Storytelling to secure hotel deals

by Youri Sawerschel , 10 March 2016

Why is it that the startup landscape is full of “how to pitch your company” workshops?
Why is it that so many startups use video animations as an intro to “how it works”?
And why is it that there are so many books on storytelling?

What is at play here and might established companies be able to benefit from taking a step back into a startups mind-set?
Most newly born companies understand that it is key for them to tell a compelling story as their survival crucially depends on investors’ funds.
The necessity to close deals however is at the core of any, also more mature companies and their growth depends on it.

With a view on hotel development, especially smaller boutique brands can find it challenging to survive or even enter certain markets, as this depends on their ability to convince hotel investors of their product. Yet most potential guests would advocate for a diverse hotel landscape, one that offers hotels that come in all shapes, sizes and colours. The demand for authentic and individual hotels is clearly present while the challenge for securing good deals remains.

So how could you up your game regardless of the level of your brand awareness?

A hotel investor cares most about risk adjusted return. As such, by all means he will care about the occupancy and revpar index in a given market and how this translates to revenue per m2. He will care about the contract structure, it’s duration and certain rental guarantees. He might well even care about the development risk and who carries the initial fit out of the property.

Beyond this however, what if he has the option between three equally reasonable operators from an investment point of view – who will he choose?
It might just be the one, who is able to tell the most compelling story and hotel operators ought to keep this in mind when trying to convince a potential investor of their concept. You want to be able to cut through the noise of your competitors and reach an investor’s soft spot. One that will trigger an emotional link to the brand itself. Especially for investors who are not familiar with the hotel business and are thus particularly hesitant.

So next time when you pitch to be able to put your brand on the top of a building, you could try to include some of the following:

1. Before you get lost in figures, emphasise your company’s true purpose, it’s growth potential and what makes you different.

2. Be creative regarding how you present a compelling story, especially given the physical nature of a hotel. Go beyond telling – show!

3. Walk through the sum of all touch-points a customer has with your brand and make it personal.

4. Present financial figures in a meaningful and relevant manner and use financial storytelling. Remember that facts tell but stories sell.

5. While investment decisions are influenced by past performance, make the insight into the anticipated future of your company as powerful as possible.

As competition for securing new development- and conversion sites continues to rise, it might well be that good storytellers will have a measurable advantage. A skill that can be acquired.