Challenges faced by hospitality communicators

Having been the Communications Lead with a couple of prestigious hotel brands has been a roller coaster ride for me. A hospitality mandate, undoubtedly, is exciting with a lot of action happening all around. Yet, it comes with its own set of challenges as hospitality communicators are always on the go. But I am not complaining here as it has overall been a joyful experience.

We all know hospitality is a highly competitive industry, more so in the context of India with new brands being launched, mergers happening, international hospitality giants eyeing India, etcetera, so it’s a very busy scenario. The challenge is how to stay ahead in this race, how to be more innovative, to be more visible and effective. Believe me, it is quite a task and is not easy.

It is imperative to formulate and implement innovative and impactful communication strategies. Until a few years back, PR had been focused on generating (positive) media coverage, having strong relationships with media with the aim to get the best coverage for the brand. However, today a hotel communicator does a lot more than just drafting press releases and reaching out to the media. The advent of online and social media has offered opportunities for PR leads to make their content directly available to their audience.

Today the PR leads are not limited to media coverage only, but are responsible for the entire brand management and marketing communications for their respective brands. Public relations strategists now work seamlessly with core operations teams to draft an overview of how the brand wants to be perceived, and how it is going to project a positive image. This means getting the right message in place and then formulating a campaign to disseminate that message. This task of team work turns out to be quite challenging at times as it gets difficult to get all stake holders on one single platform to have a common understanding.

It is also important to be very active in tapping key domestic and international markets via print and online media and select editorial associations which gel with a respective brand ideology.  Social media helps in a big way to turn around the reach in both markets by reaching out to clients, key opinion makers and media.

The PR departments must ensure that they are active on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. This helps in promoting F&B activities and festivals, awards, contests, and other major news pertaining to the brand. In the current scenario, PR’s role is more about telling stories to engage with prospects and existing customers, and visual storytelling is more impactful than ever.

It is vital to understand that in the hospitality industry, it is easy to lose favour with the public for any reason and is difficult to re-build a reputable image. Now that the digital market has grown exponentially and has become more user-friendly, it is quick to disseminate information. This can be seen both as an opportunity and as a risk, as social media and reputation management go hand in hand. It’s a challenge to use technology in the right way for a positive outcome.

Technology is changing and growing so fast, that it becomes a challenge for the PR leads to keep up with it all the time. They need to have a social media team in place to monitor and keep up with the pace of technology. Fortunately, the managements have opened up to this reality and are willing to allocate an extra budget for this additional spend.

Although extremely fast growing and technology driven, it is overall a happy situation for the hospitality PR sector as there is always a constant buzz and action and they have to keep pace with that. This could get taxing and challenging sometimes but the good thing is there is never a dull moment.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Corporate Communications leader, Mentor, Author, Public Relations Evangelist, Thought leader, Advisor. She has nearly two decades of working experience having spearheaded Communications, PR and Corporate Affairs with corporate brands such as Kingfisher Airlines, The Park Hotels, Bird Group.

She quit her corporate career in the beginning of 2018 to try her hand at various related things within communications space. She turned into a published author in 2020 with her maiden book ‘Little Joys of Communication’.

Currently Ritu is Senior Director at SCoRe and, Executive Director Communicators Guild – India (CGI).

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