The first gives your target traveller a place to fall in love with. The second helps solve that perennial issue – how to instil your unique hospitality ethos into your staff.
Let’s start with the first…
1. Create a brand story and help your travellers fall in love with your boutique hotel.
Your brand story is much more than your ‘elevator statement’ or what you have on your ‘About Us’ page. It encompasses how people relate to your hotel. The facts about it, the feelings it evokes. People want to know how your hotel, your brand, fits into their world. The truth is, without a brand story you’re setting yourself up to be a yet another disposable experience.
Your brand story is important in a world where target audiences have changed.
One of the traditional markets for luxury travel has always been the well-to-do over-50s. But the latest research reveals that it may be time to ditch the tired demographic model. Consumers around the world are constructing their own identities more freely than ever. And where they choose to stay is no longer shaped by 'traditional' segments, such as age, gender, location, income, family and status. Instead they’re eagerly seeking to make emotional connections with the brands around them. And that includes lifestyle hotels.
Bookings are no longer just about the facilities or service of your lifestyle hotel.
Recently a my stepson spent over 3 hours queuing for his first iPhone, which he proudly bought, though it was far beyond his means. Apple’s allure exists far beyond its products features and specifications. The essence of its branding is shot through everything it does, and everything Apple ‘touches’ seems magical. This can work for any brand – it can be true for your boutique hotel. Applying your brand story to every touchpoint, a potential guest’s relationship with your hotel can begin long before they actually decide to book with you.
Your brand story can give you more clues about how to approach your travellers than you realise. The way a boutique hotel or lifestyle hotel positions itself is often the way the guest sees themselves. If a customer thinks of themselves as ‘modern, sophisticated and flamboyant’, they look for a hotel that embodies those qualities. It validates their identity, in the same way a personal connection to iconic brands like Apple do.
Write a brand story that amplifies how unique your boutique hotel is.
Most of us cannot afford a truly one-of-a-kind holiday. But that doesn’t mean that boutique hoteliers can’t give their customers a distinctive experience. This is where it’s crucial that your brand story truly differentiates you.
When you sit down to write your story, these truths will make you distinctive: Get to the heart of why you care about your guests, about your property and your services. And the difference you make to the world. Ask yourself, why will people care about this? How does it add meaning to their lives? When you know who your prospective guests are and the significance your hotel brings to them, tell the story about how you fit into their lives and most special experiences.
Your brand story will be the source of everything that is likeable, desirable and wonderful about your boutique hotel.
As long as your brand story is accurate, then everything you do and say flows from it. As your business grows and changes, as the way the world communicates evolves – use it to keep everything on-brand and consistent:
Colours of your logo
The way you answer the phones
Content you post on social media
Staff that you employ
Everything that reflects the truth about your brand back to your audience
2. Use your boutique hotel brand story to instil your value system into your staff.
Employees are more than people that work for you, they’re living representations of your boutique hotel’s ethos. And hanging onto them is one of the hardest aspects of hotel management. Of employees, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks said, they “are the true ambassadors of our brands, the real merchants of romance and theatre, and as such the primary catalyst for delighting customers”.
Does your customer service live up to the Starbucks’s standard standard? Can it?
For employees to truly embody your boutique hotel’s brand they need to make a powerful emotional connection it. Without that connection, employees tend to undermine the expectations set by your advertising. Perhaps they don’t understand what you’ve promised the traveller, so they end up working at cross-purposes. Or it could be that they don’t actually believe in the brand and feel disengaged from it. Research shows that when people care about a brand, they’re motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity. That's great for guests and very good for business indeed. In this way your brand story becomes the foundation of your hotel brand and a strategy for future growth.
Use your brand story to win over your boutique hotel staff in the same way you connect with guests.
Ask yourself, “how well do my staff know and embody our values and vision?” Sharing these will be one of the most important pieces of communications you’ll ever make. The aim should be to instil a shared ethos in every single employee, so that your vision becomes shared. Done in the right way it will give employees more than a purpose. It will give them passion. Use your brand story to share your hotel’s magic with your employees as if they were prospective guests. Create and demonstrate that magic for them in everything you do and say.
This is how your brand story reenergises your staff and boosts your boutique hotel’s bottom line.
Red Carnation Hotel Collection recruits individuals who have a ‘certain flair’ and train them, tirelessly. Intercontinental Hotels Group trains staff using ‘Learning Maps’, allowing employees to experience the brand’s tone and style by walking in their guests shoes. Claridges in London motivates employees to nurture bonds with regulars, and staff are expected to have an innate ‘ability to create a magical experience’. The five star One Aldwych describes themselves as a ‘snob-free zone’ where staff are asked to serve in their own natural way with ‘kindness’ and ‘from the heart’. These distinctive management styles come directly from distinctive brand stories. Top London hotels know that winning over brand ambassadors is good for business. Their staff stay on longer, they’re more productive, and guests enjoy themselves more.
How The Copysmith can help you write a brand story for your boutique hotel.
Working closely with you, we’ll explore your brand’s mission and vision. Together we’ll identify the thinking and values that shape your lifestyle hotel’s culture. Looking at your value proposition and emotional selling points we can shape the way you would like to be seen by your travellers. Our role is to work on how to communicate your essence, write your brand identity and put together the story that will reflect it all. Call us on 01225 590 933 to talk it through.