Spring has sprung and the fun and sun of summer is undeniably approaching. That, of course, means Michigan International Speedway and our community can look forward to welcoming tens of thousands of guests. Many of our guests at the track will have spent weeks, if not months, planning for their visit while others may have made a more spontaneous decision. A number of our guests have visited previously and others are visiting for their first time. In either circumstance, we are going to introduce and reinforce our brand, our true brand.
As Director of Guest Services at MIS, I believe it is critically important to realize the truth of a brand. A brand, our brand, is something intangible. It is not something that can be seen, touched or measured. It is abstract and exists entirely in our guests’ minds. Our brand is a product of the perceptions and experiences of our guests. Consequently, our true brand lies in the memories and stories our guests tell about their visits.
Advantage can be gained in a competitive service marketplace by those who understand the abstract nature of their brand and not mistaking the truth of the brand with branding. Branding is the activities and efforts which attempt to positively affect experiences, stories, memories and perceptions. Simply stated, branding is architecture, taglines, campaigns, PR, signage and logos.
Branding strategies are not a brand, and logos don’t sell tickets. Our brand is developed through the personal contacts and relationships our guests experience when making arrangements to, or visiting the track. Our true brand lies in our people; their friendliness, attentiveness, care and knowledge. It is these actions that will ultimately make or break our brand.
Without a doubt, the most corrosive element in the disintegration of a brand is a guest’s perception that the very individuals tasked with the delivery of service and the ones most responsible for their experience and memories, don’t care at all.
Conversely, the most constructive element of a brand and the roadmap to brand loyalty is a consistent commitment (read, culture) to create an emotional connection with guests. An emotional connection is gained incrementally over time with an unfailing display of behavior that demonstrates respect, care, service (including service recovery) and a welcoming, grateful environment.
Reliably, positive gestures lead to a relationship, relationships lead to an emotional connection, emotional connections leads to loyalty, loyalty leads to a successful brand and it is a successful brand that sells tickets.
This blog was written by guest blogger Tim Booth who is the Director of Guest Services at Michigan International Speedway. Michigan International Speedway is located in Brooklyn, Michigan and boasts a proud, 43-year history of hosting America's best racing action on its 1,400-plus acres in the scenic Irish Hills. Along with hosting racing action, Michigan International Speedway hosts a yearly wine and beer festival and many other events. RjM thanks Tim for allowing us to use his blog post.