Curating a unique offline experience has been an occupancy driver in retail. Will it do the same for hotels?

Today, real estate is all about creating an experience. From office to multifamily and retail, it is clear that users want to be wooed in to arriving and wowed upon arrival. While multifamily and office product has certainly evolved, retail assets have been the biggest proponents of creating an offline experience, and those that have done it well have benefited. Now, hotels are joining the trend, hoping to similarly drive occupancy. For hotels with the right branding are seeing an impact on RevPAR.

On the hotel side, branding starts online. One of the biggest tools is actually creating an online marketing strategy to translate the experience to potential customers. “Digital marketing is becoming more and more critical for hospitality assets as people rely increasingly on social media to affirm their travel choices,” Dan Palmier, CEO of  UC Funds. All generations are connected to the to some extent, so a well-defined lifestyle brand will likely stand out among the plethora of similar hotel options available instantly on any smartphone.”

UC Funds has renovated several hotel properties to curate a better experience and brand, including One Club Gulf Shores in Alabama and Residence Inn Stamford Downtown in Stamford, Connecticut. One both properties, he developed online marketing campaigns to translate the new branding and drive occupancy. “Since ONE CLUB Gulf Shores largely targets the baby-boomer set we’ve developed a strong Facebook community presence to showcase our lifestyle offerings,” says Palmier. “We partner with affinity sites like Gulf Shores Chamber of Commerce, Troon Golf, ESPN, vacation rental sites, and the large Gulf Shores Sports Commission to expand our footprint and align with similar lifestyle segments. We’ve also built out an info-packed website and multiple blogs touting our various amenities. Not only does this expand our social media presence, but it also grows our SEO value while driving home the brand messaging.”

Experiential real estate is often equated with capturing millennial audiences, but Palmier says that experience is universal today. All demographic segments want a unique experience. “While some might think this trend best fits millennial-geared hotels, I’m confident any brand with the ability to keep compelling, clear and consistent messaging across multiple channels can position itself as a lifestyle brand. Residence Inn and Courtyard are both Marriott-branded hotels,” he says. “I’ve developed great respect for Marriott’s strong positioning as a hospitality option for business travelers, individuals, or families. It’s providing a one-stop-shop for travelers, a feat I very much admire as an entrepreneur.”

The trend impacts all hotel sizes, as well, from larger hotels and chains to boutiques. “You don’t have to be as large as the Marriott brand for success,” adds Palmier. “We provide billions of capital coast to coast as a sophisticated financial ally to those whom have similar visions surrounding service and amenities as us.”