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Branded content vs. Content marketing. The hotel examples that will make you decide.

Written by: Cristina García

Today, in an environment where technology and the digital world are essential, we find the need to work more and more our hotel’s website to try to attract visitors, convert them into users who frequent it, and try by all means (with all the online strategies at our disposal) they become direct bookings. And this is something we can only do with content. Because content is the fuel of the engine we call the Internet.

Given the need to create this content, we find several strategies within our reach, but sometimes we don’t know how to value which one may be important considering our goals. Strategies such as content marketing and branded content are based on the content creation, and although we always recommend including them within an Inbound methodology (which includes more strategies based on content), these two stand out for their usefulness and efficiency when generating value and getting engagement.

1. Similarities and differences.

The line between content marketing and branded content is quite thin. Since both start from the creating content, it’s difficult sometimes to differentiate which is which and when we should use one or the other to achieve our hotel’s objectives.

What makes them similar?

Both strategies, in addition to being based on content, aim to reach the potential customer in a non-intrusive way. That is, in a natural way through different valuable content formats related to travel and tourism issues, in this case. Content marketing and branded content aim to get a response from users, attracting them to other forms of content and educating them in your hotel’s brand. But there is more...

What makes them different?

On the one hand content marketing is a more traditional strategy of online communication that we know mainly by the blogging actions of our business. Content marketing is aim to educate your consumers in all aspects related to the sector, that is to say, with the trips and the available tourist options. This strategy gives these users the decision power in our website.

And while it is essential for our hotel, we recommend you to link content marketing to an Inbound methodology that also encourages conversion. With the creation of Inbound content campaigns, we start from the distribution of content offers (eBooks, guides, downloadable infographics of interest to our users) that are attracted to us through our blog entries.

Once we get your contact information with the exchange of these downloadable, we can implement email-marketing actions (based also on content) that support the entire campaign. In addition, social media strategies that promote content. By adding value in this way we can win the trust of these contacts, which will eventually boost our hotel’s direct bookings.

On the other hand, branded content has a more playful purpose. Is based on creative content and not only provides value, but also entertains and makes your brand memorable for users. It appeals to the feelings to move our potential customers; for this it uses storytelling mainly with audio-visual (non-advertising) formats, but also with gamification, for instance.

This strategy is useful to show the values of your hotel’s brand and improve the over all image you have. However, although it is midway between branding and content marketing, branded content won’t directly associate your brand with the content that you’ve created. That is, if you produce a video (we already know that video is one of the most appealing and memorable content formats) your brand would only e a circumstantial element within the storytelling.

2. Which strategy is better for your goals?

Content marketing

As we have already mentioned, working content marketing within an Inbound methodology can allow you to get more visits to your hotel’s website and gain more quality contacts. So, if your goal is to increase the database with contacts more likely to make a direct booking in your hotel, this strategy is the best one.

Of course, keep in mind that in order to generate content you have to think about when in the buying cycle your contacts are. This cycle is the famous traveller's journey (dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing). And you need to rely on it when planning, creating, publishing and distributing the appropriate content.

Get inspiration on the Kimpton Hotels blog:

Kimpton Hotels blog.png

  

And also Mr & Mrs Smith blog:

Mr & Mrs Smith blog.png

Branded Content

On the other hand this strategy, being linked to your branding, is more effective when your goal is generating a positive response among users and appealing to their emotions so they can associate your brand with the values you want to communicate. For instance, the Marriot chain has already made two short films that follow the adventures of two bellmen of their hotels. They are stories full of humour, but mainly entertaining for their potential consumers:

 

 

If you want more information about how to work the branded content click here.

 

3. Practical example.

Even though these strategies have different goals, you don’t need to choose between one and the other, since you can use both simultaneously to support a specific campaign, let’s say, a campaign to boost your bookings for Valentine’s Day. In this case you could:

  1. Make a guide on the most romantic places and activities for couples near your hotel.
  2. Plan posts for the different states of the traveller's journey that support this guide and follow SEO criteria: best destinations for romantic getaways for the dreaming stage; what to do with your couple in ‘that’ place for the planning, etc.
  3. Support this campaign by publishing Valentine's offers and recycling your posts’ content in social media platforms.
  4. Motivating your contacts (interested in this type of information) to move towards the direct booking by emailing related content.
  5. Producing an experiential video (it could be short) where a couple (similar to your target) are the main characters enjoying the destination and in which your hotel’s brand is secondary.

As you can see there is work to do, although you can already decide which of the content strategies is the one your hotel needs the most.

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