Advertising and Brand Communication. Ramada Hotel Service Report.

1 . Introduction

This is a report outlining the current marketing objectives of the Ramada Hotel and consequently the succession with clientele in the current market. It is from this that a gap in the market has been identified and rectified with the proposal of a new marketing campaign to differentiate and re-establish the Ramada hotel.

2         Buyer Behaviour

Tourists are unlikely to revisit or stay in the same hotel on a second occasion due to variety-seeking behaviour that is very common in tourism and hospitality industry (Ariffin, 2008 and Bigne et al., 2009) known as novelty-seeking travellers. Affrin and Maghizi conducted a Research questionnaire with subjects being Malaysian and non-Malaysian guests in Kuala Lumpur. The findings illustrate men, local guests and holiday goers are more likely to have a higher expectation of hotel hospitality whereas women, foreign guests and business people have a lower expectation (Lashley, 2008).  Moreover, Star rating plays a crucial role in the expectation of hospitality (Ariffin, Maghizi, 2012) whereas the level of ones education does not alter expectations.

Noticeably cost related issues are the main influencing factor in effecting hotel choice. A Mintel report shows 22% of 1,790 stated that sale promotions was the deciding influence upon purchase of a stay in a hotel (see Figure.1) here it is important to mention the universal inference to special offers as there influence does not differ through demographic groups. Furthermore the same research Mintel conducted portrayed a strong favour towards viewing the hotel and rooms online. Note that social Medias influence has grown from 2% to 4% since 2010, as 16-24 year olds are receptive to online recommendations.  Furthermore one in ten have never stayed in a UK hotel in the past 12 months.

Figure.1 Factors influencing hotel choice, August 2012

Based 1,790 Internet users aged 16+, who have ever stayed in hotels in the UK

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Figure 1.1 Mintel October 2012- Infographic

1 . Target Audience

The target audience for the service sector is highly segmented but this report investigates the segmentation of the hotel industry and its specific targeted audiences.

The relationship a consumer has to a product is not only essential in maintaining consumers but also capturing more of that population of interest. The Ramada hotel particular target audience is the business person evidence of this is commercial airing in New York 2002 illustrating their fun facilities with a voice over “when you go to hand in your expense reports, act tired” (Beirne, 2000) admittedly this an outdates commercial but it can be argued the Ramada have maintained their stance in the market by incorporating conference facilities. Additionally target couples by promoting wedding facilities.

Research has shown people aged 16-34 are likely to have made use of hotel facilities in their local area in the last 12 months without staying as well as the AB socio economic group. Furthermore it is families with children aged 0-4 who are more than likely to stay on a family occasion as is those aged 25-34.

2. Competitors

The Ramada hotel is a chain of the Wyndham hotel group; in terms of success and popularity it is therefore arguable that Premier Inn; IHG and Hilton are the Ramada’s main competitors. As a service they all offer what are essentially the same products and services but differ dramatically in price, quality and their reputations in terms of trustworthiness. Looking at the brand-positioning map (see Figure.2) it is evident to see that the Hilton hotel stands as the Ramadas’ closest competitor measured by price and quality by star ratings and customer feedback. Comparing the two does not reveal a large gap in market share however it indicates a lack of emphasis on the quality of services illustrated in the campaigns on the Ramadas behalf or they are lacking staff training. The leader of the service market (see Figure.3)Premier Inn offer  ‘My Premier Inn’ – an online service that enables the consumer to easily make and amend bookings, save details for a straight rebuy and store preferences differentiating themselves in what is a close nit market. Furthermore, they have established themselves firmly in communities with TV advertising starring comedian Lenny Hennery bringing many connotations to the brands identity. Next is the IHG chain including the Holiday Inn in which it is fair to say the Ramada exceeds in terms of quality and value for money, however the Holiday Inn positively match their competitor’s points and reward scheme with their IHG ‘priority club’ where customers can use points to book a stay including in one of their competitors hotels. This being said the Wyndham hotel group offers rewards such as points or airline miles if the customer stays at one of their hotels and resorts It currently is the world’s largest loyalty lodging programmed providing the Ramada quality and value surpassing its competitors.

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1 . Existing Market Mix

The marketing mix consists of 7 P’s, which are imperative to the running of the service sector. As sales and promotions have risen due to the economic climate it is increasingly hard to pin point a specific standard price for rooms in the Ramada hotel which alters the buyer’s perception of value for money (see Figure 6.1), (Hoffman, Bateson, 2011) In 2002 (Beirne,2002) wrote in brand week ‘the Ramada is less about discounts and more about establishing its position in the middle.’ However sales promotions have become significant in peoples research before purchasing especially if it’s high involvement. Recent promotions are as such: 20% when you spend night in their accommodation and have linked a deal for a £20 a night deal through the independent newspaper gaining a proportion of their population of interest in the UK only which is a reasonable proportion of their 900 hotels in 57 countries (Ramada website) noticeably being MEDC’s (more economically developed countries). Figurers 4 and 5 connote the coloration of locations illustrating the emphasis on capital and large cities directly attracting their target audience.

