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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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.