Objective: Interstate Hotels and Resorts needed strict brand oversight across 170 different users, coupled with the flexibility of letting users within each group create messages autonomously.
Results: With Real Magnet, IHR is able to centralize all template construction and branding, and approve messages in the sending queue before they go out. Internal training webinars conducted by Real Magnet keep users at all 170 groups up-to-date, both on the Real Magnet platform and on the brand guidelines set by IHR.
Brand integrity to the 37th degree
Interstate Hotels and Resorts manages 329 hotels in nine different countries, including properties in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Managing a brand’s identity across so many regions is difficult enough. But IHR’s properties are comprised of 37 different brands, including Westin, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Best Western, Sheraton, Marriott, Doubletree, Wyndham and many others. As a steward of so many other organizations’ brand identities and trademarks, vigilant adherence to brand guidelines and style manuals is as necessary as it is complex.
IHR has a corporate marketing group, but the communications for its properties are managed by the staff at the properties themselves – 170 different communications teams, to be precise. So not only does IHR’s corporate communications need to accurately represent the brands of 329 different properties across 39 brands; it also has to ensure that all of its 170 communications teams do the same. Jen Chauvin is IHR’s Director of Brand Marketing. “We consider the brands we represent to be as important as our own,” she said. “We needed a solution that created a seamless brand experience for consumers, but still gave our properties the freedom they needed to communicate with their customers.”
An enterprise solution
Jen found the solution she needed in Real Magnet’s Enterprise features. IHR is set up as a master account, where Jen and her team manage the billing, administration and – importantly – brand identity and templates across all the properties. Each of the 170 properties is set up as a sub-account within the master account, and can only mail to their own lists and use branded templates pre-approved by Jen’s team and the brands themselves. The messages created by the properties automatically enter a sending queue, giving Jen and her team a chance to approve them for design, content, pricing and other elements of brand consistency before releasing. “The sending queue allows us to make sure that everyone is on the same page as the brand, but it’s also a very important safeguard to the brands themselves. It makes them more willing to trust that we’ll represent them accurately, and to work with us.”
Turning templates into assets for the brands and the properties
Much of the identify of the 37 brands represented by IHR is carried within the email templates. Some were created by Real Magnet’s designers, some by the design staff or the agencies of the brands themselves, but all have been approved by the brands. The properties simply have to choose one of their brand’s templates and create their message. To further customize a template, the properties can swap in images of their own hotels from the image library.
Each property has many different templates to choose from. In addition to standard templates for each brand, the library contains seasonal templates, special event templates such as weddings or corporate events, and promotional templates. “We wanted to give the properties as many choices as we could,” Jen said about the templates. “They know how to drive business in their local markets better than we do – what will bring people to their restaurants, or what big events are drawing tourists or business travelers into their cities.”
Internal webinars train, educate and empower
Real Magnet is also helping IHR educate the property managers, through a series of internal webinars. “We’re adding new properties all the time, and with new staff joining our current properties we have new users of the Real Magnet system each month,” said Jen. “The webinars Real Magnet does for us make it a lot easier to get people up and running on the system.”
The webinar series at IHR runs monthly and focuses on the fundamentals of the Real Magnet system. Jen’s team also uses the opportunity to communicate the importance of the brand style guides, the process of the sending queue, the many template assets available to the properties, and the need for brand integrity. The series has been so successful that IHR is adding a webinar on metrics and analytics to the curriculum, to help the properties better analyze their results and create even more effective messages.