Maintaining Brand Consistency Through Third Party Management

By Mercedita Roxas-Murray EVP Strategy/Brand Planning & Operations, RedPeg Marketing | February 16, 2014

In the franchise world, there is a balance that needs to be struck between remaining true to both the brand and the business. It is understood that the franchisee is a business that must make a profit and that 'sales' are at times made at the expense of tailoring a brand to a franchisor's more immediate geographic and demographic markets. But the question is why would franchisees, subsidiaries or affiliates buy a franchise from a brand and then veer away from the very asset they bought in order to achieve those sales?

To answer that, it's necessary to focus on what the franchisee is buying. A franchisee is not just buying a brand. They are buying a reputation, a quality standard, and a brand's integrity which is a proven product that attracts the target consumer that the franchisee wanted in the first place. To steal from the expression, "kill the goose that lays the golden egg", a franchisee is in essence doing just that if the franchisee takes liberties with the brand that they purchased.

The Brand

The brand encompasses a wide breadth: how the brand is visually represented, the operations, processes, features, designs and business practices (Franchise Brand Integrity: It's An Intangible Asset, Michael d Moberly). All of these make up the composition of the brand. It's critical for properties to maintain brand consistency and integrity because that is what consumers recognize and expect. Veering too far from what is known and expected is a disconnect – one that consumers will find disconcerting.

To walk the fine line of staying true to the brand while still maintaining some element of "individuality" it's important to remember what a brand is. In a previous Hotel Executive article, I wrote the following about staying true to your brand...

No matter what marketing initiatives you engage in, from advertising to social, you must be true to your brand. And while many in marketing throw out the term brand, few understand what a brand really is. Simply, a brand is your name, logo, product, service or company. But it is also a set of expectations and a commitment of benefits. And more importantly, a brand is...

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.