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Rebranding Your Hotel - Have You Worked Out Your Strategy?
By Eddie Letico ~ Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Tuesday, 6th May 2014
 

Exclusive Feature: Taking over and rebranding a business, especially in the hospitality industry, is a daunting task; I know this as I have recently rebranded a 60 room hotel from a franchise to a newly founded brand of hotels -

What an exciting and yet very challenging task it has been. What I learnt is that with well-planned and properly executed strategy, the process can be smooth and rewarding with only minor bumps along the way. 

DO A MARKETING PLAN

One of the most important elements in any rebranding endeavour is marketing.  A previously well-known brand that has become tired or passé may not be at the top but simply changing decor and signage isn't going do the job.  A well thought out marketing plan that gets the name out to the masses is what's needed. Excellent SEO and social media are crucial to this process since practically everyone is online these days.  The SEO will not only benefit the newly launched website for future marketing purposes it will also help with the name and address changes as well. This will give your customers your new website to assist in the reservation process.

DON'T FORGET REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

Along with a solid marketing campaign to boost brand recognition, comes reputation management.  Anytime a company undergoes drastic changes, especially one that involves rebranding, customers become wary.  People want to know why, what's going on.  If it's a popular brand, one that hasn't lost its appeal with time, the challenge becomes explaining the reason for the changes.  People need to know customer service will not only remain equal to expectation, but that you're striving to exceed expectation.  If customers feel changes are made on their behalf, with an eye toward improving their experience, they'll be more accepting. 

For a brand that has lost market value over time, you need to recognize what's lacking and address it.  Turn your rebranding efforts into action, not only in ad campaigns and social media connections, but in day to day customer relations.   Again, new decor and signs aren't enough.  Action has to be the cornerstone.

DO KNOW WHO'S IN CHARGE?

A rebranding consultant is key in this endeavour and you need a good one.  An effective consultant will take charge of the situation and coordinate all efforts in the push toward success.  Hoteliers tend to choose an agency with experience in the hospitality industry and that's great.  But don't be entirely closed minded regarding your choice in this area.  A fresh perspective may be exactly what's needed.  In fact, it's often ideal.  An agency that does the same type of work repeatedly runs the risk of being stuck in the ruts with the hotel needing a rebrand.  

DO OUTLINE YOUR PLAN

Whatever agency you choose, make sure you communicate a clear goal. Even the best agency can't pull off an excellent marketing plan for rebranding if the goal shifts in the wind.  Choose a point person and lay out expectation, budget, target markets, etc.  Effective rebrands rely on a creative brief to keep everyone focused as the project progresses.  There will be a lot of hands on the project but ultimately, they should report to the one in charge on a regular basis.  A continually updated brief that everyone involved can see is ideal.  It keeps things moving forward and allows intervention when parts of the project fall behind. 

DON'T SKIP RESEARCH

Market research may be part of what led to the decision for rebranding in the first place.  Don't stop with the first bit though.  Research should become your new best friend as you walk down the rebranding path.  You'll need to know exactly what works and what doesn't, who you're reaching, how and why.  There are many forms of market research and you may not think it absolutely necessary, but it is.  For interesting case studies in research as it applies to marketing, check out rebrand.com.  The bottom line is, no effective campaign works well without good research.  With solid research, you'll know where to put your valuable resources for the best ROI. 

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH AN EXCELLENT TEAM

This would have to be what I believe to be one of the most important rules of this strategy. Having a team of loyal dedicated staff to assist you will help with this process. As the old saying goes ‘Many hands make light work’ having your staff involved can make the journey go much smoother and build up staff morale with the changes in which are occurring. Change can be difficult for even the best of us by having your staff involved will help them feel a part of the new beginning and also make you job easier at the same time.

DO KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

All the rebranding in the world is no good without customers. A busy hotel with satisfied customers, both new and repeat is the goal.  Keeping customer satisfaction top priority along with a can-do attitude leads to success for everybody involved. Last but not least stay positive even with the most thought about plans minor hiccups may occur along the way however with a positive attitude you will find a way to sort them out.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Eddie Letico left his position as financial controller working for a government body in 2003. After trying a couple different projects he went on to purchase his first franchised hotel chain. Upon deciding the franchised model was not for what he want for his serviced apartments he went through the rigorous rebranding process and so the Amity Apartment Hotels was born. You connect with Eddie on Linked In.

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