– By Sarah Quon
During my recent trip to Vietnam, I was lucky enough to stay at the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi. From reading its reviews, it seemed to be THE place to stay. It’s a 100 year old five star hotel (for the record, I did not pay the usual five star price) that definitely has history, character, and delivered on its promise, something that we strive for and believe in at Magnolia. Making your customers feel special in a service-oriented industry is certainly a given but this is also applicable to any industry. My experience at Sofitel reflects this and illustrates how important it is to deliver the promises of your brand first, in order to build strong relationships with your customers and further brand awareness.
After booking our room with Sofitel, the reservation manager informed us that the hotel pool was closed for renovation during our two days there. It was disappointing, as the average temperature lies around 35 degrees Celsius plus humidity. My husband was a bit annoyed and complained to the hotel. To our surprise, we managed to upgrade to the club level and they promised the best service that they could muster. I thought well, let’s find out!
I arrived in Hanoi and was waiting for my transfer, which didn’t show up. Luckily for me, I saw a big sign that said ‘Sofitel Metropole’. I’m not on their list for customer pick up but they were nice enough to call my Vietnam travel agent to find out what happened. I ended up taking a cab with one of the Sofitel sign holders. I certainly was appreciative. I thought to myself, “I think I like this hotel already!”
That was certainly a nice touch. Aside from receiving the usual club privileges, the service they provided was excellent. On our last night, they offered an invitation to a separate cocktail reception in one of the hotel restaurants. I thought that was such an ingenious marketing ploy. Get your hotel guest to feel really special, and at the same time get more business for your restaurants!
So how does this travelogue relate to marketing and PR? Well, I’ve just experienced the Sofitel brand, and it certainly delivered its promise. I’ve always believed that pushing through with your product’s promise is part of what makes a good and reliable brand. Whether you are a PR agency, the latest portable wireless network company or selling financial analytics software, delivering on your product’s promise is what matters most. After all, a satisfied customer experience equates to a great lasting impression that will eventually lead to brand loyalty. I recommend reading a recent article in Fast Company by Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes, who provides great insight on the pillars of successful brand building that is applicable to all businesses.
In Sofitel’s case, they delivered their promise and product offering, and now as a converted Sofitel customer (although I can’t say I’ll always be able to afford to stay there), I am now helping build their brand though word of mouth and social media. These are as powerful as any PR or marketing campaign that any company plans to implement. There are many ways that we as marketers or communications experts help companies build brand awareness and loyalty but in the end what matters most is the delivery of the brand promise.