“Storytelling is not just a marketing tool”

Sunset Hospitality advises how to connect with a diverse Middle Eastern audience

Yalikavak Marina Hotel by Social Living Collection™

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, crafting a memorable brand experience is no longer just an option – it’s a necessity says Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG).

As brands strive to stand out and capture the attention of their target audience, the Middle East emerges as a region of immense opportunity and cultural diversity.

SHG, which calls itself a trailblazer in the international hospitality industry, was born in Dubai and continues to make its mark globally. The brands it looks after includes Black Tap and Ammos Greek Restaurant along with upmarket hotels across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Antonio Gonzalez, Chairman and CEO of SHG, recognises the crucial role of local culture and innovation in building lasting connections with a Middle Eastern audience.

‘’The marketing team plays an integral role in establishing brand authenticity: relating each brand to its audience, turning ideas into meaningful experiences, and bringing people together to celebrate life,’’ he said.

Human culture

“Storytelling is not just a marketing tool; it’s deeply rooted in the fabric of human culture,” says Iliana Orietta, Senior Director of Marketing – Daylife & Head of Corporate MARCOM, SHG. “Historically, societies have used storytelling to pass down traditions and convey morals and values.”

For SHG, incorporating storytelling into the brands’ narratives evokes emotions and fosters a sense of belonging among its guests. By stimulating these emotions, brands bond with consumers with similar interests, backgrounds or experiences.

Companies increasingly recognise the importance of their impact beyond profitability, making Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability a pivotal concept in business.

Antonio Gonzalez, Chairman and CEO of SHG

These principles encompass a range of activities and strategies that go beyond traditional business goals and instead focus on contributing positively to society and the environment.

Consumers are looking for socially responsible and sustainable brands, and by aligning brand initiatives with local social and environmental causes, companies can gain the loyalty and respect of their audience.

Designing experiences, not just spaces

According to Iliana, SHG has its diverse Middle Eastern audience in mind when first imagining each brand experience.

‘’It all starts with a vision, and our people bring it to life; from business development to the design to the execution – our people are responsible for our immersive guest experiences.

“The role of Marketing is to ensure that each brand identity, messaging, and values are effectively communicated to our audience, triggering emotions while fostering a deeper connection between guests and the brand.’’

Iliana Orietta, Senior Director of Marketing – Daylife & Head of Corporate MARCOM, SHG

The Middle East is witnessing rapid digital transformation, entrepreneurial growth, and a massive infusion of innovation.

Tradition is crucial, but it’s equally important to recognize the rapid digital change and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The region is home to a young, tech-savvy population that eagerly adopts the latest innovations.

“Brands that harness digital platforms such as social media and e-commerce channels are more effective in creating brand experiences that align with today’s lifestyle.

As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, Sunset Hospitality Group has enhanced its guest experience with tech-enabled platforms offering a contactless approach such as mobile check-ins, digital payments and smart app keys.