Okay, hear us out. Last month’s Lessons from article was a straight-faced exploration of what hospitality can learn from airlines. Why have we taken a sharp turn to the twenty-first century’s most successful musician? 

It’s not because everyone at Mews is a Swiftie. It’s because there’s plenty to learn from a woman with immense cultural capital who earns record sums while delighting countless people across the world.  

Wouldn’t it be nice for your hotel brand to be described in similar terms? This kind of success doesn’t have to be confined to your wildest dreams; let’s take a look at what hospitality can learn from Taylor Swift.

Table of contents

Forging emotional connections 

One of the undeniable keys to Swift’s global success is her ability to form emotional connections with her fan base. Whatever you think about the Swift marketing machine (more on that shortly), it only takes a quick social media search to see the unsolicited outpouring of genuine love for the star. 

Music naturally lends itself to creating personal bonds, but there’s no reason you can’t aim for the same with your hospitality brand. Today’s travelers are more selective, particularly Millennials and Gen Zs. They want a stay that’s memorable, not just a bed and a breakfast buffet. A lot of this comes down to personalization.  

Millions of people listen to Swift’s songs and see themselves reflected back. It’s like she knows them. But while she achieves this through empathy and storytelling, hoteliers have data and technology.  

Personalization in a hotel can be as simple as knowing when a guest’s birthday is and arranging a gift (can we suggest a cardigan?). Or it can be as sophisticated as targeted upsells based on previous consumption, or setting the room temperature according to past preferences. The key is to make the guest feel seen – this will go a long way to building that connection. 


The power of brand 

Of course, Swift and her team are savvy operators. They understand the power of brand. And there isn't a big difference between a personal brand and a company brand, i.e. your hotel. They both have the same goal: presenting values and standards in a consistent way. 

If your hotel has a strong brand identity, you can reach your ideal demographic more effectively, and they can better understand what you offer. This is a combination of style and design (both physical and web), the way you interact with guests, and the services and experiences you offer. 

Good branding means being able to tell a compelling story. This is something Swift does masterfully, both in her songs and when it comes to her persona. Finding the key narratives for your brand will also help you build that emotional connection with your guests. 

Dive deeper into hotel brand and messaging with our guide on Perfecting Guest Communication


Loyalty pays 

Once you’ve connected with your customers through a combination of emotion and brand, you’re in a much stronger position to build loyalty. And loyalty is lucrative, as Swift and any marketer know all too well. 

The Eras Tour is estimated to have generated almost $5 billion in consumer spending in the US alone, but there’s an even better example of the value of loyalty. When Swift’s catalog was purchased by an investment company with whom there was bad blood, she reclaimed ownership of her music by embarking on a project to re-record and re-release all her old albums.  

The remarkable thing? Her loyal fans stopped streaming the old music and listened only to the new versions. More than that, they also bought copies of the new albums, despite already owning near-identical records. 

If a customer is really enchanted by your brand, it doesn’t just mean repeat bookings. It means they’re more likely to book direct and purchase extras, boosting revenue and profit margins. In other words, loyalty is a love story worth pursuing. 


Adapt and conquer 

Perhaps the most impressive achievement of Swift’s career to date is her ability to reinvent herself (while staying true to her core brand). Since bursting onto the scene as a teenage country singer, each album has taken her in a new direction, from mainstream pop to mellow folk.  

Hospitality can take inspiration from this mindset. Despite its challenges, the pandemic showed that many hoteliers are capable of fast adaptation. This doesn’t mean full rebranding every couple of years, but being receptive to shifts in industry, technology and guest habits. 

For instance, how much of your property is taken up by blank space? Reimagining your hotel spaces will introduce new revenue streams and can transform your guest experience. Whether it’s co-working spaces or day use rooms, parking spots or events, hoteliers that embrace new business models will come out on top. 

Technology is the great enabler of adaptation. Once you move to the cloud, you’ll find yourself saying that we are never, ever getting back together to your on-premises software. The operational differences are huge. No more staff stuck behind their desks running night audits at midnights, or switching between a dozen tabs as they type in passport details. Just a fearless team and a thriving business. 


Community building 

One of the perks of being a Swiftie is that you effectively get membership to a worldwide community of millions. This is no happenstance: Swift has carefully curated an inclusive, collaborative experience where fans are active ambassadors. 

This often begins in the digital world, and the Taylor Swift social media accounts are among the most followed and engaged with. The challenge here is that this does require time investment, but a great marketing team is worth their weight in gold. Take the time to reply to messages and mentions, including reviews. Get guests excited about your brand with exclusive merchandise or offers. 

Your team also deserves the same amount of attention. They’re the people that make your business tick, and it’s important to create a sense of community here as well. Staffing shortages continue to mean cruel summers for many hoteliers, and one way to shake this off is to ensure your team feel valued. There are plenty of tips in this guide on 10 Ways to Manage Staff Shortages. 


Partnerships broaden your reach 

Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar. Apple Music, Coke, Target. The former are all artists that Swift has collaborated with, and the latter are all businesses she’s partnered with for advertising. The effect is exposure to new demographics, reaching listeners who might otherwise have passed her by. 

Partnerships can be a secret weapon for hotels. Building relationships with local businesses is more than just good karma: it broadens your reach and helps with community building. As guests search for more authentic travel, hoteliers should take on the role of experience curators, bringing together the best in local businesses to create convenient and unique experiences. 

Technology partners are also crucial to success. This is where having access to a no-connection-fee marketplace can change the game. Smart revenue management tools can boost occupancy. Sophisticated CRM (customer relationship management) software can transform guest journeys and loyalty programs. 

Not sure where to start? Read our guide on 10 Hospitality Partners for Hotel Success


Go down in hotel folklore 

There we have it. If she had the time and the inclination, Taylor Swift could make a pretty penny consulting for the hospitality industry. Apply some of these learnings to your business, and you’re sure to boost guest loyalty, increase revenue and burnish your reputation. 

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