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 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.