What can a Bosnian hotel teach us about marketing

Bosnia & Herzegovina is a long name for a small European country (in terms of its land size and its total population – approx. 4 million people). Unlike Sweden (see here), Bosnia & Herzegovina is unfortunately not generally perceived as one of the most forward-thinking, sensible countries on the planet. (Send me an email if you disagree.) It’s true, the list of challenges, both real and perceived, its people are trying to overcome is long and you have probably heard about most of them. But don’t take my word for it, just check out the country’s official tourism website FAQ section.

But perhaps what’s most important for you to know right now is this: Bosnia & Herzegovina is a stunningly beautiful country whose people pride themselves on their hospitality. This is why the country is slowly becoming a bit of a hot spot for modern tourists. Not convinced? Exhibit A: Expedia.com, the world’s leading online travel agency, recently unveiled Expedia 2010 Insiders’ Select® results, an annual ranking of the world’s best hotels for quality and value as determined mostly by traveler reviews. The Insiders’ Select ranks the top hotels among more than 123,000 properties in the world’s largest selection of hotel properties from 1,022 cities worldwide.

Now, would you believe me if I were to tell you that a small Bosnian hotel was ranked EIGHT on the Insiders’s Select list? No kidding. You can see a copy of the list at the number of websites: the NY Times; Expedia.com or at the Travel Daily News, to name but a few. The name of this Bosnian hotel is BNM Muslibegovic House (BNM stands for Bosnian National Monument). For more information about this truly unique hotel please visit their website. OK, so the question is: How did they pull this off?

To paraphrase Rory Sutherland, my short answer to the above question is this:

  • I very much doubt that the owners spent 500,000 dollars on renovations in order to make their small hotel resemble every other hotel you’ve ever stayed in in the entire course of your life.
  • I very much doubt that the owners purchased a bunch of TV commercials with the intent to interrupt you while you are watching your favourite TV shows. Even if they did, would you even care?
  • I also very much doubt that the owners purchased a bunch of those flash banner ads on your favourite websites. Even if they did, would you even care?

So what do you think? Google “Bosnian National Monument Muslibegovic House Hotel” and see for yourself. Here is my quick summary of the evidence:

Lesson #1: Taste Younique. People will talk.

Lesson #2: The best promoter of your business is your customer. If you delight or fascinate that person, he’ll walk right out of the door and sell for you.

Lesson#3: Effective word of mouth marketing generally stems from something authentic.