I asked Lisa what a brand is – surely it’s not just a logo or a name? Although those are indeed an integral part, it’s so much more.
It is everything that touches or gets in front of your target audience. It is an absolute reflection of what your customers should expect from you. It is your staff, your product, your social media signals, your ambition and market positioning.
Furthermore she recommended that every company should undergo an exercise to define what they stand for. These are their values and the reason why they do what they do.
The company brand is a public expression of the values which they stand for.
One way of looking at how powerful a brand is to consider what would happen if they moved into a different industry.
Lisa gave a great example of Nike and Hyatt Hotels. If the latter started making trainers, who knows what they’d look like. However if Nike started running hotels, you’d have a good idea of the design.
So how can a hotel’s brand affect direct bookings?
You can leverage your brand’s power for marketing efforts so prospective guests find your website or social channels and are encouraged to book direct rather than via an OTA
If your hotel is top of mind for your target audience, even if they find you on a 3rd party channel, they are more likely to come to your own website for comparison.
At this point pricing strategy is important e.g. if your OTA listing is a room only rate and on your own site you offer the same rate for bed and breakfast, the guest is likely to book direct.
If they do book via an OTA, the key is to wow the guest when they arrive in the hotel with great service thus delivering on your brand promise.
In that way they are more likely to subscribe to your email database whereupon you can market directly to them.
It is a free way to keep connecting and engaging with your target audience.
At appropriate times you can send luxury, price-led or demographic offers and promotions which will lead guests to a website booking via the online booking engine.
Loyalty is the key to growth and also if they advocate your brand to friends and family, they will also drive new business for you.
They are in your virtuous circle – great brands grow great ambassadors, great ambassadors grow great brands.
Concentrate on building your subscriber database – it will repay you thousands of times over.