One of the hardest moments in a restaurateurs life is when they hear that their concept, whether it is a market-driven design or a purely creative endeavor, is going to be reviewed by the franchise branding department. The irony is that most hotel owners hire design firms based on the firm’s ‘look’ or design philosophy (oh yes, design firms do have design philosophies) as opposed to choosing a firm that mirrors the hotel’s brand ‘look.’ However, when it comes to designing their hotel restaurant, franchisors are more reluctant to give restaurant people free reign.
I agree that a hotel restaurant should remain in line with the hotel’s brand, but the standards should be flexible enough to allow for differences in each market. We live in a world with so much personalization, with cable TV having hundreds of stations, the Internet, endless suppliers of cars, and so on right at our fingertips. Ultimately hotels should be accustomed to having it your way with a level of comfort and service you can count on.
A brand is simply that — a promise of continuity; a level of quality in terms of style and service. Still, somehow, by hotel brand standards, it is believed that the restaurant is defined by the price of a chair, or specific carpet patterns which must be almost uniform across all restaurants within the hotel brand. The wear-and-tear or practicality of an item is less of a consideration. The notion that these ‘things’ reflect the brand better than their alternates is a reach.
Luckily, some international brands are getting better at this. Do brand standards, aside from logos, have separate rules for international products?
Test: Try to guess the hotel brands from the restaurant pictures below. Hint: Two of them are the same brand in different markets.
I will reveal the answers next week with some more on brand standards.