Beyond bedrooms and bistros
How Singapore’s hospitality sector must use the physical space to build brand trust
If the Covid-19 crisis has taught the hospitality industry anything, it is that to be resilient it needs to not place all its eggs in one basket. Those who withstand the economic shocks of tomorrow will be those who learn the lessons of today by broadening their offering and widening their appeal. Central to much of this is the physical space they occupy.
Long gone are the days of just building a hotel or department store and waiting for the customers to start rolling in. As a big tourist destination, the Singaporean hospitality industry has a long history of reinventing itself, regularly refurbishing premises and ensuring the spaces are constantly evolving. This experience will be crucial as we re-emerge from the current crisis.
Broadening the offering
As the sector comes to terms with the ‘new normal’, many will be looking to adapt their offering, expand into different markets and diversify their products. Many hotels are looking to expand their conference and events capability, whereas retailers are accelerating their shift from ‘bricks to clicks’ and growing their online presence.
However, these changes can only be successful if customers feel connected to the business’ brand and identify with its values. The consumer of today is better informed than ever and makes very deliberate choices about where they spend their money.
But how to tackle this problem as a restaurant group or hotel chain that has always relied on the quality of its menu or the strength of its location?
It’s not enough just to update the company website with a new mission statement. The brand must flow through every stage of the customers’ journey. Here, the physical space can play a key role, and many in the hospitality industry can learn a lot from the corporate sector.
Letting the space tell the story
Historically, employees have spent most of their waking hours in the workplace. Many employers have, therefore, seen this as an opportunity to embed their brand, values and purpose within this space. It is not just about a logo; it is the whole design and build reflecting the company ethos, making each working day an experience.
In Singapore, those who rate their physical workspace as excellent are three times as likely to feel a sense of belonging to their business as those whose workspace is deemed poor. It is a similar picture for vision and values, where over 60 percent of Singaporean respondents who rate their workspaces as excellent believe their employer articulates their brand very well.
There is an important lesson here. Hotels, retail outlets and restaurant chains that are serious about exploring new markets and broadening their appeal must seriously prioritise a high-quality design and build that reflects what the company stands for.
Without taking time to consider how your customers experience your brand in the space, the less likely they will be to return, or choose you in the first place.
The slowdown that global lockdowns have brought with them has given many businesses time to think and reflect. While none of us can fully predict what the world will look like when life has returned to normal but making the right investment decisions at the right time will make for a faster recovery.