Hard Rock’s Dodds dishes on hotel reputation
13 NOVEMBER 2015 7:06 AM
The digital revolution has put brand reputation directly into consumers’ hands, said Hard Rock’s CEO during the recent HICAP event.
Editor’s note: This is the third article in a three-part series where global hotel CEOs talk about key issues facing the hotel industry. In the first article, Marriott’s Arne Sorenson tackled loyalty. In the second article, Carlson’s David Berg talked millennials.
HONG KONG—Maintaining brand reputation during ever-changing turbulent times is what keeps Hamish Dodds, president and CEO of Hard Rock International, awake at night.
The answer to success in reputation management is organizational dexterity—unlike the “good old days” when a giant brand footprint was the primary driver, he said during a presentation at the recent Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific.
“If you were in a lot of countries, you secured a lot of top-of-mind (awareness), and that top-of-mind basically helped you drive your reputation,” Dodds said, adding that TV, newspapers and radio were used to tell customers how great a brand was. “That has changed rapidly over the last few years. The key culprit is obviously the digital revolution.”
That revolution puts a brand’s reputation directly into consumers’ hands—which is good for everyone, he said.
The downside is it opens hotel companies to issues they previously didn’t encounter, such as cyberattacks, Dodds said.
“There’s a huge cost in managing your exposure, in managing your reputation,” he said, adding that it has happened to the Hard Rock brand as well as many other hotel brands. “There’s also a huge focus on you as your customers look at how you’re going to manage the situation.”
But it’s the price everyone pays with the advent of technology.
“It’s not a question of if, it’s a questions of when—when is this going to happen as hackers get more and more serious and there are more and more opportunities to invade your data,” Dodds said.
Varying global standards in regard to what companies can do with individual consumer data also is a challenge for hotel companies, as is the speed of customer feedback, he said.
“From a brand point of view, mobile devices can very quickly define your brand,” he said.
The future is even more uncertain as driverless cars, keyless entry, luggage delivered by robots, dinner and roomservice delivered by drones, and all the systems in the room programmed to meet guests’ needs will affect a brand’s reputation, Dodds said.