According to Interbrand, a brand can be defined as “the sum of all expressions” by which an entity, say, a person, or a company wants to be recognized. The phrase “sum of all expressions” is key here, as this is where the secret of branding lies. Branding is all about expressing who you are as a company and communicating the unique values you swear by to elevate customer experiences. From the point of view of a small hotel, a hotel branding strategy is especially crucial, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.
So, without any further ado, let’s understand why creating an impactful hotel branding strategy is essential for an independent, small hotel.
Importance of A Hotel Branding Strategy In The Hospitality Industry
Successful branding enhances your hotel’s recall value, meaning customers will remember your hotel and be able to distinguish it from competitors. Over time, when you consistently deliver to the standards your brand has set, customers will trust the experience you offer, thus establishing loyalty.
Effective branding in the hotel industry not only builds everlasting impressions on customers but also on investors looking to finance promising businesses. A brilliantly crafted small hotel brand can attract funds with ease and expand its operations with returning guests.
Branding will give purpose and direction to your hotel brand experience. The content you post online (on your website, social media, etc.) will be in harmony with the image you want to portray and the standards you want to set.
All in all, powerful branding can breathe life into your hotel, giving it an identity that your guests can bond with. So let’s dive deeper and discuss everything that goes into branding a hotel.
Tips To Brand A Small Hotel
1. Make Note of Your USPs
To stand out from the crowd, you must embrace your uniqueness and emphasize it in your branding. Evaluate your hotel brand experience from a guest’s perspective and see what stands out the most. For example, if your hotel is at a remote location in the Himalayas, then your USP could be the local cultural experience and the solitude you bring to the table.
You could differentiate yourself on the basis of a number of factors — location, homely or luxurious experience, local food, building architecture, nearby sites, in-house facilities, etc.
For instance, SeaShell Resorts incentivize their guests by enriching their Andaman experience, which is already popular for its scenic sunsets and beautiful beaches, with cosy rooms and spas.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Every hotel caters to a specific audience segment. Be it backpackers, luxury seekers, corporate employees, families, couples, students, etc. Yourbranding must speak to your target audience, which is why defining your ideal guest is crucial.
Ultimately, visitors want to buy the experiences they feel have especially been created for them. So, say you’re targeting luxury enthusiasts, your hotel branding design must reflect the style, class, and opulence your guests will prefer during their stay. For instance, you can showcase your spa services, exotic cuisines, state-of-the-art architecture, lavish services, etc.
Hotel Willow Banks offers one of the most luxurious stays in Shimla. If you visit their website, you can easily imagine how a luxury seeker would get enamoured by the grandeur they have portrayed — from their fine dining restaurant to the serene sky bar.
3. Create a Visual Hotel Branding Design
They say that the first taste is with the eyes; thus creating a visual identity will be the most vital step of your hotel branding process.
Logo, colours, and design play a huge role in this. Your hotel brand’s identity design should reverberate through everything — interiors, hotel stationery, logo, online ads, website design, social media posts, complimentary hotel products, messaging fonts, etc.
To start with the basics, first decide on the colour scheme for your logo, as that will set the tone for all other branding initiatives. Choose a colour palette that best goes with the atmosphere you want to create. For example, if your hotel caters to backpackers or students, you can choose a colourful or funky colour scheme.
The image below is a perfect example of how a colour scheme can speak volumes for your hotel brand’s image. The white and grey colour scheme adopted by the hotel gives you a soft, sober, and classy ambience.
Once your colour scheme is set, you can focus on designing the logo. Put a lot of ideation into this, as your logo will be the identification of your small hotel brand. A well-designed logo creates positive first impressions and inspires trust in audiences that have never interacted with your brand before.
Apart from that, pick a font you will use for messaging on your website, menus, instruction manuals, etc. All in all, your brand’s aesthetic should be so powerful that it manifests the guest experience you have designed. Meaning, your visitor should look at your website and get a taste of the kind of experience they can expect.
