If the power of branding is showcased anywhere in our modern world, it’s in the hospitality industry. Frequent travelers swear by their favorite hotel chain, and vacationers love to return to their favorite resort or cruise line. And if one of your friends had a bad experience with a hospitality brand, well… they’ve probably told you about it!
Simply hearing “The Ritz” or “Motel 6” likely evokes two very different reactions in you, right? Both companies have created brands with expectations, purposes, and experiences – and those two experiences are definitely not the same.
So, how do you attract people to a local boutique hotel in a corporate industry? What do you need to communicate? How can your boutique hotel make a name for itself while setting those expectations and levels of experience? What will make it all stick and convert inquiries into bookings? These four tips will help you answer these questions and start off on the right foot.
Tell us who you are AND who you’re not.
You might not have an endless assortment of rooms, a dedicated parking garage, room service, or the know-how to fold your guest’s towels into every animal known to man. However, you do have plenty of things that big brands just can’t match.
Your personal touch and unique style are valuable, and your individualized experience matters to potential guests, so don’t be shy about telling them about it! There’s nothing wrong with being clear in your branding about who your accommodations cater to – and who they don’t. Who is your ideal guest? Who wants the kind of experience only you can provide, and what will visually draw that person to your hotel?
If your rooms feature cozy mid-century furnishings and you’ll be serving a homemade breakfast every morning, a corporate-looking brand isn’t for you. You’ll want a brand with local flavor that captures your personality, and a strategic design that shows it off to all the right people.
Build trust through your brand.
We all wish we had more time off from work to explore the world. Take it from me, a designer who literally changed her entire life to enjoy the nomadic lifestyle.
Remember that your guests’ time off is precious, too – and you must remember that as you build your brand. Why? Because if they’re going to be sold on booking with you, a guest needs to trust you with their limited supply of PTO.
In fact, a potential guest will likely make up their mind about your brand in a matter of seconds. The name of your hotel, the logo, the website layout – all of it has the power to show an ideal customer that you have exactly what they’ve been dreaming about. If you don’t highlight your credibility, they aren’t going to give you their one weekend away or annual spring break trip. Building trust with clients begins before they ever click on your available dates.
Consider your role in a customer’s story.
If you’ve been to my blog before, you know I believe that brands tell stories, and storytelling is powerful. Whether you realize it or not, you’re not just selling amenities and rooms – you’re selling a story.
We naturally make decisions based on instinct and emotions, and sharing a narrative that your customer can be a part of will give them a taste of just how amazing their stay with you can be. If they decide that the story you’re offering is valuable to them, they’ll preeeetty much have no choice but to book a room.
Let’s think about The Ritz-Carlton one more time. The Ritz definitely delivers on their promise of having high-quality accommodations in the best locations, beds that you’ll fall in love with, and service that can’t be topped. But with one glance at their website, you’ll see that what they’re actually selling is a story, a high-level experience that celebrates a life of luxury. This kind of story means you don’t talk about “that time you visited Chicago.” You talk about the time you stayed at The Ritz.
The story you offer to your potential guests matters more than you think.
Deliver on your brand’s promise.
So, you’ve clearly communicated who you are, built trust with a customer on the front end through a powerful brand, and sold them a story that they want to take part in. Now, it’s time to deliver.
A great logo and savvy messaging might get a new customer to click “book now,” but building your brand doesn’t stop there. In fact, it never stops! By consistently providing the experience you’ve sold with excellence, you’ll continue to establish trust with guests that will return – and recommend your hotel to all of their friends, too.
Ready to build a boutique brand that stands out above the rest? I think we’d make a great match.