May 2014: South Africa’s consumers of all things cool have had their say and for the fourth year in a row (and fifth time overall!), Protea Hotels has been named the coolest hotel group in the Sunday Times Generation Next 2014 Brand Survey awards.
The annual youth survey, conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers, is watched closely by brand marketers because it is a gauge of what the thought leaders of tomorrow believe are brands that engage with them now and will continue to do so in future.
The survey illustrates the effectiveness of multi-pronged, marketing campaigns on a generation that practically lives on mobile devices and likes bite size information in little more than a sentence or two at a time, according to Nicholas Barenblatt, Protea Hotels Group Marketing Manager.
“Companies need to be integrating their marketing strategies into new media and social channels to create engagement patterns to which the youth market can relate and most importantly share.
“Not recognising what attracts the youth market to a brand and failing to use the right channels to communicate with them – on their own terms and in the way that suits them – will have a negative effect on one’s ability to attract, engage and convert them into customers and potential brand advocates.
“They are a generation that works and plays in the social technology space, and a generation with a far greater sense of social conscience. Your brand identity needs to adapt to fulfil their needs and expectations, because if you’re not prepared to talk to that market in their space now chances are you never will reach them,” Barenblatt says.
“Protea Hotel Fire &Ice!, our lifestyle brand is a prime example of our ‘coolness’, because it demonstrates that as a company we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we have fun and we’re prepared to push the boundaries to create powerful experiences with customer involvement which in turn leads to organic word of mouth amongst a generation of brand igniters.
“I also have no doubt that the opening early next year of the new Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Menlyn is going keep that youth market brand excitement ignited for the whole of 2015.”
Protea Hotels Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue, Danny Bryer, says igniting a product or brand to the point that people want to become active brand ambassadors is the key to building loyalty in emerging markets.
“Does Generation Y want to wear your label, use your products or be seen at your venues? To align yourself to that market you have to be relevant and create a brand they’re proud to associate with; a brand that understands what they need when they need it, like offering free Wi-Fi because we know the importance that connectivity plays in their daily lives.
“Those are the people we want in our hotels, who also have the same social conscience as we do and value real efforts to improve the world around us for not only the generation to come, but for the one after that and the one after that as well.
“We live by Generation Y’s social conscience compass with actions such as implementing Vivreau filtered water in glass bottles rather than plastic bottled water in conference venues, and using Relationship and Fairtrade coffee. We’re the only hotel group in South Africa that is so demonstrably moving into energy conservation and efficiency, as well as social wellness.”
Bryer attributes much of the group’s “cool factor” to the STAFF, who has worked hard to successfully take Protea Hotels’ bold, slick and sexy brand personality to the public which is delivered through our unique service culture.
“We take seriously our obligation to deliver the best GUEST service and product possible for our current market and our future market, and we’ll do it with a lot of fun, hard work and irreverence along the way.”