Location, You Belong to the Amorphous
|By John R. Hendrie, CEO, Hospitality Performance, Inc., June 2005
Unless you operate a business in a very remote location, you belong to the amorphous “Brand-Scape”. Intriguing, complicated and challenging to hospitality operations and those who represent our interests. And, sadly, our visitor must do all the work, and we hope and pray that we stand out and get the business!
As we know, a branding strategy better defines our business/location for the consumer. It is not about only products, services and attractions. What it is about is creating for that potential visitor a compelling and unique Remarkable Experience, encouraging their travels to a destination. And, you frame this message, the brand, sensually and with great craft, whether you are the State Tourism Department, a destination area, or independent business. This brand “mosaic” is disseminated through many avenues and channels, theoretically in a collaborative fashion, hence, the “Brand-Scape”. Everyone is competing for attention and response!
“Brand-Scape” really starts at the state level: “Virginia is for Lovers”, “Arkansas, Vacations for Affordable Family Fun”, “Maine – a State of Mind”, and “Experience Washington” or even “Enjoy Illinois”. Here we have our tax dollars at work to promote all facets of the state, enticing potential visitors to consider Michigan as a destination state rather than Arizona. Then, we move into regions, like the Gold Coast, the Panhandle, the Bay Area, further focusing the potential visitor to our appeal, the excitement and adventure, and our hospitality. Next, we traverse into the specific destination areas, which may be distinct geography, like the Grand Strand, or a specific city and perhaps series of communities, like Taos, Santa Cruz or Milwaukee. Lastly, we have our own business, a key component of that “funnel”, and we must now deliver upon what has been touted by all these messengers!
Within this multi-dimensional vortex, we have our marketing organizations, tasked to represent each level within. Some we join for the additional “clout”; others represent our collective best interests “free of charge”, so to speak. Competition is keen for that consumer dollar.
But, what about the message broadcasted on our behalf? How are we being represented? We do have a voice and a responsibility to participate outside of our own walls. Successful DMO’s (Destination Marketing Organizations) continually seek our input, our ideas and our involvement. If we choose not to participate, we are not part of the process and therefore acquiesce our voice. If they do not engage us, that is a problem. Sometimes, the roles of these organizations are too defined and locally at odds with each other. I had a recent conversation with a CVB, which stated that their role was exclusively to promote the area. The level of product and service was not their responsibility; they had too many other things to do. As a visitor, I love that attitude. But, I digress. What about the message?
Tourism is a tricky business, especially as it has become the key economic driver for many areas. The manufacturing base has eroded, destination communities are in transition, budgets have been slashed, competition is fierce – money is tight. The consumer has ready disposable income, yet they are a cynical bunch, by and large, having been discouraged and even outraged by expectations dashed when they reach a destination. Just imagine all the promotional information they must slosh through, the “Brand-Scape”, until they get to your business. They have been bombarded. Those currents and swirling eddys are a mesmerizing blur. Get me the high waders and your guests a safe harbor
What we control as hospitality operators is our message and our own “Brand-Scape”. We have framed for our guest an anticipated experience. The primary source is through the Internet, where we “paint the picture” with our words, our photos, and most effectively, through Interactive Virtual Tours. When our Guest arrives, this representation must be evident in every aspect of our business which touches that guest. Our brand must shine, be distinct, be consistent, as an integral part of what we stated to be demonstrated – “QED” – our quality standards unimpeachable, our delivery brilliantly executed. It can be as simple as a color scheme or as complex as service standards. But, the first impression must be lasting and memorable. That becomes the value of our brand, and our entire business and delivery on our promise is within our “scape”.
You must get involved, internally and externally. As a member of a destination community, your inaction is not acceptable. Your messengers must be held accountable, and, you, as a stakeholder, have that responsibility to “hold their feet to the fire”. Within your own sphere of influence, your hospitality business, you control your message and the delivery. Be vigilant, for the “Brand-Scape” is very fluid and slippery!
John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.
|Also See:||Maximize the Performance of Your Greatest Asset - Your Employees / John R. Hendrie / May 2005|
|Preparing for the Assault by Organized Labor on Hospitality / John R. Hendrie / May 2005|
|Customer Service - Panacea or Placebo / John R. Hendrie / May 2005|
|How to Even the Playing Field, As Independents Suspiciously Eye the Chain Hotels / John R. Hendrie / April 2005|
|Oh, What a Web We Weave! Pitfalls with Descriptive Language / John R. Hendrie / April 2005|
|Woe is We! We in Hospitality Have Lost Touch and Share the Responsibility for Consumer Cynicism, Angst and Ennui / March 2005|
|Moving the Guest Comment Card from Paper to Paperless / John Hendrie / March 2005|
|Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association Launches 'Total Quality Destination' and Presents 'Gold Star of Excellence Awards' / March 2005|
|The Evolution of Guest Room Amenities / John Hendrie / February 2005|
|Advertising Integrity; Framing the Visitor's Expectation Through Print, Signage & Internet / John Hendrie / February 2005|
|Hospitality Trade Associations: What Have You Done for Me Lately? / February 2005|
|I Would Like to See your Hospitality Standards. Where Are They? Anybody Seen Them? / John Hendrie / January 2005|
|Remarkable Hospitality - the Road Map to Excellence; Exceeding the Expectations of our Guests / John Hendrie / January 2005|
|Are Your Guests Expecting Mediocrity with Your Hospitality Services? Move Your Level of Excellence to the Remarkable / John Hendrie / December 2004|
|Guest Services - A Tradition Diminished / John Hendrie / December 2004|
|Rescue from Mediocrity; The Decline of Service Etiquette - A Sequel / John Hendrie / November 2004|
|Offering Crushed Pepper Before Tasting the Entrée; The Decline of Restaurant Service Etiquette / John Hendrie / October 2004|
|Destination Marketing – How to rebuild your Reputation and the upcoming Season after the Hurricanes / John Hendrie / September 2004|
|Six Factors Which Dictate Success in Performing Destination Marketing / John Hendrie / September 2004|
|Influencing the Consumer to Book Business through Your Commitment to Quality / Aug 2004|
|Major Hotel Operators Have Rediscovered Hospitality Fundamentals by Revisiting the Guest Room / John R. Hendrie / July 2004|
|Destination Marketing 101: Take Care of Mom / John R. Hendrie / June 2004|
|Service Unions Combine, Presenting Huge Challenge to Hospitality Industry / John R. Hendrie / March 2004|
|What Value Quality? Most Hospitality Operators Use the Term “Quality” In their Advertising. What Exactly Does that Mean? / John R. Hendrie / April 2004|