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Hotel communication: The 10 “Sine qua non” manuals

Innovation in the hotel sector involves adding communication as a priority strategy. We reviewed the ten key manuals which every hotel should include in its departments: company culture, brand, SWOT, communication plan, style on social media, crisis resolution protocol, replies on opinion portals, social responsibility, visual identity and press kit.

1. BUSINESS CULTURE MANUAL

In the hotel sector, the distinguishing component is the aspect most sought after by hoteliers.

The company’s DNA, in other words, all the features which define its form of acting, feeling, tracing strategies and objectives and relating to its suppliers, customers, and even the employees themselves, is essential to enhance the feeling of belonging to a group, identity and commitment, and one of the criteria upon which modern human resources departments are based, work motivation.

To bring all these values together, the hotel must draw up a Business Culture Manual which can be read by all the workers and managers on the Intranet.

The aspects defining the business culture which should be included in the manual are:

· Values: principles and rules which govern the actions of each of the departments.

· Structure: rules which govern the functioning of the organization.

· Internal organization: the workers’ levels of delegation, independence and participation.

· Identity: the sense of belonging, in other words, the way in which the members of the company perceive it as a global group and not by areas or on an individual basis.

· Mission and objectives: the reason for the existence of the company and how will it develop within 5, 10 or 20 years.

· Distinguishing adjectives: a list of qualifiers which describe the company and its members.

· Behaviours: actions linked to the way of tackling conflict, risk and change processes.

2. BRAND BOOK

Once the business culture has been defined, the philosophy which impregnates the entire organization, we move on to the branding process, which provides a reply to the following question:

How are we going to share the company culture?

This manual will contain:

· Origin or storytelling: Birth of the company, initial concepts and biographies of its founders.

· The reason for the name (naming).

· The slogan or claim which accompanies the product.

· Graphic identity: Logo and visual elements.

· Attributes and personality of the brand.

· Relationship with the customer: Segmentation (who we target and who we don’t target).

· Positioning in the booking process. How the brand will be present along the path of the commercial relationship (visibility on the internet by means of a good SEO and SEM strategy, presence on social media and in digital newspapers, ease of booking, interaction after the stay to generate community and loyalty).

· Intangibles for customers. A list of emotional benefits they will receive in exchange for staying at the hotel.

The rewards of putting the business culture and branding in writing, according to soyunamarca.com, are:

· Focus: It points the whole company in the same direction to achieve its vision, mission and objectives.

· Motivation: It builds greater brand loyalty and motivates the employees.

· Connection: Teamwork among the different departments; they don’t compete, they work together with the same beliefs.

· Cohesion: It gives the company consistency and encourages the coordination of the whole brand with the same consistency.

· Spirit: It shapes the behaviour of the employees in their work, enabling the organization to be more dynamic and effective.

3. DAFO

Analysing the hotel’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats enables it to understand the competition, the situation within the sector, consumer habits and trends.

Weaknesses and Strengths refer to negative and positive internal aspects – (de)motivated personnel, going up the rankings of the opinion portals, etc.).

However, the Threats and Opportunities are caused by external components (a market crisis due to a lack of interest in the destination, rising oil prices and the consequent increase in the cost of air tickets, etc.).

The threats and weaknesses can be transformed into opportunities and strengths. Some tips to achieve this are:

· List the hotel’s strengths: gastronomic choice, pet-friendly, a sustainable hotel, segmentation, a good position on the opinion portals, etc.

· List the strengths of the tourist destination:World Heritage city, Network of most beautiful towns in Spain, beach with a Blue Flag,hotel in the Natura 2000 network, etc.

And turn them into the pillars of the value proposition.

4. COMMUNICATION PLAN

80% of the content on social networks and in the media should be scheduled and planned with an annual calendar. Unforeseen issues account for only 20%.

A well-organized and well-designed communication plan relieves customer service areas and provides the hotel brand with reputation and prestige, as well as creating a sense of community and customer loyalty, thereby increasing the repetition and booking rates via the direct channels.

The communication plan involves:

· Knowing the language and rules of each social network and means of communication.

· Only opening the networks you can feed with valuable content of use to the customer and the company.

· Ensuring the icons of the networks are visible on invoices, business cards, vinyls, amenities, brochures, etc.

· Completing the biographies of each of them with as much data as possible.

· Adapting the logo and the header screen to the appropriate formats in terms of form and resolution.

· Unifying the name on all the networks and avoiding symbols, commas, full stops and numbers to make searching for it easier.

· Paying attention to spelling.

· Using a suitable tone and language in accordance with the segment in which the hotel is located (hostel, luxury, boutique, family, sunshine and beach) and the type of customer.

· Constantly bearing in mind the ethical code, the brand promise and the business culture in all the publications.

· Publishing regularly and not including stagnant seasonal information (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, etc.) out of season.

· Always replying to the customers’ interaction (tweets, private messages, posts, etc.).

· Talking about the personnel and employees to humanize the hotel.

· Understanding the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategies and applying them to the website and networks.

