News Archive Search
The Power of Branding
By Alan Campbell
When we think of going on vacation, or maybe traveling just for the fun of it, what brand comes to mind? When we mention let’s go to “Anaheim” does Disney come to mind before anything else? Mickey Mouse? “Orlando” - what comes to mind? The power of the magic brand of Harry Potter. When in New York it’s the Plaza, right? How many times has that hotel appeared on TV? I don’t suppose that the Candle Stick Inn located in Nantucket comes to mind? No branding there. How is it that these branded icons have such staying power? Is it pure genius or just luck? Perhaps a bit of both. Nobody in the hotel business request a box of tissue for the rooms, they will (99%) say “room 234 needs a box of Kleenex” regardless of the brand of tissue being delivered to room 234. That is powerful branding. When thinking of a hotel chain the same comes to mind, Hilton, Westin, Marriott, and so on. They are recognized branded names of the industry. Perhaps the most recognizable one (Holiday Inn) so when we are assigned to a new property, let’s say a major hotel yet to determined flag. How do we go about choosing the right one? What measure do we use? Do we want a flag? Why do we choose one over the other?
Every businessman, every hotelier every restaurateur, every person that ever wanted to establish a business has wrestled with “What do I name it” The idea is that the brand should say it all, so when the brand name is mentioned a visual image should come to mind. Ferrari, gorgeous car, Macdonald’s fast food. In the hotel business that means appearance, ambiance, attention to detail. As you pay attention to the detail outside, you should also pay attention to what you offer inside.
What brand would give the investors the best return on their investment? Will a Hilton do better than a Sheraton? It does put your mind to work, putting that aside we also have to decide on brands that will entice the customer to visit our property as well. What flag would appeal most to the traveling guest? Customers like to stay at hotels that offer products that they are used to. Those products usually cost more that the generic brand that some properties use. Room amenities there are dozens of products on the market to choose from. Let’s talk about one of the basic ones, “Coffee” in room coffee, I will tell you right now that most branded hotels have a terrible in room coffee. I am a coffee drinker by nature and unless I am familiar with the coffee I very seldom drink in room coffee. What tissue is to Kleenex, Starbucks is to Coffee?
I have heard guest ask the breakfast attended if they serve Starbucks, not do you have coffee? Starbucks has replaced the coffee icon, just like Kleenex has replaced tissue. I as a guest will look for a Starbucks coffee house near the hotel. Now ask yourself as a GM of the property I as guest just left your hotel, because you did not provide a recognized brand of coffee. Before all of you out there in hotel land get upset, there are a lot of hotels that do offer branded coffee in their lobby. Better late than never I say… I will also pass on this information to all of you out there, branded coffee is only as good as the person making it. Don’t make the mistake that so many managers make of assigning a non-coffee drinker to making your morning coffee. I have the habit of asking the breakfast server if they drink coffee. I get a lot of “No I don’t” First; they won’t be able to tell if it is made right or if it even taste good. The best coffee is made by those that appreciate a good cup of coffee in the morning. Let me tell you there is nothing like the Italian barista who make coffee in the early morning they elevate coffee making to an art.
That is why branding plays a big part in guest choosing your property over your competitor down the street. People it’s in the details remember that? Do you enjoy walking up or down 2 floors to find ice? Finding the soda machine out of stock? It has happened more times than not. Would you use a product that you do not recognize in a hotel? Probably not. There are countless examples of brands out there that catch the eye of the potential guest, client or even vendor, it’s not exclusive to the hotel industry. Speaking of Starbucks aside that their coffee is good (my humble opinion) they also have excellent customer service skills. Something to emulate in the hotel industry. Could you imagine a Coca-Cola hotel next to a Pepsi Cola hotel?
Talk about a comp set battle, the question I will ask is would you as the manager of the Coca Cola hotel offer your guest Pepsi Cola? What’s a manager to do? There are a lot of new hotel properties being built around the globe, small boutique and some super large ones due to open here shortly. They will offer an array of products that will entice the customer to enter the labyrinth of pleasure to see what it offers. During my career I have worked for some mega properties they tax your knowledge and keep you running, but personally I prefer smaller properties. Smaller properties are able to offer much better customer service. So when you sit down with your owners to decide what you will offer think how the right brand and product selection can help bring customers to your door. Coffee would be nice, thank you.
About the Author
Alan Campbell has been in Las Vegas for over 30 years and has worked for the major strip hotels. He has spent some time in California, Los Angeles where he worked for the Radisson and Sheraton hotels. Alan considers the hospitality industry the best job in the world - it is the only place that both king's and Paupers will visit you.
The Hotel Guy
Visit our sponsors