Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Market for Photographers: Moving from complacency to success

Four-star hotel in the Atlanta market.
Kemmons Wilson’s was on the cover of Time Magazine in June 1972. He was founder of Holiday Inn and they were successful with more than fourteen hundred locations all placed about a day's drive from each other. They owned the three-star market of hotels.


By the mid 1980s they had more competition on the bottom and top. More two-star offerings were popping up and the number of four and five-star hotels grew rapidly. What was happening to their market was it was now a commodity in their rating. It was becoming more difficult to fill their rooms with so much competition.

Basic room in Merida, Mexico that I stayed in.
If we are talking about just having a room to stay in and something just clean and reliable then we would be just a commodity and wondering how can we compete.

Hotels are part of the hospitality industry which is huge. While Holiday Inn was loosing ground other groups were expanding. In 1999, Hilton acquired Promus Hotel Corporation, which included the Doubletree, Red Lion, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, & Homewood Suites brands.

The brand name Holiday Inn is now owned by IHG. On 24 October 2007 IHG announced a worldwide relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand. The relaunch is "focused on delivering consistently best in class service and physical quality levels, including a redesigned welcome experience [and] signature bedding and bathroom products..."

Comparing our industry to hotels hopefully with help us realize what we need to do to be competitive.

Hotel Plaza in Merida, Mexico.
Sense of Ambiance

As you can see just from these photos of properties they give a sense ambiance unique to them. What the hotel chains have done is realize they need to know where they fit in the market and then how to leverage their place.

Today you will notice many chains have similar floor plans but the experience is so different. Hotel chains have launched different product lines. The lobbies have different colors and decorations. One industry that sprung up to meet the needs of hotels is the scent machine industry. They sell the hotels machines and aromas that help them create a distinct aroma which they hope you not only associate with them.

This concept of scent has been around a long time. The Catholic Church has, effectively, used brand fragrance on its 'customers' - one in six of the world's population - for the last 2,000 years. Scent is very powerful and connected to ones emotions. In one test, altering a shampoo’s fragrance had a huge effect on how people rated its effectiveness, even though the product itself was otherwise unchanged.

Portillo's in Chicago
Restaurants also are competitive

The restaurant industry too is overcrowded. There are places like Portillo's in Chicago that are still thriving. Why? They have done a lot to make walking into their restaurant's an experience and not just about the food alone.

Cafe´ 360 in Freehold, NJ. Cafe´ 360 has free internet access allowing you to surf the web while you sip one of their house brand coffees or while grabbing a bite to eat.
In 1983, Howard Schultz (Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer) traveled to Italy and became captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience. He had a vision to bring the Italian coffeehouse tradition back to the United States. A place for conversation and a sense of community. A third place between work and home.

Schultz help to create the third place between work and home with Starbucks. With now free Wi-fi and comfortable seating area, people have more to go to Starbucks than just a cup of coffee--they go for an experience.

Just consider lighting alone in restaurants and you can see how this can influence how you feel about a place. Just consider how lowering the lights and putting candles on a table take a restaurant from casual dining to fine dining.

Consider the use of linen for napkins rather than paper. Fresh flowers on a table can also add aroma to the experience.

I can remember when Mrs. Field's cookies were first at the mall. I think the number one reason I bought their cookies at first was the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies alone drew me to them.

Remarkable experiences 

The best form of advertising is word of mouth. This week I received Jeffery Gitomer's newsletter and he addresses the power of the referral and how to get them. Just listen to him talk about getting referrals.

What REMARKable Experience are you creating? 
You just went on vacation and you had a great time. You come into the office the next day and you can't wait to tell some of your office workers about an experience. Does this sound familiar to you?

This is what you need to concentrate on with your customers. Can you create an experience around your product that has them talking about you?

Once you create something that helps distinguish you from all the others in your field be prepared for it to be copied. Your competition will discover what you do and then not only will they copy you they will try and do it better than you.

Let's revisit Holiday Inn's relaunch of their brand.

"focused on delivering consistently best in class service and physical quality levels, including a redesigned welcome experience [and] signature bedding and bathroom products..."

Afterburner consulting

Afterburner consulting
helped the Super Bowl Champions the Giants attain their victory, by helping them to concentrate on excellence. They helped them to focus on consistency rather than new plays. The Giants discovered that it was the consistency in their play that would help them win the Super Bowl.

If you are struggling now maybe you too became complacent like Holiday Inn. Maybe you need to find a way to create a niche´ like Howard Schultz did with Starbucks. But remember the key to all of their success was first by being consistent in their service.

Do you provide an experience that is remarkable?

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