This report explores and analyses the strategic choices that are available and their related implementation issues that are open to Eton Collection Group which is one of the Chain Boutique Hotels in UK. Eton Collection was found in 1998 and is a group of seven luxury boutique and town house hotels, that majorly specializes in the four and five star sector in London, Edinburgh and Leeds.(Business traveler 2011: Eton Collection Chic 2011). All are found in prime city-centre locations.
Eton collection has managed to be competitive in the market amid the stiff challenge from their competitors. This has been made possible by the high quality service, beautiful design and differentiated brand they offer, that satisfies the demands of their customers as well as the market segmentation that is superiorly employed. The generic strategies that Eton needs to improve include; marketing strategy, product differentiation, market segmentation and containing the operation costs (Ireland 1987). This report also looks at the directions of strategy development and the method used to implement these directions of implementation as well as analysis of the key issues of implementation
Eton Collection Business Level Generic Strategies
Eton Collection has implemented a number of business strategies that have bore fruits and made it be among the best chain boutique Hotels in the United Kingdom with some of its Hotels likeThreadneedles listed among the best 50 in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler report (Eton Collection Chic 2011). The generic strategies that need to be emphasized include;
1) Product and Service differentiation strategy
This is a strategy where the company produces different types, styles and quality of products to match different demands from the customers Beath & Katsoulacos 1991). Eton collection has implemented this strategy by having several types of services in the hotel industry that ranges from high quality accommodation, meals, refreshment lounges to serious conference, boardroom facilities, and private conference areas for corporate events and discreet dining, to fun marquees, magnificent wedding receptions and open-air summer parties. This diversified service delivery and the uniqueness of the services attracts more customers who utilize all these services within one area (Beath & Katsoulacos 1991). Differentiation strategy in this regard is more successful in a market where customer target group is not price-sensitive, the market is flooded and customers have very precise needs which are perhaps not fully served, and the company has exclusive assets and abilities that makes it easy to satisfy these demands in a manner that are complex to copy through tailor made products and services (Frensch 2006: Ireland 1987). The current and the potential customers targeted by Eton Collection high class that match all these characteristics, those who only need value added service to fully satisfy their unique and finer needs. Eton therefore needs to seriously consider this strategy to be able to attract and retain more customers.
2) Market Segmentation strategy
Eton Collection have identified and segmented their target market to be within the prime city centre locations like London, Leeds and Edinburgh (Business traveler 2011). This makes it clear that Eton fully targets the city duelers and occasional foreigners who are picked on arrangement from the Air port by the Eton contracted organized cabs.
The accessibility of Eton hotels and restaurants should also be improved by opening more joints in different places to reach more middle class customers who may not be closer to the original service points. This concept of right place which is an integral part of the marketing mix remains very important aspect for a firm to match or be above the competition. In case Eton Collection ignores this aspect, then the other competitors in the same service industry will capitalize on this to drive Eton out of the market.
3) Cost leadership strategy
This strategy involves attracting price sensitive customers. There are there methods that can be used to achieve this strategy.
Eton Collection needs to open up this strategy by incorporating all customers from different social class to be able to drive their revenue higher. This is because economically, the more the number of customers served, the higher the cash flow which eventually leads to high growth in revenue. This brings the concept of economies of scale that can only be achieved when lower prices to value ratio and sustainable prices are charged for the services and maintaining full capacity of the boutiques, hotels and restaurants at all times (Maddock 1995). The firm needs to operate at lower prices than those offered by the rivals to be able to achieve profitability and at the same time high return on investments.
Maintaining low direct and indirect operating costs. This is realized by providing basic large volumes of homogeneous products, and reducing modification of service. The costs of Production are reduced by using less but standard components, as well as maintaining the overhead costs at a sustainable lower level.
Achieving high Stock and asset turn over. In the service industry as in Eton Collection, it requires that tables are turned around very quickly leading to large volumes of service while achieving lower unit cost and by controlling the supply chain. This is achieved through; bulk purchasing at lower costs and enjoying discounts, proper bidding for contracts and bargaining with suppliers for lower costs. Eton will be able to maintain their costs low, a factor which is very important to be able to compete effectively.
4) Marketing Strategy
This is another strategy choice available that Eton Collection Group needs to implement fully to be able to drive its revenue higher. It comprises of the marketing mix that explains the 4Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion (Kerin & Regan 2008).
Product in this case includes the goods and services Eton offers to its customers. These products and services needs to be of high quality right from the product related boutique to the hotel and restaurant services (Segev 1984). Eton has done well in this area as evidenced by the quality and stylish hotels, that has helped build the Eton Collectionbrand. For example, in the accommodation rooms apart from the quality and fine room finishing, there are also business cards when customers arrive, Frette Egyptian cotton bed linen, newspaper , enticing WiFi link, shoeshine, enticing tea and coffee, voice mail, luxury, clock, toiletries, 24 hour Room Service, Personal safe for laptop, slippers Bathrobe and, DDI telephone line, iPod docking stations with radio and alarm, air conditioning, Music collection available, Hairdryer, rouser press and ironing board, fax and modem point, Satellite TV & PPV movies, water on turn down, Plasma TV in both bedroom and bathroom, Private bar, broadband and a non smoking zone (Business traveler 2011: Saudi buys Eton hotels 2007). All these fittings make the room self contained with all the necessary facilities. Eton has been able to develop their pride and fashion from this high class quality service through their technical expertise. The company also needs to introduce health diet dishes to add onto the menus they already give.
