EPISODE 1: PROSTITUTES AND HOSPITALITY (ADVENTURES OF AN OFFICE PIN)
If you’ve ever (clears throat) owned a hotel, you already know what a challenge it is to generate and maintain the human traffic necessary to create fiscal liquidity in the hospitality industry. Some go to the extremes of service and others, the extremely charming use of gimmicks. The famous Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja once known as NiconNoga ; the first 5-star hotel of its kind in the country was once an empty brand new hotel in need of befitting clientele. Rumor has it that as a strategy to lure wealthy clientele to the hotel the management went in search of beautiful and alluring commercial sex workers in town and opened their doors for them to troop in and simply make new acquaintances. The ‘SHERATON’ hotel in Abuja; located in the wuse district of ‘zone 4’ notorious for the alleged surplus of sex hawkers in its vicinity at night, it is also rumored that when the hotel first sprung up the authorities had been bribed to turn a blind eye on the growing number of prostitutes on the streets of this federal suburb because they wanted to attract clientele for the hotel; just like a tourist attraction. These stories were never confirmed to be true.
They came up as funny anecdotes of rumored competitive strategy used in hospitality during brainstorming for Yin Media’s new client Beni Apartments. During their first consultation we were given a tour around the property, impressed with the obvious technical detail that went into its construction. A posh 8 storey building in Victoria island Lagos housing 60 luxury apartments fully equipped with events, catering, fitness and recreational facilities. The facility manager and current PR consultant briefed them on their marketing progress, going on to explain that Yin Media was brought in to develop a full multimedia website and lend its resources to the public relations and marketing department.
Before individual tasks were delegated to team members, a freelance photographer was brought in to capture (high definition DSLR) images of the facility from which they would choose images for the website. The job was to create a suitable online presence to serve as a global corporate station for Beni Apartments and also assist to build its customer base through Yin Media’s social and corporate affiliations. The latter part would be akin to giving out a corporate database for free, because in this information age we are in, contact databases have monetary value. A site map was drawn guided by research on some of the best luxury accommodation providers in the world, then they decided to go against the grain of those ideas because Beni has its own unique charm. They call this the ‘Anti-Follower technique’.
The thing with diligence is that when you decide to embark upon it, situations that were mysteriously elusive during planning sessions when people offered up ideas on all the things that could possibly happen, can still unfold as you progress. Diligence requires that you lift perspective from the daily minutae of the ongoing project and use a bird’s eye view, whenever challenges arise. The spiritual would call these type of situations ‘tests’, which they are, but the Yin Media team chose to view them as ‘new developments requiring further contingency.’ It is not an easy thing to give personality to the inanimate, so the soul of a hospitality establishment must come from the desires of the management. It is in the spirit of this realization that the owners want long staying repeat customers (who will see it as a place of refuge, rather than a port of call) that they decided on a more muted marketing effort. Of course mainstream media like print, radio and Tv would be required for the initial launch, but this would be minimal, and there would be a continuous effort towards more targeted, more intimate outreach.
The project liaison delivered all the necessary information they had requested for to aid in building keyword sensitive copy for the site, the keen Yin Media designer had selected the best images to be used, the only thing left was to develop a marketing strategy to attract the caliber of clientele desired by Beni Apartments.
The pull that humans have to glamour and fortune is immutable and the majority are prone to latch onto the slightest chance to be associated with wealth, success or even just plain popularity. This is key to their agreed strategy, since the entertainment industry is currently enjoying the beginnings of a boom, with the spending power that comes with it. After building a dynamic website with a personalized picture reel of the suites, an online reservation platform and personalized mail functionality (our first mandate) they targeted tour established contacts in the entertainment industry and a nearby international university and drew them to the patronage of Beni apartments. They did this knowing very well that artists bring with them the inevitable accompaniments of star attraction; their management, their entourage, their teams.
After all, artists and celebrities are just a more colorful breed of business man and woman. For the purpose of client discretion we are obliged to exclude the identities of the distinguished celebrities that frequent the hotel.
The project was completed and 2 members of the team had driven to the hotel late one evening for an appraisal meeting after hosting the website. The clients were satisfied with the work done and as they left the hotel driving out into the night with grins on their faces they passed another hotel as they drove and saw 4 skimpily dressed women standing casually in front of it. “Probably guests going for a walk”, one suggested, and they exchanged smiles over the playing music .
YIN PROJECT: BENI APARTMENTS WEB DEVELOPMENT AND PR / MARKETING
BENI APARTMENTS, Plot 37 Ahmed Onibudo st Victoria Island lagos