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Reimagining Hospitality Marketing Part 1: Hoteliers To Etailers?

In this blog series, we begin exploring if the new digital normal will have a permanent impact on hospitality marketing. What lessons can we learn from retail marketing as the hospitality business continues to pivot?

Ever wondered if you can have a piece of your vacation in your everyday life? Large hotel chains such as Marriot, Westin, and Hilton offer cosmetics and toiletries to art and furniture that guests can buy. Guests purchase these products to bring the vacation experience to their own home long after their hotel stay is over. From online and offline stores to showrooms, retailers partner up with hotels to increase awareness, the appeal of their online and offline stores, and grow their branded merchandise. Hotels can be the right way for brands to connect with customers in a digital age and help customers imagine how the merchandise would look in their homes.

Since 1999, Westin's "Heavenly Bed" has eased millions of guests into a deep, restful sleep. Guests can recreate their entire night sleep at home by purchasing Westin's pillow-top mattress, linens, pillows, blanket, and custom duvets. There is even a Heavenly dog bed with embodied paw prints. Marriot's Signature Bedding Set and The Fairmont Sealy Stearns & Foster mattress are popular items on the website. Hotel online shops sell other items beyond bedroom basics. St. Regis knows how to create a relaxing environment with their collection of Bath & Home items from 100% cotton Frette robes, towels to Remède Spa bath and body to pajamas. W Hotel Fashion has an exclusive fashion collaboration that can be added to your closet from swimwear and designer sunglasses to bold hats. The EDITION, a global group of 9 luxury properties, sells home décor such as bowling bowl art, marble-print accent pouf, and water bottles.

Muji is a global Japanese retail company selling a wide range of household consumer items, furniture, clothing, and food products. Muji items are minimalistic and functional, which embodies their philosophy "Less is More”. Muji's brand philosophy was introduced into the hospitality sector with minimalistic and sustainable furniture such as recycled materials from ship debris and paving stone to basic amenities such as towels and bedding. The Muji Hotel is open to staying in Shenzhen, Beijing, and Ginza, where guests can enjoy Muji's products and services.

Heard of consumer brands merging with hotels? High-end fashion designers such as Bulgari Hotels and Resorts, the luxury Palazzo Versace, The Armani Hotel, and The Round Hill Hotel & Villas by Ralph Lauren in Jamaica have entered the hospitality industry. People are motivated by the values a brand represents rather than discounts or guarantees a brand can offer. Brand partnerships can be useful for hoteliers as well as retailers. Hotels in a competitive market and co-brand with lifestyle brands can give them extra oomph to stand out from the crowd. It's a way to capitalize on the brand.

The food and beverage industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many food and beverage businesses have temporarily closed their doors leading to the abrupt loss of dine-in guests. However, for those that chose to remain open have succeeded and survived with takeaways and delivery options.

Food delivery isn't a new concept. Before food delivery apps became mainstream, customers used to call restaurants to place their orders. Now, with the popularity of food delivery apps, similarly to shopping for clothes online, restaurants and hawkers operate based on speed, convenience, and choice.

There are hotel restaurants in Singapore with excellent delivery and takeaway deals during the circuit breaker period to anyone who has lost all inspiration to cook at home.

The convenience of bento box sets is undeniable, especially during this challenging period where most work from home and are always looking for comfortable yet delicious solutions for lunch and dinner. The Park Hotel at Farrer Park, Grand Hyatt, M Hotel, and InterContinental have a selection of bento boxes for customers to choose from and have their box delivery service covered.

From complimentary deliveries for the minimum amount spent to privilege discounts for self-collection to 50% off deals, hotel restaurants have implemented these ways to 1) attract customers, 2) cost-saving 3) to be different from their competition.

The Fullerton Hotel launched Gourmet Takeaway and Boxes from Jade Signatures and Fullerton specials. Complimentary delivery to one location in Singapore with minimum spends of $100 in a single receipt.

From gourmet meals, fresh pastries and bakery, and artisanal cake, to meal kits, The Gourmet at Home collection by One-Ninety in the Four Seasons Hotel is available for both delivery and takeaway. With no minimum order, enjoy 20 % off when you choose to self-collect.

What we see is Hoteliers becoming E-Tailers.

We know a retailer's purpose is to connect with shoppers, grow loyalty, and personalize new experiences. Well, E-Tailer is a retailer that primarily sells products and services to customers using an online platform, basically online shopping. Companies become E-Tailers as part of the overall marketing strategy while still having a physical store where customers can still purchase goods and services. With the rise of mobile users' digital age and the current pandemic, this has generated a countless shift in consumer trends and behaviors, as more consumers prefer online shopping. It is a flexible, optional, and seamless shopping experience. We see an evolution of E-Tailers with companies like Grab and Macy's.

Grab started off as a ride-hailing transport service when the company launched in 2012. By 2016, Grab launched its food delivery service, and as of 2020, Grab offers other services such as Mart and Delivery services. Also, customers can Grab gift cards or even top-up their mobile credit. With any Grab service, it is tied to the Grab's rewards and loyalty program, and payment of orders can be made by cash, cards, and GrabPay.

Another example to look at is Macy's is an American retail department store chain that sells a wide range of merchandise, including women, men, children apparel accessories, cosmetics, home furnishing, and other consumer goods. In 1996, launched, offering customers the convince of shopping online. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, Macy's closed all of its stores nationwide, with its online operation remain running. Macy's, too, has a loyalty program, Star Rewards, where members can earn points on every purchase and benefits, including impressive perks, savings, and more.

As the digital world continues to grow, traditional practices of connecting with shoppers, loyalty, and personalization are main targets, retailers and hoteliers will continue to achieve when going online.

No doubt, the digital age has impacted and changed our daily aspects of life and helped us improve. But how does this digital age affect the traditional practice of the hospitality industry?

New trends and technologies have enhanced the hospitality sector by providing more significant business opportunities. Being online can support local businesses around the radius you're living in. However, traditional services aren't practiced. With the Kiosk system, self-check-in, online, and mobile apps in place, there is a loss of human interaction and emotive personalization of service, and not visiting a physical store or restaurant.

This new digital normal will have a permanent impact on the hospitality and retail industry during this period, and many will continue even after things return to normal.

Rev-Mantra management consulting services focus on our clients' most critical issues and opportunities: strategy, marketing (offline/online), distribution, sales representation, and analytics across the service industry and geographies. We bring deep, functional expertise, but are known for our holistic perspective: we capture value across boundaries and between the silos of any organization. We have proven a multiplier effect from optimizing the sum of the parts, not just the individual pieces.

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