The Set Hotels are a group of family-owned luxury hotels in Europe – Hotel Café Royal in London, Conservatorium in Amsterdam and Lutetia in Paris. These dazzling, five-star hotels offer guests a grand experience with exceptional restaurants, spas, salons and wellbeing facilities.
Brian Gore, Vice President of Brand, Marketing and Digital, has built The Set’s brand identity from the ground up and is responsible for the chic branding seen today. In addition to branding, he manages partnerships, advertising, public relations and digital campaigns.
When Brian joined The Set Hotels over five years ago, the team didn’t have an explicit brand strategy in place. With two (now three) hotels in the group, Brian knew it was essential that each hotel had its own distinct qualities but shared an overarching brand story.
“There wasn’t really a brand story or visual brand identity. There wasn’t much linking the hotels together. And of course, with our growth plans, we wanted to have one unique story and visual identity that would work across the group of hotels,” says Brian.
The Set is known for giving guests a luxurious experience that begins before they even step foot into a property. As Brian and his team began to craft the brand story and identity, they understood that the imagery, logos and other visual elements they chose would impact the overall guest experience.
“We definitely approached it as a luxury brand, even more so than being a hotel brand, which sounds a bit counterintuitive, but we wanted to establish The Set Hotels as a luxury contender. We wanted to create our own unique place. Now, how do we ensure people understand that we are a luxury brand and a luxury hotel? That was the challenge,” says Brian.
The solution to this challenge? Developing and maintaining the upscale brand story in every marketing channel, such as website and partner campaigns, across all three hotel brands.
There was, however, a barrier to achieving this goal – The Set Hotel’s visual assets were stored in shared drives, leaving assets scattered and unorganized. Since each hotel has its own marketing team that is responsible for upholding the overarching brand, this resulted in confusion, misplaced assets and lost time.
“Internally, we didn’t have anything where we could actually share between the teams and also have a central repository where everything was kept. We really needed something where we could centrally store all of our assets. They were all over the place. We didn’t have control over the copyrights and what we could use when and where. Everything was getting lost,” says Brian.
“I wanted to be able to have more control from a group brand perspective to make sure everything was in line. Digital asset management was a necessity.”
Brian led the project to test digital asset management (DAM) solutions. Ultimately, he chose Canto for its functionality range, native Adobe integration and value.
The Set Hotels now stores all of their imagery, videos and consumer generated content in Canto. With their brand asset library centralized, the marketing team quickly curates content aligned with the global brand identity.
The Set uses folders and tags to navigate their Canto library. The team carried over the folder structure from their previous system, allowing users to search for and find assets in a way that is familiar to them.
“It made sense to continue having the folder structure in place because that’s how we’ve always worked with assets. Traditionally people just want to go to the folder. For example, we have a folder for Food and Beverage, then within Food and Beverage, we have an album for a particular restaurant. From there they can find room shots, food shots, and staff or chef shots,” says Brian.
Although historically The Set used a folder structure, more and more, the team relies on tags to arrange and organize their digital library. Tagging allows for a truly global search, something that Brian utilizes daily.
“It’s nice that you can set up lists of standard keywords that you have ready to go. The Smart Tags really help – we try to put as much description as possible,” says Brian.
“If I need a ballroom shot from Paris, I can type that in the search bar and Canto will show me all the images that we have of the ballroom in Paris. It’s just great.”
External photographers capture the essence of The Set Hotels, from each property’s grand facade to modern suite details. The marketing team gives photographers access to Upload Links where they can import their work straight into Canto. From there, the team assigns the photos to folders and organizes them with tags.
“A lot of our content is photography that we commissioned. It’s nice that we can send a link to a photographer now to upload the images for us,” says Brian.
The Set works with external photographers for commercial content, but also partners with user-generated content platforms and social media influencers to curate lifestyle content. This content of real guests enjoying amenities is often uploaded to Canto by marketing team members.
“We do a lot of social media work with influencers. They will come stay at hotels, go to our spas or our restaurants, and in return they provide us with images and videos that they use on their own channels,” says Brian.
To further streamline the creative process, The Set takes advantage of Canto’s Adobe integration. The team edits images and documents in Photoshop and InDesign without ever leaving their Canto library.
“Canto really helps when you’re sitting in Photoshop or working in InDesign. Rather than having to go to the website and download, resize and pull it out, I can just drop it straight into Adobe,” says Brian.
Sharing assets through Portals and Links
For external partners who need specific imagery or information, the marketing team hand-selects batches of content from the main library and sends it in an easy-to-use link.
“We do a lot of internal downloading because we’re creating our own assets, whether they’re printed or digital, but the biggest use for Canto we’ve found is for our external partners,” says Brian.
“There are travel agents around the world that are featuring our hotel and they need updated images and video content. We do a lot of sharing of links.”
Brian and his team share images and other brand documents through a Canto Portal, where they house approved content for external usage. With Portals, processing press requests has never been easier.
“We get so many press requests. Having the Portal allows us to just send the content straight away. It’s all preapproved photography, logos, videos, brochures and PDFs that we’re very happy for anyone to use at any point in time,” says Brian.
The Set Hotels marketing team has worked diligently to establish a premium brand identity for its hotel group. Now that Brian has one centralized location for all brand assets, it’s easy for him to review and manage visual elements. With Canto, he ensures that brand assets are not only aligned with the brand story, but are also within usage rights.
“I can now see what The Set looks like visually to people. I think before it was too difficult to understand it as we’re working in so many different channels globally, both online and offline. It was a challenge to understand what’s being used where and when and what can be used where and when. Having that real global overview in Canto has been a massive help,” says Brian.
As the travel industry navigates changes due to COVID-19, the team finds Canto’s flexibility and utility to be essential to their workflows.
“We’re all working now with fewer resources than we had before. Canto has been a huge help for us because it reduces the number of man-hours we need to get something done. Plus, everything’s available to us online. We’re not in our office spaces or on our network, so having access to all of our digital assets has been a real godsend,” says Brian.
Canto doesn’t just take the frustration out of managing digital assets – it enables teams to see the direction their brand is headed visually.
“Canto has saved us a huge amount of time. It has given us a real overview of the content we have and where we’re going as a brand.”