Women in Marketing: Spotlight on hospitality with Sarah Osbourn, marketing manager at the Royal Park Hotel
You’ve been in the hospitality field for several years. What is it about this industry that excites you?
SO: Every job I have ever had has been linked to hospitality somehow, from working at a golf course to retail to hospitals to hotels. I have been at Royal Park Hotel for more than 12 years now in differing positions. For me, I love that no two days are ever the same! I enjoy the thrill of the unexpected.
Hospitality is all about customer relations – how does that guide you as you plan your marketing plans for Royal Park Hotel?
SO: I agree! Hospitality is all about customer relations. It is essential to understand our guest’s wants and expectations. I consider all of these things when planning out my year in marketing. We take time to look back at what worked well in the past, learn from what didn’t take off, evaluate the world today, and observe specifics that our guests ask for in conversation. We see it in their reviews and comments on social media and notice what marketing efforts are effective through various statistics on our digital platforms. In addition, you mentioned how hospitality is all about customer relations, but with the customer also comes the support of other businesses around us. That includes the local Downtown Rochester merchants and surrounding community businesses. Without their continued support and collaborations with us, our guest’s experience could look very different.
Royal Park Hotel has won awards as being an ‘experience creator’, tell us a little more about what that means?
SO: As a member of WorldHotels, we have had the honor of receiving the Guest Experience Creator Award several years running. Our travelers are looking for more than just a comfortable bed and good food; they seek places that offer an experience they cannot get anywhere else. We hope our guests take the opportunity to immerse themselves in the community and leave feeling as though they are part of our family. We work very hard at paying attention to the details like a notation for an anniversary or birthday celebration, greeting our guests by name whenever possible, taking the extra time to ask them why they chose us and what we can do to exceed their expectations. We also focus on what makes Downtown Rochester and Royal Park Hotel different from anywhere else. What can our guests take advantage of here?
Those who know me know I’m very passionate about storytelling, Royal Park is very similar in that— what stories do you think have really engaged your guests in the past year?
SO: In 2020-2021, at the peak of the pandemic, our guests turned to us to lead the way in providing safe and meaningful experiences. A few ideas stand out in my mind that engaged our guests. Pizza With Purpose, Vertical Concerts, and of course, Our Buddy the Elf Themed Suite.
We developed our Pizza with Purpose campaign in 2020 to connect with our guests during a time when everything was closed. There were no indoor dining options available, store shelves were empty, and people were tired of being cooped up at home cooking. By creating Pizza with a Purpose, we not only provided pizzas for families who were tired of cooking, but we also found a way to support the community. A portion of proceeds from each kit purchased, benefitted the community by supplying pizzas to our essential workers, generating funds to support our furloughed Royal Park employees, and supporting the Tate Myre Memorial Scholarship Fund for graduating Oxford High School students.
In addition, with the growing concerns on indoor gatherings, The Hotel partnered with 20 Front Street in 2020 to adapt their concept of outdoor vertical concerts. The pandemic restricted travel, prominent artists were canceling concerts, and we felt the need to provide some form of entertainment and escape to our community. Like many of our events, our concerts offered a charitable aspect that provided funds to our community’s local charities.
Lastly, the winter months hit hard for everyone in Michigan. Families still felt uncomfortable with the thought of travel and indoor gatherings but yearned for a magical experience close to home. Our Buddy the Elf and Gingerbread-themed suites allowed our guests to immerse themselves in the Holiday spirit while supporting our Downtown Rochester Big Bright Light show and The Salvation Army.
I am excited to see what this year brings and hope to continue the tradition of creating lasting memories with our guests.
The hospitality industry has had to navigate a lot in the past couple of years, how have you stayed positive being the marketing team that is creating that positive messaging to engage guests?
SO: For those who aren’t familiar with Simon Sinek’s The Why, I think now is an excellent time to bring it up, as it relates perfectly to this question. Our WHY (the reason we exist as a business) is to provide Every Day Luxury to our guests. That may be a cup of coffee by the river in the morning, a comfortable bed, walking the Paint Creek Trail, or ordering a drink or meal in PARK 600. Every Day Luxury is different for every person, and that is what we love—my personal why has always been helping others. To help others, I need to be in a positive mindset and look at things differently. I think Simon Sinek answers it best: “When we help ourselves, we find moments of happiness; when we help others, we find lasting fulfillment.”
So, the answer is simple; if I focus on staying positive to help others, I will always feel fulfilled.
What are two take-aways from what you have learned in hospitality that you think everyone in marketing should know?
SO: I leave you with two takeaways that have stuck with me through my years in Hospitality
I’ll take a quote directly from my leader – “find joy in the journey.”
Collaboration, Compassion, and Patience are three important words to keep at the forefront of your mind. To find the best solution, collaborate with others. Have compassion for the people you work with and put yourself in their shoes when you get frustrated. Have patience because nothing good is instantaneous.