4. Market Your Guest Experience Online
The best way to create a presence on social media is to exhibit the guest experience you offer, and doing it smart (images captured from inviting angles). Think happy customers — chatting, enjoying, and having a gala time in your hotel. You want to create a hotel branding strategy that paints a happy picture. Alternatively, you could take photos of your signature dishes, tantalizing enough to tickle a foodie’s taste buds.
To market a new hotel, photo-first social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Facebook provide ample opportunities for a small hotel business to get recognized. From trending reels to carousels, stories, highlights, etc., you can really pull out all the stops to entice your guests for a visit.
Take a look at Keys Hotels’ Instagram handle. From becoming the go-to leisure stay destinations across India to becoming the perfect venue for social gatherings and dining, they’ve captured everything from the best possible perspective online.
As a part of their hotel branding strategy, many hotels pay special attention to marketing their location, as most tourists visit for site-seeing. So pictures capturing the scenic beauty of the sites surrounding or near your hotel are a must.
You could also post customer-clicked photos to make your social media branding look more authentic and real. At the end of the day, hospitality is not just about the wide range of services a small hotel offers, but also about providing care for your guests. And the best way one can portray this is through user-generated content.
You can also write first-hand guest experiences as captions for these posts, to instil trust in visitors who are coming to your hotel page for the first time.
Speaking of trust, hotels these days invite celebrities and influencers to stay and document their experience. As a small hotel brand, if you don’t have the budget to sponsor a celebrity’s stay, you can always look for micro-influencers that will be willing to come over and promote their stay with you.
Finding travel bloggers that have followers similar to your target audience would be an ideal scenario for this hotel branding strategy.
5. Try The Micro Branding Approach
In the context of branding in the hospitality industry, micro branding is when apart from marketing your hotel as a whole, you also independently promote the distinct amenities and experiences you offer. This can include your restaurant, banquet, roof-top bar, etc.
But if you don’t have the resources to add separate amenities and market them, then you need not start big. You can utilize already existing facilities and highlight their distinct value propositions.
For example, the common area or lounge in your hotel can be branded as a place to relax and socialize. If you have a balcony area with a view, you can add amenities like yoga mats, bookshelves, comfortable cushions and brand it as a place to rejuvenate, read, meditate, etc. It may sound redundant, but it’s necessary to advertise even the obvious.
To add a sense of exclusivity, you could also name each of these areas after the experiences they offer.
Through micro branding, you can illustrate the diversity and wholesomeness of your hospitality. Customers only fancy the best, and micro branding is a way of convincing them that you offer the very best of everything.
Choose A Good Hotel Booking Engine To Level Up Your Hotel Branding Strategy
Tourists might chance upon your hotel through different mediums online, but these days, most people prefer to visit a hotel’s website, perform due diligence, and book directly.
The booking process is the very first point of contact your customer will have with your hotel’s services, which is why the experience needs to uphold your hotel brand’s values and standards.
This is where a good hotel booking engine comes into play.
Guests expect a hassle-free booking experience, and the right booking engine can make the booking process seamless, establishing a favourable first impression and trust. And if the booking experience is riddled with glitches and bugs, those leads might go along with you.
Working on a hotel branding strategy can be tricky, but if you stick to the plan, you can attract a large audience from nothing. Customers of today appreciate personalized experiences, so it is a good idea to consider that while making any irreversible changes.
Moreover, through an integrated booking engine, you can create packages and combos that have been customized to appeal to your ideal customer’s needs. This way, you can aptly meet your guest’s expectations and lay the foundation for recurring intent, all the while making your guests’ booking experience free free-of-hiccups. Moreover, a customizable booking engine can easily blend in with your hotel brand by adapting to your brand’s colours, fonts, and messaging.
If you want to know more about what AxisRooms’s booking engine brings to the table and how it adds value to your hotel brand management, request a demo now!