Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Tim Peter

By

February 23, 2016

8 Outstanding Lessons from the 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference (Travel Tuesday)

February 23, 2016 | By | No Comments

Want to drive more direct bookings to your hotel? Click here to learn more


8 Outstanding Lessons from the 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference

HSMAI held its 2016 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference last week, featuring insights and information from a wide range of the hospitality industry’s thought leaders. I was thrilled to attend (and even more thrilled to be asked to speak at the event) and thought you’d appreciate a quick round-up of the lessons from the conference.

A number of trends emerged from the various presentations, but if there was one overarching trend, it was probably a move towards digital transformation. Digital is moving away from just a marketing technique and connecting more completely with the overall guest experience. We’re seeing an increased focus on a return to basics: hospitality; service; product; and differentiation.

Yes, digital can and should enhance and extend the guest experience—and, frankly, needs to do a better job of both. But it also requires a great guest experience in the first place. As I pointed out during the Adrian Awards judging, the bar has been raised; just being good enough isn’t good enough.

I’ll have the slides from my talk at the conference up on the site for you next week. But in the meantime, check out these 8 outstanding lessons from the 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference for yourself. Enjoy:

  1. Want to do digital right? Focus first on your strategic objectives and your strategy to get there: The outstanding @LaliaRach asked some key questions to kick things off, wondering how many old assumptions drive your hotel’s digital marketing strategy—and overall business strategy. By far my favorite quote from Lalia’s talk: “When we all think alike, no one is thinking.” Instead, Lalia encouraged attendees to think about the company you are and the company you want to be, then execute to close the gaps. (You can also read more of Lalia’s thoughts on digital disruptors in this excellent HSMAI interview).

  2. The Library Hotel Collection’s amazing investment strategy: This is awesome. According to @AdeleGutman, the company asks one question: “Does this investment improve customer experience?” If yes, then it’s worth considering the investment. If no, why bother? Brilliant.

  3. You can compete with Airbnb, but you can’t ignore them. Everybody was talking about Airbnb at this year’s show, which leads to another great @AdeleGutman takeaway: Offering distinct, customized rooms in 4-star boutique hotel. Interesting and very smart approach in the Airbnb economy. You might also appreciate this look at other ways independent hotels can compete with Airbnb here. Hotel marketers would also do well to take a look at—and learn from—at this brilliant Airbnb ad, that clearly shows what makes them legitimately different:

    Your hotel also has plenty of attributes that make it legitimately different. So the real question is “How are you making that clear to guests?”

  4. Content marketing works. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality and effectiveness demonstrated in the case studies presented. Savvy hotel marketers have begun telling rich, immersive stories about their destinations and properties to attract interest and action among potential guests.

    But no one channel dominates. As one presenter noted, “one traveler’s sharing phase is another traveler’s research/booking phase,” meaning your content needs to work across multiple outlets to find guests where they are in the process. Adapt content, promotions, and offers by channel to connect with customer most effectively. A simple idea, really, but often overlooked.

    And, of course, don’t ignore reviews. 70% of consumers prefer peer-generated content over professionally-produced content when making purchase decisions. Use that to your advantage to drive increased rate, occupancy, and RevPAR. After all, reviews remain the single most effective way to market your property.

  5. Personalization will make your content marketing more effective. Personalization was one of the key topics at this year’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, and with good reason: it works (full disclosure, I gave a talk on the topic myself at the conference and will make the slides available next week). But, personalization’s not just about technology; it’s about your guests. As Pedro Dias, General Manager of The Smyth noted, personalization “requires understanding a person. CRM demands a human element.” So, so true.

  6. “Loyalty” ain’t what it’s cracked up to be: Yes, we all want loyal guests. But as one panelist noted, there are currently 3 billion “loyalty” members in the United States, a country with a population of 319 million. At which point, not so loyal, huh? But it’s crystal clear that guest service plays a huge role in driving true loyalty. Digital can amplify that experience, but it starts with service.

    One fascinating stat: The more interactions with airline staff, the more satisfaction DECREASES. Hotel staff interactions INCREASE satisfaction though. Take care of your guests and they’ll help you attract more guests. And as a bonus: more attractive brands also generally attract more engaged, more focused talent too. Which creates a lovely virtuous cycle as those more engaged employees help provide greater service to your guests. Nice, isn’t it?

  7. The pace of change will only accelerate. Sean O’Flaherty (@stoflaherty) from Microsoft shared an excellent 2020 presentation at #hsmaidigital which featured this outstanding video showing one possible future of travel:

    Of course, the thing that you should really note about the video is that it was made 3 years ago. Most of what you’re seeing here actually exists today, if not quite as slick or seamless as Microsoft projected a few years back. When asked, “How will digital be different in 2020?” one panelist quipped, “How will digital be different in 1 year is just as good a question.” But all this proves once again William Gibson’s prophetic quote: “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.”

  8. “Test and Learn” still represents the one of the best processes to succeed at digital. This shouldn’t come as a shock, but testing really, really, really works. Seriously. Test. Learn. Repeat. Case study after case study at this year’s conference illustrated how important adopting a test and learn mindset matters in driving successful digital marketing results. It’s unlikely you’ll achieve consistent success in digital without a solid testing strategy.

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a pretty good list, eh?

Also, I’d truly be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to take a look at the many, many fine folks whose tweets during the 2016 HSMAI Digital Strategy Conference provides insights and information throughout the conference—and who help me learn every day. Be sure to check them all out:

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Submit a Comment