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August 19, 2005

Can you help me find Hermitage C?

Chip Deale, CAE of the CFA Institute offers the following intriguing observation about the site of this year's Annual Meeting.

Opryland's unwanted "brand"

I can't help but think that the Opryland folks must cringe every time they hear speakers make (joking) references to how confusing the property is to navigate. Think about it: Philip Kotler refers to needing a GPS, Nashville mayor Bill Purcell urges us to come back to find lost members of our party, Malcolm Gladwell says there must be a hospital in the “complex”, Elliott Masie jokes that he left a trail of bread crumbs and so forth.

All very humorous, but it speaks to the perception or “brand” image of the property that people have. Don't get me wrong: I think Opryland is a fabulous property/destination and the service is great. But if you're the brand owner, do you want words like “confusing”, “complex”, “a maze”, etc. to be the ones that come initially to customers' minds?

Posted by X-Blog Contributor at August 19, 2005 09:02 PM


It seems to me that this could be a marketing/brand opportunity that the Gaylord Opryland has not taken advantage of. If I were to be creative, I could think of numerous ways to use it as a strength, rather than a negative. As we learned this weekend, it is about the experience and the need to be creative in promoting and personalizing the experiences for members (in this case guests).

For example,
* How about a complementary step-counter at check-in? Seems to me that if McDonalds can find inexpensive ones to hand out with a bottle of water, that it would be inexpensive for Opryland to hand one out with their logo and website imprinted on it.

* For big meetings, is there an opportunity to set up an inside morning walk? Sponsor it, include a healthy breakfast and you've had a healthy way to start the day. Even better, put out a podcast preview of the day's keynote speaker to get folks in the mood. Offer the information ahead of time so folks could download before they get there. Or, better yet, offer kiosks that you can download.

* Is there an opportunity for Opryland to offer walking tours at a certain time each day? More than a brief walk through with the bellhop, they could showcase services and areas that they would like to promote. For those that go on it, perhaps a small gift certificate to use at the spa or one of the shops ($5 certificate for the opportunity to showcase all of their services is peanuts).

* Color coding for the different levels/areas of the hotel that could be matched in an educational program. For example, if the Mezzanine level is coded blue, then that could be shared with the association, who could then code those programs blue.

* Offering inside garden tours - the gardens were beautiful.

All joking aside, it is an opportunity for Opryland to enhance the guest's experience in a unique way, making a 'liability' into and asset.

Posted by: Kristine Hillmer at August 22, 2005 10:50 AM

Of course not, X-blogger! Every product, service, etc., has its challenges, but no one wants that challenge to be what they're famous for.

I've never been to Opryland (but I kinda like the music--sorry, channeled Elvis there for a second), but that is the first thing I hear about it when it comes up in conversation. Seems to me this challenge could be an opportunity for the facility to do something very cool, like hold a contest for the best idea its customers can come up with to make it easier to navigate, promote the heck out of it, and implement the solution.

Why not acknowledge what everyone's saying anyway, then invite the critics in on building a better Opryland? That would score with the facility's users on so many levels, I would think.

Posted by: Sue Pelletier at August 22, 2005 09:13 AM

I recall when speakers used to warn each other that a night-before "walk- through" from hotel room to meeting room would not suffice - that allowing extra time for getting lost was necessary. We'd joke about having all the conferences meeting in the hotel share a lost and found service, not quite sure how it would be provided in those ancient, pre-GPS days
- Kare

Posted by: Kare Anderson at August 20, 2005 08:17 PM

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