Hotel specialists unlock the value of brand partnerships
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Finding new ways to speak to customers is just one of the ways in which RBH’s raft of in-house experts drives demand into hotels.
Thinking beyond traditional advertising Yvonne Brennan, Director of Corporate Communications, explains why RBH focuses on delivering exposure and commercial results through brand partnerships.
Yvonne said: “Brand collaborations are perhaps the most under-utilised and oft-forgotten elements of any hotel marketing plan. Hotels can gain success from a partnership with the right brand partner.”
RBH manages more than 500 successful partnerships per year across a growing portfolio of more than 70 hotels, and Yvonne cites key considerations RBH always takes into account to ensure maximum success from its collaborations.
She continued: “There are many different types of brand collaboration and our experience shows content, distribution and charitable partnerships are incredibly successful ways to align with brands for mutual recognition. I also advocate loyalty, product placement, shared space and sponsorship agreements for our hotel teams.”
Many in the hotel industry would question why it is so important to form brand partnerships. Yvonne, who has been with RBH for eight years – initially as Group Marketing Manager before moving into her current role – highlights a number of answers to this question.
She said: “There are many reasons to form a roster of great brand partnerships and the best collaborations will quite simply feel right. A customer will instantly understand the fit between The Savoy London and Wedgewood china, for example.
“One of our luxury properties, Oulton Hall in Yorkshire, partners with a local Audi dealership.
The agreement sees the property offer complimentary chauffeur transfers – in the latest model – to VIP clients, whilst permitting valuable product placement in return via a prominent parking space within the hotel’s sweeping driveway.
“We opened Hotel Indigo Cardiff last year, where the hotel partners with a great Welsh social enterprise, Myddfai, to create bespoke toiletries for the hotel bathrooms. The contract provides employment for Myddfai’s young adult employees who have learning difficulties and, in turn, the hotel offers its guests a unique and lovely, local touch. These types of partnerships can drive great content for social channels, whilst also affording revenue opportunities. Hotels could evidently sell toiletries guests have enjoyed via retail space and on-site spas.”
It is these commercial returns that many in the industry will be most concerned with, and Yvonne recognises the huge part revenue plays in the decision to partner up with another brand.
She added: “A mutually enhancing relationship will drive sales volume, revenue, enquiries, brand equity, web traffic and social media shares. ibis Styles Glasgow Centre George Square, which we operate, initiated a partnership with Glasgow’s flagship winter music festival, Celtic Connections. The partnership gave much-needed room stock to organisers and a venue for informal gigs and artist get-togethers.
“Partnering with Celtic Connections delivered fantastic added value for guests, who could drop into informal gigs for free and mingle with artists over a drink. And how did the hotel benefit? From meeting space revenue and a welcome uplift in beverage spend during the traditionally dry January period.”
Another recommendation from Yvonne is to focus on content generation opportunities afforded by partners – whether it’s social media, PR or marketing collateral.
She said: “Finding new things to say beyond room offers and cocktails is a primary benefit of working with other brands. I’ve seen great recent collaborations, where brand partners conduct joint consumer research to create news hooks, video content, shared infographics and strengthened industry trend analysis.
“Aloft Liverpool has a strong partnership with Liverpool Gin, which it used to create a point of difference amongst stiff local competition. Unlike other bars in the city, Aloft has no rooftop or terrace bar to attract summer drinkers, so by thinking outside the box, the Liverpool Gin Collective was born. Staff created their own range of bespoke cocktails using the city’s own gins to concoct a completely local Liverpool beverage list. With plenty of social media backing and an official launch night, the menu gave a 40 per cent uplift in beverage sales in just one month.”
However, the advice to capitalise on potential partners does come with a warning – that doing too many things poorly is worse than doing nothing at all.
Yvonne continued: “RBH holds an annual review of all partnerships as a standard part of the budget process – it’s vital to audit current partnerships to identify any gaps, and any areas that could be oversubscribed.
“Your hotel’s brand partner ‘wheel’ should comprise education establishments, destination marketing bureaux, charity, arts and entertainment venues, food and beverage suppliers and transport providers to name but a few.
“At the end of the day, any partnerships held by your hotel have should add value, and match your hotel’s aspirations across the business, including reach of aspirational target audiences. Before committing to any advertising spend. It’s definitely advantageous to audit your existing partnerships, identify any gaps and prospective partners.
“Consider how a good brand partner can give you great content, access to new audiences and commercial returns. Your business could be a lot better off with a little help from some like-minded friends.”