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 June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.