All I want for 2016 is a great bedtime story

Anil Varghese of Creative Supply looks at the importance of marketing boutique hotels by cultivating a clear brand image.

While the majority of individuals are consciously or subconsciously very selective regarding their clothing and technology brands, the same is certainly true when it comes to hotels. So if a person decides to wear Diesel jeans, a Swatch watch and shirts from J.Crew, which hotel will he or she sleep with? A hotel is a consumer brand like any other and should as such be at the forefront of people’s brandscape (brand + landscape).

Car companies such as Mercedes know that marketing needs to start way before someone actually chooses to purchase a car. The same is valid for boutique hotels where it is key to plant the seed of desire repeatedly at an early stage and across different channels in someone’s mind. As such it is crucial to cultivate a brand with a clear purpose that has the ability to create relevant awareness and transpire a sense of being, reflecting the aspirational self-image of its core customers.

“A hotel should never stop crafting the stories around its DNA”

What does this translate to, possibly simply a good bedtime tale? The key is to have a strategy that covers all aspects of a company and turns a quality product into a bestseller, one that aligns a hotel’s physical assets, its operations as well as relevant communication channels. Similar to the episodes of an ongoing series, a hotel should never stop crafting the stories around its DNA. It is certainly not enough to define standard operating procedures once and distribute these across all your properties, especially for boutique hotels there has to be a continued and active management of your reason of being and this requires a culture of coherent creation, not necessarily standardisation.

In 2007 Starwood’s boutique brand Aloft was one of the first real life hotel chains to prototype their launch concept in Second life (an online virtual world) before constructing their first property. This allowed them to create a product relevant to their customer segment but beyond this, it was a fantastic story that managed to engage potential guests early on, increasing chances that someone would make an actual booking upon opening of the hotel.

When Netflix launched a series called “Chef’s table” in April 2015, Google trend analytics for featured Chef’s such as Francis Mallmann and Massimo Bottura skyrocketed. The story revolving around these chef’s personality, not merely their food product, is portrayed in such a compelling way that the viewer can only but desire to know more about these Chef’s offering. A story loaded with compassion for their craft.

Boutique lifestyle hotel company Ace recently ranked among the UK CoolBrands Top 20 list. While being ranked amongst companies such as Apple, which in itself is a great achievement, it is of particular relevance as it reflects how Ace has managed to penetrate the brand universe of less obvious hotel consumers. A hotel that has managed to transcend into a true lifestyle company making for great stories, not least after partnering with Converse and launching a pair of Ace hotel labelled leather high top sneakers.

These are but few of many possible ways to continuously and creatively nurture the narratives around your brand in a relevant, attractive and meaningful manner.

An enduring creative evolution of your universe as perceived by the customer might just be the missing link for your ongoing growth. But hey – 2016 is not that far off so make sure you get those bedtime stories.

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