How internal culture drives a great hospitality success story

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Danny Meyer’s Recipe for Success

How the restaurant mogul behind Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack, and many other dining destinations uses culture to drive scale.

'Year after year, restaurant critics and journalists praise the behavior of the company’s employees, often more than the food.'

The changing nature of luxury: How brands are evolving to meet consumers’ demands

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Modern luxury brands are evolving their offer to meet the changing tastes of consumers around the world. In some markets the heritage and timelessness of a product represents the ultimate hallmarks of luxury, while in others the focus is on the experience or exclusivity of the service.

The real threat to hotels from Airbnb: research results

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Interesting research - and very relevant to those with responsibility for the marketing of hotel rooms. Of course, many hotels and resorts list themselves on Airbnb already. It's clear that any marketing strategy needs to take into account Airbnb offerings and pricing.

Teens are abandoning Facebook in dramatic numbers, study finds

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Teenagers have abandoned Facebook in favour of other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

Just 51% of US individuals aged 13 to 17 say they use Facebook – a dramatic plunge from the 71% who said they used the social network in Pew’s previous study in 2015, when it was the dominant online platform.

In this year’s study reported Facebook use was, according to Pew, “notably lower” than the percentage of teens who said they used YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) or Snapchat (69%). In the previous study, just 52% of teens said they used Instagram, while 41% said they used Snapchat. YouTube was not included in the 2014-2015 survey.

Use of Facebook was markedly higher among lower-income teens, with 70% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year using the platform, compared with just 36% of those whose annual family income is $75,000 or more.

Designing services to maximise customer appeal and revenue at the same time

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Services need to be designed with every bit as much care as a high-performance car or a mobile phone. Get it right and one builds a base of satisfied customers with all the subsequent benefits like repeat purchases and positive word of mouth.

So what are the general principles of service design?

It’s vital to understand what purpose the service has, who is likely to use it and how it will be delivered. For a resort it might be that the purpose of the service is to offer busy guests a relaxing and refreshing respite from the stresses and strains of their lives.

Services should be designed around customer needs with the internal needs of the business in second place (although the need for a profitable service business model should be part of the equation). Consider the value the customer will receive; your value proposition. In the case of the resort the value proposition for guests is that they will feel relaxed and refreshed during and at the end of their stay.

Look for the ‘gestalt’ of the service – the complete customer journey. A component-by-component which can lead to poor overall service performance. The resort needs to think about everything from guests’ first point of contact through to the actual experience during their stay and follow-up afterwards (through a survey, newsletter and maybe membership of a loyalty programme).

Be ready for the exceptions. There will be occasions when special events occur (those that cause variation in general processes). This could be a special request from a customer (for a romantic dinner to celebrate an anniversary) or a complaint. Have processes that deal with each possible scenario. Staff should not be caught ‘on the hop’.

Get close to customers as they use your service and find out what can be improved. This can be done through customer surveys, or getting someone from customer service to spend time with customers and probe for high points and points of frustration. Don’t overlook your front line and line managers as a source of service improvement ideas as they spend all their time with customers. In a resort, the front line staff will be able to offer important insights – prime them what to look out for.

When service enhancements are made, make sure you ‘socialise’ them with all the key stakeholders. Everyone who plays a role throughout the complete customer journey should have a clear understanding of what you want the service experience to be (ie how it will be experienced by customers) and that includes those in the service value chain outside your business like agents and distributors. In the case of the resort the various online and offline agents need to be included. It’s time to shout about what’s special about your resort. Your front-line staff can be involved through an employee service engagement programme that links the technical side of service delivery with the softer side (what we call ‘heartware’).

Finally, look to those who get it right (and get it right consistently) for guidance and inspiration. There are many great examples from each industry sector and they can offer valuable insights and ideas.

Speak to Purple about designing your service to give you a competitive edge while also enhancing business results and your bottom line. We take a thorough approach using a range of tried and tested tools and techniques.

Brands as a source of inspiration and transformation

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Branding should be an exciting journey with the role of consultants or advisors being to lead you successfully to rewarding places you might not otherwise have visited – placing your brand at the centre of everything you do.

After all, brands are the source-code for all corporate activity. Clear and distinctive positioning is the basis for building great brands . . . brands that resonate with their customers, building powerful and enduring emotional bonds.

When brands are strategically sound they become a source of inspiration and transformation for the people that own and operate them.

Inspiration because they lift the spirits of the people who own and deliver them. Employees are proud of great brands. You only have to step into Starbucks to pick up on the brand-induced energy their front-line staff have. Inspiration works ‘back of house’ too. Knowing that one is an important part of delivering a great brand unites the staff who toil behind the scenes – invisible, below the waterline. The 7/8 of the brand iceberg customers don’t usually see.

