Banyan Tree has always been aware of its value proposition and target market segment. This comes out clearly in its intelligent marketing communications’ strategy. It knew that it was targeting the segment that wanted private and intimate accommodations without the expectation of glitzy chain hotels. Hence even though Banyan Tree resorts were furnished luxuriously, they were promoted as providing romantic and intimate “smallish” hotel experiences. When Banyan Tree was launched, for two years, the company’s marketing communications was managed by an international advertising agency to reach the global audience.
Extensive advertising was carried out for a short period of time to generate brand recognition in the industry. Later, global exposure was also achieved through Banyan Tree’s membership in the Small Luxury Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World. Banyan Tree’s value proposition was romantic and intimate getaways, away from the real world into a private world. Thus to avoid over-exposure of the brand to the audience and to avoid dilution of brand name, subsequently, the company scaled down on advertising and kept it minimal.
The advertising mainly was done in high-end travel magazines in key markets. For a better appeal and to generate credibility, the advertisements were visual in nature with succinct copy or showcase the awards and accolades won. Banyan Tree experience was different than anything else anybody had imagined for romantic escapades. Banyan Tree was aware of this and knew that they will get good word of mouth publicity if they delivered the dream they were promising. Banyan Tree hit upon an effective way of generating publicity so that ‘Banyan Tree Experience’ can reach wider audience.
It started developing relationships with travel editors and writers who were encouraged to visit the resorts. This helped increase editorial coverage on Banyan Tree, which was more effective in conveying the ‘Banyan Tree Experience’ from a neutral party’s perspective. To keep consistency in the brand building exercise, management of marketing activities was centralized at the Singapore headquarters. To avoid dilution of the brand name, a few key wholesalers in each targeted market were appointed and Banyan Tree worked closely with them to promote sales.
Banyan Tree has always put in efforts to encourage environmental conservation and help save the environment. To effectively and succinctly communicate this to its customers, Banyan Tree organized activities that involved guests’ participation to create more interest in environmental preservation. Thus the guests left Banyan Tree not only with good memories of the romantic time spent on its resort, but also with a sense of gratification towards Banyan Tree for being a corporate that understands its social responsibilities.
Thus we can see that Banyan Tree’s marketing communications strategy is a highly effective campaign that focuses on attracting customers through the unique ‘Banyan Tree Experience’ which not only means romantic moments experienced at its resorts but also means a wholesome experience of peace and tranquility, away from the real world and still doing its part of responsibility towards the society. Resorts and spas are totally service-oriented businesses that depend heavily on the way of implementation. Banyan Tree has been able to successfully differentiate itself from the similar service offerings in the market through a thoughtful strategy.
The strategy focuses on making the experience of its customers a unique one. Banyan Tree has also added a lot of different perspectives to its business through the Green Imperative Fund, Banyan Tree Gallery, Banyan Tree Spa, Angsana, Colors of Angsana. These make the experience of staying in a Banyan Tree resort, a wholesome experience which is unique to Banyan Tree. It will be very difficult for any other company to replicate Banyan Tree’s model and it will take a long time before they match the quality levels of Banyan Tree.
Hence Banyan Tree wouldn’t be threatened by the entry of newcomers in this field as it can leverage on its experience and move ahead of others swiftly. 3. Analysis of the Brand Portfolio of Banyan Tree, Angsana, Colours of Angsana, and Allamanda The Banyan Tree brand was built around the notion of providing a romantic escapade to travelers, an experience which would create lasting memories of intimacy. Spas, which enhanced the experience of a romantic getaway, were an intrinsic part of Banyan Tree since its inception.
Banyan Tree resorts and villas were created around the concept of providing a sense of place to reflect and enhance the culture and heritage of the destination. Caring for the ecology and developing a sense of environment consciousness amongst guests was also very much a part of Banyan Trees brand positioning. The galleries and museum shops were also developed as an enhancement to the Banyan Tree experience, to allow guests to recreate their escapade like Banyan Tree, at home. It also supported local craftsmen and gave an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Banyan Tree was projected and priced as a premium product, and its communication strategy reflected the same. Banyan Tree was an exclusive resort for the well heeled, where privacy and unique experiences were coveted. The Angsana brand was created in response to the demand of the natural spa experience that Banyan Tree provided. Angsana initially operated as spas within hotel properties owned by other chains. It later developed into a fully functional resort and spa chain. Angsana was developed as a more contemporary and affordable alternative to Banyan Tree. This allowed Banyan Tree to capture a larger segment of tourists.
However since this range would not fit with the positioning of Banyan Tree it was promoted and treated as a different brand, an affiliate brand of Banyan Tree. This distinction was well maintained as is evident from their website, so as not to dilute the equity of the Banyan Tree brand, while at the same time allowing the group to increase revenues, and cater to a larger audience. The Angsana chain though is priced well below that of the Banyan Tree chain resorts it stresses on providing the same or similar experiences, romantic and intimate while being closer to nature.
Not all travelers have the same financial resources as the typical clientele of Banyan Tree, though most would be interested in a Banyan Tree experience was the rationale behind the opening of the Angsana resort chain. The fact the first Angsana resort was opened close to the Banyan Tree Bintan goes to show that though it did not cater to the same clientele in terms of purse strings, it wanted to attract travelers with a similar mindset. With the growth of the soft adventure and cultural tourism market, Banyan Tree saw the potential for capturing a growing market segment.
‘Colours of Angsana’ a sub brand under the Angsana brand umbrella was established to cater to this market. The ‘Colours of Angsana’ also allowed Banyan Tree to venture into new geographical territories like Sri Lanka thus increasing its footprint and allowing the brand to take a step forward towards achieving its vision ” to string a necklace of Banyan Tree Resorts around the world”. This product line of Angsana was developed to keep their own unique identities, in keeping with their offbeat and exotic locales, as Mr.
Ho wanted them to “remain individual, each with their own colour and name, like an artist’s palette. ” Mr. Ho has said “The places we have established Colors of Angsana tend to be remote and very exciting areas including World Heritage sites, which don’t justify US $600 to $1,000 per room night. But if we do these well and charge rates that are accessible we believe people will come away from their experience and see logic behind the Banyan Tree brand establishing Colors of Angsana and they’ll see that the values are the same.
” These boutique hideaways have an intensity of character that complements the spontaneous simplicity of Angsana Resorts & Spa, The local cultures are prominent and colourful, and respected as an integral part of each hotel’s unique design, which is an integral part of the ‘Banyan Tree’ experience. Allamanda however is more of a typical luxury resort, with suites instead of private villas, and hence probably is not able to capture the spirit of the ‘Banyan Tree’ brand to its fullest. In keeping with its parent brand it however provides natural spa treatments under the Angsana Spa brand and tries to leverage the brand equity from the same.
The Allamanda is therefore not a perfect fit in the product portfolio. The Banyan Tree city hotels as in Bangkok or the Angsana Spa at Bangalore have also tried to recreate the romantic and intimate experience unique to the brand and are in line with the desired portfolio. Galleries and museum shops developed as a brand extension and to help guests recreate their ‘Banyan Tree’ experience at home. It also reinforced Banyan Trees association with culture and heritage, as items sourced from local artisans were sold.
The online gallery and museum shop also helped cater to a wider audience while allowing loyal guests to a source their requirements from the comfort of their home. The galleries also provided employment opportunities and income for local tribes, which was a sign of ‘Banyan Tree’ being a good corporate citizen, while at the same time developed good press and word of mouth publicity. A summary of the above can be seen in the appendix. As a whole, with the possible exception of Allamanda, the product portfolio of the group is very much in sync with its vision of providing guests with unique, romantic and intense experiences.