Developing History Creates Revenue
by Andreas Augustin
Do you want to hear the story of the Singapore hotelier who used to call his own telephone line to find out if it still worked? Because nobody else called! There was a crisis. World War I.
Should I tell you about this 1930s German hotel "Direktor" who sneaked out at the side entrance while members of staff were blocking the main entrance in protest, because this afternoon he had to sign a document with a list of enforced redundancies?
We can tell you more stories of how hotels went through the crisis of the past: World War I and II, the Black Friday of 1929, each single oil crisis, the aftermath of 9/11.
But in fact, our speciality lays in highlighting the positive side of the business. And to turn the hotel's history into a highly efficient tool of sales and marketing.
One of the cheapest available, by the way.
Because it's already there.
All you have to do is to pick it up, shape it and present it.
Developing the assets, they call it.
Since 25 years I am working with and for the most famous hotels in the world, the historic backbone of our industry. With a team of specialists (historians, writers, photographers and researchers!) we had the opportunity to turn the history of the most notable hotels in the world into books. It obviously makes a difference if a peace treaty has been negotiated at one of the suites of the hotel, if President Roosevelt has slept here, if the King of Siam or the Prince of Wales had chosen that hotel in the past or if Angelina Jolie is a regular.
Each hotel has its own, well researched book. About twenty years ago we were leading the way to make history a power seller. Today each hotel with a pedigree has a history section on its website and many of them have one of our books about their history. Books are great ambassadors of a hotel. They are an established proof of history and integrity. They travel around the world, they proudly grace coffee-tables. They rest on book shelves for generations.
I have been told that we have elevated this gossip chit-chat to the level of serious historical information. It is all about "what did these famous people do while in town?" Of course we also tell the story of the town, about the most famous visitors, scientists and Nobel Prize winners, artists and their work, milestones of mankind. How the stage was set? Why did the owners decide to build a hotel in the first place? Who managed the hotel. What made it famous? Who worked there? How did it survive - for God's sake – all these ups and in particular the downs?
We have created a formula that sells. With The Most Famous Hotels in the World we have started a wonderful library of books about the greatest hotels in the world. We have recorded their stories and we gave them books to market this asset.
Travellers love to buy these books, they lend credit to the hotel.
In over twenty years the Club of the Friends of The Most Famous Hotels in the World has grown into a remarkable FIT organisation. Over 10,000 travellers from all over the world have subscribed by postcard, and over the web. They are fans, collectors of our books and of course interested in "what's new at famous hotels?".
And the best news last!
To develop the history of a hotel you do not need to spend millions. It is sitting there. Please ask me how to do it? I have dedicated my life to leave our industry a reliable library of the history of hospitality. We have developed simple guidelines how to archive, what to collect and how to.
We have listed 428 Select Members of The Most Famous Hotels in the World, all to be found on http://www.famoushotels.org. Why not check out if yours is there? And if it's not there and you sense that there is a bit of a history that needs development, give me a call, too.
By the way; if you wondered what happened to the hotelier in Singapore who used to call his own telephone because he couldn't believe that business was dead: he had enough time to invent a special cocktail - and when the crisis was over, he turned it into a million dollar revenue maker. The Singapore Sling.
Andreas Augustin can be reached at [email protected]