‘Putting on the dog’

?Putting on the dog?

A dog that looked like sushi in drag recently won the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Why am I writing a business blog about this? Hang with me for a few moments while we connect the dots (a little Dalmatian humor there).

The show consists of breeds separated into classes of dogs — sporting dogs, working dogs, etc. It is not based upon how cute the breed is (why Golden Retrievers never win), how much the breeds cost or how thick the dog’s coat is. Think luxury hotels versus select service hotels — all have an equal opportunity to win market share within their class. I submit that once you are first in class, as in best in show, it becomes easier to steal market share from competitors in another class.

How? When you get into hotels, breed and class also exist — think brands such as Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn in one class; Hyatt, Hilton and Westin in another; Mandarin and Peninsula … well, you get the picture. So how does one stand out from the others in their class? How do they vie for the judge’s (consumer’s) attention? Let’s just say the cliché “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” goes for room nights as well. There’s more at stake for the consumer than just sheet thread count. 

How do people decide between an apple and an orange? That’s what the judge is doing when choosing between a German Shepherd, Irish Setter, et al. before settling on a Pekingese (sorry about the sushi comment, bud). Thinking about your business in these terms, the ability to compete outside your “class” could absolutely impact the expansion of your target market.   

Each one of these animals was backed by money, great training and grooming that would make a starlet jealous. Same with hotels — investors, training and style for all, so what’s the distinction?

Certainly, you can’t rule out proclivity when it comes to dogs or hotels. I have an innate love of style, luxury and a 150-pound dog known as a Leonberger. My husband is happy in a room outfitted with a bed and flush toilet (which can be down the hall), and his dog of choice is a Dachshund. So how can one hotel class appeal to customers that frequently buy another? (And how will Dan and I ever settle on a dog?)

My email signature is, “In order to be outstanding, you have to stand out.” So, what is that special something that makes your business (or your dog) stand out, a winner? What is that je ne sais quoi? It pays to figure this out. It allows hotels to become first in their class, then expand beyond their current target markets and pull more share from consumers that typically buy higher and lower than them. What do you think that “special sauce” is? Hint: “Putting on the dog” means to make something special. 

Blog back, and let’s “muttle” through this together.