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The Future Ski Resorts – Will they Survive?

Over the past decade and a half, regional ski resort visits throughout the U.S. have been largely stagnant or in decline. Per Snowsports Industries America 2015 Fact Sheet, nationwide visits peaked at 60.5 million in the 2007/08 season and dropped to an almost 15 year low of 52.8 million in the 2015/16 season. Why is this and what does the industry need to do to remain viable long-term?

Lack of Early Adoption

First and foremost, early adoption is key in determining whether or not a consumer will EVER get involved. In a 2014 Ski Essentials survey almost 32% of people started on the mountain between the ages of 2-5 and a whopping 82.5% began before the age of 18. Of those that started before the age of 18, 94.5% are still skiing.

Sadly, even high retention among those that get started early may not be enough to save snowsports long term. In the late 70’s there were roughly 735 resorts in the US. By the 2013 season, that number was down to 470, says Unofficial Alpine. That means the nearest ski hill is getting further and further away from the average family, making it even more of a hassle to get involved for those who are interested.

Skiing is a Lifelong Sport | By John Stocki

Skiing is a Lifelong Sport | By John Stocki
(source:, Mountain Rider’s Alliance, and Antelope Butte Foundation)

Exorbitant Costs

Above and beyond issues around interest and access, the increasing cost of participation has also put a damper on consumer behavior. In the 2013/14 season, the average weekend lift ticket price was $93.33 per Ski Essentials. Factor in equipment rentals and food and you’re talking about well over a $150 day…per person! Now you may be thinking, “yeah, but those are Colorado prices,” and you would be correct. But cutting the number in half for smaller local hills still makes a day trip for a family of four roughly $300. Numbers like these are a still a significant investment for many families and a tall barrier to entry for new consumers interested in giving the sport a try. To take it a step further, look at what it would cost to BUY all new equipment for a family of four, with having to replace equipment for growing kids around every two seasons, the total costs become even higher.

We Think Lift Tickets Are Overpriced, But Still Pay for Them | By John Stocki
(source:, Mountain Rider’s Alliance, and Antelope Butte Foundation)


First and foremost, ski resorts must work to build relationships with local schools if they want to help groom the next generation of lifetime skiers. Roughly 11% of those surveyed by Ski Essentials said they were introduced to skiing through a ski club. Beyond that, the average estimated ski club trip costs between $26-$40 unlike the typical family trips mentioned above. That means there are swaths of youngsters out there with the potential to get into skiing while young and at an affordable rate. I call that untapped potential.

Furthermore, those small and medium “beginner” resorts need to rethink the overall costs of a day of skiing. Discounted lift tickets are helpful, but the price of equipment rentals and food often make a seemingly affordable day anything but.

School Ski Clubs Are Being Under Utilized | By John Stocki

School Ski Clubs Are Being Under Utilized | By John Stocki
(source:, Mountain Rider’s Alliance, and Antelope Butte Foundation)

Second, everything possible must be done to keep small local ski hills open. They are key to ushering new skiers into the fold. So much so, that over 60% of skiers surveyed say they learned on local hills with less than 1600 feet of elevation. And once they’re involved, they tend to stay involved for life. Many of these ski hills are community funded and/or non-profits. If you’re passionate about snowsports, make sure you advocate for continued funding for these type of local ski hills and help with fundraising efforts to keep them alive.

Industry consolidation will play a key role here as well. If large players like Vail Resorts continue to purchase and invest in small properties (like they did recently with Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain) there may be hope for the little guy. Investments in diversifying entertainment options at these properties creates viability by bringing in much-needed non-skiing revenue. However, this type of consolidation can also lead to price increases, which could ultimately be detrimental to the industry as a whole, as research shows that cost of entry is a large barrier to new consumers.

Finally, the industry must embrace dynamic pricing as quickly as possible. This means taking everything from the weather to on-premise hotel inventory into account when setting prices vs. working with a dated static pricing structure. It means offering discounts for those who purchase lift tickets in advance, raising prices as the date approaches, and potentially cutting them drastically on days with low turnout or poor weather forecasts. While this sounds complicated, companies like Liftopia have been helping resorts implement this model for the past decade. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area told Bloomberg that it increased its advance sales by 15% the first season it implemented the model.

Only time will tell if the industry is going to respond appropriately. Will the major players in Colorado put today’s profits ahead of nurturing tomorrow’s customers?


Airbnb’s CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback:

Here’s What Hotels Can Learn About What Guests Want
By Alex Shashou, President & co-founder of ALICE

Alex Shashou
When Airbnb’s CEO asked his Twitter community for their Airbnb product wish list, what he got was a comprehensive look at what guests want from lodging today.

When Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked his Twitter followers for Airbnb product recommendations in the late hours of Christmas day, Chesky said he expected about 10 people to respond.

Instead, some 2,200 people offered their suggestions, with product recommendations still coming in.

Chesky spent the rest of the 25th, and then many hours on subsequent days, responding to input from users. The Airbnb CEO facilitated a wide-ranging conversation about short and longer-term product ideas for the company, and also fielded commentary about issues important to Airbnb’s future, like regulation and discrimination. User feedback has long been integral to Airbnb’s model. But this real-time user dialogue, initiated by the company’s CEO, and facilitated by Twitter is something new altogether.

Reading these exchanges between Chesky and Airbnb users is instructive for hoteliers on many fronts.

  • It is uncommon for CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies, in hospitality or otherwise, to solicit feedback from their users, let alone engage in such thoughtful, open and candid discussion. How can hotel management take a similarly direct approach to feedback, rather than rely on post-stay TripAdvisor commentary and largely ignored guest surveys that often feel like an afterthought?

As the editors of Hotel Management put it, “One has to wonder if a hotel CEO asked the same seemingly innocuous question, would it bring the same kind of deluge of response? Had, say, Hilton Worldwide CEO Chris Nassetta asked on Twitter: ‘If @HiltonWorldwide could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?’ would it be met with thousands of replies? Better yet, would he have answered them?” Perhaps, as the leader of public company, Hilton’s CEO might not be able to take to Twitter in the same way, but Chesky’s question is a crucial reminder of the value in seeking feedback from your users or guests. This is especially true now that Airbnb – what many see as the industry’s biggest threat – has set this precedent, showing users its openness to feedback and eagerness to improve its product.

  • Chesky’s exchange with his users offers foresight for hoteliers, in that the discussion pointed to the CEO’s vision for the company long-term – a future in which Airbnb graduates from being a platform for lodging to a platform for all things travel. How will this affect the hospitality industry (beyond just hotels) in the long term?

User suggestions for the company included financing options for homeowners, more service partnerships, tools for landlords and property managers, RV rentals, and disruption of the rental car industry.