Transformation because a powerful vision for your brand has a ripple effect throughout the organization. Aligning the operations of the business behind an inspiring vision is no easy matter. Ensuring all your marketing and communications activities are on-brand is harder still. Exploring your entire value chain takes the brand to suppliers and out to distributors and retailers.  

Taking this holistic approach to branding ensures you leverage the brand to maximum effect. It places the more mechanistic, communications-only approach to branding in the shade.

Taking a holistic approach to creating the brand experience

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Brand owners need to carefully manage the brand experiences their customers receive. Nothing can be left to chance. Brand experience is particularly important for service businesses.

Purple reviews the complete customer journey and advises on how best the experience can best be managed at each stage.

If we take the hospitality industry as an example there is a need to consider everything from the initial part of the customer journey such as the website, the experience of reservations (often in the hands of Online Travel Agents), the arrival experience, the stay itself right the way through to check-out.

During their stay guests need to be well looked after. Managing the experience involves well-trained staff and ensuring rooms are fresh and clean to offering mouthwatering meals in the food and beverage outlets.

Sensory experiences play an important role too. What do guests experience when they walk into the lobby? There are specialist companies who are experts at scenting public spaces. They will advise on the most appropriate scent. Citrus scents tend to stimulate people, vanilla calms us down. Another sensory experience is sound – the music that’s being played. Here again there are experts who can advise on the right mix of music to support your brand positioning.

Managing the brand experience for service sector businesses offers such great potential to truly differentiate your brand from those of your rivals.

While ‘brand experience’ have become buzzwords but, in practice, it takes considerable planning and hard work.  

Make your brand count

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Brands that have purpose, character and integrity are the ones consumers love, champion and remain loyal to are also the ones that perform best for their owners.

These are brands that count.

  • They offer a distinctive difference that's relevant and meaningful to their target market.
  • They are optimistic and inspiring, taking us somewhere new (visionary).
  • They are emotionally engaging.
  • They allow us to express who we are - sometimes help to define us.
  • Most important: They deliver more than they promise.

Is it an easy task?  No, it’s a journey. Some things can be done quickly others need time to have their effect. A clear vision and sense of purpose are the essential starting points.

Speak to Purple about making your brand count.

Brands as ideologies

Branding has evolved in response to an increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumer. Brands can no longer just be labels. They need to be ideologies – ways of looking at the world. It’s a tale of two brands. Those that stand for something special and deliver it – and everyone else. Those who make an emotional connection with the consumer – and those who do not.

Think about what matters to you as an organisation. What are you passionate about? Have you seeded these passions in your people? Do your customers and business partners know what your passions are? Can they feel it from how you behave, how you look, what you say? In this way you can define a niche – and own it.

Characteristics of great brands include:

  • They offer a distinctive difference that's relevant and meaningful to their target market.
  • They are optimistic and inspiring, taking us somewhere new (visionary).
  • They are emotionally engaging.
  • They allow us to express who we are - sometimes help to define us.
  • They deliver more than they promise.

These are the important first steps in getting out of the commodity trap that so many businesses now face.

Purple specialises in building and boosting powerful service sector brands by helping clients stand for something special and delivering it without compromise.

Purple’s 5-Step process for designing and delivering distinctive brand experiences

Step 1: Let your Brand Strategy provide the context.

Step 2: Undertake a thorough Brand Experience Audit.

Step 3: Define your Signature Brand Experience Theme.

Step 4: Design and structure the experience and inspire staff behind it.

Step 5: Monitor the quality of each brand experience and make adjustments.

E-mail us for a copy of our FREE guide to delivering distinctive brand experiences.

Bali visitor numbers hit an all-time high in 2016, while average length of stay declines

2016 will prove to have been a record year for foreign visitors to Bali (estimated at 4.85 million) the Tourism Department announces.  Australia remains the biggest overseas market followed by China and Japan.

At the same time, figures released by the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) shows that average length of stay declined from 3.9 days to 3.1 in 2016. That’s a significant decline and eats into the impact of overall higher visitor numbers. After all, what matters is the total number of days spent in Bali as this is the basis on which visitors spend their money on accommodation, travel, food, shopping and attractions.

ASITA itself admits that further analysis of the data is required to uncover the reason why people are not staying as long.

We need to check whether the decline is confined to particular countries or common to all of them, as well as whether the effect is seasonal. We should find out if repeat visitors make more trips but spend less time. Above all, we need to know whether this is a real trend (consistently month by month) or an anomaly caused by factors like bad weather or other external events.

Understanding what’s going on is crucial to successfully managing tourism in Bali.  Failing to fully capitalise on increased visitor numbers would risk squandering the significant achievements to date.  Whatever further research or analysis is required to bring clarity to the situation needs to be undertaken with some urgency so that the appropriate steps can be taken.