By Sam Taylors

The hospitality industry is competitive and it can be hard to stand out. Sometimes you need to use the “element of surprise” to have a fighting chance.

By being a business that makes a statement — regardless of how you do it — you take control of your customer’s attention. The world is in your hands at that point, as you can convey your brand with authority and grow word-of-mouth marketing strength.

What is an “Experiential Marketing” Campaign

Okay, this is really a fancy term for “engagement marketing.” It only differs because experiential campaigns require hands-on experiences while you can run an engagement marketing campaign on the Internet.

In fact, American fast food chain Taco Bell used Snapchat to do just that on multiple occasions. One of the most recent examples is when SnapChat made it possible for users to turn into tacos – pure viral marketing juice!

However, experiential marketing lets you do much more. This type of marketing lets an audience feel involved because it’s a physical experience. At the same time, the people taking part in the campaign are unknowingly helping you promote your brand.

Three Unique Experiential Marketing Ideas

Forget about the concepts you read about on the Internet. Just look below at some random ideas for restaurants and hotels in particular. The possibilities are endless, and the fact these are unique ideas goes to show the untapped potential here.

1. #FeedTheHomeless

Instead of mailing coupons offering 2-for-1 combos, why not offer a promotion that does some good in the world? Make that second combo a meal for a homeless person. If you have a high-efficiency point-of-sale (POS) system, you can designate a “promo table” to simplify the offer and to better track the cost.

For a local business, this strategy should work fine. For corporations not knowing how large it could grow, there are workarounds. You can put your equity from the second, undelivered combo into a charitable payment to help feed the homeless. Just make sure your coupon mentions the equivalent amount so it all adds up.

2. Host Specialty Tournaments

Let’s say you run a four-star hotel or a high class restaurant that pleases most customers and your primary goal is to build brand awareness and trust. What sounds better than a unique tournament held at your facilities? Just imagine the viral marketing potential of being the only venue in the country with a “web design competition.” You could do this for your site — instead of hiring a designer directly — and offer prizes while gaining word-of-mouth strength for your hotel.

For hoteliers, think of ideas that will last a weekend to increase the chance of out-of-town guests getting involved. You must find the right niche to make this work; many hotels latch onto nearby casinos and offer a “stay + entry” deal, and some even host the tournaments on-site.

3. Hook Onto the Latest Trend

When Pokemon Go came out, many Australian hotels and restaurants rode the trend by becoming PokeStops, which proved to be clever marketing. For some, catching these Pokemon characters meant staying the night or grabbing a meal to gain access to these locations.

Another tactic is to observe what’s popular and act accordingly. For pubs or bars in particular, one option is to create a fantasy pool, but this may only attract a small crowd of regulars. You want your business to be seen as a place worth coming to so try something like letting customers spin a wheel for the chance to win AFL game tickets after paying for their dinner.


No doubt, improving the marketability of your hospitality business can be a tough job. The hospitality industry is full of companies living month-to-month, and those that fail to innovate get “eaten alive” by the competition. So get creative and start thinking about how you can engage your customers in a promotional manner. We hope these ideas have given you some creative insight and will help your business thrive and succeed.