Until my Budapest conference, what I called market niche other hospitality consultants call branding. I want to share some of the concepts I gleaned from conference conversations about branding, and translated to the B&B industry, so you can start changing your vocabulary along with me.
The B&B market is in transition: from a young industry to a maturing industry, from a well kept secret to a mainstream travel option, and from “build it and they will come” marketing to targeted marketing. The B&B industry attracts a more discerning guest who wants to know what their guest experience is going to be.
Given this transition phase, a strong brand matters. It gives you the competitive edge that will make the difference between surviving and flourishing. A B&B’s brand is an intangible asset but it provides tangible business that adds to the inn’s value. The B&B’s marketing, business, and hospitality activities must be consistent with the established brand to improve that edge and value. Consistency is critical to your success.
Once the brand has been established, the message needs to be conveyed to prospective guests. A clear message will be heard above the noise of other B&B properties clamoring for attention. Strong branding helps differentiate between B&Bs to help guests choose the experience that is right for them, above and beyond price. A strong brand image with clear values and attributes will help foster new and developing guest relationships.
Brands matter in developing the inn’s business because they:
- encourage guest loyalty
- help gain market share
- ultimately allowing premium pricing
Given the importance of brands, it’s important to develop the “right” brand and strategy to insure your success.
Weave the brand throughout the business since it is your statement of who you are. When the brand is an integral aspect of the business strategy, the consistency in everything you do creates a complete guest experience. The experience includes such items as your business rules and policies, your hospitality style, your attire, the logo and where it’s used, the ambiance in the inn, and the location as it relates to the brand. Weaving the brand through the business is only part of your challenge, Another part is effectively communicating that brand promise to your guests. Your marketing must accurately reflect reality, your food and furnishings must be in line with the promise, and the hospitality and atmosphere are reflections of the brand. The brand is as effective as the weakest link in the business. Guest expectations are cultivated by your promise and their experience. Don’t disappoint them. Keep your brand strong.
To maintain consistency your need is to implement controls to insure that the brand promise is delivered in all aspects of the guest experience. If you promise, for example, speed and efficiency, and then don’t have the staff to implement a quick check-in/out, the guest’s perception will be you haven’t lived up to your promise and your brand reputation starts to crumble. If you promise elegance but don’t have a dress code that bans sweat suits for staff, you’ve undermined your brand promise. Focus on weaving the brand throughout the business so that you deliver what the guest has been promised and expects. Choose the right brand so it’s easy for you to deliver the promise and thus be successful.
There’s one more terrific advantage to having a strong brand: not only does it help the business, but the clarity of purpose helps to increase your personal satisfaction with running your inn.