Chesky and his followers also discussed “Flights” – Airbnb’s much anticipated move into booking air travel, which Skift reported on last month. Flights would potentially give Airbnb an advantage over hotels in packaging deals, helping to engender more loyalty.

But within lodging itself, the discussion also raised a number of trajectories for Airbnb that would circumvent some of the company’s recent regulatory hindrances, and, in so doing, threaten incumbents in more fundamental ways.

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou
Indeed, Airbnb has already started experimenting with first-party lodging. The company unveiled a communal housing project designed to revitalize a small town in Japan in August of last year. If successful, the company says it will scale this model to declining small towns across the world.

And we’ve speculated ourselves about what an actual Airbnb hotel might look like. The company’s platform approach to hospitality gives it several advantages should it decide to build or invest in its own hotels. Hosting its own long-term rentals specifically would circumvent many of the regulatory restrictions placed recently on the company, and reinvigorate its advance on traditional hotel demand.

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou

  • One particularly interesting aspect of the conversation was that a (possibly surprisingly) large subset of user recommendations had to do with ideas for Airbnb that are already hallmarks of hotels or innovations spearheaded by the hospitality industry more generally.

These ideas included, but were not limited to, loyalty programs (complete with credit cards), business travel rewards programs, provision of amenities to guests (from gyms to shower gel), better corporate travel functionality, a stocked fridge, on-demand meals (aka room service), a true luxury segment with full-service treatment, eco-responsibility, and accepting Bitcoin for payment. Many users expressed a desire for quality controls and the institution of quality standards, pertaining to everything from the cleanliness of rental spaces to the speed of the WiFi.

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou

  • But hotels shouldn’t get too comfortable. Chesky’s response to many of these product requests was either to directly or indirectly confirm that these popular features or characteristics of hotels would soon be coming to Airbnb.

Hotels might have taken a collective sigh of relief after what’s seemed like a worldwide crackdown on Airbnb in recent months, but if this conversation is any indication, they shouldn’t get too comfortable. As the tweets above illustrate, many of the things that have formerly set hotels apart from Airbnb might soon be features of the Airbnb product. It’s imperative hotels continue to innovate and ask their guests what else they can offer to set themselves apart.

  • To that end, it’s worth looking at the many user ideas for Airbnb that could improve the hotel offering as well.

Connecting Travelers
Users asked for ways to connect with like-minded travelers, Airbnbing in the same location. Many asked that this happen over food – either through shared cooking experiences, or by connecting with local chefs or foodies. As Chesky noted, food is the largest area of spend in travel after accommodations and flights. How can hotels capture some of this spend (especially since room service in the traditional sense is possibly being phased out) and connect their guests in so doing? (Other players in travel, like TripAdvisor acknowledge this growing trend, announcing this morning their integration with EatWith to power “social dining.”) And, dining aside, what else can hotels do to foster connections between like-minded guests?

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou
Group Travel
Similar to requests for ways to make connections between fellow travelers or with locals, many users asked for better functionality for group travel. Hotels often make it cheaper for two people to book together rather than separately, but how else can hotels reshape their offerings to appeal to guests who might be traveling in larger groups? Could hotels innovate by directly controlling group purchases and communication?

A “Smarter” Concierge and Virtual Travel Agents
Users also asked for more personalized local experience recommendations, based on user data, as well as app functionality that helped with arranging all aspects of travel, not just lodging. Frequent ALICE partners Hello Scout and Porter and Sail are growing players in the AI-driven concierge and travel planning space. How can hotels support their concierges with data-driven tools to improve guest recommendations? And can they expand their own (app or partnership) offerings to provide more comprehensive travel services to guests?

Local Experiences and Activities
In addition to more personalized experiences, users asked Chesky for more nuanced sets of local activity recommendations, like “parents in town,” or “Saturday morning in Madison” (similar to how Netflix built a competitive advantage by catering to the long tail of movie preferences). Users also asked to be able to rate these experiences. How can hotels start to curate their guest experience beyond the room and on-property amenities? How can they differentiate themselves by drawing on truly local experiences? As Skift writes in their prognostications for 2017, “Hotels need to stop thinking of bringing “local” into the hotel through artisanal hand soaps or ‘locally sourced, free-range bacon.’ … Hotels need to start thinking more about their local community, too.”

Smart Home Functionality
Airbnb users also clamored for smart home features that would centralize control for Airbnb while also providing a better customer experience. Skift has identified the “Smart Hotel” as a guest experience trend for 2017. All eyes are on the innovators in this space, like the Wynn Las Vegas, which recently equipped every room with its own Amazon Echo smart speaker device. While hotels are often saddled with legacy in-room systems, Airbnb might have an advantage here, since homeowners are more likely to upgrade their spaces with the latest Amazon, Google, or Apple product, which is naturally integrated with the web. The openness of consumer electronics allows for integrating systems easily, potentially easier than enterprise versions.

Dynamic Pricing
Airbnb already uses what it calls “smart pricing,” which modulates the price of rentals based on supply, demand, timing and other factors. One user suggested, however, Airbnb take these pricing manipulations even further by asking hosts for a minimum price and a “desired” price. Airbnb would then drop the price of the rental over time to guarantee a booking. Hotels have long employed pricing variations to capitalize on their fixed inventory, and have gotten more comfortable with steep last minute discounts, in partnership with companies like Hotel Tonight, but there’s more room here for innovation. ALICE friend Beewake, and a host of similar startups, offer hotels the opportunity to make money from extra daytime capacity. How else can hotels using pricing to their advantage?

Airbnb's CEO Took to Twitter to Ask His Users for Product Feedback: | By Alex Shashou
Content Marketing
Some users were critical of Airbnb’s approach to content marketing, encouraging the company to make more use of real, unscripted video and vlogging. Marriott has set a high bar for the industry with its marketing initiatives, which include experiments in virtual reality and 2015’s real-life, city-wide guest request simulation #AppYourService. What else can hotels do in marketing to set themselves apart?

In the couple of weeks following Chesky’s conversation with Airbnb users, many other tech CEOs have taken to Twitter to ask their own customers for product ideas. Among those are Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square (who asked his followers about both products), Jon Oringer, Shutterstock, Chris O’Neill, Evernote, and Brian Armstrong, Coinbase. It’s not surprising these are all companies actively disrupting incumbents in their respective spaces — being actively attuned to customer needs and market opportunities is how these companies have set themselves apart and built customer loyalty, gaining market share in the process.

Hospitality is an industry preoccupied with guest experience. But most hotels conceive of their loyalty programs as a way to lock-in guests, rather than endeavor to build real loyalty by listening to their customers. Brands that actively seek customer feedback have an incredible opportunity to gain market share. Brands focus on transactional loyalty instead of engagement may eventually lose their customers altogether.

