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BRAND RECOGNITION & SOCIAL BUSINESS

Moving beyond marketing

The growing sophistication and complexity of travel, lodging and supporting transport across skies, roads, rails, oceans, and waterways has helped to fuel global economic growth, but it has also revealed vulnerabilities. As industry standards and practices continue to evolve, there is an opportunity to incorporate new technologies and methodologies that will define a new era of modern travel and hospitality. Although marketing is a critical component of creating business and brand awareness, the story doesn’t end there. In today’s world, the international luxury travel sector faces three

distinct challenges in terms of its online presence. First and foremost is the challenge of targeting the upscale audience and being found by the world’s top travelers in the overabundance of the Internet. The second is to actively engage potential guests with their offering, and the third is to seamlessly convert that engagement into direct bookings.
Complementing our services as business consultants for the hospitality industry, we design and develop digital communication concepts, experiences and social business that solve these three challenges.

If we look at hotel rooms and travel experiences as if they were in a food marketplace, i.e. as a pure product, we have to deal with criteria around regionality, seasonality, value, purpose, supply and demand. The difference is that we are not in a farmers market, but within the luxury travel ecosystem. With a new generation of travelers and digital natives the requirements have radically changed, but the previously mentioned criteria remain unchanged and relevant. Surprisingly hotels, resorts and carriers essentially continue to deliver core value still in the same way they have always done, with transport, a room, a bed, and a meal. If you think you’ll have plenty of time to get it right because you’re a beloved brand, think again. Bad experiences and a few quick and dirty comments on Tripadvisor are driving customers away—faster than you think. For good.

With the arrival of new technology and a cultural adoption of e-commerce, it is no longer enough to present a glossy brochure, a three-language website and then welcome the guest with a smile in situ. Hotels, resorts and travel companies must now embrace the fact that they need to offer an online experience BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER the stay, that will enable them to succeed in a digital community, to convert casual browsers into paying guests and to bridge the gap between physical experience and digital experience. In addition, it will increasingly matter how skillfully they connect specific content with their brand in order to build loyalty, trust and confidence.

What Is Social Business?

For us, social business means leveraging social media, the use of social software, and technology-based, social networks to enable connections between people, information, and your business. These activities can be internal to the company as well as external to customers, suppliers and partners. Examples are:

Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
Social software: Instant messaging, wikis, blogs, newsletters, enterprise collaboration platforms
Social networks: employee and community forums

HIGHTECH & HIGHTOUCH

Ingredients for great experiences

We all do understand that search engines, apps and online marketplaces have changed the way we buy travel products forever. Through clever marketing, smart CRM systems and pricing, based on buyer psychology, you can certainly create some positive effects and increase bookings. But is that all there is? Will this improve brand awareness on a long term? Most certainly not. So the question remains: Besides to speed, convenience, digital marketing, bespoke service, upgrades, exquisite accommodations and opulent amenities…  what makes for a truly good experience? What will convert guests into loyal customers and brand advocates? 

Tech is here to stay and will enhance the experience, but in-person guest experience is even more important. Inspiring dialogues, emotionalized product experiences and events, personal and transparent communication, flexibility, warm friendliness and human touch  —  that’s what is creating real connections! Through real empathy and a better understanding you will be able to transform simple brand awareness into positive brand loyalty and build a strong bond between your brand and the customer. 

The starting point of our work at HOTEL AND TRAVEL INSIGHT is the service experience by which you are measured in your market. Together we find out what your customers really want and what you really need: concrete goals that you don’t have to share with any competitor. So if you are looking for external help, IQ-EQ-and-Mindset, fresh thinking and a consulting firm that will give you a competitive edge to differentiate yourself from the competition, then you have come to the right place. Our goal is to support your claim on market leadership.

Customer experience is everything.
Get it right.

The culture of hospitality concerns everyone and it starts with people. In order to promote sustainable quality in the luxury travel ecosystem, a change in mindset and self-image is necessary. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, owners and GMs must have answers to the questions of our time AND to the changed requirements of their guests. Many strategies around digital solutions appear too little reflective, with great distance, too impersonal and too streamlined or automated. 

The good news is that no radical changes are necessary at all. There are already many practical solutions out there, most of which have just not yet been implemented appropriately. So players in the luxury travel sector don’t have to be pioneers or inventors. Instead, they can partner with experienced innovators. We would like to see ourselves as such an extension of your business with the ability to increase your visibility, improve the customer experience starting with the first contact on your website, optimize your conversion rate, help you to ‘wow’ your guests and finally to create these memorable ‘little moments’ that surprise, delight and stay with a customer.

