Advertising legend David Ogilvy famously said “Try to appeal to everyone, and you will end up appealing to no one.”
Further, hotels which offer a product which is similar to their competitors will usually find themselves having to compete on price alone. That’s a dangerous game as there’s always someone out there willing to do things cheaper than you and over time margins erode and, well, we all know how that story ends.
Sure, if you’re one of the large hotel groups you can afford to advertise to a broader audience and with a big enough budget you can saturate the media channels enough to gain some attention and generate some bookings. But for the smaller groups and the independent operators it is nearly impossible to compete directly with the hotel groups. So branding your hotel is crucial.
So What Are the Benefits of Proper Branding
We’ll take a look at one of our client’s resorts to show you how the benefits they have had since branding their business about 2 years ago to a 4 star family resort, which we’ll call it Resort1 (not the resort’s real name – we want to respect their privacy).
Hotels and resorts that take the time to brand to a specific market, usually enjoy greater profits and more happy guests. For example, Resort1, whose target market are young families, ensures that the correct facilities that families want and need are available. Some of those facilities include: extra fold out beds, kids craft workshops, packages to local kids attractions, even a family pizza and pasta nights in their restaurant. Having these extras means one thing – more profits. Targeted extras that are strategically placed smack-bang in front of the target market. Now that is smart business.
Knowing who you audience is allows you to order in bulk which also saves you on costs. For example, the pizza and pasta night means that Resort1 can order in bulk. When you know your market, you can make intelligent purchasing decisions that can save you significant amounts of money.
Making clients happy is often about managing their expectations. To help with this, Resort1 ordered a new slippery slide for the pool, pool water fountains and hold kid craft workshops. By having these fun things fr the kids, they are happy and by having a kids craft workshop it gives the parents some spare time for some of their own rest and relaxation.
Speaking of managing expectations, inevitably there will be someone that stays at your hotel that stays at your hotel or resort that doesn’t really want to stay there. Perhaps all other hotels may be booked out and yours is the only place where they can find a room. In the case of Resort1, it is marketed as a family resort, so there is less chance that people will complain about noisy children – because their expectations will be that there will be children there (and be noisy). Now this doesn’t mean that they will come back to stay again necessarily – however, they will be far less likely to write a bad online review that adversely affects you.
So what is the key to branding your hotel?
The answer comes down to having a very distinct unique selling proposition. It can be a service you offer or something very different about your hotel. Many boutique hotels get this right by offering more than just a room but rather; an experience. I want to repeat that again – an experience.
They succeed because they connect with the emotional aspect of staying in the hotel; the romance, the adventure, the visual stimulation of being in a new environment that is interesting and engaging. They move away from the commodity of offering a nice clean room in a great part of town. Because they do that they can command a higher revenue rate per room and there is less competition.
Marketing becomes easier because the type of people you market to is smaller than “everyone with a credit card” which means you can spend less and reach more people (and those people are more likely to book with you).
Simply put, you can become a big fish in a smaller pond and really carve out a niche in your local market that allows you to grow and to avoid competing on price alone. Another aspect of this business model that is often overlooked but is a key driver of growth is the fact that the more interesting and unique hotels often do very well on social media.
The fact is, people take pictures whenever they are somewhere interesting so they can share it with their friends and let them all know how luxurious their life is. In fact, 61% of US travelers report using social media while on vacation.
If your hotel makes for an interesting photo you can be sure you’ll be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest and many other social media platforms.
Unlike other hotels, boutique hotels are actually worth talking about with your friends and online connections because they are engaging. For this reason your guests will praise your hotel on TripAdvisor and your social media presence could well go viral. And I am sure that you are aware that there is a very real connection between reviews and revenue.
So the bottom line is, don’t be afraid to appeal to small target market as often it can be a sustainable path of smaller groups and independent hoteliers to operate a profitable business with less of the stresses of the generic business model. Your business will love you for it.