What would happen if hotel CEOs also followed Chesky’s lead and asked their guests about what they want? Would hotels get an opportunity to learn about the next generation of customer needs and distance themselves from Airbnb by innovating, as the homeshare company is catching up? Would engaging in a genuine dialogue with their guests about what they want seed the future of a new breed of customer loyalty? It’s clear that if hotels don’t ask how to innovate, once Airbnb reaches parity with hotels, the company will surely be asking where to go next. And Airbnb will be bringing its customers — and hotels’ customers — with them.



How to Jumpstart Your Hotel’s Direct Bookings through Multichannel Campaigns

Multichannel campaigns are one of the most effective ways to boost direct bookings, build one-to-one relationships with current and future guests, and ultimately, encourage repeat guests throughout the customer lifecycle.

According to Google, the travel planning journey is influenced by over 19 different touchpoints. While we have big-picture insight and data points that reveal the extensiveness of the travel planning journey, the path to a booking and the micro-moments along the way vary and key customer segments need to be reached through multichannel marketing campaign efforts.

Why are multichannel campaigns so powerful? By effectively reaching potential guests in intent-rich micro-moments across channels and devices with one cohesive brand message, multichannel campaigns are a great strategy to shift distribution from the OTAs, drive ADR, increase length of stay, capture a new segment, and achieve returns as high as 2,500%.

If you are ready to get started and increase direct bookings, you can begin building your multichannel campaign by answering the 5 W’s of any great narrative and any successful multichannel campaign: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

Who: Use customer data, campaign insights, website analytics, and customer research to build a customer persona of your campaign’s target audience. It’s important to uncover both the emotional benefit and the functional benefit the target audience associates with your hotel brand and make sure this resonates in your marketing message.

What: Based on customer insights, craft the campaign message and brand narrative to reach the target segment with one cohesive message across channels and devices in key micro-moments.

When: Determine the best timing and campaign flight to effectively reach your target segment in the appropriate booking window.

Where: Map the path to purchase and determine the right marketing mix to reach the target segment throughout every touch point of the travel planning journey.

Why: Clearly determine the goals the campaign is trying to achieve in both performance metrics and positioning in the mind of the consumer.

Now that we’ve covered the basic infrastructure of multichannel campaigns, read on to learn the top 10 best practices to jumpstart direct bookings through multichannel campaigns.

1/ Ensure you have an adequate, flexible budget to launch multichannel campaigns.

Every year hotel marketers face a number of business needs such as seasonality and occupancy needs, revenue management needs such as increasing length of stay and driving ADR, as well as general business objectives such as increasing group business, targeting a new customer segment, and lessening the dependency on the OTAs.

In order to successfully accomplish these goals and answer key business needs, it is important to reserve 15-25% of the overall digital marketing budget for multichannel campaigns. This portion of the budget should remain dynamic and flexible as the year progresses.

Be sure to properly allocate your budget to each campaign, mapping out seasonality, business needs, top target segments, and any other big-picture business goals that a multichannel campaign can achieve. When allocating budget across campaigns, we recommend a budget of at least $10,000 dollars with a two month minimum flight to ensure success.

2/ Clearly establish business needs, campaign goals, and key performance indicators before you begin planning your multichannel campaign.

To build a successful multichannel campaign, you must establish an overarching business need your multichannel campaign is trying to solve, determine clear campaign goals you wish to accomplish, and set relevant key performance indicators to gauge success.

Really getting to the core of your hotel brand’s business needs when building a multichannel campaign will help you choose the most effective marketing initiatives and provide the blueprint for setting the right campaign goals and KPIs.

3/ Utilize your CRM data to build target customer personas tapping into the demographics, psychographics, and online behaviors of your target segment.

Capitalizing on CRM data to fuel your digital marketing campaigns is one of the best ways to ensure you are targeting the right audience and reaching your “best guest.” CRM data provides insight into your “past guests” and can help strategically shape and develop the profile of future guests you wish to reach with your campaign.

To build the target customer persona, pay close attention to top demographic trends, trends in online behavior and travel planning, as well as research psychographics and more in-depth online behaviors once you’ve established the general profile of your target segment.

The process of building customer personas helps hotel marketers tap into the passion-points, interests, and online behaviors of the target segment to further ensure the campaign message will resonate with the target audience.

4/ Map the path to purchase and key micro-moments to ensure you are reaching your target segment throughout the travel planning journey at the right place, the right time, and with the right initiative.

Understanding the target segment is just one piece of the multichannel campaign puzzle. Once you’ve established your target audience, you then need to map the path to purchase to ensure you are reaching potential guests with the right marketing initiatives throughout each touchpoint of the travel planning journey.

For instance, a mom planning travel for her family may start with a high-level Google search for “family beach destinations” before even deciding on a destination. To help aid her in deciding on a destination, she then may turn to social media and ask her peers for family beach destination recommendations.

On the other hand, a solo traveler planning business travel already knows their travel destination and the area within the city they will be meeting. Therefore, they may start their travel planning journey with a direct visit to a hotel website where they have loyalty points, or they may start with a destination specific search on Google that’s not only city specific but neighborhood specific such as “Hotel in Downtown Denver.”

This is just one quick example of how the travel planning journey can vary from segment to segment. In light of this, it is extremely important to go through the exercise of mapping the path to purchase for each segment. These travel planning touch points will help determine marketing initiatives such as mobile SEM, intent-driven Dynamic Rate Marketing across travel planning websites, TripAdvisor display, and more.

5/ Ensure you have the right marketing mix to effectively reach your audience and ensure high campaign return on investment.

To set your campaign up for success, it’s best to start with your revenue goals and work backward to determine the appropriate marketing mix.

Based on your number of rooms, ADR, and occupancy during the need period you wish to address, determine your revenue goal for the campaign. Once you determine your goal revenue, work backward to determine the minimum budget you would need to spend to achieve the desired revenue with an ROI goal of at least 600% – 1,200% ROAS. The smaller the budget you have to work with, the larger share of funds you will need to invest in high ROAS campaign initiatives to achieve your revenue goal, while minimizing your investment in lower-yielding initiatives such as social media or creative content distribution.

A general rule of thumb for a successful multichannel campaign marketing mix is 30-40% investment in core revenue drivers such as SEM, GDN, Email, etc., 20-30% in display and social media advertising initiatives, 10% in organic campaign content, and 20-30% in campaign creative.

6/ Plan a multichannel campaign that is cross-device ready.

A successful multichannel campaign doesn’t just reach key customer segments throughout the path to purchase, it reaches potential guests in key micro-moments seamlessly across devices.

According to Google, 90% of travel planners use multiple devices sequentially when booking a trip, making it extremely important for your multichannel campaign content to be cross-device ready.

