SOCIAL MESSAGING? OR WOKE WASHING?
A significant trend over the last two years has been brands using their advertising for social messaging. Whereas once the focus of advertising was to promote the product, increasingly brands are associating themselves with social issues – and seeking to move the needle on consumer attitudes and behaviour.
Gillette is the latest contributor with its ad depicting an image of men that promotes a revamped take on male ‘best’ that digs beneath the stereotypical surface of tanned, ripped abs, beautiful women and high performance sport.
Gillette is following in the footsteps of other global brands: NIKE’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick #dreamcrazy; #justagirl by Always; Heineken’s #openyourworld or Airbnb’s #weaccept and #untilweallbelong campaign – to name a few. The last of these, released in June 2017, became one of the biggest LGBTIQ campaigns ever, and contributed significantly to same sex marriage being legalised in Australia in December 2017. Airbnb’s all-purpose strapline is ‘Belong Anywhere’, so it made a lot of sense to see this alignment with the issue.
“The challenge is that the brand shop window must match the grassroots”
Originality, creativity and effectiveness are prized in marketing as much as ever. What’s not always clear is whether social messaging is designed to add deeper meaning and offer support for the most prominent issues of the day – or is motivated by a realisation that it pays to be socially progressive.
The challenge, as we’ve discussed previously, is that the brand shop window must match the grassroots. When brands and businesses are fundamentally about taking care of people, (rather than selling razors, running shoes, sanitary towels or beer) there is greater pressure to deliver on promise. But the opportunity for the hospitality and travel industries to embrace and stand by these types of issue is considerable – Airbnb have proved this out.
‘Woke washing’ may be the latest buzz phrase but the messages are as strong and as needed as campaigns before them. What is your brand doing to connect with your guests and customers on a purposed and meaningful level?
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
LABOUR SHORTAGES COULD MAKE WORK BETTER
A prevailing issue of the day is the shortage of low skilled labour across the hospitality industry. The difficulty of finding and retaining talent is not exclusive to any country – but it is particularly acute in the UK right now. The political landscape and Brexit uncertainty are working firmly against the needs of the UK travel industry. The tourism economy provides 9.6% of total UK jobs – according to figures from Visit Britain – but some employers are struggling to fill vacancies.
Speaking at The Tourism Society conference, Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation hotels, described his own situation in six hotels across London. “Out of 1000 employees, 800 are non-British,” he said. “We have seen the number of (EU) applications coming in fall to almost nothing…more than 60 of our outstanding European employees have returned to their home countries.” The UK Government’s decision (on January 21st) to waive the £65 fee for EU citizens to secure their status in the UK, may at least help deter more from leaving.
Some CEOs and senior HR directors (from food operations) tell us they’re having discussions with their teams on whether they can feasibly operate for seven days a week; others say that there has been an increase in the ratio of applications from newer EU countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, over those from earlier Eastern bloc members such as Poland.
“The political landscape and Brexit uncertainty are working firmly against the needs of the UK travel industry”
There is a potential silver lining to this situation, not only in the UK but in all countries struggling to recruit and retain hospitality staff – a dial up in the benefits and rewards that will have to be offered to employees to attract and retain them. The competition will be more intense but the result is likely to be a dynamic that shifts in favour of an employees’ market and potentially a more sustainable model.
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
WELLBEING TRIFECTA PREMIUM
What is the most accessible formula to yield a return on wellbeing through a hotel and/or lodging business? To answer that question fully you would need to qualify it further: are secondary wellbeing sales being driven through additional services? Or is (at least part of) the wellbeing experience built into the room rate and overall brand experience?
In the latter case, the biggest compliment the manager of any hotel, resort or retreat could receive is to be told by a guest that they never want to leave the property. That they feel in a space where they are safe to relinquish their guards and completely let go of the stresses and strains of everyday life. For some guests that may mean simply rest and stillness, for others activity and for some, an overwhelming sense of ‘coming home’ to a special place and trusted, compassionate people.
Whilst optimal relaxation may be more difficult to achieve in a property focused on business travellers, where guests stay for only one or two nights, it is arguably even more important to accomplish. That means finding a formula that mitigates stress, anxiety and the damage known to be caused to the hippocampal neurons after prolonged periods of stress.
“the biggest compliment … is to be told by a guest that they never want to leave”
Evidence points to a seemingly simple but potent baseline trifecta that, if crafted and delivered with results driven intent, will yield the greatest impact for any lodging property: 1) cultivated high quality sleep through room design and programme guidance; 2) proximity to nature (either outdoor or biophilic interior design) and superior air quality; 3) the spirit of human kindness. The last of these is scientifically anecdotal but it is proven relentlessly by repeat bookings in properties that exemplify exactly this formula.