How to Rebrand a Hotel Successfully

April 6, 2021
Jeremy Wells

“The only constant thing in life is change.”

Running a hotel isn’t for everyone. The pressure to hit performance goals, manage your staff and culture, and provide guests with the best service possible is a daily struggle for many. This means that hoteliers must constantly be searching for new ideas, systems, and approaches that make their lives easier and their hotel more successful. 

Rebranding is a valuable strategy that many independent hoteliers use to position their property better in the marketplace, highlight their unique story, benefit from reduced commissions and fees, and draw in more guests with a strong, unique independent hotel brand.

Think of a rebrand like updating the operating system on your smartphone. With the update, you gain new features, designs, systems, and structures while keeping much of the existing infrastructure and team in place. You’re breathing new life into your space. With the proper “system updates”, your property will benefit from the added efficiencies, clarity in your team, and change in brand perceptions. 

If you’re reading this, chances are that you are considering a rebrand. So, with that in mind, I’ll discuss why a rebrand may be needed, how to approach it, and things to consider.

Why Rebrand?

Before we get into the dos and don’ts of rebranding, you need to understand how rebranding might be beneficial for your hotel and why it is needed in the first place. There are several advantages of rebranding, but I’m going to cover a few of the primary reasons a rebrand may make sense for your hotel. 

Competition is Drowning You Out

The first, and the most common reason hotels choose to rebrand is to keep their property one step ahead of their competition. You can almost guarantee that your competitors are figuring out how to pull market share away from you, so it’s in your best interest to make that more difficult for them. A rebranding will allow you a chance to position your hotel strategically in your customer’s mind, so you can stand out as a clear, and better choice.

You’re Missing Out on Certain Customers

In that same vein, rebranding can help you attract new customer types. Are you wanting to gain traction with business travelers? Do you want your brand to be more appealing to millennials? Are extended stay guests your ideal target? If you aren’t garnering attention from a certain customer type, then a rebrand may be in order. Rebranding your property allows you to pivot in your property design, service offering, marketing message, and brand image — ensuring that you are capturing the right attention from the right audience.

You Want to Keep More Profits

In today’s landscape, boutique and independent hotels can be very profitable. This is a clear benchmark for any hotel to measure and is obviously an exciting one. It should be clear that if you’re able to retain and gain more market share from your competitors and attract the ideal guests to your property, your bottom line should see the benefit. Not only that, but rebranding from a chain hotel to an independent property gives you some freedom and flexibility — and you don’t have to pay fees associated with a chain property.

Flexibility with Features & Amenities

With this added flexibility, you can get more creative with your amenities and features. Rebranding gives you a chance to step back, and reassess what makes your property unique and decide if it’s something that should be changed or something that can be repurposed as a positive. For instance, if your property has exterior corridors, you may have felt limited in the past — being seen as only a budget motel. But by rebranding to a more modern, nostalgic roadside motel, and adding a few simple amenities, perks, and features, you can turn a “negative” feature into a strong, unique selling point for your property. Rebranding allows you to accommodate things that you want, and eliminate ones that you don’t.

How To Approach A Rebranding 

Rebranding can be an enormous shift and require a lot more than just swapping out signage and designs on your business card. To do a rebrand correctly, it must be carried out only after meticulous, strategic planning. To provide you with some guidance, I’ve compiled a few thoughts on how to go about rebranding. 

First, Ask “Why?”

The first thing to consider in this process is why do you think you need to rebrand. Do you believe your hotel needs additional features, renovation, or you seek to make it a better choice for your customers? The reason you are rebranding will determine the kind of rebranding plan you should devise. 

Know your audience

The key purpose of rebranding is to connect to a greater audience. Thus, the first and the most important step in rebranding is getting familiar with the demands of your customers. Studying about your customers will help you map out a plan that caters to their needs. 

Discuss it with your staff

Your staff is very crucial to the success of your rebranding. They are the representatives of your hotel. They are the ones who inadvertently promote it. There must be good communication between you and your staff because they will be handling its management during and after the rebranding. You need to motivate them and brief them about their responsibilities. 

Convince your stakeholders

Your stakeholders are just as vital as your customers. Involve them early and as often as necessary. Discuss your plan of rebranding with managers, executives, and others. You need to ensure that these members agree with your strategies and. Do not forget to adhere to their considerations, opinions, and advice so that everyone and everything can work in harmony.

Establish an Internal Team

You need to appoint a set of individuals that are responsible, trustworthy, and hardworking to be responsible for important roles. Select the right team members who will be able to provide insights about the needs of the customers, and voice their feedback on the changes taking place. Discuss the desired outcomes of the rebrand, and filter decisions through those decisions.

Scope of Rebranding

The next thing you should focus on is what is the extent of the rebranding. Do you need to make marginal changes, or you want to start fresh? The scale of your rebranding will help you understand the financial aspect of rebranding. While a small-scale rebranding program may be easier to manage and cost-friendly, a large-scale rebranding can require a large financial investment. Therefore, you need to make a rebranding plan which fits your current budget. 

Stay in Budget

Rebranding is a time-taking and expensive change. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have enough budget to support a rebranding. You can even consider keeping the hotel open for guests while rebranding, but only when you can guarantee that the guest will face no inconvenience during the process. 

Get Help from Hotel Branding Experts

You only know what you know, and that’s okay. Getting outside help is often necessary to go through a successful rebranding. There are hotel consultants, branding agencies, and design groups that can help you in different capacities. Consider your own skills and experience, and where you may need to bring in additional outside support.

Shameless plug, but our team at Longitude is more than capable of guiding you through a rebranding process, and can also connect you with any other hospitality vendors and hotel consultants to help you along the way.

Final Words

In conclusion, I can say from experience, that rebranding a hotel is most successful when it is done systematically and strategically. It’s not a decision that should be made on a whim. Yet, at the same time, it’s not something you should delay. If your hotel is struggling, or you’re sensing an opportunity cost building, then a rebrand may be exactly what you need.

I hope this article has given you more clarity on how you should proceed with your rebrand, and if I can be of any help along the way please don’t hesitate to contact me at jeremy@longitudebranding.com.

Jeremy Wells

Partner at Longitude°

Jeremy is a Partner at Longitude°. He’s also the author of “Future Hospitality”, a book focused on how branding can create more impactful guest experiences. Additionally, he’s an honored member of the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) Education Committee and has spoken at industry events and associations including AAHOA, Global Hospitality Summit, Hospitality Talks, and more.