For instance, the target segment of the mom planning travel doesn’t just start with a Google search for “top family beach destinations,” she may start that search on her mobile device while waiting with her children at the doctor’s office. So in this example, desktop SEM campaigns wouldn’t effectively reach our target mom. Our multichannel campaign would need to include Mobile SEM and GDN to effectively reach her at the first touchpoint of the travel planning journey.

Just this one small example reveals how extremely important it is to launch fully-responsive campaign creative and marketing initiatives that are tailored to the three screens to ensure success.

7/ Ensure your campaign utilizes a cohesive message across channels and devices that resonates with your customer segments and their passion-points.

If you reach the right customer with the wrong marketing message that doesn’t resonate, you are not only wasting potential guests’ time, you are wasting your hard-earned marketing dollars.

For a multichannel campaign to inspire a booking, it must tap into both the functional and emotional benefits the target segment associates with your property or brand, or the functional and emotional benefit they associate with the “ideal hotel” for their upcoming stay.

As Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and this really rings true in building effective multichannel campaigns. Once you determine the right campaign messaging, it’s extremely important to embrace Aristotle’s philosophy and ensure that your campaign message is cohesive across channels and devices to amplify the power of your marketing message, build traction, and effectively drive bookings.

8/ Utilize powerful and engaging technology that assists in lead generation, relationship building, and driving direct bookings.

Aside from the right message and marketing mix, planning a powerful multichannel campaign requires rich, engaging technology to convert potential guests once they reach the campaign landing page or application.  A highly successful multichannel campaign must have a destination mini-site or application that includes rich images, share functionalities, and dynamic content personalization that will interest and engage users enough to encourage repeat visits, increase time spent, and ultimately drive bookings.

An Interactive Limited-Time Offer Application is one example of such digital technology applications capable of maximizing revenue. Serving as the central hub for the campaign, this highly-visual, fully-responsive application features a prominently displayed countdown clock, booking functionality with embedded promo code, large, rich images of the hotel, social and viral sharing features, an Email sign up widget, and key information about the sale, benefits, and rules.

Example Limited-Time Offer Application:

Another great example of an engaging application is an Interactive Promotion Application with a robust automated backend and algorithm offering daily and grand prizes.  This application also features a prominently-displayed countdown clock, large, rich imagery of the hotel, social and viral sharing features, Email sign up widget, and engaging add-ons such as photo sharing.

Example Interactive Promotion Application:

9/ Utilize your CRM data to launch data-driven marketing initiatives that utilize the power of intent to reach your best guest on a more cost-effective budget.

To launch “smarter” multichannel campaigns, fuel your campaign with the balanced utilization of CRM data and intent data to increase incremental bookings and ensure you are reaching your “best guest” at the right place, at the right time, and on the right device during the travel planning process to your hotel’s destination. Not only does this allow you to reach the right potential guest who is most-likely to book your hotel on an extremely cost-efficient budget, it will also provide rich data and insight to replenish your CRM data and utilize for future campaigns.

10/ Ensure you have the right analytics to effectively track and optimize conversions.

Without proper tracking, the perfect strategy can fall flat as you try to navigate campaign success. It’s important to use state-of-the-art tracking applications such as Adobe Analytics, Adobe Media Optimizer, and DoubleClick’s DART for Advertisers (DFA), which are the industry’s standard solutions. With the right tracking capabilities, it will be easy to optimize campaign performance, measure KPIs, and adjust the marketing mix as needed to achieve desired goals and ROI.

It’s also important to remember that a successful campaign requires consistent, ongoing optimization based on the KPIs of your campaign. Campaign metrics such as share of voice, impression pacing, and engagement are important criteria to monitor and adjust in real-time to ensure success.

Lastly, A/B testing of campaign messaging and/or one isolated campaign variable such as colors and images is another great way to optimize throughout the campaign and ensure optimal results.



How to Use Reputation Management to Influence Hotel CapEx

Hotels have a lot of options when it comes to allocating capital expenditure, or CapEx, budgets each year and without proper data and research, it’s nearly impossible to choose the most impactful improvements that will maximize return on investment.

Hotels that take the time to analyze their existing data, i.e. guest reviews, have the the opportunity to choose the best projects. Here’s how you can use reputation management to allocate your hotel’s CapEx.

What is a capital expenditure?

A capital expenditure is either a newly purchased asset or an investment in a current capital expenditure that extends the life of the asset, according to Investopedia. For example, a new capital asset would be a new table and chairs, where as an improvement would be reupholstering or refinishing the table and chairs.

A capital expenditure has a specific meaning because of its tax implications. If something is categorized as CapEx, it is usually depreciated over a certain number of years. There is a difference between a CapEx and operating expenses. Operating expenses are necessary to continue running your business, where as CapEx has a broader impact. Therefore, eliminating the guesswork behind allocating hotel CapEx dollars is especially important.

How your hotel can identify where to spend your CapEx

Capital expenditures usually require research and planning due to the size of their budgets and project scales. Hotel CapEx must have a tangible impact on your property and are usually thought of as cash generating expenses. Thankfully, the research most hotels need is already available.

As a hotel owner or operator, you understand the usefulness of user-generated reviews. Usually when we discuss reputation management, we focus on the short-term aspects of the reviews, for example, the staff’s friendliness, the cleanliness of the room, etc. But, what we’re also able to track with reviews is how larger issues, that are often harder to change, affect a guest’s stay.

If you analyze your guests’ reviews over a longer period of time, you’re able to discover problems that will eventually require your attention. Maybe your rooms are starting to show their age or your pool deck could use a revamp. Every property’s projects vary based on type, size, and customer demographic. We suggest performing a sentiment analysis against your reviews on a regular basis. If that sounds difficult, don’t worry. There are already solutions that will do this for you. For example, with TrustYou’s advanced sentiment analysis, you’ll be able to identify what’s most important to your guests and where they’ll notice changes, in an instant. After you identify the aspects your guests do and don’t enjoy, you’ll be able to pinpoint what needs to be addressed.

Hotel CapEx projects end up impacting a property for years. Guests are usually upfront in their reviews about the status of everything from your rooms to the bathrooms to your lobby. Using reputation management software, you’ll be able to identify what your guests talk about the most.

Changing trends will also influence how your hotel should allocate your capital expenditures. Of course certain expenses, like guest room improvements, will always be important. But, the way guests use other areas of your property may change over time. For example, large, open lobbies and public areas are in high demand right now. Travelers want a place to mingle with other travelers or hang out with their friends. Technology has also become an important factor that many hotels may want to address. Tracking trends and aligning them with your current guest feedback will help you identify the most impactful projects.

There are hundreds of different options when it comes to updating your property. Use your reviews to identify what’s most important to your past, present, and future guests. Keeping an eye on your reviews will eliminate the guesswork involved in budgeting your hotel CapEx and help you build a hotel product you know guests will love.

