Tag Archives: brand ambassadors

LIve from FOCI 2013 – Relationship Matters: Is Being Too Connected a Disadvantage

Eric Lucan, of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, led a
discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of social connectivity for the
hospitality industry. Kimpton employees have been empowered in the same way
that employees at the Ritz Carlton chain have: Delight the customer ‘ it is
your budget and in your power.
To help attendees think about the differences across rewards
or loyalty programs, Eric lined up the attributes of membership programs versus guest
initiatives
. Under a membership program, guests are considered to be part
of a program in which they accumulate points in a tier-based manner that is
based on their transactions.  The result
of a well-managed membership program is loyalists. 
Kimpton takes a guest initiative tack toward rewarding their
loyal customers.  Kimpton is focused on
ensuring that guests feel like part of a family, and makes a point of noting
and responding to their preferences in order to capitalize on opportunities to
delight customers.  Kimpton emphasizes
the relational aspects of their guests’ business, and desires to engender trust
in customers.  The result of Kimpton’s
orientation to guests is evangelists.
On their website, Kimpton encourages guests to respond to
several open-ended questions that reveal more about them ‘ most notably, the
prompt: ‘If I wasn’t working, I’d be”
Kimpton hotels are in the boutique category, with each hotel
having a distinct personality.  The
hotels average about 250 rooms, and each hotel determines how it will build
trust and delight customers, as there isn’t a set budget across the chain for
these customer relationship efforts. 
Kimpton has grown to about 60 hotels, nearly doubling over the past
years, and they are determined to grow. 
Kimpton is even more determined to sustain their customer relationship
building through the personalized service and compelling outreach to guests
that is their trademark.
As Kimpton taps in more to social media, it is conscious of
the need to ensure that social listening does not become creepy.  Kimpton believes that maintaining the human
component in their transactions, listening to the reward program, and will keep
them close to customers. Being careful to hang onto the culture that Kimpton
has developed means that Kimpton can continue to grow but still keep doing what
makes them special. 
Connectivity can mean that the humans are taken out of the
transaction. Automation and Smartphones could eliminate what makes the hotel
stay special. As a result hospitality may be becoming less hospitable.  But at Kimpton, guests will continue to say, “You
had me at ‘Welcome‘”.

Gigi DeVault writes a market research column for About.com
Market Research Guide
http://marketresearch.about.com/

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Living The Brand. How Marketing can Partner with HR to Create Better Brand and Customer Experiences

Tom Nightingale’s goal is to help make marketing everyone’s best friend, every day. That makes sense because he’s the Chief Marketing Officer of Con-way, Inc., one of the largest trucking/hauling companies in the world. But what may surprise you is that one-third of Tom’s efforts deals with helping Con-way recruit and hire the best employees and candidates. The three pillars of Con-way’s marketing efforts include:

  1. Reduce the cost to acquire and retain customers
  2. Attract and retain the best and brightest employees
  3. Position the company for growth

Tom sees the brand is a way to support these efforts. Con-way applies solid branding and marketing principles to all audiences, but works in concert with HR on employees. They actually help HR attract candidates and recruit employees by supporting with marketing and materials. The marketing department also runs all internal communications for the company and supports learning & development, training, etc. Tom jokes that the reason he spends so much time helping recruit and manage employee engagement is because ‘People are too important to leave to HR.’ Because of the success of their team effort, Tom’s HR colleagues agree.The service sector presents branding challenges that make employee engagement paramount.

  • The performance is the product and demand is perishable.
  • Because production and consumption are so intertwined, services are more difficult to evaluate because they are less standardized and intangible.
  • Services are dominated by experience qualities that can only be meaningfully evaluated after purchase and during production.
  • Services are produced and consumed simultaneously so customers get to experience the factory floor with every brand touchpoint
  • Every person who works for the company has to be a marketer

There has never been a time when marketing and HR have needed each other more. Turnover for a trucking company is 132% per year. There is a constant demand for experienced drivers. Con-way responds by consistent branding to driver recruitment across all mediums. Integrated marketing efforts into HR have increased hires and drastically reduced the cost per hire by 57%. Internal marketing has helped things like ‘marketing’ Con-way’s health coach program to help increase wellness among it’s employees. 97%+ of employees in their initial test group have engaged at significant levels in the program. These are just a few of the examples of how marketing and HR can effectively work together to help create a company full of the right people who will live the brand.