motel marketing sign on roadside.

Is your property up Schitt’s Creek? 7 Motel Marketing tips!

Is your property up Schitt’s Creek? 7 Motel Marketing lessons from the show

The pandemic wreaked havoc with the travel and hospitality industry, devastating revenues, and brining most travel to a standsill. One “positive” thing it did provide us with is the opportunity to binge watch TV shows. If you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek, I won’t risk spoiling it, but, for the independent hotel/motel property owner, the storyline of Schitt’s Creek provides some valuable lessons in how to grow your own lodging business.

Lesson 1: Know Your Property’s Identity

What is your property’s identity? It’s brand? How do you tell the story of your property? Branding is so much more than a logo and pretty designs. Your brand is the story of your property and how you communicate that to people. It could be anything from kitschy Alps-inspired lodgings, to budget highway motel, or luxury relaxation getaway. Knowing exactly who your target audience is will help you refine your brand messaging. Embracing what makes you unique will resonate with your target audience, and help you stand out from the chain hotel just down the road.

Keeping every touch point in your marketing, from initial marketing message through to onsite experience, and guest checkout on brand is important to leveraging your brand messaging and generating repeat clientele. Authenticity is an overused buzzword in marketing, but with lodging its important to communicate exactly what your guests can, and should, expect from you.

How you can do this for your business:

  • Identify key aspects that make your property unique, much like the Rosebud Motel’s transformation in the show

  • Develop a tagline, or key messaging, that emphasizes what guests can expect at your property

Lesson 2: Storytelling through Content Creation

If a plan and strategy are the bones of your marketing, then content creation is the flesh and blood. Storytelling through your content creation is how you will build a connection to your audience. And knowing your audience, will inform the types of content you should create.

For example, does your property cater to retirees who are on the road? Probably don’t want to waste too much time TikTokking, but creating content where you talk about the room accessibility features, RV parking, or seniors discounts available at nearby restaurants in blogs or Facebook posts might help attract new business. Focusing on creating content that has value beyond a single social media post also helps to maximise the ROI of your marketing dollars. For instance, if you were to create a video showing the lobby and one of your rooms, you can post that on YouTube, share it in a blog post, and post it Facebook (or whatever social platform your guests are primarily using). This one piece of content has now been used in 3 different channels, and can be reposted in a couple months time. All of this helps to build momentum for the next lesson, building social media and digital campaigns.

How you can do this at your property:

  • Create content that is going to engage and be of interest to your target audience.

  • Remember the digital content hierarchy:

    • Live Video

    • Video

    • Photos

    • Copywriting

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and test various content styles and formats

Lesson 3: Build your social media presence

Social media has been a tremendous democratizer to the marketing landscape, allowing even the smallest of businesses to gain a global audience. But, building successful social media campaigns requires investment of time, energy, and budget into creating strong content, building your social media presence and connecting with individuals and partners.


Developing a hashtag, and marketing campaigns around these hashtags can help encourage guests to share their content too. User Generated Content (UGC) can become invaluable in leveraging guests social media networks to promote your property. Remember, its called “social” media, so, make sure you are commenting, liking, and interacting with content that features your property, or responds your posts.


Sharing regular “behind the scenes” videos and posts about the property and staff can help to build a stronger connection between your business and your guests. Regular content posts also help to keep you top of mind, and build your value in the algorithms ranking.


How to implement yourself:

  • Pick 1 social media platform you’re comfortable with, and start building an audience

    • Don’t sweat being “everywhere”… your target audience isn’t on all of the platforms, so you don’t need to be either. As you grow, you can add new channels.

  • Think up a hashtag for your property, and start sharing it in your social media posts

  • Ask your guests to share photos of their stay (and post reviews to Google, Trip Advisor, etc.!) and tag you in their post. Share these posts to your social channel/profile.

Lesson 4: Website Maintenance

You wouldn’t let your physical property become rundown and dated, so why do you let your digital property? Just as you likely have a schedule of updating rooms, decor, repainting etc. for the building, so too should you plan to do “maintain” your website with regular updates to imagery, ensuring the backend of your site is running trouble free, and keeping things up to date with current digital trends.

Building a visually appealing website that focuses on converting visitors into direct bookers is one of the most important marketing activities you can do to improve your property’s bottom line. Increasing direct bookings will reduce your OTA commissions, and build a stronger connection to your guests for future marketing activities.

Updating your website to focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will also produce long term dividends by increasing the visibility of your property in search results. Things to consider when updating your site include page load times and speed, image optimization, user experience, accessibility and tap target size, along with keywords guests are likely to use when searching for accommodation in your region.


How you can do this yourself:

  • Learn the basics of your website’s CMS (Content Management System). Most websites are built on WordPress, Drupal, Magento, or a custom implementation. Understanding how to do some of the simple maintenance items is important, just like basic plumbing or electrical fixes on your physical site.

  • Keep a folder with images of your property handy. This makes life easier to upload new images when you want to change them up.

  • Keep your plugins and system platform up to date. This will ensure everything is operating smoothly, and protect against cyber attacks.

Lesson 5: Email Marketing

Email marketing has repeatedly been shown to have a 40:1 ROI across all industries. Build your direct bookings and grow your email lists by offering special discounts or packages to past guests that will make them make them feel special. Create a series featuring key staff members or “behind the scenes” looks at day to day activities that focus on sharing more about your property and team. You can also offer advanced notice of events happening in your community, with an enticement to come check it out and stay at your property. The only limit on the content in your email is your imagination. (Side note, many people abhor email marketing because they think its spammy. The solution to that is simple… Don’t send spammy content!)

And the most important thing about email marketing: Along with your website, it is the only marketing channel that you are 100% in control of. It is not subject to the whims of some social media algorithm, or publishing editor on whether or not your content will be seen by the intended audience. You control what you put out there, and if its not being opened or clicked on, that tells you that you need to shift tactics or content so that it better resonates with your intended audience.

Lesson 6: Build Community and Local Partnerships

Along with building social media through engagement online, building relationships in the real world can help your digital marketing. Having local buinesses and organizations share your social media content, put links to your website on their sites, and referring guests back and forth strengthens your network and the “web effect” of the world wide web.

Donating to local charities and organizations is also a fantastic way to build goodwill, and get your name in local news outlets. Not only does supporting your local community through financial or volunteer means demonstrate your commitment to the community, but these actions are highly respected by visitors to your community. Supporting organizations or events that fall in the “target audience” of your ideal guest, generates leveraged coverage.

Lesson 7: Evolution and Continuous Improvement

They say that the only constant in life is change. Don’t be afraid to adapt to changing market conditions, and constantly striving to improve your processes. This can be both business processes, and also your marketing activity.

Not sure if marketing is something you can handle yourself? Need an outside perspective? Run an audit on your website here, and we can see if you’d benefit from a birr boostTM

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