How does a hotel keep its identity consistent when it expands internationally? Whether it's room size or customer service norms, there are a bewildering number of factors to consider to make a hotel appealing to both domestic and international travelers alike.
Consider Marriott International's recent announcement for global expansion. This major hotel group will add 90,000 to 105,000 new hotel rooms by the end 2014 and is on track to have 4,000 hotels worldwide by 2015. Marriott's branding covers a broad range, from the luxurious Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance to the familiar Courtyard and Marriott hotels. Right in line with other international business expansion, 27% of these new rooms will be in Asia, 14% of them in China alone, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese expansion includes more midprice hotels that target China's growing middle class as well as hiring 30,000 employees throughout the country, with the goal to more than double the number of hotels in China in the next three years.
But how does a company based in Bethesda, MD train thousands of employees in China? Marriott focuses on keeping employees long-term, with many opportunities for growth and promotion within the company, a message that is consistent throughout their properties worldwide. Perhaps their success can be summed up most neatly by the chain's focus on "aggressive hospitality," a re-occurring theme in their job postings for China. While this phrase might sound strange to American ears, it rings true for the expectations of Chinese customers and guests. By making hotel guests feel as if they are in a private home, Marriott upholds its standard for service from restaurant to front desk in a way that makes sense to both Chinese and foreign guests alike.
Fusion is another approach that many international hotels take when it comes to marketing and branding. The France-based Sofitel, part of the Accor Group, is an excellent example of this strategy in action. The hospitality chain bases its customer experience on three pillars: design, gastronomy and culture, adapting to every location throughout the world with a French touch. The Buenos Aires location restaurant mixes Argentinian specialties with French cuisine, while in Bangkok three different restaurants offer everything from market-style food to specialty chocolates. Here again, elegance and quality translates into something that looks and feels local while also being true to the expectations of the brand itself.
Trying to decide how much your business needs to stay true to its corporate identity and what needs to change as you expand into international markets? Working with a translation agency can help you decide what to take with you, what should get left at home, and what can be adapted to fit local customs and attitudes when it comes to branding and marketing messages. No matter where you might be based, with the right help, you can translate your brand successfully to any of the many rapidly growing markets across the seas, or right next door.
Photo attribution: late night movie