Guest satisfaction can and should be the ultimate ROI on any improvement you make at your property, but it’s especially important when making long-term decisions.

Measure the results

After you identify and complete the investments to your property, continue to monitor guest satisfaction and listen to what they’re saying. If you make the correct decisions, your market will react positively and vice versa.

If people continue to complain about the same aspects of your property, then you may have allocated your budgets ineffectively. But, with a proactive approach using your guest satisfaction as the ultimate ROI, you can make sure that doesn’t happen.


The Impact of Advertising on British Online Travel Consumers

When travelers go online to research and book their next trip, what kind of influence does advertising have? When are shoppers most likely to notice — and better yet, remember — ads?

Our research conducted by comScore uncovers the digital shopping habits of travelers in the UK and gives us an insightful glimpse into how and when advertising is most effective.

More than half of British online travel shoppers are still deliberating where to go when they grab their phone, tablet or computer to start researching1. There are many factors that affect travelers’ decisions, and advertising is a key part of the mix. For three in 10, or 30%, of travelers who are undecided, advertising influences where they ultimately book2.

When we drill down farther and consider just how many ads travelers are exposed to during the path to purchase, it’s apparent that targeted travel advertising can be highly effective. In the UK, travel advertising accounts for just 2% of all display advertising.

But for British online travel bookers, 10% of ads are travel specific during the 45 days leading up to their purchase3.

In other words, travel bookers are five times more likely to see travel advertising than non-bookers. For travel marketers, this means that targeting is key.

As the research into British digital consumers shows, advertising does influence travelers. But that influence isn’t static. As consumers move along the purchase path, their receptiveness to advertising changes.

Week by week, digital travel shoppers see more travel ads as they get closer to booking. This includes all ads, not just those served directly on travel sites. But with increased ad exposure, recall weakens.

At the start of the purchase path, more than half of British travel bookers recall advertising. This recall drops to just 16% by the end of the path4.

For travel marketers, this means it’s essential to target advertising throughout the entire purchase journey, from inspiration to booking. Keep in mind that the opportunity to maintain share of voice is most powerful at the beginning of the booking path (when ad penetration is lowest and recall is highest).


Creative Hotel Marketing that Gets Your Guests to Listen Up

Bärbel Pfeiffer

14 November 2016

Want to stand out in a powerful way? Incorporate the vibrant and colorful stories of everyday hotel life into your marketing.

The fresh salmon for today’s VIP lunch is yet to arrive, the lady in suite 501 has an emotional meltdown and no-one is quite sure what it is all about; turns out you have an overbooking that effects one of your best repeat guests and the main AC in one of the banquet rooms stopped working.

What happens inside the walls of a hotel within one day, some people don’t experience in a lifetime. It’s part of what makes working in a hotel so attractive and special (and admittedly sometimes also pretty stressful).

And it provides you with a unique marketing advantage – a rich source for storytelling, right at your fingertips.

In the age of information overload and an evershrinking attention span (it’s now reached a stage where a human’s attention span is supposedly less than that of a goldfish), story telling still stops people in their tracks.

Think about it. You hear a great tale or anecdote and suddenly, you get pulled in. Your imagination starts to engage your feelings and emotions and you are literally living the experience. And if it’s a real good story, it’ll not only linger in your mind, but you’ll be eager to share it with others.

Stories matter, and experiencing dozens of them each day first hand provides you with a huge advantage. Most brands have to carefully craft their stories – a hotel generates some of the most unusual and creative ones on a daily basis – a goldmine for marketers!

The majority of hotels, for example, use their homepages to summarize information about their features and location. This provides your audience with a great first overview of what you have to offer, but is not a good differentiator. Your prospective guests have read those same sounding descriptions probably a hundred times before.

If you however slip into the personality of your hotel and share your information by packaging it in an intriguing way, you create an immediate and meaningful connection.

As British author Carol Birch sums it up nicely: “Storytelling strengthens the imagination. To imagine is to envision, to see with the inward eye. This ability to imagine is the basis of all creativity. Creativity is being able to see beyond what is readily apparent.”

What about your room inventory?

Have you ever thought about letting your hotel room do the talking? About it’s unique Text Spot On /Bärbel Pfeiffer features, it’s pros and cons and the kind of guests it has hosted? Give it a voice and personality, infuse humor, pride, quirk and let it amicably chat with the reader. It makes you unique and it makes you stand out, and it might even help you get rooms booked that are difficult to sell.

Storytelling works for all areas of your hotel. From meeting rooms to restaurants, to front of the house and behind the scenes – invite your audience to look at your offer and perceive it in a very different way, and go from being just another hotel to being a unique brand.


Luxury Hotel Digital Marketing: Checklist to Turning the Luxury Hotel Experience into Online Bookings

May 9, 2016

Global luxury travel remains the fastest-growing of all the tourism and travel sectors, with luxury hotel chains experiencing significant worldwide growth in 2015 (Travel Market Report, World Travel Monitor). The luxury hotel market is expected to reach \$195.27 billion by 2021 as upscale hotels emerge as a key hospitality focus in Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and other regions. Additionally, leisure travel is anticipated to be the category of largest growth for affluent and luxury consumers (Transparency Market Research).

Though the economy travel landscape continues to change, luxury hotels are as prosperous and popular as ever. In today’s always-connected and ever-competitive environment, where 55% of hotel bookings occur online (Google), it is crucial that luxury hotels maintain a strong digital presence.

The need for dynamic luxury hotel digital marketing in 2016 is more important than ever. Whereas in the past, hotels may have been able to rely on word of mouth and travel reviews to generate bookings and revenue, these antiquated marketing techniques are not effective in engaging the 21st Century traveler.

Affluent consumers often choose experience over items, and are looking to have new experiences when traveling (Skift). How can you convert the luxury traveler’s dream into a reality, at the lowest cost of sale per booking for your property? Here are ten tips for luxury hotel digital marketing to turn the hotel experience into bookings and ROI.

1. Curate an Online Experience Through a Multi-Channel Digital Marketing Approach

‘Content marketing’ isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the key to selling anticipated experiences.  Luxury hotels, typically with higher-than-market ADRs, need to ensure they tell a story that will entice consumers to spend more and book stays at their higher-end properties. Painting a picture with a story engages consumers, and the only surefire way to capture all potential consumers is to utilize a multi-channel approach to digital marketing.

The average travel consumer’s journey to hotel reservations takes about 17 days, and includes eight research sessions, 18 website visits, and six clicks before a booking is confirmed. Users go through 15.5 touch points just within the week before they actually make their hotel reservation (Google, eMarketer).

Your multi-channel approach must include the full digital toolkit including your core, proven revenue-generating marketing initiatives, like SEM, SEO, email marketing, display, retargeting, and Dynamic Rate Marketing, as well as seasonal or business need-focused campaigns.  A luxury hotel should choose a marketing message that speaks to its ideal audience, and broadcast it through all of these relevant channels.

