The Building Blocks of a Great Indie Hotel Brand
July 11, 2022
Being an independent hotel owner can be both rewarding and difficult.
With more freedom, you have the ability to tailor your hotel to meet the wants and needs of your guests. But that also means you need to take on a lot of the day-to-day tasks that a full-service hotel chain would handle for you.
If you don’t have a big, well-known brand to rely on, then the task of building your hotel’s brand may seem overwhelming and scary.
This has left many indie hoteliers wondering how to create a brand that supports and grows their business, the way a large hotel chain does.
The truth is, that every hotel brand is different and has its own strategy for building a strong brand. Yet all successful independent hotel brands have a few certain things in common. In this article, we’ll go over some key things you need to know about developing a strong independent hotel brand.
Know Your Audience
A great hotel brand is one that understands its audience intimately.
So take some time to get to know your target guest. Who are they? What do they care about? Why should their needs matter to you?
The answers to these questions will help inform every aspect of your approach to marketing campaigns, interior design, programming, guest service standards, and much more. If you don’t know who your guests are, then how can you expect them to return again and again?
The more you know about your guests, the more you can make them feel valued and appreciated. And when they feel valued and appreciated, they want to return again and again.
Create a Consistent Brand Personality
As an independent hotel brand, it’s important to create a consistent brand personality and ensure that your brand is telling the right story at every guest touchpoint.
A strong brand persona has three characteristics: it’s consistent across channels; it’s authentic, and it’s memorable.
Consistency means being clear about who you are and what your values are so that every employee across every touchpoint can speak with one voice about your company — from social media posts to emails, from phone calls to guest interactions at check-in or during housekeeping visits.
Authenticity means that every employee should be able to speak from the heart about what your hotel is all about.
Develop a Unique Value Proposition
Your brand must communicate clearly what makes you unique and different in the marketplace. Having great amenities is great, but it isn’t enough; you must tell a captivating story to your customers. This can be done through marketing campaigns and social media posts that showcase your unique offerings and experiences.
You must also make promises to your guests, and keep those promises.
A good brand promise tells potential customers what they can expect from your hotel — not just what you do, but why it matters to them as well as how it will impact their experience as guests at your property. It should be memorable, easy to understand, and consistent across all channels of communication so that everyone knows what you stand for. The goal is for customers to recognize your brand by its promise even before seeing any other information about it.
Manage Your Online Image
The internet has changed how people travel. No longer are they going to a travel agent or looking at guide books. They’re going online, and they want to know everything about the hotel before they arrive. Because of this, your online presence and reputation are critical to your success.
It’s important to manage guest perceptions related to your hotel
It’s important to manage guest perceptions related to your hotel – this requires intentional effort and action to manage your online presence by responding to reviews and curating your brand’s image.
Some of the best ways to do this include being responsive on social media, interacting with your guests, and responding quickly to reviews. Also, you should ensure that your brand’s image is accurately showcased on OTAs and review sites like Trip Advisor, Google, Expedia, Booking.com, and the likes.
One of the worst things you can do is overpromise and under-deliver, so be sure that your hotel’s online image aligns with your actual guest experience.
Immerse Your Guests in the Local Area
If there’s one thing we know about travelers, it’s that they want to feel like they belong. They want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and their vacation. And this means more than just being surrounded by other hotels and attractions — it means feeling connected with the city itself. That’s why it’s so important for indie hotels to forge strong relationships with local businesses and organizations.
Travelers want to feel like locals, not tourists
Travelers want to feel like locals, not tourists. They want to discover hidden gems and venture off the beaten path. They want to explore their destination and immerse themselves in its culture.
By taking the time to develop an independent hotel brand that stands out from the competition, you’ll set your property up for long-term success.
In the end, the most important thing is to stay true to yourself, your property, and your brand. What makes your hotel unique? What story do you want to tell? Odds are, it’s something special—something truly worth sharing and celebrating.
Partner at Longitude°
Jeremy is the author of Future Hospitality and Brand Strategist at Longitude°. As a member of the Education Committee for The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and a content contributor to Cornell University’s Hospitality Vision and Concept Design graduate program, he is a committed thought leader in hotel branding, concepting, and experience strategy.