The hospitality industry is increasingly changing due to a global dynamic market and clientele which is now focusing on the delivery of luxury experiences. The objective of the luxury hospitality brands is to provide extraordinary or peculiar experiences which surpass customer expectations, thus facilitating the creation of lifelong memories. Four Seasons hotels and restaurants are among the world's leading luxury hospitality brand which owes a significant part of its success to the marketing and communication strategies used. Apart from being luxurious hotel brand, Four Seasons is also known for its quality services, ultimately endearing the company to its customers. This task will focus on assessing the marketing communications, media used, the digital strategy, and presence employed by Four Seasons, as a luxury hospitality corporation.
Analysis of the Brand's Marketing Communications
Marketing communication is considered to be an integral component when it comes to the efforts applied by a given corporation in creating product awareness to a targeted market. According to Di-Donna (2013), marketing communications are characterized by various marketing activities such as advertising, direct marketing, branding strategies, PR activities and the company's online presence. In the hospitality industry, luxury brands are also deploying different messages and media to facilitate their efforts in communicating with the market (Di-Donna, 2013). The communication of luxury brands in hospitality is supposed to be clean and well-designed visual part. The images used in marketing communication typically aim at evoking strong emotional effects, ultimately putting a potential client into the experiential mood. It can be asserted that corporations operating in hospitality industry implement various marketing communication strategies to have a highly interactive association with clients, thus creating a significant customers experience which is fundamental to market success.
Four seasons, which is a Canadian-based luxury hospitality brand has undergone significant changes recently, as far as its marketing communications are concerned. Abromovich (2012) asserts that 2009 was a critical period for the luxury hospitality industry globally. Previously, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts had inclined towards the adoption of the traditional marketing communications (advertising models). During post-2008 global economic slump, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts embarked on rethinking its marketing strategies to ensure the company survives in the industry (Abramovich, 2012). Initially, this luxury hospitality brand had perceived the consumer travel purchase journey in a linear form. Due to 2008 global economic slump, people did not fancy going for luxuries in the industry. Under such circumstances, Four Seasons Hotels and Resort's strategic team was compelled to shift from traditional advertising model and embrace digital.
The current marketing communications for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is inclined towards social interactions to enhance customer experiences amongst its affluent clients. When embarking on digital marketing communications, the brand focused on customizing and personalizing its content and messages to ensure they are locally relevant or authentic, thus creating lasting memories to the guests (Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report, 2012). Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts usually manages it content in an official website, facilitating the meeting and interacting with the clients, ultimately promoting adequate user-generated content and advocating for linking interactive experiences with customers. This has since defined Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts' content marketing strategy.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has also used different social media platforms to enhance the implementation of the company's marketing strategy. The brand has over 86 hotels in 35 countries (Colas & Wentz, 2012). Every hotel has a designated webpage on Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts' main website. The firm's website carries a digital magazine as well as the company blogs which covers family and food-related communications. The company runs designated blogs and websites to enhance the promotion and advertising of its products and services to the targeted market. The "Have Family Will Travel" is also one of the company's blogs launched in 2012 to facilitate communication on essential messages regarding touring services offered.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are some of the social websites that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts uses when it needs to connect and communicate with its targeted audience. These social media platforms play a crucial role when it comes to helping the brand create awareness regarding the company's services and products (Di-Donna, 2013). For example, in 2011, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts embarked on campaigning for the brand's 'weddings at Four Seasons', where the campaigns focused on inviting brides to pin their wedding photos to the company's Twitter page. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts also developed a Twitter stream dubbed FS bridal, which allowed individuals to share their wedding experiences held at the company. This approach facilitated an improvement in the customer engagement and creation of user-generated content, which is vital in meeting customers' expectations.
The company's Facebook and Twitter accounts have been customized to enhance its marketing activities. Four Seasons has improvised its Facebook page with advanced tools and a refurbished design to enable visitors to access the company's compelling and appealing messages such as exclusive adverts for dining, spa and products offered by the company (Colas & Wentz, 2012). There is also a customized Memory Montage on the company's official Facebook page which enables users to develop their travelling videos by utilizing images, music and clips. The brand's Twitter account has also been leveraged to facilitate Four Seasons' various campaigns and promotion activities on the services and products offered. Four Season's winter spa campaign is one of the activities whose success can be attributed to the Twitter approach to marketing communication. Through the use of Twitter hashtag; #FSpa_Twitter_Chats, potential customers are given an opportunity of participating in trending topics on touring experiences provided by the company (Chandni, 2016).
