The competition is fierce, especially in the hospitality industry where hotels compete every single day for bookings and profitability. The race to the top of an OTA is actually a race to the bottom. The biggest problem we have in business is that most brands look and feel the same. When people decide they want to buy a specific product/service and they start looking, they start looking at prices.
We believe that prices are the only thing that matters and we try to do promotions and offers to lure more guests in. It’s not the 1980s anymore where you just put an advert out and people come to your hotel. Promotions and prices are not the only things that matter.
If we have a look at hotels, let’s say in Limassol Cyprus, we will notice that they all sound and feel the same. I encourage you to check 10 hotel websites that are by a beach and see for yourself. See their tone of voice, see their imagery, their taglines and how they market themselves. They seem exactly the same; ‘Luxury on your doorstep’, ‘It’s paradise here’ ’Pure heaven’. Their imagery feels the same as well as they all have the same photographer. No creativity whatsoever. What I find more hilarious is that they all won TripAdvisor awards.
The problem with this communication is that all these messages are communicating to the logical part of our brains. To make an impact, and to connect emotionally, we need to make people feel something different. We can’t connect with anyone if we don’t make them feel something.
How do you make someone feel something different, I hear you ask? Well, you become a purpose-driven brand. Different people have different opinions about brand purpose and view purpose in a different ways. I won’t go into more detail about brand purpose as I wrote a book called Not Another Pair of Shoes where I explain the best and most effective way to create a brand purpose. The most important element to remember is that a great brand purpose inspires and goes beyond selling just a product. So ‘Holiday Perfection’ is not a brand purpose, it’s just a meaningless tagline.
St Raphael Hotel & Resort is based in Limassol, Cyprus and has become the first purpose-driven hotel on the island. They previously had the following tagline “Check in to… Memories of a lifetime”. The hotel was built in June 1987 and has seen a lot of changes. We at Way Boutique worked for 5 months with St Raphael to create and articulate their brand purpose. We interviewed a dozen team members and held a workshop with others, we interviewed guests that stayed at the resort, we analyzed a lot of data and created a brand purpose for St Raphael.
You can watch their brand story below or you can read it here.
As you can see, we start our brand story with the following sentence: “Change is inevitable if we want to move forward.” The reason we start with that is because the hotel has changed a lot since its inception in 1987. I will not go through their whole history but as you can imagine there were a lot of tweaks. Recently the hotel decided to focus on being sustainable, provide more vegan options, open a vegan restaurant by the beach, and launch an initiative that is called Mark The Shark where people can bring plastic from their beaches.
Another sentence: “Our daily routine can be daunting sometimes as we have responsibilities and our careers to take care of. It’s hard to break our daily pattern, yet alone challenge the norm.” We are speaking to people we want to attract, a problem that our potential guests have. Every brand story needs to have a problem. That’s why we mentioned the problem our guests are facing.
We talk about the brand promise as well; “What we really want is to surprise you so that we can exceed your expectations in every way possible.”
We want to communicate what transformation the guest will experience by mentioning it in our story: “And when you come back from your wonderful holiday, you’ll spread that kindness and you will break your daily pattern and come back fresh as a daisy and be ready to thrive.”
Who is this hotel for? We answer in the last sentence of our story: “So think of St Raphael Resort & Marina as the luxury hotel for kindness enthusiasts.”
The tagline of our story is RADIATE KINDNESS. This is what the hotel does and this is what the guest will hopefully do once they visit the hotel. Because the team members radiate kindness to every guest, because you get to experience new sustainable practices, because you will or might try vegan options, because you get to experience a hotel that truly cares about sustainability you will RADIATE KINDNESS.
Every single thing in our story can be confirmed from a back story. The company preaches sustainability not because they are doing lip service, like a lot of brands, but because the Managing Director, Farah Shammas, cares about the topic as she is vegan herself and does everything she suggests at her own home.
When you look at 50 hotels in Limassol, and you come across RADIATE KINDNESS at St Raphael Hotel & Marina, it makes you stop, it makes you think. Oh, wait a minute, they aren’t talking about some cheesy ‘paradise at home’ tagline or ‘holiday perfection’. They are talking about radiating kindness? Let me check this out. Some people will go and look into their story and connect with the brand on an emotional level. It will make them feel something different.
And this is how you differentiate and not become another brick on the beach that sells the same views as every Mediterranean Island hotel with the same mattress supplier.
Then you have the second stage which is execution and content marketing. St Raphael Hotel & Resort is working on adding the tagline on all their marketing material, in the hotel (lobby, rooms etc) and of course online. You can see that we’ve made website and social media changes and included the story everywhere.
The goal with execution is to work on their new tone of voice, how they communicate, what words they use, and work on content execution that doesn’t talk about the product. You can see their social media content has improved from beach pictures to more meaningful content with interviews and other different interesting content.
I personally feel very proud of this brand story as I feel it speaks to the heart and it represents exactly what the brand stands for. And I know from my personal experience, that this is an absolutely phenomenal story that is making an impact.
The people at St Raphael are something else. I had the pleasure of not just meeting them but listening to everyone’s personal stories. I truly believe with the whole of my heart that this is one of the best stories we’ve created (please don’t tell our other clients) so far. The reason why is because it’s exactly what the brand stands for. And I’m excited for St Raphael because with this story right now they can do so much – from a strategic and creative point of view. This story is for the next decade and hopefully more.
They become the first purpose-driven hotel in Cyprus by pushing through, looking for their values, by standing up in what they believe. It requires courage to stand up and be different, it requires a strong character to say I’m not going to follow what the rest are doing and do something different. Most brands follow, they look at what their competitor does and they do the same thing. To do what others do is easy, it’s acceptable, it’s safe and the management/owner/investors can’t say anything as you have a perfect excuse – everyone else is doing this.
The best feeling is knowing that the people you work with appreciate the craft and the dedication you have to create something magical.
Let’s Radiate Kindness.