospitality businesses have been using #virtualtraveltuesday to post beautiful location shots while not promoting people travel to where they are yet. Useful for hotels and accommodation providers to use in June, prior to re-opening.
Searches for delivered afternoon tea have rocketed during lockdown according to Google research this week. People wanting to treat themselves or celebrate birthdays and anniversaries are searching for “Cream tea” or “Afternoon tea” online above other food enquiries. Hotels not offering the service could look at the English tradition as a trial for re-opening post 4th July.
Turner Prize-nominated artist, Mark Titchner, has taken his 2012 artwork to the streets with a poster campaign message of hope to get everyone through these times – Please Believe These Days Will Pass. Something I’m sure in hospitality, we can all appreciate.
A new campaign has been launched by Alan Lorrimor of Piano Works called the Great Outdoor Café, lobbying Government to direct local authorities to deregulate and extend the space outside existing hospitality businesses for distanced tables and chairs for eating and drinking. Alan is asking operators to support the campaign.
South Devon's Soar Mill Cove hotel has launched a crowdfunder page for people to support “The Cove” with forward-sell experiences and rewards to be taken later in the year.
Carbis Bay has launched a virtual holiday planning tool for people to book a video tour of the property and plan when they will visit the property in the future.
A new photo book is reviving Butlins, the iconic holiday park from the 1980s, with a selection of photos taken in its heyday. We love the strapline.
Many hotels and spas are using Gift Vouchers with flexible and long booking options for guests, to bring in cash now. We spotted Harrogate’s Majestic Hotel & Spa great upsell of bathing oil spa product which is great for home lock-down now but with a £25 complimentary spa day voucher for when things get back to business.
Many London hotels and hospitality businesses are using the brilliant Payitforward scheme set up by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Help businesses like the world famous Peggy Porschen Cakes survive by paying for your travel in advance.
We’ve mentioned the importance of illustration in this week’s communication as we progress down the road to recovery. Creative Review has highlighted London animators response to lockdown with a video of different works showcasing their creativity and also positives that they have taken from life in lockdown. Includes Emily Downe’s illustration as pictured.
Boutique Hotelier has put together a great list of the many different ways hotels are keeping staff motivated during their time working at home or on furlough, from Zoom parties to Quiz nights with takeway deliveries for the winning team members.
A couple of creatives on the other side of the pond are asking people around the world to send them their home views from lockdown via Twitter. They then recreate the views as vintage postcards with appropriate typefaces and greeting messages from different places worldwide. A nice idea hotels could recreate for their social channels, flipping the sharing of location imagery.
With more time at home and online, people are more receptive to longer content at this time. Blogs are particularly well received as long as the topic is tailored to the fact people’s circumstances have changed. Lake Country House published a lovely slow living blog this month, extolling the virtues of being at home and the benefits of enjoying a slower pace of life at this time. Other nice blogs we’ve spotted is this 'spotting wildlife at home' blog from Canopy and Stars and a great interview with St Michael's fish supplier, giving the human story on the hotel's food provenance.
Many hospitality companies are helping out the NHS from providing rooms for key works to giveaways. We have to highlight Harbour Hotels though. It's launched a giveaway of 250 two-night stays for NHS workers once lockdown has finished. Bravo. Nominate an NHS ICU hero to enter on its social channels.
While not hospitality related, the Red Cross has a beautiful poster campaign running which asks us all to be kind during the coronavirus crisis. We love the graphic design and sentiment of the campaign.
Virtual Reality (VR) has long been touted as a great part of the future of hospitality. You can take a trip along the waterways of the South West with great at home VR videos, demonstrating how the highlights of your location can be promoted using new technology.
Ye Olde Bell in Nottinghamshire hosts hundreds of weddings throughout the year and enquiries haven’t stopped despite coronavirus. To expand its service during this time, the hotel & spa is offering at home virtual tours of the facilities for any prospective engaged couples.
Hotel Penzance has recently refurbished bringing the beautiful seascapes of its location inside as well as refreshing some of the boutique hotel’s most used spaces. With people at home with more time to absorb longer content, the hotel’s website blog takes you on a virtual tour of the property and location and was also sent out as a link in an email campaign.
A lovely email from St Michael’s in Cornwall wished their subscribers Happy Easter, while reminding people that the sea, beach and hotel would be waiting post-lockdown. It also included a nice mindfulness video with their resident yoga expert talking over relaxing images and sounds of the sea. Now breathe.
While Easter Egg Hunts around Bowood House and Gardens were out, a Virtual Hunt for children (and adults) at home was well received. An anagram of letters were hidden around the Bowood website for eager beavers to find. A downloadable worksheet provided some clues and other activities for kids to complete.
With people at home in mind, The Glass House in Essex has produced a Little Book of Wellness. The eight page booklet features positive affirmations of health, meditations, yoga exercises and mindful colouring alongside vegan recipes and exercise workouts for people to try at home. The booklet has been emailed and shared on the Glass House social channels for people to download and/or print.
While Premier Cottages members have had to stop promoting travel to their cottages, the hospitality business has been highlighting its “save to favourites” website functionality. With lots of people spending time browsing online, visitors to the site can search for different cottages and save those they like the look of for later.
Whether we admit it or not, we all like a good talent show. Lady’s Mile Holiday Park is used to hosting theirs on stage at their park on Saturday nights. Unperturbed by events, the holiday park ran an online talent show with a prize giveaway for the best three performers as chosen by social media followers. Guys and gals posted their best turns on Facebook with best collated together in a final talent show post.
With the Government restrictions on travel and Cornwall residents asking people to stay away from their second homes, Tonic of the Sea swimmer, Katie Maggs has come up with a wonderful hashtag for sharing photos on Instagram. #sharedyoursaved asks people to share their saved photos from past visits to the coast from their homes, thereby helping people escape to the sea virtually. We love this idea and think it will be great for any hotels or hospitality businesses by the sea or with dramatic scenery to share with their followers and encourage photo-sharing of their beautiful locations.
With Spas closed and people at home thinking about their health and wellbeing, many innovative spa teams have designed at home spa treatment guides for people to try out.
Woolacombe Bay Hotel has a nice five-step DIY Face Masks treatment you can try in the comfort of your own home. The North Devon hotel and spa is then asking people to share their best face-mask pictures on social media as a bit of fun.
With the Easter holidays approaching, it’s time for parents home schooling to look at more fun activities for the children. Some holiday parks like family-friendly, Lady’s Mile, have already helped out with anagrams and word searches, online magic tricks and virtual bingo. Who wouldn’t want to get involved.