The hospitality industry is competitive. And when similar offerings like updated suites, complimentary breakfasts, pillow-top mattresses and deluxe showerheads are found in hotel after hotel after hotel, how can a brand differentiate itself in order to create loyalty among its guests? How can it draw in new customers—pulling them away from competitors offering comparable amenities? It comes down to one thing that can’t be replicated or copied—the service experience.
Hampton is an example of a brand that went “all in” on creating a culture that was committed to creating a differentiated guest experience. And it paid off.
2015 marks the fourth time in five years that Hampton ranked number one on Entrepreneur‘s Franchise 500 List, proving that the brand’s commitment to cultivating its ‘Hamptonality’ culture is a winning approach. While most hotel brands create advertising campaigns featuring their property’s facilities, Hampton has gone a different route entirely, promoting the one thing that makes its brand completely unique: the guest experience provided by Friendly, Authentic, Caring and Thoughtful (FACT) team members.1
The FACT acronym was created to reinforce Hampton’s core values throughout the company. It’s a phrase that is both easy to remember and practical—helping team members decide in an instant if an action is a fit for the brand.
And it’s not just the guests who love Hampton…the franchisees do, too. Hampton boasts industry-leading returns for owners. Franchisee Mitch Patel was quoted in Entrepreneur magazine saying, “Someone always asks, ‘If you had a vacant piece of land and could choose any hotel brand you want, what would you build?’ Unanimously, the first brand anyone talks about is Hampton. Nothing’s even a close second. That’s how strong the brand has become.”2
The Entrepreneur piece also included this comment from Mitch: “You can sense the Hampton culture, which we call ‘Hamptonality,’ from property to property. It’s not hard to create a culture when a company owns all of its hotels. But when you have hundreds of franchisees and thousands of units? It’s much harder, and Hampton’s done a phenomenal job of spreading that culture to all the owners in its brand.”
We explain the idea of purpose and its importance to the ‘Hamptonality’ culture movement in this clip from the Ultimate Culture Conference. To enjoy the full video, sign up and join our Ultimate Culture Community.
How To Create A Culture That Inspires and Motivates
Here are four tips to keep in mind:
- It’s not a program. It’s an ongoing journey. Creating a culture that truly inspires and motivates people to give that little bit extra so the company can find success can’t be done overnight. It’s a long-term commitment, not an initiative. Hampton began its Hamptonality-based culture 10 years ago—and efforts to sustain it are continuous.
- Throw out all the marketing speak. To create a culture that resonates with people, move away from carefully crafted mission statements dreamt up by corporate executives and creative agencies in a boardroom. It’s not an effective way to connect people’s minds and hearts.
- Frame a new identify by crowd-sourcing. Want your people to feel connected to the brand? Ask them for their thoughts! Embrace their strengths and the values they believe in! Hampton’s current brand values of Friendly, Authentic, Caring and Thoughtful were identified through employee focus groups. Hampton still leverages this technique and recently crowd-sourced the content of its annual conference for 2,100 general managers. It was the most successful conference to date.
- Make trainings about people and their real, authentic personalities – not about the brand. Provide tools and resources that come straight from the field. Instead of relying on static presentations, team members can share real-life experiences that embody your service model so others can learn what is working best. All Hampton training videos feature real employees—further emphasizing the brand’s focus on authenticity.
How Is Your Culture Unique?
Hampton does things differently to ensure that 60,000 team members working in 2,100 locations in 18 different countries feel connected to its values of being friendly, authentic, caring and thoughtful. And it begins during the hiring process. Questions asked to candidates are not focused on past hotel experience, but on how well they represent the FACT core values. The goal is to hire people who are already a culture fit and then train them on the hotel skills.
Harnessing the individuality of its team members is a core belief at Hampton. During onboarding, new hires learn about their strengths and are encouraged to draw upon these innate skills when interacting with guests. So while most people working in customer service are expected to stick to the script, Hampton’s front desk team members aren’t asked to repeat the same greeting verbatim. Instead, they’re trusted to create memorable experiences for guests by letting their personalities shine through. And that’s when self-actualization and authentic engagement become a reality.3
Hampton put a name to its culture 10 year ago. As you emphasize the purpose of your brand, how will you ensure that your culture is aligned? Good luck with your culture development—it’s well worth the time and effort.
Let us know how you do, and we welcome your stories, Tweets, and Comments via the social media buttons below.
1Entrepreneur Media. (2015). 2015 Top Franchises from Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/franchises/500/2015/1
2Entrepreneur Media. (2015). Why This Hotel Chain Is No. 1 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240722
3Root Inc. (n.d.). Hampton – People Powered by Strengths. Retrieved from https://www.rootinc.com/case_studies/hampton-people-powered-strengths/