Ultimately, brand recognition and social business is about realigning priorities and developing a compelling combination of digital, analog and human-interactive performance. Here is an example of how we prioritize and focus on brand recognition:

  1. Visibility via performance marketing | Being visible, driving brand awareness and generating direct bookings through digital marketing and paid acquisition: This is a multi channeled approach with the ultimate goal of driving quality traffic from your target audience to your website. It includes SEO, metasearch, campaigns, promotions and paid social and influencer marketing.
  2. Convert website lookers into bookers | Providing transparent communication and inspiration with creative content in order to engage potential guests: This may include dynamic pricing, valuable searchable content, thought-provoking articles, recommendations for shopping or excursions, combined with striking imagery and virtual reality tours allowing guests to see anything from hotel rooms to key facilities. As a perfect brand expression this effortless and intuitive online journey is then seamlessly blended with calls to action and booking („ready to start planning?“ or „view offers“ etc.).
  3. Personalize, share, advise and surprise | E-commerce generates visitors. It enables us to understand our customers and acquire new ones. But people create the experience. Technology and algorithms are only an enabling tool: Now is the time to create highly customized and authentic travel experiences, tailored by taste and preference. This includes
    – proactive real-time and real-people interaction
    – the leverage of social media
    – integrated automation
    – meaningful experiences on demand
    – intelligent personalization and
    – an omnichannel approach
    to fuel every stage of the traveller’s path to the transportation or property.
  4. Outstanding customer service | Empowering employees to drive customer satisfaction: Today, more than ever, you need people who bring their heads and hearts to work. People who are problem solvers and who genuinely care about and listen to guests. They will drive future business and cultivate a superb customer experience. This can include Instagram butlers, inspiring tour guides and storytellers, personal trainers, meet-and-greet receptions with the GM or any kind of creative and innovative service. However, this requires new ways of working, a focus on employee experience and a sophisticated view of human relationships.

BRAND RECOGNITION
& CUSTOMER JOURNEY

  1. Stay in touch. Forever. | The customer journey does not end with the check-out. Hence, the follow-up is an important after-stay step and also crucial for repeat bookings: Central to a winning strategy is an intelligent communication through e-mail or social media to drive direct sales and issue special offers or loyalty programs. This allows you to keep the memories alive, maintain a consistent experience for your guests and enable you to promote your brand without any limitations.
    Bear in mind, that loyalty is created by the feeling the guests leave with (the staff, the property and ambience, the special moments they had while on-site) and that today’s guests expect hyper-personalization, which means a unique offer based on their own preferences, profile, and transaction history.
  2. Media relations | Media relations means building positive relationships with PR agencies, journalists, exclusive travel media and influencers. This process typically includes writing and sending out press releases, scheduling interviews and handle press trips. Due to the exclusive niche in luxury travel and guest’s legitimate expectations for absolute privacy, it goes without saying that the selection of journalists and media must be very selective. What remains true is that the best brand communications still is word-of-mouth.
  3. Every customer complaint is a free consulting advice | Guests complaints should never be taken as an attack or personally, but as free counselling. Take them seriously. A swift response and a professional, positive handling of customer feedback about bad experiences can not only strengthen your brand, but turn critical customers into regular and enthusiastic guests. Because employees are not always able to deal with criticism and complaints properly, they should be trained to respond thoughtfully, kindly, helpful and able to offer a practical solution.

Five brand questions for hospitality leaders 

  • Which guest segments will be most valuable to your company over the next five years?
  • What kind of experiences are they looking for, whether travelling for business or for leisure?
  • Can you deliver these experiences under one single brand? If not, can you fragment your brand without weakening its power?
  • Have you commenced building out the functionality of your mobile offerings to deliver more personalised services? If yes, where? If no, why not?
  • How can you ensure your employees will know what your personalised experience brand stands for and how will they deliver your brand promise?

Our consultants are waiting to help you.

Today’s still widespread ‘wait-and-see-strategy’ is not a solution for travel companies that wish to remain competitive. Like it or not, alternative business models or startups will take root. We recommend that hotels, resorts and transportation companies urgently revisit their underlying business models and ask how and where they are best placed to meet new top-travellers demands with mobile and bespoke, meaningful, destination-integrated experiences.

Apply for a call with one of our Business Consultants today! Our team would be delighted to exchange ideas with you.

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