The stay experience is pivotal to the success of a hotel. To ensure their hotel has a fresh appeal to travelers, hoteliers must consider branding right along with design and marketing. They are like a three-legged stool that serves as the foundation for the guest experience.
Especially with lifestyle brands that appeal to travelers on an emotional level, the concept of regularly refreshing the brand and ensuring it works at every customer touch point – from design and color to nuance and tone – has become a critical part of how hotels and hotel companies do business.
Members of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board recently discussed how they are refreshing their brands, and their short- and long-term priorities along the way. What are they thinking about?
It starts with “Why?”**
Guests have a multitude of accommodations choices. In this competitive environment, it is important to offer and deliver an authentic experience.
Why do guests choose to stay at your hotel? Why do they want to patronize your brand? For experience-seeking travelers, why should a guest come back after they’ve stayed with you once? Why is your hotel uniquely positioned to deliver what your guests are looking for?
These are critical questions that marketing teams need to answer and incorporate into their brand designs and refreshes. By deliberately delving into the “Whys,” a hotel can refresh their brand story, stay contemporary, and remain appealing, building loyalty and increasing compelling referrals.
Remember the internal audience.
Training employees on the vision and strategy is critical so that the brand can speak to consumers with one voice. There are different stakeholders involved in delivering the brand promise and the message must be aligned throughout the entire guest experience. The bottom line is that the work doesn’t stop with the launching of a new logo. The hard work has just begun. Success depends on the involvement of every employee delivering the brand story and all parts must fit together.
Pay attention to the customer journey.
Training must hone in on the brand promise and how employees can deliver and support it at every step of the guest experience. The basic question every employee, no matter their role or point of service, needs to be able to answer is: “How do you want your customers to feel?”
As important as the personal experience is the online one. Refreshed branding needs to be supported with photos, content, and visual statements.
Differentiate the brand with experiences that bring it to life.
Get away from amenity creep and the tendency of hotels to try to compete on amenities alone. The ultimate brand experience is not about amenities, but the emotional connection and the experience. It does not have to add cost, but does require superior customer service.
**Want to learn more?
Attend HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference on February 21, 2018 in New York City where the agenda will be centered around “It Starts With Strategy.”
For more than fifteen years, this conference has delivered the most compelling and comprehensive digital marketing event for the hotel industry, and convenes key stakeholders to address the most critical trends affecting digital marketing in hotels today. It is where senior leaders in hotel marketing connect and engage in meaningful, thought-provoking conversations about the most important strategic issues facing the business.
About the Author
Maureen O’Hanlon is a 25-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry. As a partner with the Prism Partnership, she leads marketing initiatives large and small. Her primary areas of expertise are loyalty programs, sales and reservation training, customer relationship management, digital marketing, sales and marketing audits, and destination marketing.
Prior to joining Prism, Maureen served with Prime Hospitality as SVP of Sales and Marketing overseeing all marketing, advertising and communications efforts in addition to the National Sales efforts and reservations department. She also served for 16 years at Carlson Companies in a variety of roles including EVP of Marketing and Sales for Radisson Hotels and SVP of the Loyalty Division for Carlson Marketing Group.
Maureen is a past chair of HSMAI’s Americas Board of Directors as well as a past President of the HSMAI New York Chapter. She has received numerous industry honors including being recognized as one of the 25 most influential industry executives by Tour and Travel News.
HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board
- CHAIR: Maureen Callahan, Vice President Field Marketing, Two Roads Hospitality
- Michael Bennett, SVP, Global Marketing, Cendyn
- Tiffany Braun, CHSP, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, Two Roads Hospitality
- Katie Briscoe, EVP, Client Services, MMGY Global
- Matthew Clyde, President & Chief Strategist, Ideas Collide
- Sean Dee, CMO & EVP, Outrigger Hotel & Resorts
- Agnelo Fernandes, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Terranea Resort
- Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, Explore St. Louis
- Natalie Osborn, Senior Industry Consultant, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS Institute, Inc.
- Mandy Penn, Senior Director of Resort Marketing, Universal Orlando Resort
- Lisa Ross, President, rbb Communications
- Bill Rubino, Partner, President, Panzano & Partners
- Paolo Torchio, CHDM, VP Digital & E-commerce, Two Roads Hospitality