What media owners can learn from the hospitality industry

I’ve long believed that a specialist media owners’ greatest asset is not their content but their audience’s attention.  Once you have built a community of interest it is much easier to find new products and services to sell to them, and even find ways to get them to pay to contact each other.  Miles Galliford of Subhub has long been a proponent of this view, and a discussion he started on the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in moved in some interesting directions – read on to discover what a media business can learn from the hospitality industry, and the importance of valuing and entertaining your audience…

1. Media owners are in the audience business

Content is just a means to attract a targeted audience.  You may have to give most of your content away for free and make your money on extra goods and services, such as events, conferences, books, commerce and the like.  The quality and frequency of content has to be maintained to hold that audience’s attention.  More on Miles’ ideas on specialist audiences in this article.

2. A host has to provide a comfortable environment

So your role as a media owner is to provide a meeting place, online or in real life, that is conducive to discussion, has the right sort of members, and some stimulating content.  Colin Bradshaw of game fishing forum Fish and Fly, feels that their forums are like an online pub, where members drop in to catch up with each other and discuss a wide range of topics.  The media owner’s role as host is to provide interesting content, and let the members guide the debate. Live events can get this wrong if they neglect the hygiene factors of parking, transport and catering, undermining the quality of the experience.

3. All audiences want to be entertained

Even b2b events need a little bit of theatre.  Well designed stands create a sense of occasion.  A little imagination from exhibitors – such as competitions, demonstrations or dramatic stunts – can start a conversation with a visitor that could lead in unexpected directions.  Media owners organising events need to coach their exhibitors to invest more effort in how they entertain the audience.

4. Provide content they can’t get elsewhere

Many conferences fall into the trap of allowing too many suppliers to speak.  As James Ormiston of Circdata points out, why should a company send delegates to a conference to hear sales pitches, when they can call the suppliers and get them to present in their offices?  Far better to hear real life experiences from one’s peers who are facing the same issues – whether they succeeded or failed.

5. There’s real value in networking

Whether online or in real life, being part of a specialist community is as much about meeting and swapping ideas with each other as it is about listening to the “official” content. So make it easy for people to get in touch, either by providing online tools, or just plenty of seats in a cafe area at an event!

If you have experiences to share in how media owners should treat their audiences, please comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in and discuss your ideas with over 300 other specialist media owners.

About the author: Carolyn  Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy advising media owners on how to profit from digital media and marketing. She is also content director for the Specialist Media Show. If you’d like an informal discussion about how you can nurture the audience for your specialist media business please contact Penmaen Media for a chat.