Exchange and global opportunities

Our friend, Jen

Friday—day two of the study tour—kicked off with an industry visit to Mellisa Gillies, Director of Communication for Hotel Jen. It was a unique opportunity as we’re staying at Hotel Jen Hong Kong for the first six days of the tour and have experienced the brand first hand.

Formerly known as Traders Hotels, Hotel Jen is a mid-range subsidiary of the Shangri-La Group based in the Asia Pacific. Last year the hotel franchise underwent a mass, #InJenius rebranding, of which Mellisa provided insight into.

The Rebrand

In August 2014, the Shangri-La Group announced the rebrand of Traders Hotels to Hotel Jen, a move that would clearly differentiate the four-star franchise from its five-star parent. The hotels’ brand positioning was shifted to appeal to the growing millennial market. To target this market Hotel Jen created Jen, a virtual persona who is the ultimate hotelier. Jen does not have an image associated with her—she is what the consumer imagines, meaning she has universal appeal. This approach had not previously been used in the hospitality industry and provided the organisation with a key point of difference.

Jen’s core values form the organisation’s soft elements:

  • Simple pleasures;
  • Easy efficiency;
  • ‘Injenious’ ideas; and
  • A sense of adventure

These values form #thatjenfeeling—the brand’s tag line.

The Rollout

The Jen team utilised key organisational figures from Hotel Jen and Shangri-La to communicate the brand change to media, spreading #thatjenfeeling. Old and new media channels on a global, regional and local level were used to reach the Jen’s target audience and the masses.

Particular emphasis was placed on social and digital marketing—the organisation launched on seven social media platforms. Strategically, Jen teased interested, built demand and delivered on promises. In months, Jen grew her Facebook audience from 5,000 to 93,000.

Within 11 months Hotel Jen had successfully rebranded ten hotels—what a feat!

#InJenius Tactics

Hotel Jen effectively implements an integrated marketing communications strategy across every brand touch point. Jen’s persona advantageously enables content to be humorous, relatable and therefore appealing to consumers. Fun competitions and stunts are used to reinforce Jen’s brand.

The brand applies a “same same, but different” ideology to produce composite content. As a result consumers are provided with culturally tailored manifestations of a similar guest experience.

Jen wants to become your best friend and aims to do so through thoughtful touches such as free coffee, personalised notes and more. These measures create a welcoming environment for guests.

Coffee, thanks Jen!

Challenges

As a mid-range hotel, the Hotel Jen team are tasked to utilise lean resources effectively. To ensure each promotional activity has maximum impact creativity with media is essential. Jen’s focus on social and digital channels is both affordable and effective.

Soft brand foundations challenge the Jen team to ensure collateral is on brand—Mellisa conducts daily audits.

Takeaways

Through effective, integrated marketing communications Jen and her team have created a fun and welcoming environment for guests, of which we have the pleasure of experiencing first hand. Jen’s little touches have cemented her place as our friend.

Key insights:

  • Every communication should reinforce brand attributes.
  • Knowing whom your target market is and how to reach them is crucial.
  • The value of an engaging social media strategy is not to be overlooked.
  • While placing emphasis on target markets is necessary, organisations need to build and foster strong relationships with personnel.

Tess and Novella

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Bachelor of Mass Communications (Public Relations, Media & Communication)

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