How to Grow Your Hospitality Brand With Custom Merchandise

While the hospitality industry basks in year-over-year growth that has been strengthening for a decade, experts remind us what history has taught us about economics: the industry, which is still on the upward path, will see a downswing sooner rather than later.

Layer on increased competition brought in through high tech companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, hotel brands are facing new pressures not seen in years past, especially when it comes to connecting with their audience.

The hospitality industry is shifting

Sustaining growth in this space calls for hotel companies to be proactive and agile in order to not only survive any market shifts but to thrive and come out the other side on top.

Lifestyle, boutique, and contemporary brands like Ketchum, Idaho-based Hotel Ketchum cuts through the noise by crafting a rich experience that meets and exceeds the needs and desires of evolving travelers.

Part of the Hotel Ketchum experiential brand strategy is enhanced with custom merchandise — creating a true win-win for both the business and the consumer; revenue is generated from more than just booking a room and the consumer is offered a unique experience not found at big box hotels.

The approach hasn't gone unnoticed: TripAdvisor lists Hotel Ketchum, which holds a 4.5 out of 5-star guest rating, on their top 10 best hotels to stay at in Ketchum.

Hotel Ketchum epitomize the country's Gem State

Hotel Ketchum embodies the nuances of the small yet mighty town of Ketchum. Home to about 3,000 people, Ketchum is located in the heart of central Idaho, a state where rare gems run through its veins, snow-capped mountain ranges kiss the horizon, canyons run the steepest in the country, and of course, where the potatoes carry a registered trademark.

The industry’s that got their start in Ketchum are very much a part of its overall experience. Once the richest mining district in the northwest, then the country’s biggest sheep and lamb producers, and now a high-profile destination ski resort, Ketchum is one of those areas that offers something for everyone.

When the Hotel Ketchum team was remodeling the boutique hotel, these cultural nuances helped shape their own brand’s ethos and how the Sun Valley’s newest hotel became engrained into that experience.

“Our values provide an authentic and local experience that is focused on embracing all of the amazing things Ketchum and the surrounding areas have to offer,” General Manager Shannon Allen told us. “We want guests to have a cozy and comfortable room to come to after a day of adventuring.”

Hotel Ketchum brand merchandise represents the hotel out in the world

“We wanted to make sure our branding was incorporated in a fun and creative way, not just sticking a logo on something!” Allen told us. “We wanted to ensure it was more about the quality of the piece, cool and hip, and a great representation of the hotel out in the world.”

Sun Valley has a unique high end and glamorous yet laid-back flare attracting the likes of celebrity visitors from Judy Garland and Ernest Hemingway while inspiring others like Oprah, Bruce Willis, and Bill Gates to own Ketchum property.

Combine that glitzy vibe with a laundry list of outdoor offerings such as skiing and snowboarding to golfing, hiking, and fly fishing, it’s no wonder the town has seen some massive renovations in recent years aiming to preserve the area’s unique values, heritage, and legacy.

Thanks to Hotel Ketchum’s innovative and risk-taking approach to building an experiential-based hotel, the family-run business is now part of Ketchum’s DNA, offering far more than just a bed at the end of the day.

The small hotel group’s personality helps guide the creative direction of their brand merchandise.

“We can be funky, fun, and whimsical!” says Allen. “We want to make sure guests experience Idaho, so for our mascot, we decided we should pick something that is authentically Idahoan.”

The brand’s merchandise translates what they value

Custom branded t-shirt for Hotel Ketchum by Anthem Branding

Part of Hotel Ketchum’s ethos is not to take themselves too seriously. This is translated on their merchandise by leveraging Idaho-esk puns such as “Ewe look baaad ass!” and “Love wool find a way” a nod to the region’s industrial heritage.

Custom merchandise helps Hotel Ketchum grow

Merchandise should always help businesses in achieving their overall goals and objectives. Depending on your industry and brand as well as what you offer, custom merchandise can be used in a variety of different ways to achieve those higher-level goals and objectives:

Hotel Ketchum leverages merchandise:

  1. Drive their marketing and sales strategy
  2. Enhance the employee experience
  3. Shape the guest experience
  4. Add to the hotel's branded design aesthetic

Branded beanies are part of employee's uniforms and are items their sales and marketing teams use to up brand awareness. While other items are quirky expressions of the brand that enhance the guest experience at any time they interact with the front desk.

With better than projected merchandise sales, Hotel Ketchum says that it’s a great way to keep the brand top-of-mind and opens doors to get creative with fun social media campaigns and giveaways.

The Hotel Ketchum custom merchandise line by Anthem Branding

Zipper pouches, sticker sheets, notebooks, and bottle openers

Knit beanies, trucker hats, water bottles, ceramic mugs, robes, t-shirts, and sun shields

Why Hotel Ketchum partnered with Anthem Branding

“There are a million websites where you can order a bottle opener and probably a bit cheaper, but having someone through the entire process and that stands by the product is key,” says Allen.

Our approach does go beyond developing a logo or brochure or poster. We help our clients distill what makes them different, who their audience is, and work with them on finding the best way to tell their story to that audience.

A clear company identity guides logo design and visual aesthetic, and seeps into all of your brand communication such as merchandise.