Hotels' branding frenzy tastes vanilla Part 1
Imagine you woke up in a room of a random brand hotel. If all the leaflets were removed from the room, would you know which hotel you are in? And how about it’s lobby? If you were asked to close your eyes, then someone would help you through the door and sit you on a sofa, you opened your eyes, would you know which hotel’s brand it’s this lobby? With very few exceptions, I know I wouldn’t have a clue. I guess I could tell what class of establishment it was, whether it's budget, luxury, boutique etc but that’s pretty much it. And that's not good.
So hotels have dived in the world of branding for the sake of branding. Someone, somewhere has decided that what people need is more hotels brands. Each big brand has sister brands, children brands, cousin brands and cousin’s dog brands. There are so many of hotel brands nowadays that no one has the faintest clue which one belongs to whom. But you know what is the best part? No one cares.There, I said it. We, the customers, don’t care which brand belong to which and what is it’s target demographic. We just don’t. Ok, so what, I hear you ask. it works for them, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s the thing. It doesn’t. Not in a full meaning of how a brand should work. Ok, someone decided that more hotel brands is better but someone forgot to add that brand is just a empty word if it doesn't evoke feelings and emotions about it. Think of it this way. When is the last time you bought a product specifically because you knew it was a particular’s brand sister brand? You didn’t? Is it because you weren’t bothered or you weren’t looking for such feature in the first place? Either way, my point exactly. We choose specific brands because brands answer questions such as who am I, how do I perceive myself or how do I want others to perceive me etc. Makers of consumer products know this. So they spend many coins to make whatever it is they make look appealing to you. They even go step further than that and put a lot of emphasis on making the products feel life-stylish. And so they employ smart talking people who’s job is to make you feel good about yourself IF only you choose their product. Cars for the active, deodorants for the strong and independent, fizzy drinks for the young and free, etc and so on. You get the picture.
Hotels however are somehow different. Instead of making their products provide us with an answer to who am I if I choose to stay at your hotel, they have diluted the diversity for the sake of branding itself. And led to a total and absolute lack of distinction in the industry. Maybe hotels don't need that I hear you say. Maybe it's good that same brand hotel in Tokio feels exactly the same as same brand hotel in Paris. I've got one word for you - AirBnB. Unique stays which truly feel like they're the part of the local culture. Guests love it. They have voted with their wallets. Period. So what can be done to help hotels regain it? Lessons learnt, smart words aside, the clever thing to do would be to put customer focus back into the brands, which can be done in various ways. Hold onto that thought, we will carry on in part 2.