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On a recent trip to London for a babymoon, my wife and I experienced both the hellacious and the perfect of brand experiences. You know how it is; you have a long flight to Heathrow, and all you want to do is relax in your hotel room, so we made our way to our hotel in Mayfair which I had thoroughly examined from the hotel’s website.  

Upon arrival at the hotel, my pregnant wife and I lugged our luggage up to the check-in desk through a lobby that was given more credit in the pictures than it deserved. With our electronic keys in hand, we muscled through the heavy doors to the elevator room and into an elevator that made us question the whether it had been serviced in this century.  

Once at the landing, the unmanned mop and mop bucket in the provided an instant obstacle course with our luggage.  The sitting area of the corner suite was well-endowed with windows; however, upon turning around I saw my dear life companion had sunk so far into the bed that she was unable to get out on her own.  The “luxury soaking tub” wouldn’t drain, and there was mold growing in the corners. I considered myself a forgiving person, but this experience was beyond redemption!

Being the dutiful mate and extremely unhappy with how this experience was turning out, I jumped on my phone and googled “Dorchester.”  Why Dorchester? Six years ago, while in Paris, I booked a hotel in the Dorchester Collection with such a phenomenal brand experience, that it was the first name that came to mind. They had already achieved steps one through four of the buyer journey: Awareness, Engage, Subscribe, Convert, and Excite.

There it was, like an angel of light, The Dorchester, .6 kilometers away and thousands of kilometers away in the quality of brand. Once I had discovered the trip-saving hotel down the street, I went through the steps above very fast. I was now aware of the location; the availability engaged me; I was subscribed to a sister hotel; and I was clearly a convert. Now I was excited! The brand value that The Dorchester has built with its customers allows them to charge double the going rate because they have superb brand integrity. The buyer, in turn, reaches step five of the buyer journey, Ascend.

Why This Example?

The first brand touch point is customer reviews.  How had others experienced the brand, or in this case hotel, that I had been interested in? As a brand, you need to think about the Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google images, and social media that all pop up when your brand does.  

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

We will often pick a hotel based on others’ perceptions and reviews.  We check out pictures on others’ Instagram posts or other social media.  If it seems good, we book it. Done. Had I paid closer attention to some of those reviews, rather than just relying on the brand name itself, we never would have experienced our descent into the netherworld of hoteldom. The brand integrity of the first hotel didn’t meet expectations. With the power of social media, a lack of brand integrity can translate into a loss of potential business for your organization.

First impressions never have a second chance.
– Charles R. Swindoll

Thankfully, this story did have a happy ending!  When we stepped out of the cab onto the steps of the Dorchester Hotel, we were greeted by the smile of the doorman who said, “I will take care of your luggage from here.”  With that, he took my wife’s arm and led her inside to the reception desk where he introduced us by our last name.

Within seconds, the soft ambient lighting, the scent of the fresh-cut flowers, the satiny sounds of jazz music, and the personal attention of the staff made us feel special and the first touchpoint of the Dorchester brand forever memorable.  

And just like that, I landed smack on step six of the buyer journey, Advocate. Now, I am a brand advocate.

Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.
-Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Brand advocacy, when based in science, can add to your bottom-line and create customers who become your best assets.  To learn more about the customer journey, we invite you to check out what we teach and share at our website, rightmindinc.com.

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