This entails advertisement and communication of the existing product offered. Eton needs to explore their promotion aspect to reach more people. Some of the techniques to use include; internet marketing, You Tube where they can use the World Wide Web which they have not fully utilized to reach many people around the world instantly (Peck 1999: Peterson 2011). This would make the Eton Collection hotels be the destination accommodation areas for many visiting foreigners who travel to the United Kingdom. This will as well help position the company well in the minds of customers to the extent that they will only be thinking about Eton.
Eton Collection needs to offer affordable prices for their quality products and services to attract all customers from all the social class hence maximize on sales.
This entails the target markets which must be well defined. Customers must consistently ret the products and the services of the same quality any time on demand. This helps build customer confidence on the stability of the group. Eton Collection needs to embark on expansion strategy to more cities and even internationally to be able to increase their presence regionally and globally. More products and services outlets leads to more revenue collected (Peterson 2011).
Directions of Strategic Development
Eton Collection Group has taken two directions in their development strategy. These are Product related direction and Market direction strategy.
a) Product related direction
Eton Collection has seriously concentrated on the quality, diversity and strength of their brands and their high class design status of the hotels and restaurants. For example, Bonds restaurant which is situated in the city near bank underground station serves high standards modern French cuisine while the bar offer 65 signature cigars, Tapas and unique Cocktails.
b) Market related directions
The Eton Collection has segmented its market to be city centre and has moved to capture the market by the strategically positioned hotels and restaurant in on London including the Colonnade in Little Venice and the five Georgian homes cleverly linked to create the hotel, in London’s West End. There is Quebecs in Leeds and Threadneedles in Edinburgh. Restaurants have also been spaced and they include; The North Bridge Brasserie located in London City close to Bank underground station to capture all the users of the underground station and Bonds Restaurant in Edinburgh for dinner, occasions, lunch, or breakfast (The Eton Collection Selects Fast Booking 2008).
Both market and product related direction, on development are important. The product strategy ensures that there quality products and services are available while market strategy ensures that there is sufficient market for the developed products (Mallory et al. 2010). These two directions of strategies should therefore be implemented concurrently to drive Eton Collection Group to profitability.
The methods used to drive these directions are the use of focus group and marketing. Focus group is a qualitative group that gives feedback on their satisfaction levels with the services offered in relations to concept packaging and even ideas. Another method is the use of marketing to open up the market in the new hotels and restaurants.
Analysis of product direction strategy using UK NARIC
UK NARIC is an evaluation criterion that is based on Brand Frame Work. This criterion is designed to ensure that there is accuracy and consistency in the quality of products and services produced and offered in the market, (Degrees of Deception UK NARIC) and that they must meet international standards. Eton Collections Group being one of the leading Chain Boutique Hotels in UK meets the brand standards as far as the fine hotel finishing is concerned ,fitted with lifts and fire alarms that can be accessed by all including physically challenged on wheelchairs, well lit and with beautiful serene. The quality in the services offered qualifies the whole brand to meeting the international standards as stipulated in the UK NARIC evaluation criteria.
Key Issues for Implementation of the Strategy
The key issues that influence the implementation of these strategies include:
Proper communication and Clarification of issues. This can be done through educating the entire stakeholders on the importance of the change themselves and to the Eton Collection group (Ciarlet 2005).
Involvement of all stakeholders and change agents right from employees, management and customers to ensure no resistance from any of the groups.
Clear Purpose of change. Implementation must be well planned and the objective to be achieved be well stipulated to avoid any ambiguity during the implementation process.
Support and reinforcement of the change process, by all the management levels and availing adequate resources required for the full period of implementation.
Change should be gradually and smoothly introduced and carefully monitored to secure timely feedback(Maastricht 2008).
All these issues need to be well articulated to ensure successful implementation of the change in the business strategies.
Chain Boutiques Hotels business in the UK is a viable venture and Eton Collection Group needs to utilize the available opportunities of product differentiation, market segmentation, marketing strategy to increase their market presence and to compete well (Cahil 2006) To achieve this, Eton collection Group needs to focus on their product and brand establishment which must be of superior quality and service and at the same time expand to new markets in other locations not yet tapped. Eton collection also needs to serve all the market segments from all the socio economic class of customers by offering quality products at affordable costs that will help increase sales volumes. This because, the low and middle income earners who are always the majority provide a wide market that when tapped, will make the company achieve the concept of economies of scale leading to increased revenue and profit.