o often, when we think of brand, we think of logos, ink colors, stationery, brochures and uniforms; and while these are all important, they don’t tell the entire story of your brand. In the Hotel and Hospitality industry, the whole story of brand - and consistency of your brand – matters…a lot.
Let’s take a look at a few key components of building a brand that is consistent and resonates with your audience:
- Know Who You Are: Are you a luxury hotel? Perhaps you are a budget friendly hotel. Maybe your hotel focuses on health and fitness minded individuals. Or you may be a hotel that serves business travelers. Once you know who you are, make that part of your brand strategy. Don’t fret over not attracting high end travelers if you are a budged friendly hotel. It’s OK. Trying to be all things to all people will just serve to confuse your brand and blur your identity in the eyes of your target market.
- Target Market: Target market may well be the most overlooked, but critical component for establishing a strong brand. Knowing who you are should point you directly toward your ideal target market. If your brand is that you are a luxury hotel, then your target market needs to be heavily skewed toward individuals in high income brackets. Your target market will also determine your brand in every area from décor to staff uniforms to the food you serve in your restaurant to the amenities throughout your property to your website, your social media and your marketing collateral. In short, being laser focused on your target market is crucial to building a brand that is accurate and resonates with your audience.
- Social Media: Now that you know your perfect target market, it’s time to meet them where they live on social media. Not only do you need to meet them there, you need to speak their language. The good news is if you are laser focused on your target market, you can then be laser focused on your social media messaging. Social media is also your perfect platform for reinforcing your brand by highlighting photos and videos of your delighted guests enjoying their experience during their stay at your property. But it doesn’t stop there. Social media provides you with a tremendous opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing guests and build relationships with future guests. If your posts are authentic and engaging, they will be commented on and shared. This opens the door for you to start a conversation with your existing friends as well as potential new friends. Do not overlook this powerful opportunity to reinforce your brand through relationship building. A word of caution. This is your golden opportunity to nurture existing relationships as well as build new ones. Be authentic and thoughtful and the sales will take care of themselves.
- The Lobby: The décor, furniture, reception desk and lobby furnishings must be spot on with your brand and should be considered a non-negotiable. The lobby is one of your biggest opportunities to make a great first impression. This is a crucial part of your brand that your guests see first and is instrumental for setting the tone for how your guests perceive your brand from that point forward. First impressions matter and your lobby is no place to settle for almost.
- Guest Experience: If your lobby is one of your biggest opportunities to make a great first impression, guest experience is your first, middle and last opportunity to make a great impression. We don’t have to tell you how many interactions take place from reservations to check out and all points in between. While guest expectations may differ depending on your target market, all of your guests should expect to be treated professionally, with respect, with empathy and with attention to detail. We are not so naïve as to believe that there won’t be the occasional guest who is treated with the utmost professionalism and will still find something to complain about. That’s just part of life. But, by being selective in your hiring and diligent in training your staff to be pros when it comes to providing sensational guest experiences, you will greatly increase your repeat guest stays and you will be cultivating raving fans who will tell their friends how amazing you are.
Your brand is more than a name and a look. In fact, it’s everything that you communicate to your guests about who you are, who you serve, what makes you unique, your mission and your expertise. What kind of guest experience does your brand communicate? It’s a question you should take seriously – and revisit often. Doing so can help your brand be an effective representation of all that you are. Doing so with consistency can help to ensure that your brand is well-understood by your guests and by others within your industry. Make sure you’re sending the right messages, consistently – and over time, the strength of the equity within your brand will grow, affording you with a stronger presence in the marketplace, and even more importantly, a stronger connection with your guests.