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Hospitality is at a place it’s never been before. Advanced digital perspectives, freshly educated clientele and a cultural shift in traveling has created a competitive market. As a result, branding has become one of the most vital foundations which determine sink or swim in a new world industry. We’ve compiled a list of 6 pillars that will aid you in protecting, enhancing and growing your brand.

1. Divide and Conquer with Clear Brand Differentiators

There are hundreds of thousands of hotels, millions of rooms and even more restaurants around the world so the question “What makes mine stand out?” should be at the top of your list. When creating your branding vision, asking yourself how you differentiate is crucial to getting ahead of the market. 

Are you the most affordable and stylish hotel in Chicago? Own it. 

Is your resort home to the most lavish pool in Jamaica? Show it. 

Does your Executive Chef have an incredible story? Tell it. 

Collectively speaking, there has never been an easier way to educate the masses on even the smallest details. Technology has enabled us to use a simple social media post to make an impact. Example: Creatively conveying you’re the only hotel in Charleston with a parking garage could lead to a boost in reservations of people planning to drive to the city. 

Take a look at your property, food and service and determine what sets you apart from the pack. From there, you’ll start to understand your “secret sauce recipe”. 

2. Open Eyes Through Social media

The digital age has swept in a new perspective on how to stand out amongst competition. Among the top of the pack is undeniably social media. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest have given hospitality brands an opportunity to both reach new audiences and keep their name fresh in their existent audience’s minds. 

Attracting New Eyes: Captivating photos, hashtags, relevant-community interaction and influencer campaigns are all essentials to bringing different eyes to your social media pages. 

Becoming Part of Your Customer’s Life: Through a “follow” you have access to a piece of someone’s attention every time you post or interact. Brands that don’t have strong conversion rates of purchase-to-follower drop a serious ball. Remember, your best customer is your repeat customer. 

These two ideas of attracting new eyes and becoming part of your customer’s life will work simultaneously through engaging content. Solid hospitality brands will learn how vital it is for hospitality brands to understand story-telling strategy for both of these points to work effectively. 

3. Empower Your Staff to Deliver Great Service

The most pivotal moments of how your brand speaks to your consumers will come through the actions and words of your staff. They are the physical representation of how your company gauges hospitality. However one thing to keep in mind is that rarely will a staff’s blunder be their fault more than your own. 

When operating any kind of hospitality business, management must perfect training, testing, reinforcement and follow up training procedures. These key tools must be repeated throughout an employees career with the company in order to both protect and enhance the customer experience. And perhaps most importantly of all, when you keep your staff smiling your guests will follow en route. 

4. Understanding Your Potential Customer Market

Don’t fall into the trap that your potential customer market sits at a specific age, gender, marital status or situation. Given the evolution of how hospitality and media work together, opening up the doors to new communities and demographics has never been more possible. 

However, don’t ignore what usually works. Even though luxury resorts may now be able to appeal to well-off, ready to spend millennials, they shouldn’t stop using their resources to attract older clientele. The truly successful brand will find a way to link the two of them together through initiatives that are appealing across the board. 

Analytics will help you in understanding your ideal customer while seasonal surveys and personal outreach will help you in understanding who actually is your customer. 

5. Experiential Marketing

Connecting your brand to your customer on digital platforms is all about experiential marketing.When this kind of outreach is done right it can result in your customers and vendors organically marketing on your behalf. Successful brands create experiences that tell a story and thus will incentive their customers to document their own experience to share with their family, friends and online communities. 

Another way to build creative, experiential marketing campaigns is to work with the right social media influencers. By tapping community authorities to tell your story, you essentially speed line the above “customer marketing” by working with people who are skilled in telling stories. 

Lastly, your digital marketing team should keep an eye to bringing the “experience” to an “engaging” one. Contests, giveaways, and incentives all play a role in formally asking your customers to help spread the word. Pro Tip: When they’re excited about your brand, they’ll have no problem participating. 

6. Know Your Food & Drink

When it comes to hospitality, there is perhaps nothing more important than your food and beverage program. When you elevate your dining and drink menus, you elevate your guest’s experience. Resorts and hotels especially should take note of this as the more you are able to keep your guests on site, the more loyal they’ll become to your brand. 

Food & drink programs should seek to incorporate the five prior points very specifically. There is nothing more important than giving your consumers a food experience that is distinct and caters to their demographic. Beautiful dishes, thoughtful cocktails and a rockstar wine menu will never cease to get people talking. 

Capitalize on the emergence of “foodie culture” by getting creative, sourcing locally and using your food to tell a story. The results will always speak for themselves.