A strong brand is critical, particularly in tourism, as it is your promise to your customer, tells them what they can expect and differentiates the experience you offer from your competitors.
Today, holidaymakers are less trusting of what operators and airlines say about themselves than they are about what others are saying about them. Recommendations hold four times as much weight as advertisements - look at the impact of Trip Advisor. In a recent survey, 77% of those planning a holiday usually or always will reference its reviews before selecting a hotel; 50% of diners and 44% of people planning to visit an attraction referenced the review site.
Employees - first line ambassadors
Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. It is not created by marketing alone; every employee has a role to play.
To build a strong brand, you need brand ambassadors; employees who are thoroughly engaged, connected and committed; who speak enthusiastically and positively about the business they work in and who promote the business at every opportunity. So how do you create such 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.
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. Do not 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. 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 service 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 is 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 is 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 are 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.
Deirdre Elphick-Moore, has an Honours Degree in Psychology and over 10 years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, she now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development.
Her relaxed, engaging style encourages people to learn more, remember more and apply more in their workplaces, as well as inspiring to consistently better themselves in the work place. Contact her on .
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