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01 December '14 | Amit Varma

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18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

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05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

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30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

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17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

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03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

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Who Do You Entrust with Your Brand?

Posted on: 21 October '10

Most of us who travel extensively for a living have a few customer loyalty programs that they are very…well, “loyal” towards. My air travel is almost exclusively done on Continental Airlines (in the process of becoming United Airlines); I rent my cars from Avis (full disclosure: Mindtree has worked with Avis since March 2000); and I will go out of my way to stay at a Marriott-branded hotel. The reasons for this loyalty varies, from the loyalty program perks I receive, to the special treatment we experience using their product and services.

The other day I was trying to recall where all this loyalty originated. It struck me that in all my years of travel, I had never met the CEOs, or even VP-level executives of any of these organizations I go out of my way to give business. In my 801,995 lifetime miles flown on Continental (as of October 20, 2010), the Company has entrusted their brand experience for me to be established through their ticketing agents, baggage handlers, gate and flight attendants. Occasionally, a pilot will say good bye to me as my plane is unloading…but that is also rare. Presumably, other Platinum OnePass members have also experienced the same treatment.

With Marriott, the closest I have ever come to “meeting” Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott is through his blog entitled “Marriott on the Move.” Instead, the Company entrusts that I will continue to keep reserving and adding to my 234 lifetime night stays through the (usually) diligent work of their concierge, bell captains, front desk attendants, housekeeping and the occasional 800# customer service rep that I speak with. I often see the “Welcome” signs from the Hotel District Manager in the lobby, but I don’t ever recall physically seeing him/her in the hotel lobby between 8-10 AM and 3-5PM, typically the peak time for hotel guests to be checking in or out.

In addition to the social media efforts underway at iconic brands around the world, does my suggested level of senior management physical engagement also make sense? Or is it better to entrust critical brand development experiences in the hands of men and women who (often) have the least amount of experience….and emotional connection to their organizations?

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  • Geetha Chandar

    Dear Joe,

    Thank you for this very interesting post.

    Like you had rightly mentioned in ‘The True “Brand” of a Company’, each and every employee is a Company’s brand ambassador. I don’t think anything stops new joiners from having a sense of belonging and a sense of pride too in their organization. Admittedly, that feeling has to come from within for everybody, but it is also the responsibility of the Institution, especially the leaders, to instill that pride, that sense of ownership and also establish that emotional connection. That bonding, which is similar to a parent-child relationship, can actually start happening from day one? Of course, like any other relationship, this is also a two-way traffic.

    Having said that, I don’t see any reason as to why the top management, especially in the Hospitality Industry, should not make the effort to step out of their Ivory Towers and interact with customers at least during the peak time as mentioned by you. That would be ‘Caring By Walking Around’ in the truest sense which will definitely ensure that the customers leave the place (or the plane as the case may be) with a warm and satisfied glow. And they will not only come back for sure but will also spread the good word! And this physical engagement by the senior management can also help to ‘catch’ the inexperienced staff while they are doing things right? So, it is a win-win situation for everyone.

    Thanks and regards,


  • Joe King

    That is the way I see it too, Geetha. But it just struck me as ironic that while all this is obvious to us, that there is such a level of detachment between senior management and their clients in most business environments.