unnamed (1)I often choose a hotel to stay base on who I know there at that property. It’s like staying over at a friend’s place. It doesn’t need to have a five hundred thread-count pillow in order to feel comfortable, warm and welcomed. Not everyone however has hotelier friends and other travelers tend to choose where to stay based on what they know about the brand and so for the majority of us, the safest bet is to pick one of the larger, more well known brands.

It’s not the brand; it’s the people behind it.

There might be several reasons that big brands might seem more attractive than others. Perhaps they have demonstrated consistence of quality through awards that they have won and perhaps the physical location builds confidence and prestige. Sometimes we can’t judge a hotel just by its brand name, especially nowadays when these big boys are aggressively expanding their portfolios.  The downside is that with such rapid growth, the consistency of brand standards cannot help but be compromised.

I recently visited a property that belongs to a local brand (although they do own a number of properties around the world). I have met some of the General Managers from this hotel group before and I wasn’t particularly impressed. This one in particular would go and greet as many guests as he could personally. I observed that both his staff and the guests not only saw him and respected him as the General Manager, but also as a friend. The way I saw him treat his guests was exactly the same way you would treat guests that you had invited to your home.

Around twelve months ago I stayed at a property that I believe is once of the most gorgeous that I have ever been to.  The whole stay was just an amazing experience.  It wasn’t just me.  When I looked at their reviews in social media, it seemed that everyone else felt the same when they went to stay there.  Several months later that particular General Manager left the property and subsequently a number of staff left and now doing a quick scan of the latest reviews online, despite the spectacular location, beautiful property and highly reputed brand name, the property seems to have lost its shine and there aren’t many good things being said about it anymore.

Don’t think that just because the brand is already well known, you won’t have to go the extra mile to make your guests happy. Don’t take your brand for granted because all it takes is just a few bad reviews and they could go viral. The bigger the brand, the harder and faster it can fall.

People don’t pick a hotel nowadays based its name alone. Location, price and what you have to offer all come into it. Frequent travelers might choose a property based on whom they know there. They don’t necessarily need to know the General Manager – it could be someone else that works there. I have a friend who keeps going back to this same hotel because everyone in the club lounge knows him and the Guest Services staff always take good care of him. He could have picked other brands with better locations but he prefers this particular place just because of its people.

Deliver What Your Brand Promises

In Niraj Dawar’s article ‘Mind Over Marketing’, he presented a classic thought experiment in regard to brands:

“…what would happen to Coca-Cola’s ability to raise financing and restart operations if all of its physical assets around the world were to mysteriously go up in flames. The answer, most reasonable business people conclude, is that Coca-Cola would have little difficulty finding the funds to get back on its feet. The company would survive such a crisis because the value of its brand would attract investors looking for future returns.”

He continued the thought experiment:

“… what would happen if instead of the loss of the physical assets, seven billion consumers around the world were to wake up one morning with partial amnesia and could not remember the brand name Coca-Cola or any of its associations?”

He concluded that it would be much more difficult for the brand to attract any significant further investment.  The loss of the things that people associate with a particular brand is much more devastating.  Emotional ties, experiences and associations are the most valuable things that a brand can own and can be shown to be even more valuable than the physical assets that a brand may have in its portfolio.

Hoteliers need to be constantly vigilant about maintaining their brand’s standards and not take its current good name for granted.  Service and guest experiences need to be consistent and of an exceptional standard.  The promise of these standards is why guests choose to come and stay.  If the brand promises it but you don’t deliver, all it takes is a handful of bad reviews and the brand as a whole could have lost much more than just a few guests..