Establishing Brand Identity

By Richard Takach, Jr. President & CEO, Vesta Hospitality | June 14, 2015

Each hospitality group must establish for itself its own distinct identity in order to best achieve its strategic and financial objectives and make a contribution to a worthwhile undertaking. In this article, we will discuss how a hospitality management and/or investment group can achieve this end of creating a corporate culture, or what we sometimes call a corporate brand, in its truest sense. If we succeed, this corporate brand will speak clearly to ourselves and others; both measure and inspire performance; and serve as a platform for growth, profitability and, as already indicated, the immense rewards of "doing things the right way."

What is a corporate "brand" and how do we get one? First, any brand is not a slogan or a label or a logo. It is not something thought up by an advertising agency, although a good one should be able to discern in time what our brand is. It doesn't result from proclamation or wishful thinking. It is not something we can purchase.

Instead, a corporate brand is the sum total of what we do and what we intend to do as an organization. It is a pledge to our guests, our employees and our partners that we will deliver an extraordinary experience. It is the result of programs, systems and policies put carefully into operation. It resides quite literally in those systems and programs that establish, govern and measure our daily efforts. The programs and systems we rely on in running our hospitality organizations might seem technical on the surface. However, when we set parameters for those systems, everything from hiring and training to recordkeeping, staff evaluations and compensation, in reality, we are endowing them with values; the same values that define our expectations for all of our constituents, both internal and external.

As a result, what begin as systems transform into our instrument to create and maintain our organizational culture. Consider an organization like the military, with its manifold rules and regulations. Inherent in each one is a value decision, about how we should conduct ourselves and be accounted for in our behavior and about how we should treat others; in this case, including the enemy. These codified values govern behavior and lead, as much as possible, to predictable outcomes. Without such guidance, any "ship" is lost at sea, without compass or rudder.

Let's now look at some of the elements that endow a hospitality organization with its corporate culture, or brand. It always begins with people. Finding, training, motivating, properly compensating and retaining the best personnel for one's organization remains one of the keys to success in the hospitality industry.

One useful approach in the selection process is to derive a evaluative tool based on an easily administered, yet reliable testing device. This methodology relies on profiling the best people already within your organization for a given skill set, everything from housekeeping, engineering or maintenance right on to director of sales or general manager positions. The goal is to match a prospective employee's attitude and his or her abilities against those already known to make for success in your organization.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.