Managing the Brand Message During Change

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | May 19, 2010

Mergers. Acquisitions. Employee attrition. These terms are becoming more and more commonplace in the hospitality industry, and they all translate to big changes. As change sets in, management shifts hands, renovations begin and new marketing efforts take seed, hotel leaders have an important role. Amidst change, they must ensure one constant - a consistent brand message.

The brand message your customers receive sets the tone for your property's ongoing success, and dictates not only whether or not they will come back, but what they'll say about your property to others. One bad experience or one encounter that fails to deliver what was promised or expected means they'll potentially attach a negative perception to your property and, most likely, share that perception. Unfortunately, you can't blame the hiccup on your period of change. Once that impression is made, there is little you can do to change the customer's opinion.

So how do you prepare when it comes to managing your brand during times of change?

First, realize the importance of your brand message. It's far more than a logo or a tagline. A brand encompasses all your company stands for in the mind of your customers. That idea is formed by the succession of their experiences, not by a flashy logo or thought-provoking tagline. After all, do you really buy Nike clothes because of their wing-like Swoosh, or is it because the clothes are stylish and hold up over time? Is it the golden arches or the flavor of the fries that gets you to McDonald's?

Second, understand that creating brand messages isn't a quick process. Your properties weren't built or joined in a day, a week or even a month, and your brand won't be either. Branding efforts should not only follow research and planning, but should involve all employees through a training program that teaches new brand-focused behaviors, builds employee buy-in for the change, and reinforces those new behaviors over time.

With these guidelines in mind, I'd like to walk you through a birds-eye view of how to best build and convey the brand message during a few specific periods of change.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.