The 10th National Business Travel Monitor (a nationally projectable survey of business travel trends) has an interesting finding …business travelers display a clear preference for full-service lodging in “branded” properties (e.g., part of some recognizable national chain).” Another report in Hotel & Motel Management discusses the recent influx of branding experts in the hospitality industry. Is the brand poised to take its rightful place in a REVPAR and ADR driven industry where the product is a “perishable commodity” and the “best available discounted rate” usually prevails over “loyalty points”?
The brands never really left the battlegrounds. A brand is a symbol of hope and stability when all things begin to look and sound alike. As hotels compete for the same customer, the dividing lines begin to blur. Example – boutiques that combine business-traveler friendly amenities with modern chic look and feel a lot less unlike their annoyingly stylish but impractical predecessors. As economy hotels add fancier amenities to their list, they are perceived less and less as “economy” options. A brand is a re-assuring experience in such a marketplace. In recent times, the brand (always an expensive asset to build and maintain) has struggled to maintain its relevance as online discounts, ipod-induced technology-frenzy and complimentary breakfasts trumped competition. As Anthony Berger, c.o.o. of Wyndham Hotel Group, who also worked at Kraft, notes, “Brand building has not always been a focus of the hotel industry, which shows in the fact that of the top 50 or 100 brands in the world, none are lodging companies.” If a brand is an experience, the hotel industry has lagged ..remarkably behind. With the accelerated growth of online advertising and the expected boom in immersive rich-media campaigns, the new focus on branding couldn’t have come a day sooner.