In the competitive hospitality industry there’s nothing like first-hand experience for travel reporters to get a taste of what a resort offers its guests. Last month, we managed a press trip for six travel writers from across the nation to visit Nickelodeon Family Suites along with one young guest, so they could experience the hotel through a child’s eyes.
We planned a poolside dinner with live entertainment, secured front-row seats at the Studio Nick nightly show, reserved a cabana and delivered milk and cookies to their rooms every night.
But it wasn’t this special treatment that made it into the feature articles that have come about from this trip, nor is it what impressed the trip attendees. In fact, it was the opposite. It was just being at the hotel. Seeing it in person and experiencing it by walking around and watching other guests.
We can tell the media that Nick Hotel is kid-friendly until we are blue in the face, but after seeing it first-hand, they know that is an understatement. A picture may say a thousand words, but it’s still two-dimensional.
The bean bags in the bright-orange-and-green lobby, the sound of upbeat music and laughing children, the themed KidSuites with life-size Nickelodeon characters on the wall …. you can’t experience that through a news release.
As the media relations industry changes and we rely less and less on traditional publicity tactics and move toward social media – let us not forget the true power of first-hand experience. This can apply to a company in any industry hoping to share its story. Because, you can’t replace a visit.