A historic, luxury New York City hotel with over 700 guestrooms and suites exhibited this ongoing multi-channel approach in 2015. With a concise message touting the hotel’s ideal location, spectacular views from each guestroom, and spacious suites, as well as a robust digital marketing budget, the hotel increased bookings by over 16% YOY, generated a high ROI of 2,816%, and had a low COS of 3.55%. The hotel’s core message reached luxury travelers through every step of their travel planning journey, and they profited from an increase in direct bookings.

2. Maintain Exclusivity – Add Value, Don’t Discount

Though it may sometimes seem unavoidable when the market has no compression, a luxury hotel should not default to discounting the rates or ongoing flash sales. With so many tools and research at their disposal, affluent consumers are becoming less brand-loyal and are willing to spend more to get the best experience/product (Time Inc.). By discounting rates, luxury hotels are not getting their full potential or reaching their target traveler.

OTAs utilize “slash-through pricing” to showcase the ‘original’ price of a booking versus a new, discounted rate – but this can be misleading and devalues the luxury hotel’s overall consumer perception, reaching a less-affluent audience, and/or conditioning a consumer to always look for that lower price. Luxury hotels should maintain exclusivity by having strong value propositions for all of their special offers. Instead of discounting, entice prospective guests with value-adds like discounted suite upgrade, late check-out, free Wi-Fi, and dining credits.

A luxury hotel in downtown Denver has a section on their vanity site for ‘website exclusive’ offers that are only available by booking directly through the hotel’s website or reservations desk, as opposed to the OTAs. By booking the offer featured below, the Signature Inclusive, a user gets amenities like a daily dining credit, complimentary valet parking, free Wi-Fi and gym access, and access to the hotel’s town car for downtown travel.

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If a rate does need to be discounted for a last-minute and urgent need, utilizing terminology like “exclusive offer” and showing the rate through a special link only valid to website users and email subscribers is recommended. In marketing psychology this tactic is referred to as “anchoring” which is simply showing consumers the value of the overall product and experience.

3. Ensure Your Staff & Guests Understand the Importance of Booking Direct

When a hotel embraces a “direct is better” top-down strategy, the primary goal becomes generating as many bookings as possible via the direct online channel, the most profitable channel today. This helps limit OTA dependency, drives brand recognition, and ensures that you control the information about your website users and guests.

An important part of any luxury hotel experience is the personalized service guests receive on-property. By spending time on your website and booking direct, a new guest’s information becomes a part of the hotel’s small data. Information about the guest’s interests and hobbies, website browsing behavior, and booking preferences are collected, all of which can be used to help better the guest’s stay by allowing the hotel to add that personalized touch upon check-in. For a luxury hotel, this can be the difference between guests booking the basic suites, or those luxury, higher-ADR suites with add-ons.

Utilizing “book direct” messaging throughout the website can make a big difference, especially with the added emphasis the major brands have been giving to such messaging over the past few months. A luxury2 - luxury article loews North American hotel chain has “Book Direct & Save” messaging on the website booking widget, enticing users to book right from the website.


When a guest books through an OTA, the only information the hotel collects is the reservation details. Many times, even email addresses are not shared with the hotel, removing that one-to-one communication and future retargeting opportunities between the hotel and consumer. If a luxury hotel starts to see increased OTA dependency and/or commissions, the hotel should implement a strong win-back campaign on-property so guests appreciate the value of booking direct. The direct online channel presents limitless opportunities to the hotelier!

4. Personalize Content

The luxury travel consumer has higher spending power, and is expecting a personalized experience, not just upon arrival at your hotel, but while on the purchase journey as well. Many luxury hotels have dedicated concierges and attachés available on-property at a guest’s leisure, but what if your website could offer a similar experience online?

What if your website could display the most enticing special offer to a user based on his past browsing history on the site? What if your website could remember a user who booked in the past and is part of a loyalty program, addressing him by name? What if you could upsell amenities and ancillary revenue for the hotel by showing someone who is interested in dining the restaurant mini-site right away? All are possible through a Smart Personalization Engine.

Not only will having personalized content allow the luxury hotel’s website to stand out amongst competitors and OTAs, it will also allow for the travel planning journey to reflect that personalized on-property experience. Additionally, studies have shown that companies that personalize content report uplifts of over 40% in sales (Forrester).

A US hospitality corporation with over 125 multi-tiered hotels personalized website content in 2015. The booking engine widget was personalized to the website visitor so it remembered a user’s previous selection for dates. This eliminated any extra steps or clicks to get to the booking widget. Additionally, the hotel chain utilized visual, textual, and promotional content on the website to showcase different messages and value-adds to in-state vs. out-of-state visitors and repeat vs. new website visitors. Total conversions increased 50% from the launch of the content personalization, and the conversion rate for the targeted segments was 6%, double the conversion rate from just regular website visitors.

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Ongoing online reputation management is also important. Responding to social media posts and photos from guests, having a dedicated post-stay survey with feedback, encouraging reviews on social sharing platforms and responding to both positive and negative reviews, and utilizing paid social media advertising with deep targeting abilities allow the hotel to personalize a guest’s experience, before, during, and after a stay.

5. Invest in Digital Marketing Technology

Under-spending by independents in digital marketing and technology has been a problem in the hospitality industry for many years. This is especially problematic for luxury hotels, as the ADR is higher and the travel planning journey can take longer as the affluent traveler evaluates all options and potential experiences.

Here are a few ways that technology can play an integral role in the travel planning journey:

  • Utilize full-responsive or adaptive website design to optimize presence on the three screens: mobile, tablet, desktop.
    • Serve the correct content on the appropriate device to maximize user experience, relevancy, and conversions
    • For luxury hotels, with abundant content on services and amenities, scaling content appropriately for display on mobile devices will greatly improve the user experience
    • Ensure the design is modern, showcases high-res images, and follows design best practices, as this could be one of the final touchpoints a potential guest sees before booking their stay

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  • Utilize a website technology platform built specifically for hotels
    • A Website Technology Platform must be user-friendly and conversion-minded to allow merchandising opportunities at every step on the site
    • HeBS Digital’s proprietary smartCMS v7 technology, winner of a second consecutive Gold Stevie® Award in the Best Software Programming/Design Category in the American Business Awards, offers hoteliers complete control over their websites and direct online revenue streams
    • Technology additions like the Guest Portal, a mini-site that is custom-designed to show on-property guests key information like check-in/check-out time and events and is only served to users on-property, is a great way to upsell dining, spa, and other ancillary revenue stream amenities in an organic and seamless way
  • Engage with a Smart Personalization Engine
    • As mentioned, content personalization is so important in engaging your hotel website users and guests. Marketers agree that technology is making it more straightforward to personalize at scale, which is the key to higher response and engagement rates, as well as increased conversions and customer retention
    • Utilize a smart personalization engine, like the smartCMS v7, to serve custom content (textual, visual, promotional) to target audiences, and take it a step further by serving personalized pricing and promotions to individual visitors based on user profiles, business rules and real-time room availability

6. Engage with a Mobile-First Strategy

Mobile is an increasingly fundamental part of everyday life and travel planning, and the luxury hotel experience is no exception. Affluent travelers utilize all three devices (smartphone, tablet, and laptop) to research travel products/prices, spending anywhere from 3.5 to 8 hours on one or multiple devices each day (Skift). In fact, we are witnessing skyrocketing year-over-year growth in the mobile and tablet device categories, while desktop traffic, bookings and revenue continue to lose ground. Within HeBS Digital’s portfolio, revenue from mobile/tablet devices increased by 71% from 2014 to 2015, while desktop revenue decreased by 2%.

