Summertime PR: Hospitality & theme parks continue to lag in brand intimacy

by | Jun 15, 2018 | Public Relations

Summer has arrived—but the biggest destinations and attractions are having a hard time making that breezy emotional connection with consumers that’s needed to make the most of the travel and tourism season. The hospitality & theme parks industry ranked #10 out of 15 industries studied in the Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, the largest study of brands based on emotions, from marketing agency MBLM.

Universal Theme Parks came in first in the industry, followed by Disney Parks and Marriott. The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the hospitality & theme parks industry were: Hilton, Holiday Inn, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Days Inn, Sheraton and Hyatt.

Summertime PR: Hospitality & theme parks continue to lag in brand intimacy

“Brands in the hospitality & theme parks industry are being commoditized and disintermediated. They continue to struggle in effectively building intimate bonds with consumers,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, in a news release. “Yet, there is enormous opportunity for this industry and it involves focusing on experiences that create and foster emotional connections. Companies need to provide customers a reason to commit to their brand that goes beyond price point, amenities or a membership program.”

Other notable hospitality & theme parks findings in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report include:

  • The category’s Brand Intimacy Quotient was 20.3—well below the industry average of 27.1.
  • Fulfillment, which relates to performance, was the archetype most associated with the category, and Marriott was the best performing brand for fulfillment
  • Women and those 35-64 years old preferred Universal Theme Parks
  • Millennials chose Disney Parks, which also ranked highest for fusing
  • Universal Theme Parks, which ranked #1, had considerably improved its intimacy score, 41.1 this year, compared to 29.4 last year, while Four Seasons’ score declined to 16.7 this year, compared to 23.8 last year

Summertime PR: Hospitality & theme parks continue to lag in brand intimacy

The new report includes an analysis of two major players in the industry—Marriot and Airbnb. It also provides a number of considerations impacting the way consumers bond with hospitality and theme parks, including:

  • More than technology for technology’s sake: Hotels are scrambling to invest and leverage technology to enhance the consumer’s experience
  • The experiential factor: Hotels are focusing on unique experiences since millennial and Generation Z audiences tend to value experiences overall material goods
  • Brands that endure: The age of a brand impacts its ability to build intimate bonds with consumers. Younger brands need more time to build nuanced relationships with consumers
  • Loyalty is dead: Loyalty programs are not impactful anymore and brands looking for success would be better off investing in efforts to funnel more customers into the fusing stage, when a person and a brand are inexorably linked, than expecting repeat business from loyalty programs

In addition to the release of the findings and article, MBLM also hosted a webinar entitled “Explore Rankings of the Most Intimate Hospitality & Theme Park Brands.” A recording of the webinar can be found here.

To view the hospitality & theme parks industry findings, click here.

The full Brand Intimacy 2018 Report and the Ranking Tool can be found here.

Brand Intimacy is defined as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand. For the third year, MBLM’s study revealed that top intimate brands in the U.S. surpassed the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years.

During 2017, MBLM conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,000 consumers in the United States (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,000). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (i.e. 18 to 64 years of age) and annual household income ($35,000 or more) in the U.S. and socioeconomic levels in Mexico and the UAE (A, B, and C socioeconomic levels). 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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