Branding is what sets your hotel apart from the competition, and with this competition becoming increasingly fierce, there has never been a more important time to build and promote a robust brand, and communicate a strong brand message. Despite initial fears that the travel sector could be hit hard by political uncertainties, reports actually show total revenue, annual growth, and the number of hotel businesses are all on the rise, sparking a new need for establishments to consider how they’re viewed by their guests.
Many hotel brands today have been successful in achieving this. Travellers searching for a luxury hotel, for example, may automatically consider a brand known for its exclusive clientele and state-of-the-art amenities. And when we think of certain hotel chains, there’s always something that first comes to mind, whether that’s their customer service, their Wi-Fi, their breakfast, bathroom products or something else. We associate our needs with their brand.
So how can growing hotels work to build a strong brand?
Sell your story
Narrative-based learning is the idea that humans naturally absorb information more easily when it’s presented in narrative form, which is why storytelling has become such a vital cog in the marketing machine. The inherent preference is to learn through narrative, so hotels should be looking incorporate storytelling into their branding.
So… what’s your story? A great example of this is the Holiday Inn Manchester, Central Park which blends aspects of the city’s industrial history into its design and brand. In this instance, it’s the hotel’s prime location that makes it unique, with the chain opting to sell and advertise this particular aspect through bespoke metalwork, heavy duty industrial-style mill doors and shutter-style doors, and plenty of steel and natural wood.
Make your brand an experience
While it sounds somewhat ironic, the truth is that modern consumer’s don’t want to be sold to. This notion is supported in the retail industry with reports showing that 95% of shoppers want to be left alone in stores. Strong branding shouldn’t be about what a hotel has to offer, but more about how these features can provide a top experience.
Take the Premier Inn brand, for example. This is a company that has become strongly associated with high levels of customer service. Their branding, however, does not discuss this directly. Instead, their branding is based on an experience — ‘A good night’s sleep, guaranteed’ — which highlights the benefit of the feature to the guest, rather than simply citing the feature itself. Make your brand a must-have experience.
Incorporate the guest into the brand
With a focus on branding being unique to each establishment, it becomes very easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of branding that will typically be shared across many hotels: the guest. Incorporating the importance of the guest into the brand is one of the most effective ways to improve brand loyalty and encourage return stays.
Loyalty is vital. In fact, Garnter reports that hotels are ‘doubling down’ on loyalty schemes. What’s interesting, however, is that Gartner’s 2018 insight report showed that, of the hotels that do offer a loyalty programme, only 31% incorporate this into their branding. Regardless of what a guest is looking for in a hotel, they want to ensure that they are valued, so building a customer-focused, customer-driven brand is essential.