UNO April 2019

Brand experiences for the tourism sector’s new consumers

We may have recently discovered fantastic new destinations, locations and products because someone we know told us about them. If that person is trustworthy and we share their tastes, we quickly trust that judgment. The tip seems good, so we feel a need to try it ourselves. Word of mouth was the best form of marketing.

In recent years, access to information is infinitely greater than ever before. The number of new places, destinations and products, all with wonderful potential, has also grown exponentially. But how do we distinguish between what is actually good from what only seems to be good? That is the great challenge. Your product competes online and on social media with hundreds of seemingly similar products. The question is, “How can you quickly differentiate yourself in a world where consumers are better-informed and more demanding?” From my point of view, the key lies in the ability to create a brand story for your business. It is much more than a logo; it is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the rest. It’s how you decide to tell your story to the world.

Your brand must generate trust, and that can be done by fulfilling promises, as well as meeting the expectations we generate and communicating stories to our customers. As the saying goes, it takes years to gain consumer confidence but only seconds to lose it, which is why all our collaborators are brand generators. Each and every one of them. Once that trust has been built, selling new products is much easier, faster and, above all, more effective.

“Successful companies have strong values that extend to all their employees”

Successful companies have strong values that extend to all their employees. We all believe in and act upon those values, which is what makes us part of a great mission. Those values represent our products and, of course, brand, so we must communicate those values as part of our unique vision in a memorable way. We all identify with people and companies who share our values, and I believe this should be the great differentiator for any brand: creating an emotional bond with our customers. This connection is not created by the company or product itself, but by the brand—the user’s experience with the product and company. This link makes our brand quickly and easily notable.

“Our most successful commercial initiatives are those that turn customers into brand ambassadors”

We often hear about the idea of selling experiences. I prefer to say that we sell emotions, because emotional bonds are more deeply rooted in people’s minds. Our most successful commercial initiatives are those that turn customers into brand ambassadors. Promoting a culture that generates collaborators and customers who share our values and vision, and who trust us to fulfil our promises, is, in my opinion, the greatest indicator of successful external communications. It is the best way to know how many of our collaborators and consumers have become ambassadors.

Today, we have immediate access to large quantities of real-time information, which forces our brands to remain in constant communication with customers and transform how and how often we communicate. We must be interactive by connecting collaborators and customers, sharing our story in an environment of trust that remains true to our values and forges emotional bonds. The brand is the most important intangible attribute of a company, as it is what remains in the minds of consumers once the products have been consumed. The critical function of the brand is to leave an indelible mark on customers, one that encourages them to purchase our products over and over again thanks to a competitive differentiation strategy.

Once we have succeeded in making our mark and creating that link, we must be consistent in what we create, produce and communicate. We have created expectations that, over time, must evolve, which is why it is so important to know our customers—and know if their habits, needs or preferences change so we can adapt. If that connection is made, our communications must be bi-directional. This will make it easier to receive quality information that can be leveraged to innovate, create and ensure our brand remains a strong leader. Otherwise, we risk falling behind our competitors.

David Ecija
General manager for Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi
The current general manager for Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi, he has lived on three continents, in five countries and worked for three brands (Doubletree, Hilton and Waldorf Astoria) in his nearly 19 years with Hilton. This has offered him the opportunity to learn from the best while enjoying incredible experiences in different cultures alongside spectacular people. He was born, raised and schooled in Madrid, but later finished his hotel training in England. He is passionate about hospitality and the hospitality world, as well as thankful for the great moments this industry gives him and the lessons he learns through daily challenges. [Spain]

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