Marketing knows it all, the product does it all!
By Georges Panayotis, President & CEO - MKG Group
Just because ours is one of the oldest professions in the world doesn't mean hotel advertising needs to stay stuck in the stereotypes and habits of the past. Age-old marketing that boasts a product's merits, its comfort and service has served its time.
Everyone knows that the customer has evolved, that consumer habits have changed, that their expectations are different, but this knowledge has not yet been truly integrated into advertising to its best advantage by making innovation and experience central to the message.
Innovation is ongoing in our industry, however it is more spectacular, more visible in "experimental" concepts developed by new players. Lacking financial means, today they rely more on media buzz and word of mouth to develop awareness. The circle of insiders is growing too slowly and the overall impression of customers is that our industry has not evolved much. And yet innovation is a veritable growth engine once word has successfully gotten around. Today destinations are hankering for a Mama Shelter, citizenM, Okko or Qbic, all new concepts that recall Novotel's rise when it waslaunched.
The real estate bubble of the 2000s tipped the scales in favor of financial managementof hotel assets and even today the dominance of the asset light model reinforces this real estate vision with respect to the importance of the evolution of concepts, brand image and values associated with the company. Shareholders would be wise to pay as much attention to the valuation of brands, the concretization of the customer promise as they pay to potential appreciation of assets they still own. Indeed, the real wealth of a service company is fed by the experience it provides for its customers and their loyalty.
The recent change in marketing showed that brands cannot completely split away fromthe company and the company's role in society. The product or service can no longer merely perform well or be attractive; they must be produced by and offered by a responsible business, show corporate citizenship and express respect. What has the hotel industry done to stand out in these areas where it is at the forefront? Why did it neglect this formidable communications lever? This new-generation marketing is the best obstacle for "commoditization" that is the banalization in which the hotel industry is boiled down to a destination and price.
Like it or not, the Hospitality world has entered a new dimension under the pressure ofclients, technology, intermediaries. It must take it on by radically changing its marketing and advertising rather than just suffer it. It has the legitimacy, now it is time to invest the means and will.
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