One Fine Stay (2015) Harvard Business School Case (Jill Avery, Anat Keinan, and Liz Kind)
Miranda Cresswell, marketing director, and Greg Marsh, founder and CEO of onefinestay, were grappling with branding and positioning dilemmas. onefinestay offered high-end home rentals to travelers who sought a more authentic and local experience than a typical upscale hotel might provide. onefinestay’s brand had been “hacked” together quickly during the company’s early years. After five years of rapid growth, Marsh brought Cresswell on board to do a comprehensive analysis of the company’s brand and its positioning in the marketplace. Cresswell had spent several months gathering data and insights, and was starting to experiment with use case scenarios that took a crack at segmenting the company’s customers. The preliminary results were interesting, but raised more questions than they answered, and Cresswell wondered if this was the best way to segment the market. While segmenting in this way was intriguing, it led to a branding challenge – as a start-up, it was difficult for onefinestay to have the resources to support multiple brand messages in the marketplace and different segments wanted different things from their travel experience. She pondered whether there were other ways to group customers that would allow for a more universal positioning for the brand or whether the company needed to focus on one or two segments to serve. Positioning the fledgling brand was a challenge. Who was the company competing against and how could it carve out a unique value proposition that would appeal to travelers and be differentiated from what was offered by other hospitality options? Was its current moniker “the unhotel” working for or against it?