Are Immersive Travel Experiences the Future of Branding?
It seems that the new way to put your brand in front of people is to literally house them, giving people no chance to take a break from the advertisement. We've seen it with Taco Bell's hotel, the Moe's Miami hotel room and the Barbie RV, among others.
Now, even more branded hotel experiences are popping up across the world, creating an advertising experience that starts the second a guest wakes up and ends when they go to sleep. (There's still no technology to implant advertising in dreams. Not yet, anyway).
Sure, Disney already makes its intellectual property the focus at the resorts around the park, but it's not quite the same as a consumer brand moving into the hospitality market by creating fully themed hotels separate from theme parks.
Take, for example, a brand like FILA. An apparel brand is already uniquely tied to your day-to-day life, being that it's illegal to leave the house naked in most countries. FILA just inked a deal with Hyatt to create a branded hotel that would "appeal to high-end consumers by fusing elements of fitness and fashion," according to Skift.
As travel recovers from its pandemic low, a branded hotel is a much more viable experience than it was two years ago.
A branded hotel condenses the aesthetic and brand identity of a brand like FILA, ostensibly just a fitness and streetwear apparel company, and carry that over to every other aspect of a customer's lifestyle.
“For most brands, it’s being able to connect with your consumer on a different level,” Kirk Pederson, president of Sightline Hospitality, told Skift. “Offering your consumer a place to lay their head at night is more intimate than other ways of connection, it’s at the heart of someone’s ritual.”
The branding opportunities go far beyond just signage and color schemes, too. Every product available is a chance to enhance the message or place a logo.
The best part of the Toy Story Hotel. pic.twitter.com/acOLv6y2UW
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) April 26, 2022
Guests who stay at the hotel, located in Shanghai, will be fully immersed in the brand's message, and leave with a greater understanding of its ethos. They also might leave with a few consumer goods, too.
Bvlgari is doing something similar with resorts all across the globe. The goal with these branded hotels is to showcase the company's high-end appeal. By giving guests a luxury hotel experience, they now associate that opulence and class with Bvlgari jewelry, even if they don't see a single retail item while they're at the hotel.
Really what this does is take the concept of billboards, which are already part of our daily lives whether we consciously absorb the information or not (unless you live in Vermont), and the "walking billboards" of promotional products, and bring them together to essentially put consumers inside an advertisement.
If your hotel or RV or Airbnb is decked out in branding pieces, whether it is a logoed item or just something that incorporates the color scheme more subtly, that becomes an all-encompassing promotional experience. It's impossible not to be top-of-mind when you're always in view.
Pop-up activations can achieve a similar effect, but those are smaller-scale experiences. A branded hotel fully immerses the consumer in branding for an extended period of time. And because these rooms, when done right, are fully decked out in branded items, that presents opportunities for promo businesses.