Mastering the art of luxury hotel branding

Mastering the art of luxury hotel branding

As soon as we enter a five-star hotel, we expect warm welcome at reception, beautiful architecture and interiors, exquisite gastronomy, magnificent spa, wellness facilities and inhouse entertainment options. Most of the five-star hotels would meet all these expectations, then what really makes your hotel stand out from other five-star hotels? For today’s demanding, well informed and discerning consumers, luxury hotels need to rise above the normal and carve a strong niche and differentiation for itself to really stand out from the crowd.

‘How you make your guest feel’, can provide a clear-cut differentiation. A well-anchored service culture allows a hotel to not only create value but also generate profit and conquer competition. Anticipating the unexpressed wishes and needs of the guests and making them feel special is the secret sauce to win them. Going an extra mile to ‘Wow’ the guests at every touch point, from the moment they check-in to their entire stay to checkout can make their experience truly memorable.

Simple gestures like addressing the guests by their name and serving them each time with a ‘smile’ can make a big difference. Investing in the right people by training and empowering them is the key for developing culture of service excellence. Research confirms that employee happiness is directly corelated with employee proficiency. Thus, happy employees make happy customers’.

Global luxury brands can practice this philosophy by empowering their employees with adequate training, resources and decision making capabilities to provide ultimate guest experience. By offering genuine care, warmth and empathy, emotional connect is developed between the hotel and the guest, which result in building long-lasting relationship and loyalty among guests.

Today, luxury hotels feel the pressure to create unique positioning in the minds of their guests. Various hotels are attempting to distinguish themselves by providing tailor-made, authentic and exceptional experiences for their guests. Understanding each guest’ unique needs, their reason for stay (business/ vacation / wedding celebration), etc. can really help the hotels to personalize the visit. Hotels try to curate incredible moments like organizing special breakfast, arranging nature walk at beautiful location, decorating guest room with their favorite flowers and not to forget- book their most preferred spa. Magical experiences are designed to create unforgettable memories such as snorkeling in the house reef with expert Marine Biologist or taking a zipwire through the rainforest to dine in the treetops.

As we know, the golden rule of luxury- ‘it is all about creating and selling dreams’. Therefore, storytelling can be a powerful weapon for these brands. Well-developed brand narratives, built on a brand’s history, vision, values, location or people, can not only place the brand uniquely in client’s mind but also create desire and aspiration among clients. Leading global brands, often in their campaigns, bring to life the unique stories of guests who have stayed at their various hotels, with focus on personalized stays.

Mandarin Oriental in their campaign, introduce audiences around the world to the celebrities that love and stay at the group’s hotels. Alia Bhatt is the newest ambassador of Mandarin Oriental’s ‘The Fan’ campaign. She confesses that Mandarin Oriental New York is her personal favourite. Luxury brands don’t chase customers, rather they attract people to them. Hence, these brands should be showcased as a part of lifestyle of high-end celebrities, to arouse desirability among others.

Another important way to create differentiation is to showcase uniqueness of each property, be it related to local culture, local cuisine or even local natural attractions. True luxury hotel brands develop and nurture hospitality and integrate it into brand’s DNA. Luxury hotel brands are also working on asset rejuvenation strategy to restore timeless heritage and ensure that precious properties will continue to hold their iconic status for next generations. While at the same time, it is important to stay relevant to the current times in terms of design, style and materials which can be made relatable to younger generations. Brands are emphasizing on renovations with the involvement of local craftsmen to make sure the design feels modern, relevant and true to the brand.

Various hotels are also leveraging technology to not only increase operational efficiencies but also to provide personalized and experience-driven environment. Bots are used to offer anything from in-room services to contactless feedback. Smart rooms assist in various room functions, such as managing temperature, lighting, entertainment, etc. It enables guest to easily obtain local knowledge, like best shopping mall in town or most beautiful places to visit in town or near by supermarket, without the assistance of hotel staff.

In addition, centralized database should be created so that when a guest stays at one property of a particular brand, they could be easily identified on their next visit to any other property of the same brand. Their likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. should all be taken into consideration at all properties of the brand to provide a consistent, personalized and seamless experience to the guest. This will bring a sense of belongingness to the clients, which will certainly turn them into brand ambassadors and brand advocates. Even though technology is becoming an integral part and a must-have tool in the arsenal of luxury hotel brands, nothing can replicate the importance of human element in hotel industry. To create magic, hoteliers need to provide once in a life time experience to the guests and live up to the brand’s promise.