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts communication strategies focus on the creation of the personal experiences with its global customer base. Before arriving at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, visitors are enticed or lured by virtual and real communication experience. Hot-chocolate bar in Chicago and the opportunity for the potential clients to engage in releasing of the floating lanterns at the company's Thai property during tropical festival of lights is a typical example of the brand's marketing communication strategy in creation of real and virtual personal experiences (Colas & Wentz, 2012). Four Seasons has a well-established channel, which is characterized by a significant curated content. This includes videos that promote the services, properties, and practices under Four Seasons Hotels and restaurants. The content managed in YouTube is vital as far the brand's marketing communication is concerned since it allows customers to traverse the company's properties and services thus getting a glimpse of experiences expected once they visit (Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report, 2012).
Location-based services are another marketing communication strategy associated with Four Seasons Hotels and restaurants. It was among the first companies to embark on leveraging location-based mobile and web services, which included Gowalla and Foursquare for customer interactions and brand promotional purposes (Chandni, 2016). Tumblr, Pinterest, Blogs and Microsites, Google+, and Weibo are also some of the digital media which have been adopted by Four Seasons hotel and restaurants in its pursuit of accomplishing the adopted marketing communication strategies.
Apart from focusing on digital communication strategy, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is still using traditional advertising in some regions. The company's non-digital marketing budget is directed towards CRM efforts, public relations (PR management) and in-room magazines. Some of the traditional advertising activities are limited in some parts of the Middle East and Asia, with none in the United States, thus forcing the brand to collaborate with different marketing communication agencies globally (Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report, 2012). However, it is observed that digital age is taking over and has since revolutionized the luxury hospitality industry, as far as marketing communication strategies are concerned. Brands are currently moving away from traditional marketing approaches, ultimately embracing digital marketing communication models which focus on customer engagement.
Recommendation on Marketing Communications and Digital Strategy for a Brand
According to Michael (2016), affluent travel consumers, who are an emblem of the luxury hospitality industry, typically seek quality products, excellent services, and added value to their touring experiences. This implies that a company's marketing strategies should focus on attracting, connecting and creating wonderful personal experiences which trivialize the efforts made by competitors. It is essential to incorporate marketing communication strategies to accomplish such milestones for a corporation operating in luxury hospitality industry. Below are recommendations that the senior management at Four Seasons Hotels and Restaurants should consider. Implementation of these strategies will enable Four Seasons to accomplish the concept of 'dream marketing' which involves the building of the company's image and luxury credentials.
Recommendation #1: Selling the Experience
Four Seasons Hotels and Restaurants should focus on selling memorable experiences to the targeted market regarding the services and products offered by the company. Apparently, travelers usually anticipate encountering pleasurable and enjoyable moments in a given luxury hotel. This involves exploring the destination and trying out local experiences (Harrison, 2017). Four Seasons Hotel and Restaurants should use its marketing communication model in providing an explicit presentation of the company's adventures towards the clients. This can be accomplished by posting compelling content regarding the company's services and products on its website, social media platforms YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, email, Blogs and Microsites, Google+, Weibo.
The strategic team should highlight the critical selling points or unique values associated with the brand. Through the use of the earmarked media, the company should focus on narrating a story as well as sharing fascinating details which will engage the targeted audience. For example, Four Seasons should use high-quality images, videos, and written or textual content. According to Colas and Wentz (2012), significant investment in high-quality media and textual content will pave the way increased sales conversion rates and growth in the company's overall revenues, ultimately escalating the brand value.
It is imperative for Four Seasons Hotels and Restaurants to be highly interactive and engaging with its customers in pursuit of creating vital personal experiences. Apparently, Four Seasons has taken a significant move by owning a well-established YouTube channel, which is characterized by a significant curated content. This includes videos that promote the services, properties and practices under Four Seasons Hotels and restaurants...
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