The Hotel Branding to come. Trends in Hotel Brand Creation and Management in 2019

It’s been a while since we’ve been seen on the blog. We wanted to “give it a thought”, as they say here in Mallorca, and rethink the contents and strategy. It has been difficult, but here we are again willing to share thoughts, knowledge, expertise, and the odd prediction.

And that is precisely what this first post on our return is about. Christmas is an ideal time to take stock, but also to venture into proposing trends for the coming year. Today we will talk about the hotel branding that is coming to stay in this 2019 that we will soon be launching.

Branding in times of crisis

Spain’s leading hoteliers have experienced years of honey and roses. The insecurity in some countries around the Mediterranean and the economic upturn have benefited Spain as a holiday destination. The great demand favoured the rise in rates and the bonanza encouraged many to take the leap and reposition their brand with upgrades to higher categories and much more select brand experiences, entering premium and even luxury niches.

It seems that the occupancy forecasts for 2019 are not as positive as in previous years. The Brexit or the rise of other destinations in the Mediterranean environment that are direct competitors of our sun and beach, will put a stone in the path of growth in recent years. Faced with this situation of contraction, we are beginning to see movements in relation to the positioning of hotel brands that are seeking their place in the market. The three star category and a low-cost brand experience is beginning to be seen in some destinations not only as a differential, but also as the option that can attract a greater volume of clients in the not too distant future.

What will happen to the hoteliers who have opted for a brand strategy in higher niches? How will those who have positioned themselves lower down survive in a fierce fight for price? They will all have to work no longer on attracting and falling in love, but above all on building loyalty and retention. It is in this scenario that it will be more important than ever to raise differential brands and experiences in significance and relevance that will help create value and, as a consequence, justify a price.

Customization

To achieve this, one of the fundamental pillars of value creation will continue to be the personalisation of the service. The figure of the Guest Relations will gain even more weight. Technology is already a fundamental tool for capturing valuable information on how to use and consume the tourist product and enjoy the stays. Big Data, Technology, smart destinations, blockchain, are the present of the individualisation of the tourist experience, although we still have a long way to go before we can make real use of all these processes.

Unique and personal must also be the establishments, which must give an answer to those customers who are looking for a special accommodation that gives them a different and exclusive experience: interior design, gastronomy, the value of the local and the commitment to a good storytelling when communicating the attributes of the product are going to be decisive when creating a complete experience around the room.

Branding: realities, not promises

Another pillar will be the definition of a clear purpose in your brand platform. A society that is increasingly sensitive to social and environmental values will ask its brands to live up to their motivations and concerns if they are to remain present in their lives and portfolios. In such a society, three types of consumers will be decisive:

  • On one hand the millenials (who are slowly giving way to the Z generation): young people, activists, digital natives and very aware.
  • On the other hand, there are the seniors or silvers, who in a couple of decades may reach almost a third of the European population, and with purchasing power, especially in northern Europe.
  • And finally, women, the transversal segment that has traditionally been the majority responsible for purchasing decisions, including those related to leisure.

All three of these consumer segments have very demanding needs and aspirations. For hotel brands it will no longer be enough to say, but to endorse the good intentions of CSR programmes with reality. Talking less, and doing more, by proposing or refocusing tourism business models towards social and environmental sustainability and diversity.

As a result, and for the last couple of years, we have seen initiatives that, to a greater or lesser extent, attempt to respond to these concerns. The commitment from Iberostar for the preservation of seas and oceans; Melia’s commitment to the elimination of single-use plastics, or the attempts to offer experiences designed especially for women such as the Barceló Emperatriz hotel, are the findings of a social and market reality that must be looked face to face.

Brading importancia del personal

Brands for everybody, or everyone makes the brand

But it is not only the customers who make a mark. The hotel sector, which has traditionally focused its brand on a B2C environment, is beginning to understand that those who really pass on the experience to the customers are the employees of the house. Understanding that professional relationships are not between logos, but between people, and that what we at Mandarina call “the internal customer” is as important as the external customer, is going to be fundamental to the success of many rebranding and repositioning strategies. Making employees (and also suppliers and partners) part of the brand, ambassadors of values and a way of doing things, will enable us to talk about hotel brands with a B2P focus: Business to people. Our rebranding project for Hipotels Hotels & Resorts is an example of such strategies where the brand platform takes into account all audiences and different touchpoints.

Cambio de era branding

It is not an era of changes, it is a change of era

What is clear is that we are no longer what we used to be. As a society we understand relationships, including work relationships, in a different way; we are increasingly sensitive to the things that really matter; we want to leave our children a clean planet to live on; we want to eat healthier; there is an increasing awareness of equality; technology is our tool and makes our lives easier; we are the result of a society rich in nuances, diverse in skin colours, cultures, ways of thinking and feeling. We are plural and we want to share and exchange knowledge and experiences. The hotel sector does not live on the fringes of this reality, and we will link up with the hotel brands that stop talking about them and talk more about us (and above all with us) about what moves and worries us, about what moves us. We will stay with those that sell less and talk more.

We can talk about a general need to return to the basics, to the essentials, and to do so quickly. We are the generation of constant change; the one that has learned to live in uncertainty. The brands that accompany us will have to adapt to this constantly changing environment. The Branding departments will have to be less concerned with respecting a manual and more attentive to suggesting ways of making the brand’s uses more dynamic.

We will see how visual identities are increasingly open, less normative, more susceptible to growth and adaptation to new markets, new channels, new needs, new technologies; less rigid in order to be able to mould themselves to needs derived from changes in business strategy.

We will hear how verbal identities will gain weight thanks to the development and increasing use of voice assistants; how they will mutate at the speed that our way of speaking in the street is changing; how they will take into account new cultural and expressive sensibilities in a world that is becoming increasingly borderless and global.

A few conclusions

A hotel brand is intimately linked to guest satisfaction. Service undoubtedly defines the quality of the brand and the customer’s experience will continue to be fundamental thanks, above all, to the help and possibilities of technology.

Differentiating and positioning yourself will be vital in the year ahead: don’t try to make your hotel brand everything to everyone, as guests have different needs. Find your niche, define your platform and satisfy your guests.

Get wet, position yourself on the issues that matter to your guests and clients. Be authentic. Sell less and talk more. Don’t say and then don’t do and above all say little and do a lot for sustainability in any of its variants.

Don’t just think about the customers and count on all the members of your professional “tribe” to strengthen your brand: employees, suppliers, partners can be perfect ambassadors of your values and help you generate an unforgettable experience.

And don’t take anything for granted. Stay awake, open your eyes and create a brand that is waist-high enough to adapt to whatever comes your way. With less and less certainty to sustain us and more and more shifting ground, you have to be prepared for this changing environment.

An exciting 2019 awaits us in terms of hotel brand development and management. We invite you to follow it and enjoy it with us in this blog.

Pilar Domínguez
Pilar Domínguez
Directora creativa y especialista en branding
Mandarina Brand Society Mandarina Brand Society

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