Did you recently take over an existing hotel? Have you lost your existing customer base? Or is it simply time to freshen things up? In regards to the importance of rebranding your hotel, resort or bed & breakfast, you must portray to guests that the changes will benefit them (vs. to your owners or shareholders). Secondary goals include increases in occupancy and profit, stronger brand recognition, stronger guest loyalty and a better reputation.
REBRANDING HOTEL PROCESS
Market research is a must. Many corporations are understandably risk-averse, and the best way to mitigate failure is to figure out which concepts will likely work with your intended guests. If you have the budget for it, hire a market research firm. Bring in stakeholders, and together, you should learn why super-fans love your hotels and if your core attributes are relevant in today’s world.
Once you have sufficient data, you’ll need to interpret the data to formulate concepts and designs. For example, what kind of atmosphere or vibe do you want to create and will it be supported in the marketplace? How will the decor exemplify it? At this point, you can test the concepts on a small scale before going all-in (e.g. if you’re a chain, try it out in a handful of markets).
Note that no matter all the research and testing you do, you’ll have past guests that hate your new brand. That’s okay. It’s impossible to please everyone, and as long as you have some people out there that like it, you’ll be fine. Just remember not to stifle progress for the few guests who don’t like change.
EXECUTING YOUR HOTEL REBRANDING
If you do plan on redesigning your logo, you’ll also have to update your other assets, including website, notepads, signage, sales/event materials and cups. Make sure you have the budget to do this and allot at least 4-5 months to get it done.
Before your new brand is ready to be unveiled, announce that you are indeed rebranding, and tease–e.g. through social media and email marketing–some of the new elements from time to time. This gradual release should increase the likelihood of acceptance among your target audiences.
When it comes time to the big day, plan on using advertising and media relations to get the word out. Have plenty of photos, fact sheets, interview subjects, etc. ready for reporters.
For a short period of time, typically six months to a year, you’ll need to do transitional advertising. This means you’ll have to link your old brand to your new brand. An example of this came 10 years ago when “Cingular Is Now the New AT&T” was used in all messaging, ads, etc. to explain the new wireless carrier brand. Now, who even remembers Cingular?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media offers hotels, B&Bs and resorts services related to media relations, community relations, branding, group sales, SEO/SEM and social media management. Please contact Brian Lee, brian [at] experiencerevelation.com or 608-622-7767.