I was traveling in Europe last week visiting customers and partners and staying in a variety of hotels as it was a multi-country trip. Two of the legs of the trip were in Belgium and the Netherlands where I had the opportunity to stay at a couple of the hotels in the ibis Hotel chain. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in hotel management or hotel marketing but there were some features of these hotels that caught my eye and made me think of a couple very important characteristics of a well-done branding campaign.
Thus, here is a small case study from my experience last week.
I’ve stayed in the ibis hotels a few times on previous trips to Europe and twice on this trip so my sampling for this study is not large. But, I have seen some similarities across the chain that led me to want to highlight them.
The picture to the left is a small stand-up display card located in both of my rooms. The message is letting me know that whatever the problem I may encounter, they will resolve it in 15 minutes or less or the room is on them. Their Quality Assurance page on their website shows the same message in English. In the Netherlands, I didn’t have a problem but there was a minor issue needing resolution. To me it was not urgent and would not have affected my stay, but an out-of-breathe employee was at my door with a resolution in under 15 minutes. He smiled and let me know he had it done in 12. But, the best part – he was proud of it and you could see that.
Other similar displays touching on their level of service were posted throughout the hotel and for each I could probably drum up an example of an employee backing up the guarantee. The advertisements and messaging were created in a main headquarters somewhere – but the execution and strengthening of the message on a daily basis is being carried out by the employees. This leads us to a very key point – a campaign or branding message is nothing without the proper execution of the customer facing employees.
As Marketers we brainstorm creative deliveries of key company brand characteristics but sometimes overlook the importance of making sure everyone understands what we’re trying to accomplish and say. Here are a few key steps in assuring all front line employees can back up your go-to-market efforts:
- Training: It doesn’t take too long to get key personnel in a room or on a webinar and present a few slides on your branding or campaign effort. The last thing you want is for them to hear of the campaign from a customer. If the customer feels a disconnect between the campaign or message and the employee to which they’re talking, the whole thing has a lot less weight in the customer’s eyes.
- Give Campaign Material a Dry Run: You’ve got the perfect graphics, presentations, advertisements, brochures, slogans, and imagery ready to roll, but why not take a step back and release it internally first. Yes, you may not hear exactly what you want, but the impressions and feedback from your internal co-workers can help fine tune the materials for the customer.
- Step Into the Interaction: I’ve made it a habit to travel with salespeople and present our positioning to customers and partners – or watch them do it. How comfortable are they with what they’re presenting? How is it being received by the customer? What questions are generated? It’s not that I don’t trust the feedback if I’m not present, but there is nothing like seeing it real-time.
Again, I’m not a hotel brand expert but the key message is the same across many industries – Employees need to reinforce brand positioning. Any disconnect will trigger a lack of confidence with the customer. I was curious if there was other content floating around about similar topics and there is quite a bit.