In 2016, Marriott International acquired Sheraton as part of the larger Starwood Hotels deal, and is now focusing on a complete refresh of the 80-year-old brand.
A major part of this effort is transforming Sheraton properties into co-working locations where guest and locals can “work alone” together. This will include private studio spaces, soundproof areas for conference calls, and massive tables for multiple people to maximize their productivity.
While making Sheraton the brand for the independent and traveling worker is a nice starting differentiator, there’s much more that could be done to truly put the Sheraton brand on the map … though it will require legwork.
Let’s First let’s start with the biggest challenge in hotel branding. A former brand leader at a major hospitality provider once told us that a hotel is essentially a place to sleep – meaning a facility/property/building with guest rooms. A hotel is really a concrete box in the sky, and building a dynamic brand will require the right strategic approach to truly connect with guests. And, remember, creating new PR-worthy innovations is not necessarily branding.
To begin, Sheraton marketing leaders may want to consider taking a page from the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” a marketing theory that companies can succeed by creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. By mapping out where a brand stands in relation to competitors, it is possible to find the true competitive differentiators that could drive a new brand strategy.
For example, in the automotive arena, if Porsche did this exercise, they would certainly find that they do not fall in the affordable area. And if they moved in this direction, it would dilute the brand and create a revolt from core customers who view driving a luxury sports vehicle as part of their personal identity.
So, where does Sheraton fall in this? This is the most challenging question, and it will require some sound thinking and planning on Marriott’s part. Refreshing an 80-year-old hotel brand is no small exercise. Of course, creating co-working spaces for guests and locals is a very viable idea. However, transforming the Sheraton brand may require more critical thinking and planning. Mapping out where the brand stands in regards to the competition, and finding/leveraging the true differentiators is a great starting point.