We are in the midst of a period of seismic transformation within the hospitality industry. Businesses are under pressure to adapt to the changing environment. Customer expectations have changed, traditional market segments have been decimated, operations are under scrutiny in light of rising costs and staff shortages, and the adoption of technology within the industry is accelerating. Strategies deemed winning pre-pandemic are, in many cases, dated and need rethinking. Brands are being forced to revisit all aspects of their business.
So given the pressures rendering pre-pandemic strategies in some cases irrelevant, what next? With the cost-of-living crisis we are facing, an overhaul of brand and positioning in the form of a ‘rebrand’ can be too big, too costly, and too unwieldy an undertaking for many. However, we need to consider how we adapt and modify our brand and consumer offering to meet changing customer needs. The critical question hospitality businesses should be asking themselves now is ‘How relevant is my business?’
What is ‘Brand Relevance’?
Brand relevance is concerned with adapting strategies, products, and service in response to changing trends. The last few years have changed how consumers interact with brands; this is particularly true within hospitality. To thrive, brands need to listen to the needs and wants of the post-pandemic consumer and modify their strategy and offering accordingly. They need to shape their product and service to consumer expectations to ensure they remain relevant in the eyes of the customer. This has never been so important as in today’s post-pandemic market.
Why is brand relevance so crucial for hotels?
Tourism has reportedly accounted for close to 20% of online coverage for the term ‘rebranding’, the highest from a single sector, highlighting the collective importance the industry is placing on strategic realignment in response to changing market conditions. The rapid, and in some cases permanent, changes driving the need to re-evaluate our positioning is irrefutable. Business travel levels remain down on pre-pandemic levels. Some inbound markets remain closed. There is ongoing nervousness around rising prices, and airline and airport worker strikes have dampened the appetite for travel. Hotels find themselves looking for innovative ways of providing expected service levels with overstretched teams.
With ongoing uncertainty, customers’ needs have also changed, meaning travellers now demand flexibility in their bookings without incurring costs if amended. And when they arrive at your hotel, the rise of the digitised guest means they expect to manage their stay from their handheld device.
The speed with which the landscape is changing means hotels can’t afford to stand still and rely on tried and tested strategies. Brands need to rethink their proposition to stay relevant in the eyes of the consumer and to survive. The good news is this doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your business – building brand relevance can be achieved by implementing modifications to your product and positioning in response to customers’ needs and wishes. It is a practical and cost-effective way to stay connected to your customer and survive the chaotic and challenging landscape under which we are operating.
So, if you are questioning the relevance of your brand in today’s market, consider these questions:
- Has your target customer changed since the pandemic?
- Have you lost segments and how are you capturing new customer segments?
- What is your point of differentiation from your competitors?
- Does your value proposition need updating?
- Is your brand look and feel outdated?
Guests’ needs and behaviours are changing- how they book, what drives their decisions, and their expectations of the guest experience. Businesses that fail to adapt their strategies risk becoming irrelevant and losing market share.
It’s time to ask ‘How relevant is my business?’
If you believe you could benefit from a conversation about building brand relevance with today’s consumer, get in touch with Ali.