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The Banyan Tree Hotels and Restaurants have become the leading player in the luxury resorts and spa market in Asia. Banyan Tree had launched fresh brands as part of its growth strategy. These brands include destination club memberships, retail outlets, resorts, spas and museum shops. The company contemplated overseeing the company portfolio while preserving the idiosyncratic identity and superior brand image of the Banyan Tree Holdings.
The various factors that contributed to the success of the Banyan Tree include: Picking the right target market for the product. The target market consists of multi-segment clientele. The Company provides several packages and products that are attractive and suitable to each segment, for example, Banyan Tree Hotel and Resort and Angsana Resort and Spa. These two are built and equipped according to the needs of the different segments or social classes (Taneja, 2008).
Aggressive internal marketing strategies played a crucial role in its success. Generous staff policies created a strong sense of belonging and ownership among the employees. This then motivated them to achieve success in the services that they provide to the customers. Their friendly and sincere attitudes towards the customers rubbed the customers the right way. This results in a word-of-mouth advertising of the brand which is important and effective (Stern, 2006).
A well thought-out market segment was imperative. Banyan Tree has a strategy of making its own products and services specifically with the high service standards that are determined by customers’ satisfaction. Some of the services that are offered to guests are exclusivity and utmost privacy by providing individual villas. Moreover, the company is positioned in the middle of the market in terms of cost hence attracting more customers (Emmons, 2010).
An effective marketing strategy was at the heart of the success of the Banyan Tree. It promotes its product through mass international media within the first few years after the launch of the brand (Kurtz, 2004). After the brand was renowned, travel editors and writers are invited to write and publish articles that could raise editorial coverage and exposure of the Banyan Tree. Due to their excellent service provision, news about the “Banyan Tree Experience”, this method of advertising is highly efficient.
They won the support and trust of the native communities and the public interest lot. They employed individuals from the neighbouring communities, for example, by involving the local traders, local artisans and local farmers. They also encourage local tourism by subsidising prices for local tourists during off-peak periods of the year.
The major part of the resort’s appeal was in the natural magnificence of the location in which the villas were situated. It was, therefore, imperative that the Company protects this environmental as it was a tourist magnet. Preservation of the environment also brought about a positive outlook that radiated in the eyes of the locals and resulted in winning various awards, which increased brand awareness.
Banyan Tree was the first occupant of the market segment. This, therefore, gave them the upper-hand in this sector as they gained control of most of the resources. This enabled them to penetrate the market way before their competitors. This gave them a foothold in the spa and resorts market. Other players in the industry who were interested in this market had to the Banyan Tree Company to found an outlet in their location. This helped in promotion of the concept of sultry garden spas beyond the regional markets.
The Banyan had put in place superior brand positioning and communication strategies that ensured the success of the company. Its positioning was timely and appropriate as it is a sanctuary for romance and intimacy rather than luxurious accommodation as promoted by most competitors with the concept of providing “a sense of belonging” and the “romance of travel and the beauty of discovering the earth”. The Banyan Tree launches mass advertising globally to capture all possible prospective markets in order to establish the brand faster and more efficiently to the market. After which, the company decreased advertising and keeps it nominal. Banyan Tree, as an alternative, relies on public relations and publicity; by using neutral third-party perspectives from high-end travel editors and columnists to spread both editorial travel coverage and beneficial word of mouth. They also make use of direct marketing through its website and sales offices; wastage in advertising exposure is minimised. The Company also flaunted their awards won plausibly, this also improved brand status.
Agents who specialised in exclusive holidays were hired to promote the Banyan Tree brand. This method was used as an outreach to the wealthy customers who were offered high-end services for prices, though exorbitant, were able to afford.
Since it was the pioneer resort in this field, the Banyan Tree occupied a unique position in the luxury resorts market when it was initially started. It also provided the perfect get-away for busy couples who wanted some time alone. Since this alone time is a necessity, this package is one of the most popular packages that are offered by the Banyan Tree.
As well as being viewed as a concerned and pro-environmental company, such hype also drew attention to the natural splendour of the resorts and their environments, which helped the company to market its villas (Martin & Kidwell, 2005).
Banyan Tree can uphold its exclusive positioning in an increasingly congested resorts market. It can do this by continuing to develop aggressive strategies in order to increase unique positioning. The Banyan Tree should also insist upon keeping its identity in the market as this will attract more customers. Considering that the romantic and intimate experience is easy to mimic, the Banyan tree should take advantage of its location, specific services provided and the natural splendour that surrounds it to maximise marketing. The personality of the brand should be invested in heavily and the genuine hospitality and kindness of the staff towards the customers. Encompassing everything at the Banyan Tree should add to the unforgettable experience that makes the “Banyan Experience” irreplaceable (Roll, 2006).
The brand portfolio of Banyan Tee, Angsana and Colours of Angsana as well as their respective product portfolios which include beach resorts do fit as a family. Ranging from deluxe six-star Banyan Tree resorts to small, individual Colours of Angsana branded hotels in exciting locations, these properties were bound together by the fundamental theme:“The romance of travel and the beauty of discovering the world” (Bickersteth & Eliot, 2000).
The Banyan Tree targeted the higher end of the luxury resorts market while Angsana was more conventional, targeting the broader market. The Colours of Angsana range of boutique hotels catered particularly to the mild adventure tourism sector, situated at remote and exotic places that cannot validate the premium prices charged by Banyan Tree villas. The various brands hence served to cater to different segments of hotels and resorts industry, made distinct by cost and benefits offered (Mckee & Lamb, 2005).
