Positioning [a hotel or resort] starts with mastering “space.”

There are three spaces that are critically important when properly positioning or repositioning a property. They have nothing to do with meeting venues, guest rooms or beach frontage. However, not investing the necessary time and attention to measure and assess these areas will likely result in the waste of significant money and resources, and not yield improved, long-term performance results.

Rarely does an owner or manager enter into the positioning process for existing customers. That’s what renovations and refurbishments are for. Generally speaking, the motive behind such an undertaking is to “change the cars in the parking lot”… meaning to attract new, more profitable audiences. To accomplish this, you must first ascertain who those viable audiences may be, and then probe for clues that may potentially lead to “consideration and preference.”

Space #1… Audience Wants

There is a reason this space is about wants rather than needs. DISTINCTION. Needs are the price of entry, whereas wants are often unusual extras or luxuries that are hard to find, or not being readily offered. It takes skill to uncover and recognize genuine wants. Even more skill to apply them in a way that can create an aspirational positioning. Do not make the mistake of relegating this role to amateurs. Everything that you will do from this point forward is dependent on getting this answer right.

Space #2… Competitor Vacancy

It will obviously make no sense to create a position that is already owned by a competitor. “Me, too” is a good way to divide a pie, but unproductive when it comes to getting attention. A thorough competitor audit must be conducted to discover the opportunity void that your new positioning will now fill. The audit must be focused on audience perceptions, rather than property attributes. Again, be sure that this is being conducted by an expert. The results of the audit should further texturize the ultimate positioning.

And finally, Space #3… Owner Volition

Michael Phelps is a great swimmer, but he never won a race by dipping his toe in the water. By the same token, a “meaningful” positioning requires 100% commitment… starting at the very top, and trickling all the way down to housekeepers and bellmen. More often than not, good concepts fizzle and die for one of three reasons: 1) Lack of funds; 2) Lack of courage; or 3) Lack of commitment. Don’t make the mistake of entering into this process without a solid commitment from all involved.

Positioning is not about branding or messaging or even about new attributes. It is about changing a business model to attract more and better audiences, that ultimately can result in significantly improved profitability.