Ambassadorial role playing as a competitive advantage in international hospitality: Pourquoi Pas?
School of Business
The need for a hotel to develop competitive advantage in today's highly competitive climate has highlighted the role of differentiation. Apart from differentiation in tangible aspects, non-tangible attributes can be used to make a service or product unique. This research seeks to ascertain whether a hotel chain would benefit from developing products and services, collectively known as products in the industry and used in this article to embody the brand, strongly identifiable to its cultural 'roots' therein assuming the role of 'ambassador' of this culture abroad, as has been the case in food and beverages. This application of 'persona' in the food and beverage industry incorporates cultural identity/identification retention via branding which encompasses not only the produce per se but also complementary attributes such as packaging and name. An exploratory qualitative approach was used which involved in-depth interviews with three hotel General Managers of different Perth CBD properties of the French hotel chain, Accor. The findings indicate that Accor, not unlike other major international hospitality brands, did not choose to culturally brand the chain as a differentiation strategy. Indeed, it appears that customers have an expectation of a 'universal' service standard/benchmark which provides quality assurance whatever the geographic location of the hotel. In practice, the tendency towards achieving customer perceptions of quality assurance has had a homogenising effect in hospitality. The study signifies that, at least in the Australian context, distinctive 'country of origin' characteristics might not be highly desirable. The findings have valuable implication on multi-brand international hotel/property chains positioning, marketing and management strategies.