Let’s chat about budget balancing when it comes to top-of-the-line products, shall we? This is the age-old question in the hotel industry: How can I achieve an upscale feel with my branded guest touchpoints if there isn’t a large budget to do so? Or maybe, how can we save a penny as we focus on being financially responsible with our budget?

Let’s chat about budget balancing when it comes to top-of-the-line products, shall we? This is the age-old question in the hotel industry: How can I achieve an upscale feel with my branded guest touchpoints if there isn’t a large budget to do so? Or maybe, how can we save a penny as we focus on being financially responsible with our budget?

Working with over 15,000 properties—both across the nation and beyond—we’ve observed the primary concerns, steps, and tricks that independently-branded properties use to appeal to their guests at a cost that works within their budget. We believe that it is entirely possible to provide an upscale and luxury experience within a modest budget that does not erode profits. Explore these four sophistication-producing hotel budget hacks to learn how we strike this balance:

  1. Creating consistency.
  2. Selecting specific moments to connect with guests on a personal level
  3. Increasing the number of print finishes and special effects.
  4. Accessing lower prices by using an annual buy scale

Hotelier Hack #1: Consistency is a Key Component of Sophistication

To avoid customer confusion, evenly disperse your application of branding elements in all areas – including product quality, product placement, copy, graphics, and retail packaging. As a member of an upscale purchasing, marketing, sales, or management team, the importance of creating consistency is king! Achieve consistency by evaluating your guest touchpoint program in its entirety, rather than approaching each item and its placement in the guest experience one at a time. While it is important to select individual items carefully, first think about the order in which guests will interact with these items, as well as the environment in which they will receive them.

We’ve shared about bringing brands to life using specific guest touchpoints here, but for the sake of brainstorming and knowledge these three print program consistency makers or breakers are perfect places to start:
  1. Consistent Paper Stock
    Stick to no more than two styles, then select various weights based on product needs within those styles. Remember, sticking with consistent paper stock allows you to increase your purchase volume having a positive impact on your cost.

  2. Consistent Use of Logo
    Believe it or not, consistent placement and application of your logo can go a long way in the mind of your guest. Make your goal that when looking at the items all together there should be very little difference in feel and application.

  3. Consistent Color Usage
    Work with a brand partner who is especially strong in color matching and color consistency through an entire collection and has control over production that ensures consistency.
Design Note:
“Good design doesn’t get in the way; it distills the complex nature of a brand into something that is utterly simple and makes sense.”
– Stephanie Walden, Mashable

Especially for upscale and luxury segments, every element should be necessary and intentional—never adding fluff or decoration, only what it takes to complement your brand’s very core. This luxury of less philosophy allows any upscale brand to invest spending dollars in quality over design complexity or production.

Consider these design trends for branding and refreshes
  • Use solid colors such as black, white, silver or gold with no extraneous elements like drop shadows, outlines or Photoshop emboss effects. Let the craftsmanship speak for itself.
  • Everything is going perfectly horizontal – baseline, crossbars, ascent lines, cap lines and more.
  • Relying on print finishes to add simple and intentional luxurious details is a win for most brands.

Hotelier Hack #2 – Select Specific Moments to Connect on a Personal Level with the Guest

The emotional connection a brand can make with its guests absolutely cannot be overlooked, in fact, it’s critical to the branding success of upscale and luxury brands. We suggest selecting three to five items to invest in that truly embody your brand and bring it to life for the guest. Think of it this way, much like investing in a few high-quality accessories to dress up a wardrobe, investing in these moments will enhance the overall perceived value of your other print and branded items.

When thinking of the items you would choose for your brand, start at the beginning — use your brand origin, heritage, property and location as a touchstone in developing these special interactions with the customer that will be sure to differentiate you and allow the guest to truly experience your brand on a new level.

Example 1: The Gregory – door hangers and branded collar stays to support a fashion-focused identity and maintain a “tailored” image.
Example 2: The Renwick – a unique paintbrush door hanger and imprinted umbrella align the artistic brand style.
Example 3: The Royal Horseguards Hotel – a beautifully crafted pen aligns with the hotel’s history as headquarters for the British Secret Service.

Hotelier Hack #3 – Added sophistication is found in print finishes and special effects.

A consistent print trend we see upscale brands using print finishes and special effects to create the added sophistication that guests love. But what about upscale brands on a budget? We’ve gathered a list of ways to help your brand reflect the feeling of luxury throughout its print collateral program while keeping your cost per item low:
  • Explore Foil Effects
    The options are endless when it comes to these effects. Of course, gold reigns supreme as the most popular foil trend, but exploring all the options like a matte gold or rose gold may bring more of a current feel to your branding efforts. A price-friendly option for using foil effect is to select one impactful piece, such as business cards and key packs, as an investment piece.

  • Consider Metallic Ink
    In most cases, metallic inks need to be used on higher quality items. We suggest metallic inks as an alternative to foil or as a great pairing with key foil items. A great example is matte gold or silver foil pairs well with matte gold or silver ink.

  • Keep Digital Effects in Mind
    New digital press technologies are creating the special effects that once required expensive equipment to produce. Raised ink, digital spot varnish, and textured effects like embossing are popular among luxury and upscale brands, specifically, because they can be created digitally which means they can be produced in lower qualities and shorter time frames.

  • Pre-Texturized Paper is a Smart Option
    As a way to save valuable dollars, we love Colorplan’s texturized paper options especially for note cards, folders, and key card holders.

Hotelier Hack #4 – Access Lower Prices by Using an Annual Buy Scale

For properties with a lower room count, this tip is a game changer! Many assume that a smaller room count means they need to order smaller quantities. However, in most cases, lower quantities are a key driver in cost increases. Explore purchasing high-usage items on an annual basis. Work with a supplier that offers a deferred payment option. In this scenario, the supplier will inventory items until needed by your property, and then bills upon the shipment of those items. This will allow you to access lower prices and pay on your schedule.

Achieving an upscale or luxury brand experience doesn’t have to be a burden on your budget. Remembering these four expert tips can be a great start and on top of that fact, we understand that every property is different and could qualify for even more budget-saving options!

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