Analysis: SG hotels turn to experiential marketing to entice consumers

The hotel industry in Singapore has been ramping up its experiential offerings as movement controls start easing up and domestic tourism gets a green light from local government. As social restrictions are gradually being let up, the government has set aside SG$320 million for tourism credits that Singaporeans can use. This will be translated into SG$100 tourism vouchers that will be given to every Singaporean aged 18 and above, which can be used for staycations, attraction tickets, as well as local tours. 

Aside from the tourism vouchers, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) also allocated SG$45 million to support marketing initiatives for the SingapoRediscovers campaign, which is done in collaboration with Sentosa Development Corporation and Enterprise Singapore. The campaign is aimed to drive local demand, supports local lifestyle and tourism business.

With most hotels operations reinstated during this time, and Singaporeans more inclined to go for staycations, we see a rise in creative experiential offerings by some hotels as they look to cut through the clutter by bringing unique experiences for their potential guests. For example, Millennium Hotels recently unveiled a “yachtcation”, which allows its hotel guests to experience a yacht ride amidst their stay with the hotel. Earlier last month, Fairmont Singapore also launched a “mumcation” specifically targeted at mothers in Singapore who are looking to take a break, providing experiences such as massage, high-tea, and breakfast in bed.

Besides the mumcation package, Fairmont Singapore is in plans to launch other different initiatives. Vivian Tung, director of marketing and communications, at Fairmont, told Marketing that it chose to focus on offering different experiential offerings that will provide “a tailored and thoughtful Fairmont Singapore stay experience” for its guests.

As Fairmont looks to appeal to Singaporeans through different experiences, Tung said the hotel places “considerable thought” to the framing of its marketing message to focus on experience rather than "pure hardware". It also takes into consideration which platforms should be used to reach its different audiences. “As the Hotels and many of our well-loved restaurants have been established icons in the local hospitality scene, an overarching brand campaign would not have been as effective as focusing on animating the different tactical activations we are pushing out,” Tung added.

Besides staycations, Fairmont has also placed focus on offering new dining experiences with its restaurants. It will be making a permanent offering of Chef Kirk Westaway’s casual british pop-up at its restaurant Anti:Dote, after the pop-up saw “resounding success” since its launch earlier this year. Additionally, it also launched another casual restaurant, Burgers & Shakers at CLOVE, as one of its dining offerings.

With these new offerings, Tung said that the hotel’s focus is on the journey and experience of consumers, and the team often places themselves in the shoes of a guest to think about what would appeal and delight. She also revealed that there are “exciting ideas in store” revolving the idea of daycations, which the hotel sees as an evolving trend.  

On the other hand, W Hotels, a subsidiary hotel chain of Marriott International, is focused on the idea of providing Singaporeans an “Escape” through its offerings, which has been its brand messaging since pre-pandemic. A spokesperson told Marketing that there was not much of a need for W Hotels to push for its brand message as Singaporeans themselves are looking to escape during this period of time where travel restrictions are still in place. Instead, the hotel looks to create various packages to target different target audiences.

Since its reopening, the hotel has launched an “Escape Dining” package targeted at foodies, as well as a “Wellness Escape” package in collaboration with Sentosa. Brand activations for both W Hotels and Marriott International have also been a constant part of its marketing efforts during this period, said W Hotels' spokesperson. She brought up examples such as the "Daydream" campaign by W Hotels, and the "Vacay With A Staycay" promotion, which is a regional campaign for Singapore, Malaysia, and Maldives, that boasts curated staycations ranging from family adventures, wildlife escapades, handcrafted culinary indulgences, and romantic getaways.

The spokesperson added that with the festive season coming around, the hotel is looking to give its supporters something to look forward to, within the boundaries of authority-issued restrictions of course. For example, it will also be looking to hold a themed dining experience in line with Halloween. “It is great that this [brand] positioning coincides with what consumers are craving most at the moment. Another key aspect on the ground is of course ensuring our guests, through the new procedures and set-ups put in place, that their safety is of our utmost priority,” she said.

Commenting on the hotel marketing landscape, Robert Gaxiola, creative director of KellerMedia, said most hotels in Singapore are currently deploying highly-targeted digital channels as well as aggregator sites for the in-bound tourist market for Singapore and the region. 

“For the recent staycation offering, this is a unique response to a very specific market condition. So a lot of hotels are offering special staycations through a variety of means and a variety of ways. They have been promoting these staycations quite heavily on social and others are clearly leveraging their existing CRM and membership base,” he said, adding:

The moment of truth in hospitality is really the daily service and overall experience they offer their guests.

While the concept of staycation is now the common ground for most hotels' marketing strategies, Gaxiola said each hotel has a very different offering in terms of both software and hardware. These offerings can be leveraged from hotels' names, location, service level, to their F&B, club lounges, spa packages and facilities. He added that when coming up with new offerings, each brand would first need to identify what it is that can best benefit potential domestic staycation-seekers who will expect the best and safest experience possible.

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