SINGAPORE: Hotel and leisure groups are targeting the Asia-Pacific region for growth, but unlike the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts leisure group, few are planning to do so without the use of traditional advertising. 

Sean Dee, the group's global CMO, told Campaign Asia-Pacific: "We are going to effectively eliminate our traditional advertising globally and really push towards digital, mobile and social media." Already, digital marketing is expected to account for more than half the company's marketing budget in 2014.

He explained that the company's strategy was to link up with local partners and bring together entertainment, nightlife, hospitality and tourism for those guests who didn't want to stay in the hotel all the time. Blogs written by local experts added to the experience.

"It's a good opportunity for a hotel brand to take the lead on this type of ambition," noted Dee.

The use of mobile and social media was central to the vision, with Outrigger able to update guests daily on events. "We have done the basics, such as the website and the online booking platform," said Dee, "but the game changer for us is what happens once guest are on our properties, and using mobile to engage them during their stay."

Another feature was the use of a social media network, Revinate, which enables guests to comment on Outrigger properties around the world and which also delivers real-time feedback to the business.

Dee also stressed the importance of innovation and creativity which in turn inspired guests to tell their stories more widely, one example being the presence of a baby elephant at the Phuket resort which played with guests every day.

"Creativity in products and our service delivery is more important than in advertising," declared Dee.

Other hotel brands in the region have also set out to focus on the service aspect. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, for example, ran a campaign positioning the brand as the very essence of Asian hospitality, where the people were what brought guests back, not the décor.

The PuLi Hotel and Spa in Shanghai, however, did turn the spotlight on the interior design, having identified "a unique psychographic segment" of "aesthetic connoisseurs" who would appreciate staying in a contemporary hotel with historic artefacts.

Accordingly, very little was spent on mainstream media, with the hotel successfully seeking prestigious design awards that were intended to act as a draw for the cognoscenti.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff