Building a strong a brand for your hotel is really no different to establishing good relationships with people on a personal level. If you bore them, or lie to them, you’re going to lose friends very quickly.
Of course, it gets a lot more complicated than that (as we all know) but by being engaging, consistent, authentic, and exciting a hotel brand can create a positive and lasting reputation.
The end goal of building a strong hotel brand is an instant affinity and familiarity from travellers when they hear your hotel’s name. You want them to not only easily recall your image and logo, but also get an immediate sense of what a stay is like at your hotel and the experience they can expect to have. Their need to research will be reduced by your existing legacy. This is created in many different ways, usually over a long period of time.
In this article, we look at the top-rated hotel brand in the world, as voted for by travellers, and the strategies you can use to strengthen the identity of your hotel business.
Six Senses: The best hotel brand in the world
Every year, Travel + Leisure magazine surveys over 300,000 respondents to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe. The publication boasts a monthly circulation of over 950,000 readers and has been considered the leading travel authority since first hitting the news stands in 1937. In the ‘World’s Best Brands’ survey, readers rate hotel brands on their locations, rooms and facilities, food, service, and overall value.
Six Senses was founded in 1995 and has built a reputation of creating a sense of sustainability and wellness. All of these things are top-of-mind for modern travellers and when guests stay at a Six Senses property they can engage in:
- Wellness screenings
- Sleep and nutrition optimisation
- Connection with local surroundings
- Energy efficiency
- Sustainable waste management
- Charity initiatives
This is in addition to a luxurious five-star experience in beautiful locations such as the Maldives, Fiji, and the Seychelles. The brand will also open its first urban hotel in New York’s art district next year.
A result like this doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s look at some strategies Six Senses have likely employed that you can use to create a popular and meaningful brand for guests.
Brand building tip #1
Create a strong narrative for your hotel
What’s your hotel’s story? It’s a question we find most interesting and one we most often want answered. Getting it right straight away is vital so you have to know what good storytelling is and why it works.
Storytelling has been proven. Studies have found humans are designed for stories. They lead to a better understanding, trust, comprehension, receptivity, and more. Unlike facts and statistics, a story engages both the brain and the body, eliciting emotional responses, which people are more strongly attracted to.
Create a story for your hotel that touches on your history, your mission, your values, and your dedication to guests. Do it well and travellers are significantly more likely to feel a connection with you, and embrace the beginning of what is hopefully a long relationship with your brand.
Take Marriott for example, which has dedicated itself to creating a varied abundance of content since 2014. So far, Marriott’s content studio has produced:
- An online travel magazine called ‘Marriott Traveler’
- TV shows
- Virtual reality experiences
- Short films
- Shareable social media content
- Real-time, customer-centric marketing opportunities
The proof is in the pudding too; in the first 90 days Marriott’s online magazine drove more than 7,000 bookings.
Brand building tip #2
Remember that your guests are your brand
The kind of brand you want to be has to be directly related to the type of guest you want to target and attract to your hotel. Research what your target guest segments need and let your findings trickle down into every brand activity you undertake.
It’s important to be consistent and authentic. Customers aren’t stupid so they’ll quickly realise when you’re trying to fool them or when you can’t deliver on promises.
Again, just like any relationship, trust is essential. It takes time to build so your legacy must be providing a great guest experience each and every time someone stays with your brand. From there, happy guests will become brand ambassadors of their own free will, spreading recommendations via word-of-mouth, user-generated content, and online reviews.
Brand building tip #3
Take a holistic approach
This is where consistency becomes really important. Your hotel’s brand ‘image’ needs to be reflected in everything associated with your business including:
- Name and logo
- Marketing activities
- Social media and any other content you present to the public
It all depends on how you want travellers to see you. If you want to be recognised as a relaxed, serene, coastal getaway for example, you need to promote this in all material and probably take a less formal approach to content.
Brand building tip #4
Use social media as a vessel to make your brand exciting
Besides your own website, social media is the best way to promote your brand and create excitement within the global traveller market, remembering you always need to stay on message. Instagram and Facebook in particular are fantastic mediums to influence the way people think about your hotel.
A good example here is the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. This hotel brings Sin City to life on its social media pages. Whether the hotel is posting a video of a lively pool party, or photographs of an event, followers are always aware of what is going on there.
This provokes interest and anticipation from guests who are beginning to research their next trip to the city, and it provides useful information for those who are currently staying at the hotel.
The key is to encourage satisfied guests to amplify your hotel’s brand as far as possible. Guests who take photos at your property often share their experiences, allowing people to view your hotel through the eyes of their peers, which is a wonderful organic channel for traffic. Posting and promoting stories like proposals or anniversaries will reinforce a positive perception of your hotel.