Branding is essential in order for your hotel to distinguish itself from the crowd. Guests have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a place to stay. What unique things does your hotel bring to the table? You already know the answer, but chances are, many people shopping around in the area do not--and it's the responsibility of your branding strategy to educate and entice them.
Here are four easy steps to creating an effective branding strategy that highlights the quality guest experience that you offer to your clients. Your marketing strategies will need to center around this plan in order to help your hotel develop a strong brand.
#1 Get To Know Your Clients
The hotel industry is endlessly competitive, and your audience is most certainly vast and complex. Before you can start determining your brand identity, you need to understand the audience you are trying to market to. Your hotel guests may range from couples and newlyweds to senior citizens, business travelers, families, and so much more.
You need to create a customer persona to encompass each of the most likely guests that will come to your hotel. The reason why it's so important to understand your audience is that the brand your hotel becomes ultimately needs to resonate with potential visitors. Your brand needs to reach both your intended guests and the people who influence your guests.
#2 Get Your Employees' Input
Your employees are the face of your hotel's brand. As such, if they are not aligned with your hotel's intended image, you'll suffer from inconsistent guest experiences and, ultimately, your guests won't feel like they got everything they signed up for. You should not only work to build a brand but to build a culture, and that requires the input of your employees who will be the ones representing the brand you build.
Speak to your employees and ask them what values they feel your hotel best represents. These are not only things you want to strive to improve, but also the values they feel they are already implementing in their daily work at the hotel. For instance, making every guest feel like royalty is usually high on a hotel's priority list.
When you ask your employees for input, see if what they say aligns with the values that you came up with. You should revise your strategy once you have everyone on the same page regarding the hotel's current values and the ones you want to strive to implement in the future.
The reason why you need to involve employees in the branding process is that it helps your hotel build a culture that your employees will resonate with and want to promote. It also helps them feel like their voices are being heard, and that keeps them happy and ready to serve every guest who comes in.
#3 Layout Your Branding Strategy
Once you have your guest personas and employees' input in front of you, it's time to sit down and lay out the brand you want your hotel to represent. Your brand will encompass everything from the way your reception area greets guests to how you answer the phone to what your website looks like. Promotions you run, marketing materials you send out, and even the color of your logo will impact a person's perception of your company and, therefore, the brand of your hotel.
Selecting the colors, fonts, and design schemes that you want to represent your hotel from here on out. Everything with your hotel's name on it should match this look. Remember: Consistency is key when it comes to branding.
Have your logo re-designed if it does not match the brand you envision. Incorporate beautiful colors and something meaningful and memorable in its design. Use this logo across all material, whether marketing-related or non-marketing related. Your marketing materials will include your hotel's website, newsletters, and brochures. Anything a guest looks at like hotel stationery, envelopes, lotion, etc. should also contain your logo so they are instantly reminded of your hotel's brand.
#4 Promote Your Brand
A brand means nothing if no one recognizes it. While it may take your hotel awhile to begin reinforcing your brand amongst the community, you can get things started right away, and it should all begin with a website overhaul.
Your website probably gets the most traffic out of anything you do to promote your hotel, and it's also considered the authoritative source of information when a person is looking into booking a stay at your hotel. That's why it needs to be one of the first things you address when branding (or re-branding) your hotel.
Begin by making sure the fonts, color scheme, logo, and tone of voice match the brand that you have outlined. Recall your customer personas when crafting copy to make sure that it will speak to them and address the things they want the most. Highlight your positive guest experience and all the luxurious added perks of booking a stay at your hotel.
Then, move on to the rest of your hotel's online presence, including social media pages. A professional-looking cover image and profile image should be set that match the branding of your hotel. All future social media posts should reflect the tone and style you have laid out in order to remain consistent with the atmosphere you want your hotel to encompass.
At the same time, you need to swap out the branding at your hotel itself. This could be as small as ordering new guest towels featuring an updated logo or as big as completely redesigning your sign and all other branded aspects of your hotel. The point is, you need to update everything within your hotel that no longer reflects your new brand. If you don't have the budget to do all of that right now, begin planning out what changes you will make and when.
Whether you are re-branding your hotel to reflect changing clientele or finally getting around to establishing a brand when your hotel was previously inconsistent and lacked identity, it's definitely something that involves a lot of thought, planning, and effort.
Coming up with a branding strategy in itself could take a couple weeks depending on the depth of research that needs to be completed, and then having things re-designed could take a few more weeks.
However, once you have everything in front of you and you are ready to re-brand your hotel, it's important to start with your online presence and then begin thinking about the biggest aspects of your physical property that will impact a guest's perception of your brand.
Everything featuring your logo should be updated to match your branding strategy, and you should also consider long-term plans to renovate any outdated features of the property that don't perfectly match your image.