6 months ago
 

Brand relevancy in 2020 – how to win the battle in the hotel industry

The hotel industry is going through a complete metamorphosis and industry stalwarts say it will look very different in just three years from now.

NB: This is an analysis by Aditya Sanghi, co-founder and CEO of Hotelogix.

Hotels need to find answers to these top five “brand questions” to stay relevant in the coming years:

  • What guest segments will be the most valuable to their hotels in the next five years?
  • What type of content these guests are looking for and in which way they prefer to consume it?
  • Travelling — business or budget – what experiences are they looking for?
  • Are you ready to deliver these experiences in one hotel under the umbrella of one brand? And if that’s not the scenario, can you fragment your brand without diluting its power/value?
  • What is the channel to effectively communicate your brand proposition with your customers?

Let’s dive into some of the biggest questions that the industry is facing and what the future business model be like to attract guests of tomorrow in the competing digital world.

Crystal ball-gazing

With the surge of online intermediaries, customers look for the most affordable rooms at the most convenient locations for their trip.

Due to this, hotels face a future in which brand takes a back seat while the choice of customer reigns.

But all is not lost. If the hotels can get their branding right in today’s digital era, they can easily keep their brand value alive, while maintaining and increasing their reach.

Budget travellers first look at OTAs and metasearch sites to get a good deal.

They go through multiple reviews, book their stay, and only then do they notice there’s a brand attached.

There is no second thought that the hotel brand is losing currency in a digital world. With sites like TripAdvisor which give a whole lot of options to explore and make choices from, why should travellers even bother?

In fact, based on a recent Mintel study, only 50% of guests visit a hotel’s website before booking.

If it’s a budget traveller, then the brand is very low on priority, whilst with business travellers there is absolutely no hotel brand visibility before they check-in.

Since business travellers usually book through a third person (usually an office staff), hotels lose a vital channel to communicate their brand message to the guests.

Strategies

To counter this, hotels must develop new touchpoints to communicate effectively with their clientele (guests) through mobile, social media and other online channels.

However, care should be taken with even simple mediums like social media, because negative comments can do lasting harm to a hotel’s reputation and business.

Many hotels, notably independent properties are already using digital footprint to support their branding efforts.

Their websites mostly contain well-crafted content about local/touristy destinations, places to eat and things to do along with video testimonials.

The hotel brand gets stronger when guests share this content on social platforms.

Over time, hotel owners learn what content is likely to appeal to their guests and on which platform they like reading about it the most.

Going forward, a guest’s perception of a hotel’s service and facilities will be the primary influencer in their choices.

Guest experience, whether good or bad, will affect the brand’s image and guests are likely to be more vocal on social media.

Although hotel experience already plays a vital role in brand communication, this is going to become more popular with time.

Ducks in a row

In the future, the most successful brands will be those that can anticipate guests’ needs and deliver on them accordingly.

Someone booking Ritz Carlton or Hyatt clearly know what the brand stands for and what value they’ll get.

Many small and mid-sized hotel properties are creating distinctive experiences that will resonate with their target audience.

They are carving a niche for themselves by leveraging on their service such as homely stay, home away from home, better security, giving guests an authentic experience of the city they visit, and many more incentives.

The B&B segment also needs to be creative and look for ways that will improve the guest experience and convert lookers into bookers easily.

They need to ensure, be it their guest’s stay experience or interaction with the staff, every aspect of the hotel should be consistent with their brand.

The pattern of guest behaviour has led many hotel chains to develop a whole new portfolio of brands with a distinctive select that has led to brand fragmentation.

By 2020, hotels will still be able to use their brands to influence their guests provided they truly understand and capitalise on the needs of the individual market segment.

It will not be about luxury but bespoke experiences.

Branding will get more creative as the next generation of travellers wants convenience and experience.

This will entail hoteliers to create content that is meaningful for their guests, so much so that they can easily relate to that brand.

With technology evolving by the second, hoteliers must keep up to meet the challenges involved in delivering customised experiences to their target audience whilst keeping the brand momentum alive.

NB: This is an analysis by Aditya Sanghi, co-founder and CEO of Hotelogix.

NB2: Hotels pool image via FreeImages.

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.

 

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  1. Peter K

    Another essay of theoretical puke advising the obvious but not telling the hotel how to get their “differentiator” message to the consumer.

    Very hard with intermediaries in the way. But they are here to stay and no room for wishful thinking. So hotels need to work within the limitations of the intermediary systems that are going to be there and look closely at the filtering options and the triggers that drive the intermediary system responses and inclusions.

    A lot of success also relates to customer segmentation and associated targeting and use of multiple channels, as it is never a one size fits all approach. And on different days of the week and at different times of the year your major customer segment target will vary.

    Brand still matters, particularly in the business travel segment where corporate deals and standards and duty of care policies often apply.

    Business travellers are also very influenced by “recognition” and associated perks as well as rewards miles/points. Particularly rewards that accumulate into a major airline/coalition program along with all their other miles/points. So use your own data base to recognise travellers where you can as the bookings come in, and then communicate with them to strengthen/build a personal relationship. It creates perception.

    Most of this stuff is basic, but the advantage these days in the digital age is that hoteliers have many tools at their disposal. But a huge proportion do not use the cheap low hanging fruit options just staring them in the face to enhance their brand perception or build customer relationships.

     
    • Aditya Sanghi

      Dear Peter,

      Your point is valid and well received. I completely agree that one size does not fit all and the article is more for the independents who can upp their ante and avail of the opportunity that is presented to them mainly by travelers who do not care for brands but look for the best best value. One such segment being the millennials, who do not have global deals like corporates etc. This crowd sourcing of brand image is important as independents may not have the budgets to drive their brand promise. It is important that we educate them on all fronts, and certainly incumbent on us to also tell them how to do things, rather than leaving it at what to do ‘only’. Will have that incorporated in my next article 🙂

       
  2. Ian R Clayton

    Hi Aditya – i see the hotels moving to brand themselves differently and more personal. The latest trends are to use more psychology in marketing – not to take advantage of subconcious motivation etc but far more overy personality based brands-Personality branding is a process spearheaded by Sally Hogshead author of several books on how brand and people fascinate- Some of her thinking is behind the new http://FascinatingTravelers.com technology which help hotel chains and destination build personality into their brands and match hotel with travelers of like character. I enjoyed our meeting with Hotellogix to out like the concept which is now installed in the Barbados Tourism Destination site Barbados.PersonaHolidays.com

     
 
 

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