The power of story for accommodation

minute read 


Have you got a story? I’m not sure if there is an industry as short of story-telling as the accommodation industry.

I’m going to defend us though on this account because by nature hospitality is about helping people create their own stories. Our industry in this sense is maternal, we nurture the guest and are rewarded when they shape their own new memories. Our story is often the guest’s story and the challenge with that is new guests trust other guests for referrals and they want you to persuade them to book.

Stories create value

The danger of having no story, is greater than you might expect. Perhaps not quite the Butterfly effect or Chaos Theory, but we know one missing piece can change or influence many other things. If you have not got a story, then you are selling based on features and benefits only – eroding your value. If you have no fable, then your team and customers do not know where you came from. Without the tale, how can people really identify with your ‘why’? They will be stuck on your what and how.

The story is from what you build out marketing. From where the vision comes, or the backdrop for the direction. It provides context and more importantly it shows you are more than just a business.

Having no story, or failing to communicate it appropriately, is the easiest way to fall into the trap of being a ‘me too’ business or becoming a commodity.

Stories create value
. They help put emotion into a purchase. The power of story is that they connect us with the service or product emotionally.

I enjoyed staying at the Taj Mahal Mumbai so much more because of the fascinating story when I was in living in India.

We all have a story to tell

I bet you do! It may not be about to be turned into a Hollywood movie, but something made and shaped your hotel, or apartments, or rentals. There was a moment or an experience that made someone start the business. Or a moment the real path or purpose of the business was discovered.

We’ve just started working with Norgesbooking, a vacation rental business in Norway providing cabins. Chatting with Karina Nielson, the MD for Norgesbooking, it struck me that they had a powerful story that they can share.

A very Norwegian story - Norgesbooking

In 2001, Norgesbooking founders were hiking through deep Norway and as they hiked they went past empty cabin after empty cabin. They were struck by how sad it was that these beautiful cabins had no life and sat unfulfilled. Looking into it they realised that there are over 440,000 cabins in Norway and less than 10% are occupied. They felt inspired to make it easier for nationals and overseas travellers to book and bring life into these fantastic cabins. Then they made it happen.

That’s a simple, but true story that shows the moment of inspiration. It also explains why they care and what their mission is. Stories don’t have to be long, or complicated. They can be, but they don’t have to be. They just have to be genuine.

6 tips for bringing your story together

When was the moment you got inspired? Where were you and what happened?

What problem did you realize you could solve?

Which challenges have you faced in getting started?

Were there moments when you found a clear path – what happened?

Who was with you on the journey and who helped make it happen?

Did you develop beliefs or principles that have been important – how did they help?

Who should tell it?

The quick answer is the whole team, but like a river the water is purer from the source. The founder will tell it best and truest. They should help the team in understanding it, connecting to it and re-telling it.


How to tell it

Tell it through all of the guest and potential guest touch points – in person, on the phone, on your website and through social. Use video – it’s the best way of showing how much the journey or that moment when it came together meant to you and your team.

You might have more than one…

A room can have a story, or the restaurant, or the building.

Share it!

We are surviving social media’geddon. There is so much noise out there and posts of such a low quality that a well thought out and communicated story is powerful. It also lasts.

Some hotel or accommodation owners, or general managers reading this will be thinking we are doing this and that’s great! Well done for being a fantasic story teller. Share your story here and start showing people how it’s done!

If you have a story but aren’t sharing it, or have one but haven’t thought it through, it’s time to bring it together. Good luck!

PS - One final tip to end with, is that a lot of your favorite movies start with a drama or tragedy. Think about one of the most popular films of all time, The Shawshank Redemption, it starts with a tragedy. Tim Robbins is incarcerated for something he didn't do to the person he loved. It ends happily, but the power is in the changing of the narrative. Find the drama and tragedy in your early days and joy in your recent times and people will identify with this. We all do, which is why so many movies made are in this format. That is the power of story.