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Hotel Branding: Be Personal, Be Memorable, Be Local.
By Luigi Serenelli - Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 30th June 2014
 

Exclusive Feature: What sparks a potential guest's interest in a hotel? A catchy name? A memorable logo? A strong social media presence? Are all key, but even more important is 'hotel branding' itself, which encompasses all three and more.

It is an important part of business strategy, say hoteliers: It attracts customers, builds relationships with the clientele, establishes a reputation and eventually leads to financial success (or loss).

And these days, a closer look shows that the hotel branding industry is changing and adapting to new realities such as more diversification in the industry and the power of the internet.

In fact, branding has become more sophisticated over the past years as it has strove to keep up with the changing hotel industry: Once an industry with a few key segments (luxury, budget, package tourism), there is now a plethora of hotels catering to every niche interest: conference hotels, resort villages, eco hotels – you name, you'll find it.

Experts say that branding now needs to delve even further into product differentiation. In fact, studies suggest strategies of brand segmentation, or multiple brands, to perform best on the market.

For example, the 2014 report on the German Hotel Market lists 14 market segments including service or private apartments, budget, boutique and luxury hotels. Each needs to reach out to its specific potential customer base, say experts, via traditional print and broadcast advertising, niche travel agents, and of course the internet and social media

Preferred Hotel Group, which brands more than 650 independent hotels all over the world, offers a glimpse into the changes taking place in the industry, particularly the luxury hotel segment.

Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Preferred Boutique and Preferred Residence are described as “a collection of luxury shared ownership resorts that provides an exceptional level of service and amenities.”

Over the past decade, Preferred has launched a series of targeted strategies to attract different types of customers: Preferred Pride is a collection of TAG-approved accommodations (Community Marketing’s Travel Alternative Group) and IGLTA-member hotels (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association); Preferred Family, a collection of hotels and resorts certified for travelers of all ages including families; and Preferred Golf for the golf enthusiast.

Internet sites for each niche are a prerequisite as brands need to be visible and discussed on social media platforms so they can reach out to potential customers, experts say.

Still, experts say it is important to keep one key factor in mind: Brands send a message directly to guests and therefore need to “humanize” their relationship with their clients, in particular the solo hotel proprietors.

“If an hotel creates its own brand with a concept that is  memorable to the guest, it can be successful without any connection to an hotel chain," said Tobias Warnecke, economic advisor of the German Hotel Association (IHA).

One way, according to the German hotel industry in its 2014 report, is focusing attention on the cultural aspect of the hotel market and how to brand with the regional cultural traditions in mind.

In Germany, that is a big lure, say experts.

“Examples of this are "Schloss Elmau" Bavaria, the hotel “Zur Bleiche" in the Spreewald region, the "Sonnenalp" at the foot of the Allgäu Alps and many others,” said Warnecke.

All these capitalize on their regions' specialness in regards to food, furnishings, architecture and even attire.

They are also a testament to one branding adage: Local knowledge helps strengthen a hotel’s brand and gives it the personal touch. So put on that dirndl or sari and serve up knoedel or buryani, and make it memorable.

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.

Luigi Serenelli is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. He has previously worked for local and national publications on society and politics in Naples and Rome, Italy and now works with journalists across the globe as part of the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Luigi has spent a large part of the last 10 years abroad and whenever possible he boards a train for long distance journeys.

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