Story Starters for Hotels

June 18, 2024
Jeremy Wells

As a brand strategist and hotel owner myself, I know firsthand the power of storytelling in the hospitality industry. We’re not just providing a place to sleep—we’re trying to create memorable experiences and forge stronger connections with our guests. A great story can set your hotel apart, resonate with visitors, and build long-lasting loyalty.

In this post, I’ll explain different storytelling frameworks that I’ve used to help share a hotel’s unique journey, impact, and values. From origin stories to community contributions, I’ll show you how to bring your hotel’s narrative to life in a way that’s engaging and authentic. Whether you’re a small roadside inn or a bustling urban retreat, these story starters will help you connect with guests on a deeper level and make your hotel their home away from home.

The Origin Story

The “Origin Story” framework is all about telling the tale of how something came to be, and for a hotel, it’s a powerful way to connect with guests on a deeper level. Think of it as sharing the roots of your hotel, the passion that brought it to life, and the journey that has shaped it into what it is today.

An Origin Story dives into the history of your hotel, highlighting the visionaries behind it, the challenges faced, and the milestones achieved. It’s not just about dates and facts; it’s about the heart and soul of the place, the sweat and determination that built it, and the dreams that continue to drive it forward. This framework helps potential guests see beyond the amenities and into the essence of your establishment.

How It Works

  1. Founder’s Vision: Start by sharing the dream that sparked the creation of the hotel. Maybe it was a family project inspired by grandparents’ love for hospitality, or perhaps it’s a solo venture fueled by a lifelong dream of creating a unique retreat. For example, “Back in 1975, our founder, Jane Smith, stood on this very land with a vision—to create a sanctuary where weary travelers could feel at home, no matter where they came from.”
  2. Building the Dream: Talk about the challenges and triumphs in bringing the vision to life. Did you have to overcome natural disasters, economic downturns, or personal setbacks? Share these stories. “With nothing but a small loan and a big dream, Jane worked day and night, often laying bricks herself after local contractors pulled out. Against all odds, she opened the doors in 1978, welcoming her first guests.”
  3. Milestones and Growth: Highlight significant moments that mark the hotel’s journey. Perhaps it’s an expansion, a major renovation, or an award. “In 1995, we expanded, adding 20 more rooms and a state-of-the-art conference center, becoming a cornerstone of the local community and a preferred stop for business travelers.”
  4. Commitment to Guests: Wrap it up by tying your past to your present and future. Reassure your guests that the values and vision that built the hotel continue to guide it. “Today, we honor Jane’s legacy by continuing to provide warm, heartfelt service and a home away from home for every guest who walks through our doors. Her spirit of perseverance and dedication is woven into every aspect of our hotel.”


  • Boutique Urban Hotel: “Our story began in a small café where our founders, a group of college friends, dreamed of creating a hotel that felt like a cozy urban retreat. Through crowdfunding and community support, they transformed an old factory into the chic, vibrant space it is today.”
  • Family-Owned Countryside Inn: “The Johnson family has been welcoming guests to their countryside inn since 1920. What started as a farmhouse offering beds to travelers has grown into a beloved landmark, with each generation adding their own touch to the family legacy.”

Customer Impact

The “Customer Impact” framework focuses on how your hotel positively influences the lives of its guests. It’s about highlighting real stories and testimonials that showcase the meaningful experiences and lasting memories your hotel creates. This approach turns your guests into the heroes of your story, showing potential visitors the difference you make in people’s lives.

Customer Impact stories share the heartfelt, genuine experiences of your guests. They go beyond typical reviews by delving into how your hotel made a significant difference during their stay. Whether it’s a memorable family vacation, a successful business trip, or a serene solo retreat, these stories paint a vivid picture of the impact your hotel has on its guests.

How It Works

  1. Identify Meaningful Stories: Look for guest feedback that goes beyond the surface. Seek out testimonials where guests talk about how their stay at your hotel made their experience special. For example, “Last summer, we had a family who celebrated their grandparent’s 80th birthday with us. They mentioned how our staff’s attention to detail made the celebration unforgettable.”
  2. Highlight Specific Examples: Share detailed accounts that illustrate the emotional and practical benefits guests received. “One business traveler shared how our quiet, comfortable rooms and excellent Wi-Fi helped her close a major deal remotely, turning a stressful trip into a career milestone.”
  3. Showcase Personal Connections: Emphasize the personal touches that made a difference. Did your staff go above and beyond? Did the ambiance of your hotel provide comfort during a tough time? “A guest who recently stayed with us for a week-long medical treatment in the city wrote to say how our staff’s kindness and the serene garden made her stay peaceful and comforting during a challenging period.”
  4. Create Relatable Narratives: Craft these stories in a way that potential guests can see themselves having similar positive experiences. “Imagine arriving after a long drive, greeted by our friendly staff who quickly checked you in, and then finding a handwritten note welcoming you to your cozy room. This was the experience of a young couple who stayed with us during their cross-country road trip.”


  • Romantic Getaway: “A couple celebrated their 25th anniversary at our hotel, and they raved about the surprise candlelit dinner our team arranged. Their heartfelt thanks for making their milestone so memorable showed us the profound impact of our efforts.”
  • Family Vacation: “The Smith family stayed with us during their summer break and shared how our kid-friendly amenities and spacious suites allowed them to relax and enjoy quality time together. Their kids loved the pool, and the parents appreciated the convenience and comfort.”
  • Business Traveler: “One of our regular business guests mentioned how our reliable services and comfortable accommodations made our hotel his preferred choice. He appreciates how our staff remembers his preferences, making each stay smooth and productive.”

