Overview: Making Your Hotel Brand Work For You

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | February 04, 2018

We select a luxury vehicle like Audi or Mercedes-Benz, we expect outstanding performance and the best of "fit and finish." This means coming up to brand standard in everything from design, engineering, manufacturing tolerances or available amenities to the ride experience, safety features or the integrity and knowledge of our salesperson and dealership.    

Choose a Toyota Corolla or Ford F-150 and our expectations will change relative to our bank account and intended uses, but the principle of establishing a brand identity for consumers by conscious brand management remains the same. This brand management-and the achieved performance-is the result of a complex, properly executed matrix of people and systems.

In fact, of contemporary service industries, hospitality is one that is deeply influenced by brand concepts. The name is right up there on the building, front and center in big, bold letters. Brand image and specific brand names help attract guests to a given hotel in any locale through a maze of alternative properties, marketing pitches and modes of access in making a reservation. Brand standards guide the look of properties, the size and furnishings of rooms and, to a large extent, the delivery of services.

However, it takes more than a logo or an employee manual to establish a brand, as our everyday behaviors and the personal choices we make become an important element of real-world brand expression.

As leaders of organizations responsible for the property management and asset management of hospitality portfolios, how can we complement or merge the "employee manual with everyday vision," reinforcing and strengthening what we represent as a business. This is especially challenging, as many hospitality organizations managing a property must combine adroitly the guidance from a formal brand with their own standards and operating philosophies.

In addition, hospitality organizations are today responsible for a broad array of brand relationships; not just with guests, but, also, with vendors and suppliers, strategic partners, industry organizations and community groups. There are many daily pushes and pulls to which we are subject and the brand must emerge unscathed, stronger than ever.

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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.