How can you keep up to date with all the changes as a Hotel Marketer?

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board recently discussed best practice for data analytics, attribution modelling, marketing skills, and more. Here are some of the takeaways from the hoteliers:

1. Expansive storytelling: “Placing travel within the context of the wider world. You can do this in long-form or short-form. High-quality communications, high-quality storytelling was really a theme this year.”

2. Greater expectations: “Digital is maturing. Four, five years ago you could stand out with a cool execution, or a cool technique, that people had not seen before, even if your story was kind of flat. Now, all of the channels are getting more mature, all of the tools are getting more mature, and it’s harder to stand out that way, so you better have a good story to tell or else you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.”

3. The role of the hospitality marketing professional is constantly evolving. All agreed that the role is changing and that marketing professionals today need to know a lot more.  Not only do they need to learn about applying the new attribution models and using analytics tools, they also have to be more creative and be fast movers. One hotelier said “If you look back 20 years, there’s a lot of people who got stagnant and stuck in knowing what they know and not knowing what they didn’t, but today it’s different.

4. Another member noted that the lines between the disciplines increasingly are becoming blurred. “In order to do the job, you need to understand what’s happening in operations and revenue management,” the member said. “You need to understand how they’re putting out rates and how you can develop that into a marketing campaign or even just have it on your website in a way that will get bookings.”

5. A hotelier from an independent property struggles with doing everything on their own, including deciding where to spend on marketing.

“I struggle with the feeling that if we were to only look at attribution modelling, we would put all of our money into digital and take everything out of any other traditional marketing avenue,” the member said. “Because it’s untrackable essentially, so it’s a lot about trying to grapple with my own convictions on things and with how much of the budget we should spend in those different areas.”

Source: James Cook University, Australia

A recent digital marketing survey by eHotelier notes that 69.5% of hotels manage their digital marketing in-house which means as an industry we need to build up the right skills for hoteliers to manage digital marketing effectively. More learning and proper education is required for budding digital marketers to learn how to manage and improve digital marketing results, and how to work with other disciplines to achieve optimal returns.

“Currently we are hearing that the closest most hoteliers get to Digital Marketing training is attending “free” digital workshops run by vendors of digital technologies and marketing agencies. These sessions might boost knowledge in specific areas but don’t improve the overall skills of the marketing professionals who need to build their knowledge in creating strategy, executing against a strategy, analysing data, being innovative, creative and working across disciplines.” said Jackie Douglas, President, HSMAI Asia Pacific. A recent competencies illustration was developed by James Cook University to show the skills required to perform well in this field.

HSMAI and their wonderful team of volunteers (hotel digital marketers) are busily developing different forms of education to help hoteliers expand their skills and not only survive, but thrive, in this constantly changing environment.

Key highlights from the recent HSMAI India Leaders meeting compiled by LiMin Cheng, HSMAI Asia Pacific:

  • Hoteliers highly value their website direct booking platform above all other channels – OTA, Marketing consortiums and travel/tour agencies
  • Despite a strong emphasis on Tripadvisor reviews and other review sites to aid in developing marketing strategies, overwhelmingly, hoteliers still rely on direct customer feedback to implement their strategies.
  • 75% of hoteliers manage their cost of marketing vs revenue as an indicator of the effectiveness of digital marketing
  • 70.6% have a present digital marketing strategy, with 23% aiming to implement something in the next 12 months.
  • 69.5% manage their digital marketing in-house – which shows a greater emphasis to understand both digital marketing and the hospitality product. 35% of the them outsource this function through an agency.

Focus on Talent:

  • In terms of the focus on digital marketing talent, 90% believe that its valuable/more valuable to have a dedicated digital marketing personnel in order to drive effectiveness
  • 89% believe that more in-house training will be valuable/more valuable in helping drive effectiveness – it’ll be interesting to see if this in-house training is referring to ensuring there is greater awareness of digital marketing across different departments and disciplines within the hospitality organization or that the in-house training should focus on the marketing personnel only ?
  • 85% believe that they need to recruit a digital marketing professional – thus showing that the demand for this role and expertise is rising and becoming increasingly crucial in the hospitality marketing organization.
  • In general, in terms of managing digital marketing efforts, 58% still intend to manage this in-house, with 15.8% outsourcing it to head office.
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