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It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It: A Lesson From the Hit TV Series MASH


Some of you may not remember the TV series M.A.S.H, a huge drama/comedy hit in the 80’s about the Korean War. In fact, to this day, after 11 years off the air, the finale episode still boasts the largest TV audience ever!

A big fan of the show, I recently watched the 30th anniversary special. In this special, their key writer Larry Gelbart was asked what made MASH’s story Mashdifferent than other movies and TV shows about the Korean War? Larry cleverly responded by saying: “You can’t change what it’s about, but you CAN change how you tell what it’s about.”

One of my objectives at VFM Leonardo is to heighten awareness of the importance of visual storytelling in the hospitality industry. I can’t emphasize enough that the way hotels tell their stories online is what will make them stand out, but I often hear things like, “We’re a limited service hotel, we don’t have a story,” and “Sure, that’s easy for destination resorts and boutique hotels.”

Mr. Gelbart’s storytelling approach can be carried over into the hotel space.  Yes, perhaps it is easier to tell your story if you are a full service resort however, that shouldn’t limit a hotel with seemingly fewer amenities from having a great story to share as well. There are things about your property you can’t change, like your location, or perhaps a limited product offering, but what you can change is how you tell travel shoppers what you’re all about.

I’m not suggesting you misrepresent what your hotel offers. What I am suggesting is that you find what it is that makes you unique and interesting, and start spreading that story.

Find Inspiration

Start by asking your staff. Those on the front lines have an up close perspective of the property. Maybe your friendly staff members are your unique feature. Mash Cast

Next, take a look around you. Are you near a popular coffee shop, tourist attraction or conveniently close to the highway?  Do you offer complimentary breakfast, have late check out, or host weekly welcome guest receptions? Don’t over look the little things.

Your best resources for stories are your guests. People always have travel stories and like to share them.  Review sites are a great place to find what travelers are saying about your hotel.

Don’t forget about social media. With visuals front and center on all social media platforms it can be easy to find photos of guests enjoying your hotel – these photos are telling your story.

Play Up Your Positives

Not all properties can offer state-of-the-art facilities and fine dining facilities. There are other ways to ensure your guests have access to all the features they crave.  Do you offer a shuttle service to local restaurants, discounted access to a nearby fitness center? A complimentary manager’s reception is a wonderful way to make your guests feel welcome and enjoy a treat.

La Quinta Inn

La Quinta Inn & Suites Fort Walton Beach is a limited service hotel with the right idea.  They’re the epitome of pet friendly, offering a dog walking area for guests traveling with beloved pets. Instead of focusing on the amenities they don’t offer, La Quinta Inn tells a great story for animal lovers, making them stand out from other properties.

Pay attention to the message you’re sending to travel shoppers, and don’t be discouraged by your limitations.  MASH wasn’t just another war story, and your hotel isn’t just another property, remember to convey that by inspiring consumers with your unique story.

To learn more about telling your story, check out the guide: Attract More Online Travel Shoppers: How to Tell Your Hotel’s Story with Video


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