Adapting Your Brand for Global Markets

By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | October 28, 2008

As global markets continue to emerge and change the business landscape, suddenly it matters not only that your product "Plays in Peoria," but also that it "Plays in Phuket". Planning and strategizing to secure your place in this increasingly competitive world market is essential but can also be daunting.

With China continuing its boom, and India's middle class having taken their place as the next big spenders, everyone wants a piece of the global pie and the hospitality industry is at the forefront. As we contemplate this growth, the questions become overwhelming. How do you carve out your niche in the global market? How do you ensure that your brand resonates in another culture? How do you pitch your idea in a way that captures the imagination of another society?

One of the biggest challenges to break into the international market is recognizing, preparing for, and embracing the differences between the hospitality industry in the U.S. and other countries around the globe. Distinguishing the differences among these different cultures is vital and recognizing and adapting to the needs will place you way ahead of the pack as you go global.

Thinking Globally is Thinking Locally

In other words, don't knock off your approach in the States when you take your brand abroad, but instead design your product with the specific needs of the locality in mind. I am often surprised how few take the time to know the culture that they're going to be working in before they go to that ever-important first meeting. When we attend a pitch in a country that we haven't visited before, my associates and I travel at least 3 days in advance of the meeting. We eat in the restaurants, stay in the hotels, tour the streets and, again, talk to as many people as we can. What we find so often in the Hospitality Industry overseas is that our clients are uninterested in having us reproduce what we have created in the United States, in their country. Instead, they want the same tenets of the brands that we bring abroad re-created especially for their culture.

For example, a hotel project that we are currently working on in Abu Dhabi wanted a full bar in their lobby, but, as familiar as we were with their culture, our designers were already programmed to understand that the bar would have to be hidden in such a way that the alcohol wasn't visible to passers-by. Moreover, the food and beverage outlets needed to be easy to find, 11 months a year, but hidden from view during Ramadan when fasting occurs during daylight hours. Because our team members participate in cultural immersions before beginning a project, they are prepared from the onset to engage with the client from a familiar cultural perspective.

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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.