What it takes to Shape the Future for Your Business

By Kevin Huhn

For years I thought I had missed the boat. I would come up with ideas or concepts, then share them with others to get the type of response that had me feeling I was so weird, or as the old saying goes, out in left field.

In the early 2000s as the owner of a media company in the hockey space, I would pitch my idea to companies with the intention of them becoming a sponsor.

The idea was my company would provide rich content to the marketplace. We would educate parents, players and individuals involved with youth hockey with researched information on various platforms of technology. This gave us the ability to provide a 3rd party perspective. In exchange we would be paid.

We provided an educational approach to the marketing of products and service on various media platforms – nothing uncommon today but 15 years ago companies only wanted to talk sponsorship placement and advertising exposure with traditional media outlets and properties.

So I felt that I was living a different realm and this was something done in the past. In short, I had missed the boat. The reality was I was ahead of my time. My dynamic approach was not understood.

Today companies love educational based marketing. Helping educate the marketplace with the value their product or service provides with innovative ideas, traditional concepts and digital media.

As I consult and work with business owners, in various industries, I share this story and they quickly realize that the landscape has changed. And if they do not embrace this marketing strategy they too will find themselves left behind.

There is a staple business in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that has shaped itself for success long term. It understands the ever changing landscape and knows what it takes to shape its future positively.

The company is the Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport. A friend of mine Samuel Ross, the General Manager at the hotel, shared with me what they are doing to shape the business for the future.

“Imagine being surrounded by similar competitors within a few kilometres. What is it that would make our hotel stand out amidst other properties who seem just like us AND stand out from a new player in the game – AirBNB?” he asked.

At first glance – it would seem almost impossible to look at one hotel and say it is distinctly different than another just down the road. Like my story earlier, the success of Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport is built on a strong foundation and good comprehension of the marketplace, in order to deliver value.

Samuel described the foundation as 3 Dynamic Approaches every business needs to get a handle on.

Determine the Experience Sets the Expectations

When looking at the biggest challenge for a hotel today, Samuel summed it up with this phrase.

“They (consumers) want Experiences.”

It is not enough a hotel can provide a bed, shower, TV and in some cases a restaurant. The focus of being successful in the future needs to be on the experience had by our guests. This includes all touch points from the booking source to confirmation message… and from airport shuttle to checkout at the end of the stay.

Our job as a hotel property is about understanding what experiences the consumer wants, so that we can tailor our hotel services to match it.”

This dynamic approach is a fundamental aspect to what the job needs to be for the people in the business.
What do you want the experience to be?

Value Your Assets Builds a Solid Foundation

3 Key Assets:

Location. Despite being on a strip of hotels, Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport is a 4 minute walk from the airport’s Terminal 3. In real estate it is all about location, location, location. The price for real estate is dependent on where the property is located. Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport is walking distance to one of the terminals and direct transit to Toronto’s downtown core. Value.

People. Without people a business needs to know there is no business. Clients are one group of people that determine the success of the business. Not only are customers important but the staff, who take care of the customer, are just as important if not more. Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport makes investing in their staff a priority ensuring quality training is provided to better the experience of guests. Value.

Pride. Having the same amenities puts every hotel at the same level. But another asset often overlooked is the focus to make the core value part of the USP: “Honest, Comfortable, Uncomplicated with Reasonable Pricing and International Standard Service” are the core values for the Four Points by Sheraton brand. They take pride knowing they are reasonably priced with international standard service. There is no doorman and bellhop running out to pick up and open doors. And they are ok with that. VALUE!

What are your assets?

Embrace Technology and Innovate

It is obvious that the average consumer today is connected with a phone and computer. They are more educated and will not take what is being pushed to them at face value… they will do their homework.

What it takes to shape the future for a business to have success is allowing the technology to be a part of the experience for not only clients but also vendors.

“Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport has added a Best Brews on Wednesdays event. It brings guests and local breweries together. Hotel guests get to share in on the local flavours of beers, when some of these beers might not otherwise reach that visitor to the hotel. At our most recent event, a guest tweeted out their experience of tasting local beer at the hotel.”

The concept to reach out to local businesses, share their uniqueness and provide a reason to guests to share a unique experience helps differentiate Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport from the other hotels in the area.

What innovative ways can you embrace technology?

Remember implementing creative ideas and concepts may seem out of touch for some people… if you have done your research, studied the marketplace and take pride in what your product or service is about – you did not “miss the boat” – you are one of the innovators and leaders in your industry.

The marketplace is ever changing. What may have worked in the 60s and 70s is not an option in today’s business world. At the same time, there are core fundamentals that stand the test of time. What Samuel Ross at Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport shared, demonstrates what it takes to shape the future for a business.

Kevin Huhn is the Founder and CEO of HOPES, WISHES and DREAMS and through its mission wants to help business owners reinvent their brand with proven systems, programs and products that engage, empower and enlighten in order to impact their rate of success. To learn more visit makemediamatter.ca

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