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Branding Strategies and Change Implementation in the Hotel IndustryCase Study

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Westin Hotels & Resorts Case Study

a) Specific changes made to the physical product

Westin Hotels & Resorts engaged in rolling out new products and services to increase its attractiveness to potential investors in the market. The rollout also focused on enabling Westin to achieve parity with the rest of industry players. Products and services included in the new plan included Westin's Guest Office, Westin Kids Club, and Service Express. The reinvention of the hotel bed focused on peripheral issues especially telecommunications such as telephones and Internet access. Services offered to business travelers within the Westin's Guest Office category included a work area complete with voice messaging, printers, copier, fax, free unlimited local calls, and voice messaging. The guest offices provided business travelers exquisite services just a small fee above the standard room rate (Frei, Dev, and Strook, 2007).

Westin Service Express features a 24-hour room service that facilitates a comfortable and exquisite stay for clients. With just a touch of the in-room phone, clients have access to a variety of services such as a laundry pick-up, a midnight snack, amongst others. The services have revolutionized provision of services to guests in the hotels and resorts. As a pioneer in this area, Westin managed to capture a significant share of market demands in terms of hotel products and services. Westin Kids Club engaged several crafts and services meant to suit the interests of children. Activities include photo safari, tapa journal, candy lei, beach volcano, and net fishing, amongst others. Children have an opportunity to experience memorable moments within a hotel and resort setting.

b) Physical product changes that served as the focal point of Westin's brand strategy

The Westin Service Express occurred as the catching point amongst the reinvention of products and services provided by Westin. 24-hour service that encompassed an all-around the clock provision of services such as snacks, laundry uniquely identified the brand amongst other competitors. Through this revolutionary strategy, Westin endeavored to ensure that guests experienced minimal interruptions with the provision of all services around the clock. Services include luggage assistance, maintenance, and wake up calls, meal and fitness reservations, and ironing board delivery. Provision of the services ensures that clients experience a simpler and comfortable life with minimal complications (Frei, Dev, and Strook, 2007).

c) The need for the changes

The revolutionary changes depicted the need to attain customer needs. During the mid-nineties, the demand in the hotel industry depicted a surge in demand for hotel products and services as it occurred as a commodity, just like others. The changes focused on improving customer experience with advancements in the product and service delivery. The positioning of Westin occurred in an upscale segment with other brands such as Marriott and Hyatt. In this segment, it could compete with other major market players such as InterContinental Placement Westin in this business environment accelerated the introduction of a series of customer-driven products and services. The management endeavored to ensure that the new products and services could occur as a game changer in the market.

During this time, globalization encouraged the movement of individuals into and out of the U.S. As a result, business travelers demanded hotel products and services meant to suit their needs (Markovic, 2012). The emergence of the Westin Guest Office encompassed a myriad of products and services that suits business needs. The demand for mobile communication facilitated the investments made in the telecommunication sector. As a result, Westin achieved this by providing guests with a complete area with voice messaging, printers, copier, fax, free unlimited local calls, and voice messaging.

Economic growth meant that individuals increased their spending on leisure activities, especially fun for children. Westin Kids program came in handy that endeavored to provide kids with a comfortable and fun environment inspired with a variety of child activities and crafts. Activities such as photo safari, beach play, net fishing, and beach volcano enabled children have memorable experiences.

d) Unanticipated consequences of the changes

The revolutionary products and services offered by Westin encouraged the potential investors to the business. The several business purchased shares of the business. In a joint venture with Goldman, Sachs, and Co. Starwood Capital Group purchased Westin and later merged with ITT Sheraton Corporation. The renaming of Westin to Starwood Hotels & Resorts occurred when Starwood acquired Westin. The business moved to New York becoming a C-Corporation (Frei, Dev, and Strook, 2007). The three companies under one roof ensured clashing cultures. Clashing cultures contributed to disagreements in the running of Westin spread in the management, product branding, and marketing strategies.

e) Contributions of the changes in providing a competitive advantage for the company

The purchase of Westin by Starwood and its emergence with ITT Sheraton Corporation contributed towards propelling the franchise-drive hotel. The emergence of several finance muscles in the corporate world fostered propelling of the Westin brand name and the products and services provided. It also provided an opportunity for the introduction of new products and services that targeted existing and potential customer needs.

The placing of Westin amongst other industry players such as InterContinental ensured that the company competed with the best in the hotel business. With a significant financial muscle, Westin occurred at a better place to compete with others in the industry. Revolutionary products and services such as the 24-hour room service acted as a selling point for the business.

2. a) Specific changes made with the launch of the "Heavenly Bed" at Westin in 2005, 2006, and beyond

In the late 1990s, the idea of reinventing the hotel bed emerged. During this time, the hotel industry focused in the telecommunications industry such as telephones and internet access. Following the launch of the "Heavenly Bed" a series of strategies ensured to create a brand experience for Westin (Frei, Dev, and Strook, 2007). The company focused on a new lifestyle strategy as the primary product strategy. Westin endeavored to leverage on the product strategy into the lifestyle strategy. Investment in lifestyle branding focused on cost reduction by the elimination of products that guests attach minimal value. Elimination of the unnecessary costs and clutter from the guestrooms included the changing of the four-cap to a one-cup Starbucks exclusive coffee brewer. Through such an initiative, the company managed to provide economically a hotter and better cup of coffee to guests. Reinvesting in low-value products such as the cost of trays facilitated upgrading of the services into demanding products such as bath amenities.

The new brand mantra focused on instilling an instinctive, renewal, and personal touch on the guests and the company. A broader context in this strategy encompassed efforts towards realizing a quality customer service within the idea of personal renewal. The new mission of the hotel focused on transforming the nature of the hotel on the definitive and personal renewal stature for guests.

The introduction of the Sensory Welcome Program advanced at Westin incorporated a myriad of benefits for the guests to realize a 'renewal oasis' as depicted by the hotel. Studies and research carried out indicate of the benefits accrued with the creation of a positive impression within the first ten minutes of stay for the guests. A positive impression enables guests to feel home thereby increasing their chances of staying in the hotel. In creating the impression, the Sensory Welcome Program encompasses various elements including a signature white tea, signature music, specialized botanicals, and a lighting design developed by Phillips Lighting Company.

The Breathe Program adopted in Westin focused on enabling it to become a smoke-free hotel brand. Installation of breathing lights across Westin lobbies marked the implementation of the Breathe campaign. The brand received various accolades from the American Legacy Foundation and the American Lung Association. Implanting a service culture renewal focused on changing the way Westin's employees interacted with its guests. In realizing this aspect, the company engaged in a training initiative for employees to realize the significance of the core values at Westin including renewal, personal, and instinctive. Westin expected that the human resource department synchronized these core competencies in enabling managers and associates realize their significance in the workplace. The company has engaged in launching various initiatives meant to inspire employees that include the Westin Workout, pride pins, and a renewal-based website for Westin careers, amongst others.

b) The need for the changes

The changes focused on improving service delivery and customer satisfaction levels. Reposition of the brand occurred to the increasing competition in the market and the need to establish a unique strategy in the industry. In efforts of becoming a top-notch player, Westin endeavored to introduce various initiatives designed to enable the company target a significant market share. The 'personal renewal' lifestyle focused on the attainment of exquisite customer service from the employees (Sloan, Legrand, & Chen, 2013).

Previous product brand strategies stagnated and failed to meet the dynamic market demands. The adoption of breathing programs and service culture renewal fostered marketing Westin as a recognizable industry player. Through the new brand strategies, the company managed to improve guest loyalty and repeated… [END OF PREVIEW]

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