The Next Big Things in Hospitality Advertising, Digital Marketing, and Public Relations

The great thing about HSMAI’s Adrian Awards competition is that it operates on two different levels — both equally valuable. On one level, it honors individual hospitality companies, brands, creative agencies, and marketing and communications professionals for their work in designing and implementing innovative advertising, digital marketing, and public relations campaigns.

But on another level, the Adrian Awards offer something for the entire industry: inspiration. Every year, the program spotlights new trends in advertising, digital marketing, and PR that should be on the radar of every hospitality professional — along with best practices for leveraging those trends.

What are some of the trends illuminated by this year’s Adrians program? We asked the group of industry thought leaders who gathered at the New York Marriott Marquis earlier this month for Platinum Judging to share some of the big ideas and bold innovations that jumped out at them. Here’s what they had to say:


  1. Emotionally resonant imagery: “One of the common themes in many of the entries that were most striking for us was the emotional connection with the imagery itself — compelling pictures that brought the viewer to that destination in a meaningful and emotional way. In a category where we saw a whole host of entries, from paper brochures to 90-second TV spots, those that rose to the top were those that had the most compelling imagery that really created that connection.”
  2. Active engagement: “Another common thread that bound a lot of these campaigns together is the engagement aspect of them. They invited you to do something, to somehow interact with them, whereas for decades advertising was passively consumed. It was information bombardment. But today, all of these campaigns are stitched together through this common understanding that we want you to smile, we want you to raise your hand, we want you to write a story, we want you to bid some of your loyalty points. We want you to be involved and interacting and engaging with us.”
  3. Niche exclusivity: “The idea of, we’re not for everyone. I think that is also probably tied to the overtourism stuff that’s happening around the world. We see a lot of filters being put on work — like, ‘Sign this pledge if you want to come to our destination that says you will not do anything that will harm the environment.’ These types of things where the destinations and some of the properties are saying, ‘Here’s how we see the world. If you’re good with that, come. If not, I’m sure there’s something else for you.’”


  1. Social purpose: “We saw a number of instances of sustainability, diversity and inclusion, references to overcrowding, and a willingness to address issues head-on rather than sweep them under the rug. There are a number of things that are impacting travel today — whether it’s sustainability, political issues, environmental issues — and the ones that really stood out were the ones that actually addressed those, that actually spoke to the fact that, ‘Yes, we recognize that this is a reality and we’re prepared to talk about it, we’re prepared to have a point of view on it, we’re prepared to comment on it. We’re not running away from it. We are acknowledging that these things exist, and also, how do we make sure you have a great experience when you’re traveling given those realities?’”
  2. Expansive storytelling: “Placing travel within the context of the wider world. You can do that long-form or short-form. High-quality communications, high-quality storytelling, was really a theme here.”
  3. Greater expectations: “I don’t think we’ve seen as much innovation in the last year or two as we had seen in the prior years. Digital is maturing. Four, five years ago you could stand out with a cool execution or a cool technique that people had not seen before, even if your story was kind of flat. Now, all of the channels are getting more mature, all of the tools are getting more mature, and it’s harder to stand out that way, so you better have a good story to tell or else you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.”


  1. Resilience and recovery: “We had quite a few entries that focused on recovery and rebuilding a destination, because there have been so many impactful natural disasters that have taken place over the past year or so. A lot of those stood out to us because of how the agency or the client handled it in a really smart way.”
  2. Variety of formats: “We’re seeing a lot of innovation in terms of how the message is being disseminated, whether it be through influencers, through digital, through audio — things that we hadn’t really looked at before. Not so many print features — it was much more dynamic.”
  3. Comprehensive ROI: “What we did not see as much are the estimated advertising values, which shows that public relations is looking at measurement in a much more comprehensive way and is understanding that ad values and PR are two different animals. There’s more and more education of the industry that that’s not really a valid analytic anymore.”

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards will be presented at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on Jan. 21. For additional information, visit here.


Categories: Marketing, Advertising, Digital, Public Relations
Insight Type: Articles, Best Practices