Re-branding Riverside Hotel: Hospitality PR & Integrated Marketing Communications

Heiko Drobrikow, Executive Vice President & General Manager at the Riverside Hotel, kicked the year off at our first PRSA Greater Fort Lauderdale Chapter event with a talk on integrated marketing communications.. He took us step-by-step to describe how he and his team transformed the Riverside brand.

Riverside Hotel

When Dobrikow arrived at the hotel nearly 10 years ago,  he asked his staff what they felt the Riverside most needed to succeed. Their answer: marketing. Dobrikow then looked inside the marketing of the hotel as a whole to analyze metrics like email traffic, phone calls and expense reports. This ultimately helped him better understand the organization’s market outreach.

The team implemented Facebook as a tool for engagement by creating events such as “Las Olas Oktoberfest,” which generated an impressive amount of traffic and led to thousands of dollars in new business for the hotel. This soon led them to shift the investment from print to digital, using platforms like TripAdvisor and others. The result of their efforts was a move from page 14 to page 1 on Google searches.

In addition to the focus on digital marketing, the Riverside Hotel looked at other areas of its business. To ensure fidelity – and recognizing the transient nature of the hospitality business – Dobrikow and his team created a rewards program. They looked closely at the  demographic profile of local customers to change food and beverage offerings so they appealed more to Fort Lauderdale residents, and used media relations to spread the word. He required all of his direct reports to attend local events and connect with key stakeholders in the community. And finally, they changed the way they told the Riverside story to help strengthen the property’s brand. Today, the Riverside Hotel is marketed as an international destination that offers travelers the unique experience of Las Olas right outside its front door.

Finally, Dobrikow offered his view on how PR pros can support businesses like his, which typically do not have a separate marketing budget. From his perspective, public relations professionals have an opportunity to serve as “strategic brand coaches,” guiding organizations through the constant changes they must navigate to stay ahead. An integrated marketing communications approach can maximize the impact of a brand by using various tools and strategies to draw in consumers through multiple channels.

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