A country’s reputation can have a huge impact on its success as a tourist destination. Travellers will often have a preconceived idea about a place, taken from the images presented by media like film and television.

For example, Danny Boyle’s 2008 blockbuster hit ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ did little to deter the stereotypical view of India as a developing country affected by severe poverty and crime.

Of course these problems exist for countries all over the world, but in order to benefit from tourism a more positive picture needs to be pushed out and backed up with real action. Global hotel brands have a huge part to play and a responsibility towards the countries they operate from. By committing to deliver the highest possible standards of service to their guests, hotel brands can help countries to smash the stereotypes they are fighting against.

Thanks to an international marketing campaign, ‘Incredible India’, the travel and hospitality sector is flourishing in India. But the demanding temperatures there mean food spoilage and contamination are still major challenges for many hotels. As with poverty and crime, difficult weather conditions and poor hygiene are both problems that emerging holiday destinations have to cope with. When this is the case it doesn’t matter how much effort is put into pushing out a positive image of a country. In order to truly strengthen a fragile reputation and encourage repeat bookings, the proper foundations have to be put into place. This will help towards combating, and hopefully one day eradicate, the factors that affect a country’s image in a bad way.

Poor hygiene standards can lead to an extremely negative experience for a hotel guest, which they may then associate with the country as a whole rather than the establishment they have stayed in. This could impact their travel plans in the future and, in turn, impact tourism. It is therefore so important for hotel brands to establish their core values and commit to delivering a positive experience to all guests across the globe.

Most hotel groups are facing the same opportunities and challenges in the expanding global marketplace so what sets a chain apart are its qualities and values. Brands need to be ready; not just with sleek, effective marketing and advertising but by ensuring high and consistent standards of quality in all things they do, no matter how small. They need to concentrate on everything, from the water supply to room cleanliness to food hygiene.

Once processes have been put in place to deliver and maintain the agreed values, the crucial next step for global chains is to make sure that they are actively monitoring the performance of each of their hotels. This can help them to identify any weak links that require particular and immediate attention.

Through regular and thorough auditing, hotel chains can improve not only the image of their brand but the image of the countries they operate from as well. Crime, poverty and unpredictable weather conditions may be out of a brand’s control but that is no excuse. Every possible step should be taken to ensure the safety of guests. If tourists feel safe and secure in a country, the likelihood is that they will return again and again.

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