Successfully rebranding a hotel isn’t usually as simple as just putting up a new sign outside the property and slapping a new logo everywhere the old logo used to be…
A true rebranding is a massive shift in philosophy, company culture and audience targeting, which has widespread implications for all marketing efforts going forward under the new identity.
There are, unfortunately, some specific aspects of the rebranding process where marketing commonly goes astray. These “gotcha” moments include the following five blunders, which hotel marketers should avoid at all costs:
Gotcha #1: Before rebranding, forgetting to properly debrand!
The first step in a rebranding strategy is to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
That entails removing all collateral, signage, uniforms, advertising and marketing materials (online and off) that reference the hotel’s previous branded identity, including images, logos and words or catchphrases. You’ll also need to revise your presence on all digital platforms and sales channels, like Tripadvisor, the OTAs, AAA, etc., and share the news of the impending change with your local travel and tourism ecosystem, such as CVB partners, area vendors, chambers of commerce and the like.
Gotcha #2: Failing to build your new brand around the TRUTH!
Just like your mom used to say… Don’t try and be something you aren’t.
Instead, root the identity of your rebrand in experiences and amenities you can actually deliver. Travellers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about. Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travellers. However, many hoteliers simply don’t know what their story is, much less how to convey it.
Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity, so you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Cement that strategy by taking the time to author a brand manifesto, or brand promise document.
Gotcha #3: Not having enough time and money.
Just take a deep breath and remember: You only get one chance to launch.
Celebrate it! And expect to spend money.
It’s costly to create and activate new websites, digital media, advertising, signage, collateral, sales material and messaging for a rebranding. If you are transitioning from a brand to independent, make sure you have the team in-house, or external vendors, who can replace the vital marketing services your remote brand team was performing for you. This also includes managing the redirect schema of your legacy search engine rankings. Not to mention, meetings are booked years in advance, so you’ll need to publish new sales/meeting collateral ASAP.
Gotcha #4: Failing to retain legacy assets.
Don’t get too carried away when purging the hotel’s past.
Make sure you keep all assets from the hotel’s former brand days that you may need to reuse, like photos, video, newsletter templates, guest email databases, web addresses (for redirects), social media accounts, TripAdvisor and metasearch log-ins and Google Analytics data. These valuable assets (and legacy performance results) will help your marketing efforts in many ways going forward, particularly in reducing time and expense, regardless of the name change.
Gotcha #5: Forgetting what really matters….
No amount of marketing, no matter how clever it may be, can make up for a lackluster product. There are far too many hotels that attempt to rebrand to over-compensate for or to cover up an ageing, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. Sadly, as long as those hotels delay improving or – in some cases – completely overhauling their hotel appearance, service or amenities, they will continue to have an uphill battle when attracting and retaining guests.
As Robert Stephens (founder of Geek Squad) famously said: “Advertising is the tax you pay for an unremarkable product.” Marketing can only do so much. The less you pay attention to improving your service and your hotel product, the more you’ll be spending in marketing and advertising to make up for it.
Serve your guests better by working on your hotel first. By refusing to cut corners, investing in quality from the front desk to the back of the house, and by presenting the best guest experience that your staff can deliver, guest sentiment will go up, your number of repeat guests will go up, profits will go up and your marketing cost per booking will go down.