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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.