Hotel Branding: Does Transcreation Change Your Global Identity?

By Emil Atanassov General Manager, Asia Pacific, Sajan, Inc. | May 18, 2014

The entire hotel brand experience consists of many elements, from the welcome you receive at the front desk to the logo-embroidered bathrobes you could find hanging in the room. Most of the time there's consistency across hotel chain branding from country to country. But think about your favorite hotel chain's tagline or the advertisements you see that colorfully and creatively proclaim the brand promise. Are they the same in the United States, Russia and Brazil? Not if they are successful. These critical marketing components are based on concepts that resonate strongly with a given target audience. Since every culture has its own ideals, assumptions and values, what works in one country often does not work in another.

Hotel marketers can't simply translate a creative message word for word in a new language. Consider that taglines, for one, often contain puns or references to imagery that only make sense to the home culture. To really make sure that the core concept carries over, a process called transcreation needs to take place. In essence, transcreation is the art of re-creating a marketing message for a new culture in order to capture the original emotive effect. It's more than just language translation.

The prospect may seem straightforward, yet it brings with it an all-too-common concern. If the core concept is adapted for each country, is the overall hotel global identity at risk? The truth is that transcreation actually serves to keep the brand messaging intact-when you work with an experienced team.

Getting a Beat on Transcreation

Your hotel's overall image may be all about casual relaxation, grand elegance or a quirky, off-the-beaten-path feel. Whatever your brand is known for, your marketing materials must reflect that, from the tone of the website copy to the images used in advertisements and campaigns. After all, a varying brand message from one part of the world to another goes against the goal of a consistent global brand experience. Yet you also need to ensure that local messaging speaks the language of its intended audience, both literally and emotionally.

This is where transcreation comes in-the act of re-creating the original message in a culture-specific way while carrying over that all-important creative flair. At the same time, it preserves your hotel's core identity because the thematic building blocks of your brand remain in place.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.