I was stopped at a traffic light, gazing around the intersection of signs, banners, billboards and I got to thinking about scale. Brand names and business objectives and all this advertising all around me…
How everyone inside that McDonald’s is working according to corporate standards; how the employees at that hotel chain are upholding company policies and expectations. And how the 7-11 workers on this corner and the one a few blocks ahead, are fulfilling 7-11 duties, adhering to 7-11 procedures to provide 7-11 service to 7-11 customers- day in, day out…
The light turned green and I moved on, but the scale of what takes place- in the name of a brand has compelled me to explore its logistics. For this purpose, let’s have a look at the hospitality industry and the logistics of coordinating all its divisions and locations –under the banner of a brand name.
Keep in mind that branding isn’t marketing. Marketing is promotion of products and services. Branding is who you are and why your company exists. It’s expression of your value proposition; it’s a message of identity.
Failure of the supply chain for hotel brands has mass consequences. Fresh fish flown in but held up at Customs, a miscount in the order of Wagyu beef from Japan to California, a shortage of champagne that was supposed to make it to Houston by 3:00… All these malfunctions are critical to the events they were destined for; and the hotel has to handle the unhappy customers at the events.
The Customer Satisfaction Brand
Hospitality brands exist to provide face-to-face customer satisfaction. And when something goes wrong with deliveries and that service isn’t delivered, the company’s name is at stake. It’s no secret: we live in a world of reviews. If the banquet at the Portland Hilton was a flop, we’re going to second guess booking at the Seattle Hilton and consider the Marriot instead.
This is why hoteliers’ capital investments tend to focus on services and systems catered to guests’ experiences—rather than on back-end infrastructure. But it’s obvious how crucial the latter investment is. No one has a good experience without the champagne they ordered!
Streamlining Satisfaction for All
Purchasing in the hospitality industry is complicated by the fact that many businesses face fragmented management operations. Multiple hotels within a chain can be very different from one another but they all share the same corporate umbrella; each entity must meet the brand standards.
Common challenges include local buying, and a lack of centralized processes to ensure that purchases and deliveries meet contracted pricing, brand, and quality standards. “Our Daytona Beach hotel doesn’t have the on-site dining that our Orlando resort has, so ordering for each hotel is different, in line with each property’s unique infrastructure and (in terms of dining) regional availability,” says Leah Preston on behalf of staySky hotels.
Technology has definitely set the pace for smaller companies that juggle the priorities of their supply chains (and have smaller budgets) Large, multi-hotel chains, can afford more jurisdiction over their individual hotels. They can leverage technology to monitor inventory, procurement and update ordering systems (to name a few.) Small to mid-size chains must be creative and weigh their options. What’s most important that have oversight and control over? What’s less important to allocate an overseer for and should remain managed by individual hotels?
“All of our hotels use social media. Relevant information is posted about each of the individual hotels, and then we monitor and answer all questions posted on our social channels,” explains Preston. There are eight properties in the staySky portfolio. Their target customers are different; the rooms, amenities and prices across all their hotels are different. One person tasked with work for all eight hotels highlights how technology, in terms of brand management, allows smaller chains the ability to control the digital reputation of multiple units.
The Scale of Branding
While the hospitality industry isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of supply chain thinking and technologies, it’s imperative that companies invest in appropriate tools, spend time and demonstrate transparency down the hotel chain and out to the world as a message that speaks highly of their brand. Satisfying customers ranges from simple and momentary- to eventful and memorable. A grand, well-orchestrated banquet in a hotel ballroom boils down to its basics—sourcing quality food, beverages, supplies, and services tailored to the customer’s needs. And that one satisfied customer creates potential for more when they write a great review or tell their friends.
Or- when they’re paused in traffic- they see your sign and think, “I’ll never forget the Wagyu beef they served there…”