“Influencer Lab” Series – Part 1: What’s On The Minds of Denver’s Top Hoteliers?
- Posted by Griffin Sandberg
- On April 25, 2019
Last month, right here in Denver, Screen Pilot and Flip.to gathered with top minds of the local hospitality and travel verticals for an exclusive roundtable to discuss the current state of hotel marketing.
At this event, those in attendance were able to discuss new ideas – and poke holes in existing strategies across various disciplines.
While the event was called an “Influencer Lab”, these weren’t your typical influencers. In fact, we outdid Fyre Fest with a legit meal plan and something more substantial than debt to walk away with.
These influencers came from various areas of the hospitality business – ranging from revenue and marketing; sales teams or vendor partners – and everyone was able to bring something valuable.
In the first part of our “Influencer Labs” Series, we’re going to dig a little deeper into the top three topics discussed during this event.
I’ll be starting with the first three and Flip.to will be following up with more next week.
Our hope is to spark conversation across the hospitality and travel industries to take things to the next level in 2019. Hopefully, you’re a hotelier yourself – or part of a hotel marketing and sales team – and you’re able to find some inspiration from these discussions. Or, you might just see this as another friendly reminder that it’s time to stop “going back to basics” in conversations around digital marketing strategy.
While we weren’t able to solve all the world’s problems in one night, I believe these movers and shakers assembled posed some great questions to the industry as a whole.
Here are just a few:
Topic 1: Hoteliers are afraid to take a leap with new tech.
We all hear the complaints about our current (plethora of) archaic systems, yet we seldom hear about a property that “took the leap” with a new tech player in the space. Unfortunately, a lot of technology is VC backed, so if they don’t see immediate opportunity – they’re going to pivot to another industry with an actual appetite for their services.
When asked in a follow-up about this, Jen Long, hospitality marketing consultant (Founder of Longevity Marketing Solutions), stated “In general, failure is seen in a negative light in the hospitality space. Failure is what brings learnings and other industries have been more open to embracing this philosophy. Until this space is more open to putting budget towards testing for learnings that may come from failure, we’ll have a hard time taking chances and moving the industry forward.”
So, let’s give this a shot. Next time you hear about <insert name> over at <insert property> “botching” their migration to a new and exciting PMS; maybe call them up to hear what they learned and thank them for giving it a shot in the first place. Then, take their learnings and apply it to your own efforts. If you aren’t happy with what you have in place right now, you’re only going to remain stagnant – and that’s what should actually be shunned in our industry.
Pro Tip: Agencies make great partners in helping with migrations and transitions across new technologies. They (should) dedicate the time to dig deeper and ask the questions not everyone may be thinking about. Chances are, they’ve already gone through a similar project and can act as a great sounding board or resource center for something like this.
Topic 2: Marketing attribution has become too cluttered and convoluted.
It absolutely has, but this doesn’t mean that we have to lack trust in our reporting. Instead, we (as an industry) have to view reporting with a more keen eye moving forward.
While we could go down a million rabbit holes here – the main point we discussed at the roundtable was “beware of the CPA model”.
There are a few players that treat CPA as a truly symbiotic partnership with properties, but most vendors just play with the confusion caused by the sloppy and somehow accepted attribution models.
Look, there are many factors leading someone to booking and it’s just too damn easy for vendors to piggy-back off other channels/strategies (that also cost property money) or lack transparency in reporting (ex; view-through vs click-through conversions) to make it seem like their solution gave property the “silver bullet” you’ve always been looking for.
Note: Silver bullets don’t exist (even if their salespeople swear otherwise). So, get as granular as you can and split attribution across the many different channels that drove someone to book. Once you see the bigger picture; you’ll be able to organize campaigns with a true insight into the idea of “right message, right time, right device, right audience”.
You’ll also save yourself from those un-godly commissions from companies that ironically claim to be the “anti-OTA”. Yup, I said it.
Topic 3: Is shortening the booking process a good idea for all property types?
Everyone attending HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference this year saw Gopi Kallayil’s fantastic “Marketing in the Age of Assistance” session. In his presentation, he called out Domino’s zero-click-to-conversion strategy and asked: “is this viable or even realistic for hotels?”. Our roundtable guests, while excited about the idea, decided that this would never give guests enough choice; and choice is a complicated beast for certain properties.
However, we also agreed that the booking process is far too convoluted at this point (enter the HotelTonight‘s of the world), so where is the happy medium between where we are now and the zero-click-to-conversion?
Pro Tip: If your hotel website is 85 pages and visitors are only interacting with 8 of them – it’s time to make some big changes.
Are these topics the same ones burning in your mind? It’s amazing what a room full of like-minds can get started.
The next part of this series will be the publication of follow-up interviews we held with individual attendees.
We took a deeper dive into various aspects with a few key players, and our hope throughout the series is to leave you with inspiration (ex; one of our questions was “if you had an unlimited budget, what would you change first about the industry?”) and some true takeaways to bring back to your own team (ex; another question being “what leaps have you taken on property and seen a positive outcome from?”).
We’ve had a lot of fun putting these together and hope you enjoy gaining some “inside information” from those who help mold this industry.
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