Adapting Your Brand for Global Markets
By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | October 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.