Is this the best hotel brand in the world? Part one

24 May 2022

Navigate CEO, Anthony Rawlins, is no stranger to good branding and understanding a target market. In this interview we caught up with Anthony after he had presented at the National Hotel Marketing Conference, to find out more about his favourite hotel brand, and what makes him sit up and pay attention. 

Disclaimer: Anthony Rawlins is not endorsed by, directly affiliated with, maintained, authorised or sponsored by any hotel. All thoughts and opinions expressed are his own.  

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This year at the National Hotel Marketing Conference, you talked about how hotels can build their brand. Do you have a favourite hotel brand, and why? 

Yes, I do. My favourite hotel brand is Familux resorts. They're a relatively small operation, with three resorts in Austria and one opening soon in Germany.

I find their branding excellent, for several reasons, but I think that the main thing is that they get their audience spot on… They know who they want to speak to, what they offer, what their audience values, and how they communicate it in an authentic and compelling way.

Branding is all about emotion. You've got to generate an emotional connection with the audience so they remember you, and can recall who you are. And for me, this is exactly what happened with Familux resorts. 

So, how did you hear about Familux Resorts?

Well, it happened in a way that I didn't necessarily expect. During the pandemic, as I was getting serious wanderlust, at a time when we couldn’t travel, I subscribed to National Geographic Traveller to try and explore the world a little bit from my living room. 

Now, typically I wouldn't put print marketing in a very high domain of capturing the right audience, and there are lots of adverts in National Geographic traveller … but this one amongst the many stood out to me. I thought it was superb because there was something about the adverts that really resonated with me. I felt the brand understood my pains, and gains, and played right into them. They offered something with an excellent fit to my particular requirements. 

Can you tell us more about their marketing, and why it resonated with you?

Well, that advert isn't the exact one I saw, but it came across in a similar way. When you dig deeper and head to the website, it completely reinforces the print adverts' core message.

In essence, it spoke about parents having a good time, whilst the children are too. Their communications tap into a multitude of emotional factors for the many families who visit Familux resorts.   

The pains and gains that I associated with a family holiday that I felt their marketing immediately addressed were that I wanted a good family holiday with moments we will cherish forever. A holiday that is relaxing and we don’t have to be parents all hours of the day like we do at home. We wanted the childcare to be flexible and not be subject to rigid timings, but also fun for the children. I wanted to be able to relax with my wife without being concerned about parenting for a moment and without feeling guilty about it.

All these and more, are the emotional drivers around my decision making, and it seems like Familux has gotten closer to answering all of these for me, better than any other hotel brand I have ever seen.

When I'm looking at how they communicate on their website, and what the kids have to look forward to, I'm excited for them. They're excited, and they've not even got there yet. They have a two thousand square metre indoor play area, and they've got their own climbing wall, as well as a swimming pool with a pirate ship. They provide childcare from [as young as] seven days old, for thirteen hours a day. All included every day if you want it. This flexibility opens up a whole new world for me and my family. If I want to do a cultural trip solely with my wife, then I can but if I’m looking to do a tricky hike that my nine-year-old could handle but my three-year-old couldn't, then I can go with my nine-year-old.

How else was Familux able to connect emotionally with you? Was it just language, or visuals? Both? 

It’s both.

The imagery and words both worked together to resonate with me.

Firstly, their copy is excellent, succinct and to the point. It’s very focused on the pains and gains of its target audiences. However, Familux also has the best imagery I’ve seen.

It's not a photo of a hotel bed, or of a meal, or an empty restaurant. Their imagery revolves around showing audiences the kind of experiences they will have when visiting. So, mum, dad, and the kids in a sauna together. And the kids jumping on mum and dad’s bed in the morning after a nice restful sleep.

This is far from traditional functional imagery, and marketing really needs to move beyond this now.

How does this work for bigger hotel groups? 

It’s easier as a small group of hotels or resorts to really focus and target communications to a specific audience group.

For bigger hotel groups, it’s difficult to undertake this level of targeted audience communications, because the larger the operation, the broader the spectrum of audiences you need to appeal to. It’s a commercial reality.

So, I do feel it will be difficult to create such a focused position in the marketplace for a global hotel group, in the way that Familux has. The way all of Familux’s marketing collateral targets one audience segment, with a concentrated message.

But everything is possible, and bigger hotel groups simply need to provide a more focused offering for a specific area or brand of their business. As an example, I feel this is what Tui Sensatori resorts try to do, but they are still too broad. 

The imagery and content on their site simply sit alongside their other marketplace offerings, so it's difficult for the consumer to visualise and differentiate Sensatori Vs TUI’’s other brand positions. This ultimately dilutes, the ‘indulgent, luxury’ offering of Sensatori.

It’s the classic situation of either doing one thing very well or a few things to an average standard.

So, whilst it is possible for bigger brands to stand out with a focused offering, I haven’t seen it done in the hospitality space with the same effectiveness as Familux Resorts.

To turn the question on its head though, smaller resorts can learn a lot from Familux Resorts and may benefit from trying a similar brand building or communication strategy. For smaller hotel groups, this level of specificity and focus is the greatest advantage you have against larger, bigger hotel groups, which means embracing it is also to your advantage.