THE HMA ANNUAL DEBATE
A group of hotel marketers gathered at the Intercontinental Hotel in Westminster, London, recently to debate the merits of the hotel brochure, seemingly a dinosaur in this digital age. Yet the outcome of the meeting may come as a surprise. Here is a brief summary of the arguments for and against the motion in the HMA Annual Debate – Is the Hotel Brochure Dead?
Rob Walk of the Digital Innovation Group arguing for the motion said that websites had killed off brochures some time ago. In fact during the past 15 years the internet had completely changed the way that hotels marketed themselves. The birth of review sites and a greater awareness of what was available to the consumer he suggested, had put paid to the traditional role of printed material.
Sarah Duncan of Sleeping Lion, a social media marketing agency, reinforced Rob’s argument by stating that websites contained everything she needed ‘to make a buying decision on-line.’ She liked to pick up hotel brochures when she was already at a hotel but she would only keep them ‘if they really stood out’. In fact they may even warrant a place on her coffee table if that was the case.
Speaking against the motion Martin Evans of the Tourism Business quoted John Lewis who recently reported £1bn of sales on line but £4bn off line. ‘Vinyl is making a come back and what about Twitter hacking or the website crashing due to demand for the Wowcher offer for a swingers weekend?” He said a well produced brochure could “create a very strong impression that a website simply can’t.”
Peter Hancock, of Pride of Britain Hotels also speaking against the motion, said his company still invested a lot of resources into traditional PR and brochures as well as digital marketing, because their membership ‘liked them’. ‘We get phone calls everyday asking could you send me your brochure please?” he said. “Brochures never crash and you can give them to friends and colleagues,” he added.
Spirited and lively comments from the audience contributed to the debate which concluded in a vote for the motion ‘Is the Hotel Brochure Dead? The result was a resounding ‘no’ with only one person voting in favour.
Chairman of the HMA, Linda Moore said: “It is clear that there is still a role for brochures within the hotel marketing mix and the HMA Annual Debate was an entertaining way of finding this out. But will we still be debating this in ten years time? Only time will tell,” she added.