What traditional hoteliers can learn from disruptive business strategies

Airbnb and other disruptors have forced traditional hoteliers to take notice of digital trends, writes Aleksandra Czajkowski, account executive at Accelerator Communications.  

First let’s define ‘disruptive business strategy’. At its most basic level, the term describes innovations or businesses that create new markets by discovering new categories of customers. Good examples include Airbnb, YourHomeMyHome and HomeAway. Because of their influence on customers in the travel industry, traditional hoteliers must expand their marketing initiatives to adapt to an ever-changing market.

Battle strategy

Because disruptive business marketing competes in one or more niche markets, the bleed off of customers from traditional hoteliers may not be noticed right away. However, when it is noticed, it can’t be ignored. The first part of any good battle strategy is to know your enemy, or in the case of business, the competition. Disruptive business marketing strategies rely heavily on the following:

  • Targeting ‘experience-driven’ travellers,
  • communicating on a granular level with customers or potential customers,
  • being more testimonial, providing a story driven guest experience,
  • creating dynamic online content,
  • dining, shopping and entertainment guides based on local patronage, and
  • incorporating the use of client’s social media such as Vine, Facebook and Instagram.


Knowing your competition isn’t enough. Traditional hoteliers must begin to incorporate their methods where possible. It requires the ability to adapt and think outside the traditional and often comfortable boxes.

Here are seven tips to kickstart the process.

  1. Stay up on the latest social media methods of communication and information dissemination.
  2. Don’t just learn about the latest in social media use – be proactive and create more brand awareness through social media campaigns.
  3. Design campaigns to target specific demographics, especially niche groups. For instance, InterContinental Sydney offers the Insider Collection for clients requiring meeting and conference rooms or an event venue.
  4. Allow and highlight guest photos and give proper credit. This strategy alone is a boon to many hotels. It’s today’s equivalent of having your photo in the paper or being seen on TV.  InterContinental Adelaide frequently regrams (reposts from Instagram) their guests’ photos to showcase events such as weddings or dining experiences.
  5. Sell branded products, which allows guests to ‘take home’ part of their experience. Melbourne’s Hotel Lindrum has a special boutique dedicated to this type of product selling everything from scented candles and spa products to the bedding used in the decor.
  6. Create guides naming and describing the local’s favourite places for dining, shopping and entertainment. Harbour Rocks has curated an extensive list of top local restaurants with detailed descriptions of what guests can expect from the menu to the surroundings.
  7. More than anything, traditional hoteliers need to listen to their guests. Given the opportunity, guests won’t be shy about explaining what they loved and what they did not appreciate during their stay. After all, it’s money from their pocket buying the experience of the hotel for a weekend or longer. Build on positive feedback and correct any issues from the negative.

The disruptive business model has changed the way we think, behave, learn, and do business regarding marketing. It has influenced the existing travel industry much the same way it has impacted technology. Innovation and flexibility are always required in order to remain profitable and relevant in today’s market, whatever the business.