Rate parity isn’t the only thing that has hurt the hospitality industry over the last decade.

Rate parity isn’t the only thing that has hurt the hospitality industry over the last decade. Advertising parity is a real problem too. How many times have you seen a commercial for an established hotel brand and not been sure which brand was the sponsor after the fact? Parity in hospitality advertising is unfortunate given the diverse offerings available to consumers today. There is truly a choice for everyone: millenials, animal lovers, business travelers, the health conscious, eco-friendlies, trendies, etc. Why then do these brands insist on following the same formulaic approach to their advertising? As is true with most products or services, the key to breaking through the competitive clutter is finding out what makes your brand unique to consumers. This can initially be based on a very tangible benefit or differentiator like “focused attention on personalized service” or “highly stylized décor and accouterments.” But tangibles are simply what the consumer is attracted to on the surface. These offerings do not necessarily translate to brand loyalty. They only open the door to the possibility of a long-term relationship. The key to great advertising that truly connects with consumers is solving the mystery of how your brand makes your customers feel and how it contributes to their experience on a very personal level. It’s about elevating the brand beyond the tangibles to the intangibles. I think the best example of this that I’ve seen lately is the Airbnb campaign, “Live There.” Yes, Airbnb benefits from having a different model than traditional hotels. But what makes the campaign effective is that they chose to focus on the experience that their brand can afford to their customers – the intangible benefit that no one other than Airbnb can offer. The idea that you’re not just a guest checking into a room for the moment – rather you’re experiencing a new environment in a different way than you ever would have been able to before. Having worked with several major brands in the industry, I feel passionate about this lack of creativity and know how hard it can be to convince marketers to take a different approach. With the continued diversification of offerings and increased competition from non-traditional entrants, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.