Hannah Béraud-Hindi, HB Digital Marketer

Hannah Béraud-Hindi, HB Digital Marketer

 

Remember childhood Disney classic the Jungle Book?

“I wanna be like you ouhouuuu, walk like you, talk like you, that’s true ouhouhhh” …

In this crazy scene, the monkey King Louie – which is part of the ‘bad guys’ – is singing “I wanna be like you”, referring to his wish to look, behave like, and in the end, become human like Mowgli – the main character.

The ‘King Louie Effect’ – or how strong brands are dying

Too many independent hotels and restaurants, when they identify a need to communicate online – using digital toolsor social media – suddenly turn into King Louies. Their first reflex when starting to think about what they need: look at what competitors have/do online and ask for the same – same type of website as hotel/restaurant X or Y or same style of content as the Instagram page of hotel/restaurant X or Y.

Looking for inspiration, why not. But every business is different! Hotels and restaurants do not have the same clients, are not located in the same area, do not serve the same food. So why even try to look like one another?! Have hoteliers and restauranteurs forgotten all about their brand USPs that they suddenly need to copy/paste what others do?

Let’s do a very simple test, in order to show you what we mean: take two hotels’ Instagram pages or two restaurants’ websites and compare them.

 

  • First observation: they all look the same!

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  • Second observation: their real life brand image has been wiped-off their online platforms, leading luxury hotels to resemble a Formula 1 property online.

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The worst part is that this King Louie Effect has reached the most high-end hotels and restaurants in the industry, recently including the hotel collection Relais & Chateaux for instance. R&C threw 60 years of strong brand positioning to the bin for a quick deal with Air B n B (BFM TV).

Maybe this short-term move is not a problem, especially if used in addition to additional long-term strategies.

Unfortunately, independent hotels only implement the short-term pieces. And when luxury hotels, 5 star properties, which are known for selling unique, personalised, memorable experiences to their guests for very high budgets are suddenly ending-up looking and feeling like ‘just another hotel‘; then what is the point in picking these luxury hotels over a Formula 1 ?!

Hotels & Restaurants have reached the ‘Baloo Moment’

The hospitality sector was one of the first to become 100% Uberised:  relying on the Internet to generate bookings and sales. With this radical change of game rules, the number one priority was to get on board the digital wagon as quickly as possible, not to miss any business opportunity.

The result of that was the rise of OTAs and other referral websites, offering ‘easy’, ‘quick’ solutions for hotels or restaurants to boost their visibility. The joke is that no one really thought about the longer-term challenges brought by this new online game, including the trap of relying 100% on OTAs to get any sort of revenue!

Same story on the social media side: restaurants and hotels’ number one priority these past 10 years was their number of fans, number of likes. Fake digital gurus, social media geeks and other fake geniuses who noticed the trend, came up with a little magic trick of their own to please hotels’ and restaurants’ ‘sugar cravings’: algorythms! Running after big numbers, not a problem at first. But on the long-term, what is the point of having 100K Instagram followers and only 1 real person in your restaurant during rush hour? A big restaurant group will not have any problem spending huge budgets on digital, implementing every shiny new tool, or setting up x amount of algorithms. It is another story for independent restaurants/hotels who have limited budgets and can’t afford the same method if they want to have any sort of return. Their only asset: their independent brand, their personality.

In this extract of the Jungle Book, Baloo wanted to distract King Louie by dressing up like him and dancing with him, in order to give a chance to Mowgli to escape. Hotels and restaurants settling for short-term solutions, dressing-up like one another, spending their (already limited) resources to create a distraction and make their consumers/guests believe they have upgraded their strategy and adapted to their new behaviours, have reach the “Baloo Moment”: they are being uncovered and are paying the price for it!

Time to Mowgli-Up !

The next generation of consumers is demanding, super-informed, and super-connected. You can’t fool us. We are no King Louies ! Time for hotels and restaurants to realise they won’t be able to hide under their Baloo costume much longer. Time to translate the unique customer relationship hospitality is known for online and bring back that human touch to your digital strategies:

  • Revise your marketing investments to communicate online AND offline
  • Setup a proper short-term AND long-term communication strategy!

A new year has just begun, what better time to set some new digital strategy resolutions?

You can read about how HB DIGITAL can help you create more human digital relationships over here – consider it her 2017 gift to the Hotel Marketing Association community!

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