South Africa’s future decision-makers, movers and shakers have had their say and for the third year in a row, Protea Hotels has been named the coolest hotel group in the Sunday Times Generation Next 2013 Brand Survey awards.
It is also the Hotel Group’s fourth win in five years.
The annual youth survey, conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers, is watched closely by brand marketers because it is a yardstick of what the leaders of tomorrow believe are products that’ll grow with them. It illustrates the effectiveness of marketing campaigns to a generation that is more tech-savvy than ever and likes information in bite-sized chunks.
Nicholas Barenblatt, Protea Hospitality Group Marketing Manager, says companies need to be reacting to the fundamental changes that the reach of technology is creating in the engagement patterns of the youth market.
“Not recognising what makes the youth market tick and not using the right channels to communicate with them, on their own terms will have a negative effect on ones ability to attract, engage and convert them into customers and potential brand advocates.
“They are a generation that works and plays in the social media space, and a generation with a far greater sense of social conscience.
“As a company we’re listening to them and adapting to their needs and expectations, because lagging behind the curve at this stage means you’re unlikely to ever catch up,” Barenblatt says.
“Protea Hotel Fire &Ice!, our lifestyle brand is a prime example of our ‘coolness’, because it demonstrates that as a company we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we like to have fun, we are prepared to push the boundaries to create impactful experiences with customer involvement which in turn leads to organic word of mouth.
“I also have no doubt that the opening early next year of the new Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Menlyn is going keep that youth market brand excitement ignited for the whole of 2014.”
Protea Hospitality Group Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue, Danny Bryer, says igniting a product or brand to the point that people want to become active brand ambassadors is the key to building loyalty in emerging markets.
“We want to align ourselves with that market by being relevant and creating a brand they’re proud to associate with; a brand that understands what they need when they need it, like offering free wi-fi because we know what a large role connectivity plays in their daily lives.
“Those are the people we want in our hotels, who also have the same social conscience as we do and value real efforts to improve the world around us for not only the generation to come, but for the one after that and the one after that as well.
“We take Generation Y’s social conscience very seriously with actions such as implementing filtered water in glass bottles rather than plastic bottled water in conference venues and switching over to Fairtrade coffee. We’re the only hotel group in South Africa that is so demonstrably moving into energy conservation and efficiency, as well as social wellness.”
Bryer says he’s immensely proud of the Protea Hotels extended family who worked hard to take Protea Hotels’ bold, slick and sexy brand personality to the public so successfully.
“We take seriously our obligation to deliver the best GUEST service and product possible for our current market and our future market, and we’ll do it with a lot of fun, hard work and irreverence along the way.”