Be a budget hero.
Budget season is upon us.
You may well be asked to do more in 2024 with the same budget you had in 2023. Here’s a good way to make that happen.
Invest in a clear strong Brand. A Brand can be a powerful, cost-efficient way for an independent hotel to get a competitive edge. Unfortunately, "Brand" is often misunderstood. So let's start with that.
Your Brand is not your logo, tag line, ad campaign, mission statement or company colors. It's a supportable differentiation around which you deliver a unique value. "Branding" is what you use to deliver your Brand – your logo, web site, ad campaign and the rest of it.
Here's why a Brand can be so valuable to you.
First, the moment you change the way you characterize yourself from, say, "a hotel with this many rooms in this place" to "a hotel that is unique for these reasons," you narrow your competitive set. Suddenly, you're not just another pretty face with special offers. Potential guests know why you're different. And if that's the kind of different they want, they'll likely pay a premium for it.
Second, a clear Brand, developed from the inside-out, will help you zero in on your best target audiences. And it's a whole lot smarter to target the right people than target everybody and hope the right people get the message somehow.
Finally, without a clear Brand, you could find yourself competing on price. Driving carpet tacks into your gums is preferable to competing on price.
A clear brand will also ensure that all your marketing tools work together and reinforce one another. Which will make everything work a bit harder and more efficiently.
In other words, a clear Brand is worth real money. Cash money. The big chains spend tens of thousands of dollars on Brand development. They know how valuable it is across all of their properties. But you don't have to spend anything close to that if you (ahem) know the right people who can do it.
A solid Brand developed this year can last you 8-10 years if it's done right and you don't turn your property into an amusement park or something.
Do a little math. How much better will your bottom line be if you can boost your occupancy even just 10%-15% and/or tour ADR by $5 or so.
Do this: Ask 10 or 15 people in various positions at your property to tell you what they think your Brand is. If they don't know, or you get a bunch of different answers or if what you get is something your competition can easily claim, well then, you haven't really defined what sets you apart.
Carve out a reasonable amount of your 2024 budget to develop or clarify your Brand. You'll get more out of the rest of it if you do.
Be a hero.