Theme parks need to engender more brand intimacy

MBLM’s Brand Intimacy report 2018 warns hospitality and theme park industry needs to pay more attention to how guests really feel

Building unique bonds and providing unique experiences ranks over technology and loyalty programmes says the report which also offers key advice to the industry.

Brand Intimacy is new paradigm that seeks to strengthen the emotional bond between the consumer and a brand. It is seen as a key factor in indicating success in terms of revenue and profit.  The hospitality and theme park industry came in a low tenth out of 15 industries surveyed, with a Brand Industry Quotient of 20.3.  This was well below the average of 27.1.

The report highlighted differences in age and gender when it comes to fulfilment and bonding with a brand.  For example, the 35-64 age bracket stated they preferred Universal Theme Parks while millennials preferred Disney Parks.  Buzzwords in the new language of brand intimacy include fulfilment, fusing and intimacy.  It’s a language brands need to understand and employ if they want continued growth.

Universal Theme Parks, which ranked #1, is clearly learning lessons.  Its intimacy score, at 29.4 last year, jumped to 41.1 this year.

How to build stronger connections – key considerations

mblm logo brand intimacyMBLM also released a document entitled Can Hospitality Brands Find a More Intimate Future: Uncovering Opportunities for Brands to Building Stronger Connections with Consumers.  It pinpointed several pieces of key advice.

  • Install thoughtful technology.  Instead of installing technology for technology’s sake, businesses should invest in and leverage technology that improves their guests’ experience.
  • Offer unique experiences.  Millennials and Generation Z consumers value experiences over material goods so hotels need to focus on the experiential factor.
  • Build intimate bonds.  Older brands have had more time to build bonds with consumers.  Younger brands need to invest time to construct carefully nuanced relationships with their customers.
  • Jettison loyalty programmes.  Brands need to invest their energy in channeling more customers into the ‘fusing stage’ where the person and the brand are inexorably entwined.  Repeat business from loyalty programmes can no longer be expected.

Universal theme parks top

“Brands in the hospitality & theme parks industry are being commoditized and disintermediated,” says Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM.  “They continue to struggle in effectively building intimate bonds with consumers.”  However he believes the industry has enormous opportunies.  “It involves focusing on experiences that create and foster emotional connections,” he says. “Companies need to provide customers a reason to commit to their brand that goes beyond price point, amenities or a membership program.”

The report analysed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the U.S., Mexico and UAE.

Universal Theme Parks scored top points in the industry, followed by Disney Parks and Marriott. The remaining brands in the section were Hilton, Holiday Inn, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Days Inn, Sheraton and Hyatt.