Furthermore due to intangibility of services consumers lack the objective of sources to form evaluations so turn to the physical attributes. (Hoffman, Bateson, 2011, page 221) The Ramada combines: ambient conditions, space, functions and signs to create a holistic environment. (See Figure 8.3) A noticeable example of this is the ambient colour scheme throughout the décor; Red, white, and creams creating an emotional influence on both customers and employees generating a physically comfortable environment. (Hoffman, Bateson, 2011, page215) This adds to the brands identity creating recognitions with the Logo and personality differentiating the Ramada from its competitors establishing a halo effect (See Figure 8.5). Additionally, as a high-risk involvement purchase it is imperative for the brand to be trusted which as discussed the colours are warm and exciting but it is the staff that is acting as part time marketers to provide the customers with luxury service. Further products have been added to the Ramada service creating a halo effect such as free wireless conference rooms, international breakfast and a Ramada range of bathroom products that differentiates from the competition.

1. Campaign Objective

This campaign is combination of communication tactics to achieve a range of marketing objectives. (Dahlen, 2010) Through the research of the current marketing communications and investigations into the feedback of customers experience (see appendix number 1) results provided and overwhelming gap (Appendix number 2) in Ramada’s Customer Service satisfaction rate which is an integral part of the service being provided. The objective is to campaign to create awareness of The Ramada’s outstanding customer service skills using an integrated marketing communication externally on the proviso that staff training is provided internally to match the promise of the new campaign.

2 . Target Audience

The campaign proposed aim is to expand the current population of interest to younger couples aged 18 – 34 who would stay in the hotel as well as using the facilities whilst campaigning for a family market with our message of excellence customer service and facilities – all whilst maintaining the business clientele. A Mintel report suggested that 23% of people stay in ‘holiday centres’ for weekend breaks – a gap in Ramada’s market that could be accessed for romantic weekends away (see Figure.6)

Figure.6

Length of Last Holiday Centre Visit, August 2011

Base: 793 adults aged 16+ who have been to a holiday centre

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1 . Campaign

Out of home is the desired primary channel of communication proposed to start in Westminster tube station following on through a chain of events to Trafalgar square. This would target the business community as they commute through the central streets of London maintaining their custom by affecting their awareness of Ramada as a brand and promoting the valentines weekend for them and their significant other. Additionally a Mintel report illustrates that the majority of people who want to travel in the UK will be interested in visiting London (see Figure 7). Based on that, Trafalgar Square was chosen for the campaign because it will target tourists, another population of interest. 

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Sales promotion is required to help the conversion of prospects (Dahlen, 2010). The valentines’ weekend promotion is an introductory package encouraging an early trial and eventual adoption of the Ramada’s services whilst encouraging increased usage from the Ramada’s current Target audience. A Mintel report shows that “Almost six in ten people agree that they research holiday prices more thoroughly since the recession/economic downturn began”(Mintel, 2011). Based on that, a promotion will be integrated in the campaign offering a package deal for 2 with full use of spa facilities at a competitive price made aware after the publicity stunt in Trafalgar Square.

 

The publicity stunt is targeted for the macro environment defending Ramada’s image and reputation. This campaign is a series of events leading up to the big stunt in Trafalgar Square. People will first see posters pinned up around the Westminster tube stations and catch screenings of the 30-second advert on the digital screens. As people leave the tube station mascot aliens will hand out balloons and leaflets of the sales promotion for valentine’s weekend with a message “With love from Ramada”. The theme of Aliens links into the theme of the advertisement staring an alien customer (See Figure.8). Finally the trail leads to Trafalgar Square where an alien flash mob will be held at the prime time of foot traffic through London city to generate a larger amount of awareness.

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As part as an integrated marketing communication campaign, direct marketing has been incorporated with the objective of collecting customer data and building on long term customer loyalty and generating leads for future sales (Egan, 2007). An online competition will be launched along with the sales promotion on The Ramada website with links from Wyndham and Social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The competition is to post a picture and description of a romantic gesture this year to win the valentine’s weekend away in a Ramada resort of your choice in the UK for free.

 

References

 

Ariffin, A.A.M., (2008) Understanding novelty-seeking behaviour in meeting tourism: a measurement development approach. International Journal of Event Management 11(4), 170-190

Ariffin,A.A.M., Maghzi,A. (2012) A preliminary study on customer expectations of hotel hospitality: Influences of personal and hotel factors. International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 ,191-198

Bigne, J.E., Sanchez, I.S., Andreu, L., (2009) The role of variety seeking in short and long run revisit intentions in holiday destinations. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research 3 (2), 103-115

Beirne, M. (2002). Ramada post stakes in middle ground. Brandweek. 43 (32), 10.

Beirne, M. (2000). Ramada aims higher, ups media push. Brandweek. 41 (3), 65.

ComplaintNow, (2013) Ramada Inn. Available from: Available from: http://www.complaintnow.com/?complain_session=forum&forum_show=board&opc=lookup&message_board_id=10811

[Accessed 24th January 2013]

CustomerServiceScoreboard, (2013) Complain Ramada Hotel. Available from: http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Ramada

[Accessed 24th January 2013]

Dahlen, M., Lange, F., Smith, T. (2010) marketing communications: A brand narrative approach. West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley& Sons Ltd, page 429

Dahlen, M., Lange, F., Smith, T. (2010) Marketing communications: A brand narrative approach. West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley& Sons Ltd, page 426

Egan,J., (2007) Marketing Communications. London, United Kingdom: Thomson Learning, page 290

Hoffman, K.D., Bateson, J.E.G. (2011)Services marketing: Concepts, Strategies &Cases. 4th ed. USA: South-Western Cengage Learning

Lashley, C 2008, Studying hospitality: Insight from social science, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 8, (1), 69 – 84.

Mintel (2011) British Lifestyles, Consumer Expenditure, Infographic

Ramada worldwide website (2013). Available from: http://www.ramada.com/

[Accessed 29th January 2013]

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