Brand Evolution

The “Brand Evolution” framework focuses on the journey of your hotel’s brand over time. It’s about sharing how your hotel has grown, adapted, and transformed to meet the needs of its guests while staying true to its core values. This approach highlights your commitment to progress and innovation, giving potential guests a sense of trust and reliability.

Brand Evolution tells the story of how your hotel has evolved since its inception. It covers changes in design, services, and policies, and how these changes reflect your ongoing dedication to guest satisfaction. This framework shows that while your hotel may have changed over the years, its commitment to excellence and guest care has remained steadfast.

How It Works

  1. Start with the Beginning: Share the origins of your hotel and its initial vision. Talk about the early days, the original concept, and what made it unique. “Our hotel began as a humble 20-room inn back in 1965, founded by the Johnson family with a simple vision: to offer travelers a comfortable, friendly place to rest.”
  2. Highlight Key Changes and Upgrades: Outline the major changes and improvements your hotel has undergone. This could include renovations, rebranding efforts, and new amenities. “In the 1980s, we expanded to include a full-service restaurant and a conference center, catering to both leisure and business travelers. Our latest renovation in 2020 added a state-of-the-art fitness center and eco-friendly rooms.”
  3. Explain the Reasons for Evolution: Discuss why these changes were made and how they benefit your guests. Show your responsiveness to guest feedback and industry trends. “Listening to our guests’ desires for more modern conveniences and sustainable practices, we revamped our facilities to provide solar-powered energy and organic bath products.”
  4. Showcase Consistent Values: Emphasize the core values that have stayed the same throughout the years. This reassures guests that while the hotel has evolved, its dedication to quality service remains unchanged. “While we’ve grown and adapted, our commitment to hospitality, comfort, and community has never wavered. We continue to honor the Johnson family’s legacy by providing a warm, welcoming atmosphere for every guest.”


  • Modernizing While Honoring Tradition: “Originally a quaint country inn, our hotel has transformed into a luxurious boutique experience without losing its charming roots. The antique furnishings in the lobby are a nod to our past, while the modern amenities in each room reflect our future.”
  • Sustainable Growth: “We started as a small eco-lodge and have expanded into a leading sustainable resort. Our journey from basic green practices to advanced sustainable technologies shows our commitment to protecting the environment while offering top-notch guest experiences.”
  • Adapting to Guests’ Needs: “Over the decades, we’ve added various amenities—from high-speed internet in the 90s to wellness spas in the 2000s, always keeping our guests’ needs at the forefront. Our evolution mirrors the changing landscape of travel and our dedication to staying ahead of the curve.”

Social/Community Impact

The “Social/Community Impact” framework focuses on how your hotel contributes to the local community and society at large. It’s about showcasing the positive changes and support your hotel provides, whether through charitable initiatives, local partnerships, or sustainable practices. This approach highlights your commitment to being more than just a place to stay, but a force for good in the community.

Social/Community Impact stories share the ways your hotel engages with and supports the local community. These stories can range from environmental efforts and charitable donations to community events and partnerships with local businesses. The goal is to show potential guests that staying at your hotel means supporting a business that cares about making a difference.

How It Works

  1. Identify Community Initiatives: Highlight specific programs or initiatives your hotel is involved in. This could be anything from sponsoring local events to participating in community clean-up days. For example, “Every year, our hotel sponsors the local food bank’s annual fundraising gala, helping to raise thousands of dollars for families in need.”
  2. Showcase Local Partnerships: Talk about your collaborations with local businesses and organizations. This not only supports the local economy but also enriches your guests’ experience. “We proudly source our restaurant’s ingredients from nearby farms and partner with local artisans to provide unique amenities in our rooms.”
  3. Highlight Charitable Efforts: Share stories of your hotel’s charitable activities, such as hosting charity events, offering discounted stays for those in need, or matching employee donations. “During the holidays, we host a toy drive for underprivileged children in the community and match every donation made by our guests.”
  4. Promote Sustainable Practices: Emphasize your commitment to sustainability and how it benefits the community and environment. “Our hotel has implemented a comprehensive recycling program, installed solar panels, and uses biodegradable products to reduce our environmental footprint.”


  • Supporting Local Education: “We’ve partnered with the local school district to provide scholarships for underprivileged students. Last year, we awarded five scholarships, enabling these students to pursue their dreams without financial burden.”
  • Community Events and Volunteering: “Our staff regularly volunteers at the local animal shelter, and we host adoption events in our lobby to help find homes for pets in need. These events have helped over 50 animals find loving families.”
  • Sustainable Tourism: “We’ve embraced sustainable tourism by encouraging guests to explore our town’s natural beauty through eco-friendly tours and activities. Our guided hiking tours not only offer breathtaking views but also educate guests on local conservation efforts.”


Crafting a compelling story for your hotel isn’t just a marketing tactic—it’s truly a way to connect with your guests on a more personal level and showcase what makes your hotel special. By using the above storytelling frameworks, you can create a narrative that resonates and builds lasting loyalty. I hope that you utilize these story starters to bring your hotel’s journey to life and make every guest and team member feel like they’re part of something special too.

Jeremy Wells

Partner at Longitude°

Jeremy is the author of Future Hospitality and Brand Strategist at Longitude°. As a member of the Education Committee for The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and a content contributor to Cornell University’s Hospitality Vision and Concept Design graduate program, he is a committed thought leader in hotel branding, concepting, and experience strategy.