Luxury hotels must ensure their mobile websites follow best practices in mobile functionality/user-experience and design. For example, all phone numbers should be click-to-call directly to the reservations desk or concierge, there should be mobile-optimized booking widgets and booking engine links, and the site should be visual and concise, showcasing the most important information first.

Mobile marketing opportunities are also becoming more prevalent. Luxury hotels can take advantage of mobile-specific SEM ad copy and targeting, mobile GDN text ads/HTML5 banners with mobile bid-modifiers and targeting, mobile landing page optimization, dynamic rate promotion tiles featuring tonight’s rate, and responsive emailers to engage with mobile users.

A boutique luxury hotel in NYC has a mobile-only “last-minute” special offer that is promoted through a multi-channel approach. This has been successful since research shows that the majority of mobile reservations for hotels are made for the same or following night. The hotel offers 15% off BAR, a complimentary room upgrade upon arrival (based on availability), free breakfast the next day and late checkout. This also helps combat last-minute hotel availability apps like HotelTonight and

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The affluent luxury traveler is looking for personalized, one-on-one service, and mobile devices present an effective channel for delivering custom content. Read our 2016 Action Plan to Maximize Revenue from the Mobile Channel for more recommendations.                                  

7. Showcase Rich Photography & Video

The word “luxury” is used so frequently to describe products and amenities that a truly luxury hotel could get lost amongst the competition and crowded online space. Having beautiful, high-resolution images will help the hotel stand out from the competition. And because experiences are so important for luxury leisure travelers, high-end properties can convey the experience of their luxury hotel through rich hotel and destination photography instead of cookie-cutter stock photos.

Psychology studies show that sharing high-value experiences helps users display their status, so expect guests to utilize social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest during their stays. Consider deploying a dedicated hashtag and pulling all guest photos through a feed on the website.

Videos are also very engaging and have been an important medium for hoteliers to reach website users. According to Think with Google, as time in front of the TV declined last year, 18-to-49-year-olds’ time on YouTube grew by 44%. Facebook now sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time (TechCrunch). Luxury hotels should invest in brief videos that exude the brand tonality of the hotel, showcase the high-end products and key amenities, and have strong openings to drive engagement.

A luxury boutique hotel in New Hampshire has a video on the homepage of the website which showcases a walkthrough of the unique property and its different rooms and suites. The video walks a user through the on-property experience and utilizes soft music to match the hotel’s personality.



8. “Make New Friends, But Keep The Old”

As the age-old saying goes, a luxury hotel must achieve a balance between acquiring new guests and maintaining its loyal database.

Attracting new users to a website is important because it adds more potential consumers to the purchase conversion funnel. Here are some ways a luxury hotel can generate this brand awareness and target the desired audience:

  • Engage in “interest category” or “contextual select” targeting on the Google Display Network
  • Have a healthy Search Engine Marketing non-brand keyword budget
  • Run brand awareness marketing initiatives like YouTube TrueView advertising or Gmail Ads
  • Utilize in-depth targeting strategies on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram
  • Launch a highly-targeted affluent user display campaign through a travel ad network

Maintaining a database of loyal and repeat guests is also important. Loyalists, hotel guests that come back time and time again, are reliable. Here are some ways a luxury hotel can ensure it maintains healthy relationships with past guests:

  • Engage past guests with ongoing email marketing, keeping them abreast of hotel news and special offers
  • Utilize a strong eCRM tool that automates emailers to past guests
  • Run retargeting campaigns through the Google Display Network and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads
  • Collect “small data” from the user’s website browsing habits and past purchase history, and ensure this is stored on the PMS for the front desk team

Balancing the strategy for reaching new guests and maintaining loyal guests will also allow for the convergence of the two. Luxury hotels should convert first-time website visitors and guests to loyal, repeat visitors. This can be accomplished by:

  • Creating and promoting a loyalty or perks program for direct bookers
  • Implementing content personalization to welcome back repeat guests and loyalty program members by name
  • Encouraging post-stay feedback and social media reviews upon hotel check-out and through the post-stay eCRM templates

9. Reach The Business Traveler

Though leisure is the fastest-growing segment of luxury travel, it’s important to consider the business traveler as an ideal target. A business traveler typically has high spending power, is looking for the comforts of home while traveling, and travels frequently depending on the job/client.

There are several ways in which to target a business traveler:

  • Utilize a Dynamic Rate Marketing campaign with a Travel Ad Network like Sojern and target business-class or first-class weekday travelers
  • Promote amenities important to business travelers, like free Wi-Fi, through a robust merchandising toolkit on the website
  • Target users by ‘job title’ and company on LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Include SEO-optimized website content targeting business travelers, supported by rich imagery and videos

A luxury New York City hotel devotes an entire section of its website dedicated to Business Travel (as well as separate Meetings, Events, and Weddings site sections), which includes content tailored to the business traveler, higher-ADR suites with more relevant amenities, an extended stay request form, and information about groups looking to plan their next New York City stay.

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Business travelers, typically booking higher-ADR suites with a longer-than-average LOS, should become a key part of everyday strategy.

10. Partner with a Luxury Hotel Digital Marketing Expert

Any hotel with a high revenue-generating website and a strong digital marketing strategy that drives direct online bookings usually has a great hotel digital marketing agency behind it. With lower cost-of-sale and overall greater value to the hotel’s strategy, direct bookings will continue to be a huge focus for years to come. Digital marketing and technology advancements continue to change rapidly and luxury hotels would benefit greatly from partnership with a firm that has proven to be forward-thinking, results-driven, and experienced in the luxury hotel space.

With the strong growth in the luxury hotel market, it’s important now more than ever to have a strong, robust digital marketing and advanced technology strategy to drive bookings from your website. Don’t underestimate the value of the luxury travel consumer. Get started today, and contact HeBS Digital, your luxury hotel digital marketing and technology partner.