5. STYLE BOOK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

The purpose of the Style Book for social media is to unify the publication criteria in terms of tone and language.

Some of the concepts included in a good digital communication style book are:

· Applying non-sexist inclusive language in the replies and interaction with customers.

· Adapting the logo on the networks to demonstrate social responsibility or support for special charitable causes.

· Knowing who the customers are and speaking to them in keeping with their tastes, hopes and expectations.

· Complying with the publication calendar.

You should clarify the hotel’s objectives and choose which social network is the best to achieve each of them. Here are some examples:

· Obtaining direct income.

· Knowing the target and what the customer demands.

· Displaying the value proposition and brand promise.

· Correcting errors.

· Conquering new targets.

· Talking about the company at a corporate level.

· Creating a community with a view to the potential diversification of the business.

· Keeping up with trends.

· Growing in online reputation as a business.

· Relieving other departments and focusing the immediate customer service on the networks.

6. CRISIS RESOLUTION PROTOCOL

These are some of the principles to ensure a problem does not affect the hotel’s prestige and to enable it to emerge unscathed in the event of a crisis in the hotel business.

· Laying the foundations before the problem occurs: Improvisation seldom helps to resolve conflicts. Previously established action protocols help to provide rapid answers. These immediate actions in a crisis process neutralize criticism.

· Grade the scandal’s seriousness: Record and identify the seriousness of the conflict (with a range of colours, from a low to high degree of seriousness).

· Classify the people and departments involved in the resolution of the crisis in accordance with the problem’s degree of seriousness.

· Don’t be too dramatic: Assume that crises are natural within organizations and that all companies are sometimes faced with unforeseeable and unexpected conflicts obliging them to remain alert and to weather the storm professionally.

· Assume the cost.

· Don’t deny the problem exists.

· Minimize the damage.

· Follow the ethical code of the company or organization.

· Offer the greatest satisfaction to the people affected.

· Humanize the problem.

· Contextualize the incident: It can be very useful to refer to the significance of the conflict in question in the hotel’s track record as a whole. Favourable statistical data are very effective.

· Learn from these problems as an opportunity for improvement.

7. STYLE BOOK FOR REPLIES ON OPINION PORTALS

Having templates to be ready to reply to positive and negative criticism on opinion portals will streamline the process, but you should not send automated replies and repeat content in the different replies.

It is advisable to use more than five reply templates, depending on the type of criticism and opinion received (whether they refer to the facilities, departments, personnel, comfort, suggestions for improvement, etc.).

The hotel’s name brings it closer to its customers. It is not advisable to reply with a distant “Dear Customer” to everyone. And it is essential not to use androcentric language (the masculine as neutral) but to personalize your replies with the gender of the person who makes the criticism.

8. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MANUAL

Millennials prefer to invest in hotels committed to charitable causes. This strategy, which should remain distant from any particular marketing opportunism, can be applied by means of the power of visual elements, such as the adaptation of the hotel logo and its symbiosis with the icon of the charitable cause.

Some common examples of adapting the logo are:

· Protests against gender violence.

· Solidarity in cases of natural disasters.

· Flagship sporting events in the city.

· Support for disadvantaged collectives.

· Beneficial causes.

· Symbolic days (Hunger, Childhood, AIDS, Cancer)

· Scientific and medical research.

· Campaigns for the protection of the environment (Earth Hour).

· Tributes to symbolic cultural characters.

9. VISUAL IDENTITY

Visual identity makes the corporate identity of a hotel tangible, in other words, it converts the business culture into aesthetic expressions to facilitate recognition of the brand and to differentiate it from others.

A good visual identity book contains:

· A logo.

· Basic and alternative corporate colours.

· Specific designs applied to essential supports.

· Corporate typography.

· A list of tips to create designs for new supports.

It is necessary to include all the graphic elements which are to represent the hotel in the visual identity book and unify them.

Business cards, information brochures, vinyls, icons on social media, photographs, invoices, internal documents and posters are supports which must have a common and unified graphic design.

The Dapper Dog.

The visual identity should be worked on not only outwards but, more especially, inwards. Customers and employees will thus recognize the identity of the brand by means of its visual elements.

10. PRESS KIT

The hotels which practice information transparency are those which will have the greatest opportunities when facing the media and journalists. A simple link in Google Drive or Dropbox to help journalists to download logos, photos, videos and documentation (with high resolution for printing and digital quality) is essential for hotels which aspire to be media-savvy.

Certain major hotels aim to establish journalists and influencers as allies in their communication strategy / Source: Room-Mate Hotels.

This press kit, which can be accessed via one of the website tabs, will provide a storytelling and explain a business culture linked to transparency and a lack of secrecy.

Some of the most ground-breaking hotels even establish special relationships with influencers in the sector, with partnerships and open and public invitations to discuss them.

Nothing to hide.

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28TH - 29TH SEPTEMBER 2020
PALAU DE CONGRESSOS DE BARCELONA
MONTJUÏC VENUE

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