A strong brand is important to every organisation – especially tourism. Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect, and it differentiates the holiday experience you offer from your competitors. By Kimberley Clare Nanson.
Today, tourists are less trusting of what tourism operators and airlines say about themselves than they are about what others are saying about them.
Your guests recommendations hold four times as much weight as your advertisements do – look at the impact of Trip Advisor. In a recent survey, 77% of those planning a holiday will usually or always reference TripAdvisor reviews before selecting a hotel. 50% of diners will refer to reviews before selecting a restaurant. And, 44% of people planning to visit an attraction referenced the review site.
Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be. It isn’t created by marketing alone; every employee has a role to play.
Deirdre Elhphick-Moore of The Office Coach comments saying: “To build a strong brand, you need brand ambassadors; employees who are thoroughly engaged, connected and committed, employees who speak enthusiastically and positively about the business they work in and who promote the business at every opportunity.” So how do you create brand ambassadors?
Your team can only deliver on the corporate brand promise if they are clear about what it is. As a leader, you must educate your team on what the brand is and how it can be promoted. Elphick-Moore speaks from experience: “I recently facilitated a workshop where the Managing Director reminded his team of the origins and meaning of their company logo and slogan, how it underpinned everything that they did and established the culture of their business. Don’t forget the importance of fundamentals like this.” You should also look beyond this to all areas where visitors interface with you: all external correspondence should carry the same company logo and all correspondence should follow standardised templates.
Be a role model
Building brand ambassadors begins with the people around you, whether they are co-workers, guests, or maintenance staff, they need to feel comfortable and appreciated. Elphick-Moore comments saying: “It requires you to be passionate about your job and that you portray your role positively. As an ambassador you need to understand all aspects of your services and speak passionately about your company and share your belief with others. Once you are comfortable delivering on these, coach your team so that they can be competent too. Start with your managers or most guest-facing employees and monitor their progress to ensure that the right brand message is being consistently delivered.”
Connect the personal and the corporate
Here’s one of the most common and damaging branding misconceptions: the personal and corporate brand compete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think of Richard Branson and the Virgin brand; they are synonymous.
The most successful companies help employees understand their personal brands, capitalising on the integration of individual traits with the broader corporate objectives. It’s called applied personal branding and it’s a powerful strategy based on personal plus corporate, not personal vs. corporate. How many guests return because of the rapport they have with you or a member of your team?
When employees are clear about who they are and what makes them exceptional, and they understand the corporate brand objectives, they can apply their unique skills and expertise to bring corporate goals to life.
Even if you’re not a leader in your company but are passionate about engagement and building brand ambassadors, you have a role to play. Take on the branding task for your team. Let your manager know you want to lead a branding initiative. This highly visible role gives you the opportunity to move outside the normal hierarchy, grow your brand and take on a role that is critical to the success of your company.
For more information visit www.theofficecoach.co.za
About the Author: Kimberley Clare Nanson is a consultant for Port Elizabeth based Sapphire Street PR consultancy. www.sapphirestreet.com