How to Rebrand and Reposition a Hotel for Success

By Tom Baker, Managing Principal

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

Boutique hotel owners decide to rebrand and reposition for a variety of reasons such as losing business to competitors, a dropping ADR, a declining pool of loyal guests, or as a natural next step after a renovation or a recent hotel purchase. Regardless, for anyone considering a brand identity change, there is more often than not a very good reason.

When planning a rebrand for your hotel, no doubt you know there’s a lot more to do than replacing signage. The first item on the checklist is to gain all the knowledge and information possible. Owners that understand what it means to successfully reposition a brand, what effect this may have on short-term and long-term profits, customer perception, and impact on staffing the hotel, are in the best possible place to begin.

Rebranding After Renovation

If you’re considering renovation, then the rebranding process will take a little bit more time as there will be more factors in play. However, the payoff is potentially higher. First, just like you’ve hired or will hire a renovation team consisting of a project manager, construction company, architect and interior designers, you’ll need a team to create and then dispatch a re-launch of your new brand.

At the very minimum you’ll need an agency to produce the basics:

  • New logo
  • New brand colors
  • New brand language and voice (the personality of your hotel)
  • A guideline document to direct all marketing on the approved use of imagery, the logo, etc.

Many agencies suggest going deeper and including a look at your current and future guest demographic, research into the area, drive market and flight market, and more to drive the creative and the strategy after launch. A good team will take inspiration and cues from the new exterior and interior design of the hotel for a cohesive identity. Settling on an objective, budget, style, and timeline will greatly simplify the process, giving you the time and confidence to pull off a successful rebranding.

Rebranding Without Renovation

Without a renovation in the mix, a hotel will have a much shorter timeline to a rebranding launch. The drawback is that the marketing team will have to work that much harder to gain the attention of potential guests to notice the hotel’s new brand. There are ways to offset this potential issue.

A few ways to engage potential customers after a rebranding without renovation:

  • Save your change of ownership announcement until you’re ready to launch the new brand
  • Hire a PR agency or arrange a press release with imagery
  • Have a new brand sale or create a trio of packages to promote to generate interest and excitement
  • Consider a new website to show off your new brand in the best possible light
  • Consider a change in soft goods throughout the hotel as well as a new paint for a budget-friendly refresh without a renovation hassle
  • Consider new photography to showcase the property’s best assets

To Keep in Mind

These are just a few of many considerations to keep top-of-mind when rebranding a hotel. No list should be considered exhaustive or applicable to all properties. In fact, one of AHA’s guiding values is to place top priority on a hotel’s unique qualities alongside each hotel owner’s individual values and preferences when formulating a plan or strategy.

The AHA Takeaway

Ultimately, it’s down to whether you want to spend more time or more money on your rebrand. If either or both options seem like more than you’re prepared to handle alone, you’re not alone. Research shows hiring an asset manager/project manager ultimately saves time and reduces stress. We’re here to guide hotel owners through these tough decisions and we’re here to lead all teams through the renovation and rebranding processes.

Let’s talk. Use the quick form below and I’ll personally reach out.

– Tom Baker, Managing Principal

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