Banyan Tree Bangkok, with its urban location and standard hotel rooms, did not fit well with the Banyan Tree family of beachfront resorts and the individual-villa concept. However, it had a grave prominence on the spa that allowed customers to elude from the crazy work schedule of the city. It offered packages that were specially designed for couples to be able to have a romantic get-away. This package included the individual villa product that had complete exclusivity and privacy. Many facilities like the museum shops, and retail outlets were also made available at the Banyan Tree Bangkok. This hotel offered an open air lounges that boasted a magnificent view of the city. This view was priceless and extremely popular. It was also frequently used to host wedding receptions and parties. This was a jackpot as many of the residents wanted to have that experience. This product also attracted foreigners with deep pockets to experience the splendour of the Banyan Tree. Owing to the fact that it was a city hotel, it had to accommodate business travellers who did indeed stream in to somewhat undergo the Banyan Tree experience (Oxford Business Group, 2011).
Banyan Tree’s products and services could be grouped into four product outlines: clubs, hotels and resorts, spas and retail shops. Its properties and spas could be classified under the business of travel and leisure. The retail shops helped to expand the overall services know-how through the sale of products that customers might use at home to duplicate and reminiscent them of the Banyan Tree Experience. The sale of arts and souvenirs promote the brand personality (Lovelock & Chew, 2009).
The organization of the portfolio by the brand would achieve stability in positioning and branding and will make it easier to sell products and packages offered by the company. This arrangement would require replication in assets for a variety of functions. Product development to introduce current brand globally would have a wonderful effect on brand recognition though capital and other social constraints and should be taken into consideration. Investing in the environment was one of the key ways in which the Banyan Tree acquired recognition. Applying this principle in some of the countries that they would desire to venture into would be difficult due to various reasons such as arid areas and the high cost of labour. This would make venturing into these areas prohibitive (Wilkins, 2008).
For the future, the company may have to consider switching market tastes due to the fact that there is no surety whether the current packages offered will still be a hit then. This can be overcome by constant research and keeping up with the current market. The Banyan may also be forced to add more to what they have in terms of experiences in order to keep the customer interested and strengthen their position in the current market (Flower, Zona-Paris & Paris, 2004).
The company should also avoid placing many brands in order to avoid brand dilution. The existence of too many brands would pose a problem as the customers would not be able to differentiate between various products. The customer would eventually lose interest in the experience. The company should be interested in the various brands throughout the globe to ensure service consistency. The existence of too many brand names would cause laxity in service provision, which should be tackled in order to keep customers (Baladi, 2011).
Brand equity is the marketing outcomes that accumulate to a product with its brand name compared to those that would accumulate if the same product did not have the brand name. This is created through aggressive mass marketing campaigns like those in companies like Nike and Coca-Cola. Brands are the most precious possessions of a company (Collins, 2003).
Corporate social performance is a type of commercial self-regulation into a business model. Companies embrace the accountability for the impact of their activities on the surroundings, clients, workers, communities, stakeholders and all members of the communal field (Johansson, 2008).
In the Banyan Tree Company, the consequence of corporate social responsibility has a positive impact on brand equity. This can be improved by aggressively caring for human and natural environment, giving work to the local communities and involving them in various eco-friendly activities and taking proper care of the staff. This will have a positive impact on the Company like giving a positive image to the company; this would increase the profits of the Company and augment brand equity. The company would in effect become a stop for “romantic memories” and still be socially responsible and environmentally sensitive (Wirtz, 2004).
The Banyan Tree has placed strong emphasis on the exotic locations as a key element of the brand identity in line with the “sense of place” theme. They have also invested in and emphasised in infrastructure to connect the resorts to main places of interest. Many environmentalists appreciate the efforts of the Banyan Tree to protect the environment that surrounds the resorts. They have established the Green Imperative Fund to provide financial aid to community projects and environmental preservation. The company took advantage of the trees and water bodies and has built their villas around them. Hence, there is putting up of buildings without uprooting trees or getting rid of water bodies (Fisk, 2009).
The potential problems that the Banyan Tree may encounter while taking their business to the Americas and Europe is that the cost of living is too high hence getting employees from these areas would be too expensive. Acquisition of resources would prove difficult due to the high prices (Temporal, 2000). Considering the theme of the Banyan Tree being eco-related, it would prove virtually impossible to get a suitable site due to the fact that these are concrete jungles. It will be difficult for the Banyan Tree to compete with the various luxurious hotels present in these areas. In the Middle East, it would be difficult to enhance this business due to the fact that most of this area is arid or semi-arid, hence, the lush environment that is largely the personality of the Banyan Tree will not be present. It will, therefore, be impossible to have the central theme. The government policies in the Middle East are quite different from those in Asia. It would, therefore, be hard to set up shop in this area. Another issue that would arise in the Middle East is the difference in culture. This would not go well with the services that the Banyan Tree is willing to offer to the people of the Middle East (Williamson, 2004).
These problems, however, can be and are being overcome in various ways. These include building of the Banyan Tree a few hours from the major cities in Europe and America to make them more accessible to the high-end market that would result in high turnovers. Building these resorts in areas such as Morocco and Mexico where cost of structures is quite low, labour is cheap as compared to developed countries (Burke & Bush, 2010).
The Banyan tree has to focus of brand equity and the social responsibility in order to show quality in the products that are offered by the company. A study could also be taken to investigate the various ways in which the company can improve customer service and packages. This will attract more customers to this entity. A good way to improve the brand is by coming up with something new that will breathe new life into the company hence attract more customers to the company (Kurtz, 2004).
The company could also try to employ Asian and non-Asian packages in their resorts and hotels. This would make the experience more exciting. The availability of different cultures could appeal to a broader prospective market. This would then increase sales and profits significantly.
The Banyan Tree should strive to distinguish between the various segments and packages that are available for all social classes and depending on the amount of money that the customer is willing to spend. This differentiation will also promote local tourism (Penisten & Norton, 2010).
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