There’s an age old question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” At A S Hospitality, we’ve landed somewhere among the profound askers of this question when it comes to excellent branding. Our view? Well, if your brand isn’t experienced, does it actually exist as a brand in the minds of your audience members? The experience is the brand!

Branded and operational collateral — items at check-in and check-out, as well as in room — bring this experience into the physical and tactile dimension and create the perfect opportunity to leave a lasting impression. For the on-property buyer struggling to justify spending precious marketing dollars on branded items, or perhaps the buyer striving to bring other team members on board with your purchases, let’s talk true and complete impact. Let’s go over the three imperative reasons every hotel professional should invest in branded items for the sake of an excellent brand experience:

#1 Consistency

Whether your audience is actively making the cognitive connection or not, consistency is in fact one of the greatest defining attributes of a well-branded property. Think of it this way: if your brand is doing consistency right, your audience almost doesn’t notice. (Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Hang in there, this is a good thing!) Here is the kicker: the moment you fail to keep brand consistency at the forefront of your reputation, that’s when you’ll most certainly hear about it from guests!

Consistency does a multitude of things for your brand including building trust, attracting more customers and creating a professional feel across the hotel. According to a survey of 27,000 American consumers by McKinsey & Company, consistent customer experience across the entire customer journey increased customer satisfaction, built trust and boosted loyalty. Perhaps the greatest insight discovered by the study found that being consistent with your communication is a key factor in creating high customer satisfaction.

Before we discuss the how for implementing consistency at your property, let’s review the why.
  • Consistency conveys quality & professionalism.
    Strictly speaking from the eyes of a consumer, professionalism and quality speak volumes when reflecting on how your brand comes across. We touch on the importance of crafting consistent guest touchpoints in our article, Optimizing Your Modest Budget: 4 Hacks for Creating an Upscale Hotel Experience with Beautifully Crafted Guest Touchpoints and Print Collateral.

  • Consistency builds trust.
    When you’re out to drive a sentiment of peace, calm and trust as a brand, you’re doing something right when you arrive at a consistency across all communication channels. Customers crave expectations met and expectations exceeded and consistent communication will undoubtedly cover this guest need.

  • Consistency shows you care.
    Guests can’t miss it when a brand has taken detailed care in defining how they are interacting with the brand during their stay, that communication has been intentional and that the brand voice is pulled through in each interaction.
  • Consistency enhances differentiation.
    Sure, many brands may be clear about what differentiates them from other properties but they are not always consistent in communicating that differentiation. Here is where the opportunity lies in creating a loyal customer from the consistent presentation of your unique brand voice when pulled through operational touchpoints.

So how can you successfully implement consistency across every printed and operational touchpoint? The best place to start is by asking yourself two questions about every customer connection point from beginning to the end of their journey with your brand.
  1. Is the guest clearly experiencing our unique promise of value?
  2. Is the experience the same among all connection points?

These questions are the foundation for developing brand guidelines that are the perfect balance between freedom and control when it comes to the guest interaction. Consistency screams for control, but the guest loves freedom. When you strike the balance between both, you’ve officially arrived at one of the greatest reasons for your focused energy on branded items!

#2 Connection

We’ve established that the consistency of a brand can be conveyed in several ways and weighs heavily when it comes to earning a consumer’s top-of-mind spot for consideration. As important as consistency when it comes to branded items, the connection these items can make between consideration and action can’t go unnoticed. It’s short and simple but oh-so-important: if you believe and convey that your brand is professional, however the guest experience falls short of that professional feeling, the brand connection is lost and your programming has failed.

Work to connect every branding effort you hold in high value by properly designing and aligning the items with which your guests will come into contact with. We loved this example of simple connections creating a lasting impression…A business traveler checks in after a long flight, several meetings and a fast food dinner. Tired and distracted by the day’s to-do’s, your traveler feels the quality of your key card folder, notices the creative phrasing on his door hanger then, a little later, recalls that same quality feeling on the bedside notepad he uses to jot his last minute points for tomorrow’s meeting. Upon leaving the next morning, his check-out folder continues to evoke the same feeling from his easy check-in and prepared bedtime ritual. This becomes the last of these important connecting details that remains in his mind for the next business trip he will undoubtedly take. Never fail to make the connection. Never fail to remind to the guest that the details have been taken care of in the most thoughtful way by your property. It’s worth every penny.

Shared Content
Branded touchpoints can leave such an impact on a guest that they share your materials with their social community.

#3 Comparison

Sometimes it’s tough as a hotel professional to look beyond your own four walls and begin observing what other’s are doing in the industry. After all, we want to stand out and not blend in with the crowd right? The real question is, have you thought about how your guests are most likely staying at other properties and doing the comparison anyways? It’s true, guests will most certainly compare their experience with your property against other experiences they have had in the past. If you’re unaware of the wins and losses of your competitors it’s almost impossible to exceed the expectation of your guest!

Observe, compare and act. One sure-fire way to observe your competitors and how your branding is stacking up is by monitoring today’s fastest word-of-mouth; aka social media. Your beautifully branded and carefully crafted items can show up everywhere, from a Facebook comment to a special photo on Instagram or even a short video on snapchat – all to be seen by hundreds or even thousands in some cases!

In the end, one of the greatest ways to ensure your touchpoints, operational and experience oriented, are working for your property is by teaming with a brand partner that understands the hospitality category and can guide you in the right direction! The right partner will undoubtedly know the right comparisons to make!

Now, back to that question we reviewed earlier, “If your brand fails to create a memorable experience in the minds of your audience, are you really existing as a brand at all?” Starting with consistency, connection and comparison, survey your branded items as the place where you can ensure your brand existence is stellar, bringing guests back again and again.

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