It’s actually rather a sobering thought: the legendary sitcom Fawlty Towers was based on a real hotel, where the series writer stayed during a visit to the South Coast. Yes, the John Cleese character existed in all his gaucheness. But has much at all changed since those days of some forty years ago?
He was, after all (we hope) a one-off, and what he did did not affect any other hotel in the group. (Can you imagine a chain of them?)
Very Poor Frontline Marketing
Unlike Fawlty Towers, today’s hotels are more likely to be part of national brands. They have networks of locations where they ensure their branding is consistent and where they have significant head office funding to maintain their position in what is today a very competitive market. Some of the more savvy chains will allocate funds to individual hotels or specific areas where managers on the spot can operate their own local marketing offers to suit local conditions. A hotel near a popular holiday centre can run a local advertising campaign of holidaymaker-based events while head office runs national campaigns in holiday supplements, TV, radio and social media; the one supports the other. A hotel in Gretna Green or Newmarket could very well promote a different themed message than another in the chain located in Basingstoke, which itself can promote its conference facilities to the high tech companies of the Thames Valley.
But all under the auspices of the brand!
This opportunity for diversity is crucial for the hospitality industry, whether hotel, pub or restaurant chain. But what is absolutely essential is the head office maintenance of the overall marketing push but with the individual outlets very much in mind. The head office that embraces the concerns of the man at the sharp end by providing both nation-wide as well as local support is the head office of a winner.
A hotel chain can ring the changes to keep its customer base interested and in generating repeat business. New beds, new menus, famous name TV endorsing, special weekend-away deals, but all following a strict corporate branding and with central funding paying or at least contributing to the bills for local advertising using social media and other outlets.
A restaurant chain will have a standardised branded menu, but augmented location by location with ‘today’s specials’ where the chef is given discretion to offer locals regional classics that head office won’t have a clue about. Or the pub chain where managers are encouraged to host locally-sourced guest beers against the tied list.
The hospitality sector has endless opportunities to promote itself locally. The head office that doesn’t support its individual outlets and help them promote locally using national funding in shared initiatives is missing a big opportunity. Your local outlet can tell you precisely what is happening on its patch. But, your outlets need your help to promote your brand locally.
Marketing Asset Management
Marketing Asset Management (MAM) is becoming the name of the game, and is already being used by some of the biggest names in the industry. MAM bridges the gap between head office budgets and outlet budgets and sorts out everything needed to maximise their individual asset value.
MAM offers a fully integrated marketing, advertising and promotional programme that maximises spend effectiveness without any increase in head office headcount; it’s all done for you. Your MAM operation will coordinate head office advertising schedules with local advertising plans and make sure everyone is singing from the same sheet for maximum effect. It is also a fact that forcing (by default, naturally, but still forcing) local outlets to go local for their advertising not only dilutes the core brand message that head office has spent so long and so much on developing; it will also cost more and miss the point that a lot of this support collateral is available f-o-c from the brand itself.
Those already investing in MAM see the economies of scale available from looking at central and individual outlet budgets as a common and totally coordinated asset for maximum returns. Outlet managers like it because it also maximises their return from their own promotional spend across the pushing of their local activities.
Overall, it is becoming increasingly clear that, properly and professionally administered, a MAM system is the perfect head office/outlet support interface for brand asset management.
If, as a major, you seem to be spending too much of your time in an ivory tower instead of looking after your outlets, who in turn are doing a very nice job looking after you, thank you, you just might one day end up running a car crash like Fawlty Towers.
(Or faulty towers, more like).
Actually, let’s go back to an earlier thought. Think about it: a chain of branded faulty towers, each out-Basiling each other’s awfulness? Now there’s a unique marketing concept that people would flock to!