The first and last branding mistake made by hoteliers and restaurateurs

If you’ve spent £££+ on your interiors and brand, don’t leave your first and last customer touchpoint unturned

In the hospitality industry, capturing the hearts and minds (or stomach and feet) of consumers is a constant battle of the fittest. Whilst free WiFi, superior mattresses and exceptional food are all standard weapons in the armoury, often the ultimate clincher lies in the brand experience.

Uncovering the right brand essence for an individual hotel or restaurant takes time and money. And once it’s been bottled, thousands are spent on ensuring it’s consistently communicated – across everything from company literature to the cocktail service and even the aroma that greets you in reception.

Yet often, all that hard work is blown through the simple act of taking off your coat.

One of the most forgotten consumer touchpoints

We were invited to a rather expensive, design-led restaurant in Manchester a few weeks ago for a key celebration.

As you would hope, the welcome was warm and professional. The entrance was sleek and atmospheric, a fitting precursor to the opulent interior design promised by the website.

So far so good in terms of experience living up to expectations.

Or it was until we handed over our coats.

The cloakroom tags we were given in exchange were poorly printed on laminated paper, unpeeling at the sides and grubby. They had clearly been through multiple hands before reaching ours and looked it.

Not quite the brand experience we had been looking for – or indeed the image the restaurant wanted to convey.

Ok, so you could argue we’re more picky than most

We are in the plastic cards business, so you’d expect us to be more aware than others. But we are always surprised by the amount of upmarket restaurants and hotels that don’t extend their customer welcome – and farewell – to the cloakroom.

A search on TripAdvisor will show you how damaging a poor cloakroom experience can be. Paper tickets are easy to lose, as are the belongings you’ve been entrusted with.

But the argument isn’t just that professional cloakroom tags are just more secure. They’re a branding tool: a first opportunity to convey the essence of your brand as your customer steps over the threshold.

It could have been worse – we could have been handed a tatty raffle ticket.

But does an ill considered, fraying piece of paper ever seem like a fair swap for a designer coat?

What does your cloakroom say about you?

The Card Network prints branded, full colour plastic cloakroom tags, and has recently introduced the Cloakie to their range of products – a mini, affordable branded cloakroom tag, from £128 for 200 (100 numbered pairs). For more information see www.thecardnetwork.co.uk/cloakie