If anyone needs a brand audit, it is the hospitality industry. For large, upscale hotel chains, there are so many places where the hotel’s brand is visible, it is difficult for the marketing department and hotel staff to keep track of it all.
For example, a downtown hotel near a city’s shopping district or convention center is sure to draw a lot of traffic, especially at peak times. But what are visitors to the hotel seeing when they enter the building? What about in the rooms?
Inside the building is usually not an issue: hotels are very good about making sure everything is properly labeled and branded throughout the building. If there is one thing hotels know, it is how to brand themselves inside.But what about throughout the city? There are posters and flyers, ads in local magazines, logos on menus of nearby restaurants, coupons, and more online marketing collateral than most people are aware of. They need to know where their brand is being used, possibly without permission. This is where a brand audit can help.
Hotels can work with a mystery shopping agency that provides brand audit services as a way to monitor all the places where their brand is being used or misused. A mystery shopper can attend a conference, visit different restaurants, and even monitor online mentions on behalf of the central office. Rather than having an already-overworked marketing staff try to do their own brand audit, which needs to be an ongoing venture, they can work with the mystery shopping agency to do regular checks on their behalf.
What about in smaller cities, where the hotels are often independently-owned franchises? This is a little more difficult, since many larger chains have hundreds, if not thousands, of franchisees in the world. A brand audit would be next to impossible for the staff to perform.
Again, this is where the mystery shopping agency can help. They have shoppers throughout the world who can perform a brand audit on all the properties, ensuring all the branding is being used properly.
A brand audit is usually done publicly, unlike regular mystery shopping, which is a secret. The shopper is anonymous, and does not make himself or herself known to the staff. But in a brand audit, the shopper can show up, checklist in hand, and check off the different categories to make sure the franchisee is following all the requirements and using the marketing collateral properly. A brand audit can also cover the different in-town and online properties in the surrounding area, and can often be done as part of the same package.
Hotels need to protect their own brand image, to make sure that their franchisees are displaying the proper information, and that the company name and logo are being used properly outside of the hotel. A brand audit can help the marketing department ensure everything is in order.
Photo credit: CC Chapman (Flickr, Creative Commons)
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