Time for Change? Hotel Rebranding 101

By Robert Festinger General Manager, YVE Hotel Miami | November 01, 2015

If you know it's time for a change, it's probably because you've analyzed your market and found your hotel's brand manifesto is not in line with its demographic. Begin by revisiting or conducting new research, which will help you better understand your target market, their age ranges, net incomes, and general likes and dislikes. As you study your market, immerse yourself in competitive research as well. Become familiar with what other similar hotels and venues, both on a regional and national scale, are doing to ensure you stay ahead of the game and relevant. Taking market information and using it in the development of your brand's new identity is paramount. William Bill of Wealth Design Group LLC has said "failure to do market research before you begin a business venture or during its operation is like driving a car from Texas to New York without a map or street signs." Research will inform you not only of the direction in which you are going, but most importantly of who your clientele will be. "A good market research plan indicates where and who your customers are. It will also tell you when they are most likely and willing to purchase your goods or use your services."

Something to think about: As a hospitality industry professional, I take great notice of who is traveling, who is frequenting Miami and who I'm seeing over and over again at our hotels. Lately, it's millennials. According to recent travel statistics, including last year's annually released survey of travel habits from Portrait of American Travelers, Generation Y will spend increasingly more on travel in the next coming years, and is already a large part of the travel industry's mega boom. Ultimately, this means your hotel will see an increase in guests between 18 and 33 years of age. Millennials, also keen on "staycations" vs. vacations -according to an article published by Fox News on the "Biggest Travel Trends of 2015"- are more frequently taking time off work in their own city, spending days at their local hotels. Stats and facts worth keeping in the back of your mind as you reinvent your brand and aim for your key market target.

With such prominent spending power in the travel industry, it's essential to also keep in mind their interests as a general group. One important touchstone is millennials' desire and advocacy for environmentally sustainable, otherwise known as "green," experiences. Work toward a greener approach in all details of your brand, and remember: when it comes to rebranding, details reign supreme.

Take a Detailed Approach

As you think about rebranding, consider each and every aspect of your hotel, from small collateral touches and web presence to detailed design characteristics and decor. Guests appreciate what you might consider even the smallest of features. Minutia, in this case, is an essential tool for crafting a lasting impression for your guests. For instance, do away with the conventional, regal "do not disturb signs," and use more entertaining, "do not think about it" ones instead. This kind of attention is all about creating a particular messaging that's memorable and sets your brand apart. Huge on these subtle accents, millennials take note of everything in their brand experience, from how a space feels to how it looks and smells.

Sustainability – In keeping with ecologically sound standards, make efforts both small and large in otherwise neglected areas. For example, require recycling baskets in all rooms, bathrooms and lobbies, and avoid artificial light in favor of natural light wherever possible. Details often forgotten or simply overlooked in many hotels, these are sure to be appreciated by guests' ever-growing attraction to sustainable living. In your restaurants, supply the freshest of food; make use of eco-friendly vendors and suppliers as diligently as you can. While details such as these come at a higher cost, they can ultimately drive more revenue and make a worthy statement.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.