About HeBS DigitalFounded in 2001, HeBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically increase direct bookings and lower overall distribution costs by deploying industry best-of-breed digital technology, consulting and marketing (

The firm has won more than 400 prestigious industry awards for its digital technology, website design and marketing services, including numerous Adrian Awards, Stevie Award in the American Business Awards, W3 Awards, WebAwards, Magellan Awards, Summit International Awards, Interactive Media Awards, and IAC Awards.

A diverse client portfolio of top-tier major luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants and bars, DMO and CVBs are all benefiting from HeBS Digital’s direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise. Contact HeBS Digital’s consultants at (212) 752-8186 or


World’s Quickest and Shortest PR Lesson!

I have given you my 25 Golden Rules for Pitch Perfect PR, for whatever they may be worth, in the past, but here follows the quickest, shortest, five-point PR lesson to get you working like a Pro and making moves that only successful professionals do.

Considerably, these skills will hold good not just for people from Public Relations but for anybody who sees himself as a good Brand Ambassador of his or her Organization.

So here follow my Top-Five for an effective PR Expert


You need to be a good writer, good with graphics and creatives for all your Marcomm needs, a good event organizer, tech savvy and with a bit of finance and business acumen in order to understand the bottom line well and add your spin to it.

Move with the times. The new age way of doing things is quite different from how it used to be done. In the times of Social Media, Web 2.0 and technology-on-tap, evolve yourself and rethink your strategies to get the best results.


When writing press releases and backgrounders ensure that your pitch has a high news value for both the target audience and the vehicle you want to see it carried in. Otherwise you just end up wasting paper and the journalists’ time, who then would subject your release to the waste basket treatment.


Since you are the face of your organization that interfaces with a wide range of publics – from Heads of State to the celebrity clientele to the media – you need to have well-honed social skills, be charming in your demeanour and engaging in your conversations.

At the same time, since you are also the dogsbody that carries out the nitty-gritty of the PR functions, you need to be always on the ball to keep the PR machinery well-oiled and running, seemingly, effortlessly.

Being like the duck that seems calm on the surface but paddles madly underneath, is then a virtue.


You must have a thorough understanding of the various operations of your business. Definitely what keeps Sales & Marketing, Food & Beverage, Catering, HR ticking but you must also be in cahoots with the Security Chief, Engineering Head, Housekeeping people, the interior, art or flower expert, the Purchasing Manager – in order to keep all your ten fingers on the various pulses and be well equipped to develop interesting, multifarious story angles aimed at a plethora of publications.

You are in the spotlight 24X7 now with news being consumed via the new platforms of Twitter, YouTube et al. You are easily searchable. Consumers can get their hands on even your archived bits of information with just a click. Therefore be more diligent, news-worthy, meaningful and relevant.

Do make sure that along with the right keywords you use for good search engine optimization, your information capsules also carry significant value for your consumers and are crafted such that they bring top of the mind recall.


Since you work in an international industry and are also driven to market your specific destination, being international in your approach at the same time being a great cultural ambassador is a major plus.

And here’s what gets you handsome returns – promise and deliver value to your customer, be true to your consumer even amidst all the verbiage and messages, stand head and shoulders above the clutter with your outstanding communication, engage the customer in your messaging with several points of interest, always respond and be prompt in your reply and finally build a healthy relationship based on trust, mutual liking and respect.


Integration is key to a cohesive marketing strategy

The mobile era is here and there is no questioning its power. Consumers are permanently attached to their devices and suddenly a high-powered computer  is right at their fingertips at all times. Reports show the majority of consumers now own smart phones and they use them to do product research. They even keep their phones right beside them even when they are sleeping! Marketers can either get on this bandwagon or get left behind in the dust as technology continues to forge new paths ahead.

But, this doesn’t mean that mobile marketing should be the sole consideration of your brand. A healthy strategy will include various marketing initiatives, including mobile, and integrate them fully. You need a seamless approach that will delight your customer while getting the results you want.

Avoid a vacuum

Your mobile marketing strategy won’t fare well if it isn’t working hand-in-hand with other content, platforms and campaigns. Look at your entire content and inbound marketing calendar in order to discover how your communications are going to be working together to achieve conversions and foster relationships. Make sure you are listening to your target audience and delivering the kind of information they want on the channels where they are most likely to be.

Listen to your audience

Social listening can really help you better understand what your customers and leads are talking about when it comes to your brand, products or industry. Listen to how people are engaging on a specific channel in order to build up your other channels. Then, you can even use web personalization to detect which users are on mobile and direct them to sign up for your bulk text messaging campaigns. Target users with push notifications to encourage purchase decisions, email reading and more. Use your social listening to inform and drive your content, focusing on various pain points, questions, needs and interests of your audience.

Increase your frequency (But focus on quality)

You need to post regularly across every channel. However, your drive for increased posting should not supersede your quality in content production. Your users will not be excited if you pummel them with mediocre content. Make sure you are not spamming your audience by only publishing the best content you can create. A content calendar that helps you plan out content far in advance will be an important step in creating thoughtful content that appeals to your audience. Even your shorter content pieces, like automated mass messages for your text messaging software, should be thought through to avoid errors, improve clarity and unnecessary wordiness.

Maintain momentum

You are going to want to control your contact with your users, so work on getting your users to sign up for email newsletters or text message alerts. Once you have a solid list of qualified leads, you will want to establish marketing automation to keep your users engaged on a regular basis.

If you want to improve your marketing strategy, then you need to find ways to include mobile elements in your strategies. Most consumers are using multiple devices and will expect continuous, personalized marketing experiences that are going to require you to coordinate and plan your efforts.

About the author

Sophorn Chhay is the marketing guy at Trumpia, the most complete SMS software with mass sms messaging, smart targeting and automation. Jumpstart your business by grabbing your free copy of hisMobile Marketing Success Kit. Watch Trumpia’s 5-Minute Demo on how to execute an effective mobile marketing strategy.


A case study in soft brand conversion – The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton

The number of properties converting to soft brands such as Marriott Autograph, Hilton Curio, BW Premier, Loews’ OE and the like demonstrate a significant upswing in traction for this hybrid hotel category. Seemingly, a fine balance between the hotel having its own unique identity and gaining in operational expertise, loyalty programs and web booking advantages has wide appeal with both owners and the larger financial community that provides the necessary capital.

In Philadelphia, with a new Four Seasons Hotel in the making, the brand’s venerable Logan Square property represented an ideal opportunity for a newly independent hotel to make its mark on the City of Brotherly Love. The resultant property makeover, managed by Sage Hospitality, is now part of the Hilton Curio group. The senior team saw this rebranding as a chance to develop a truly independent, destination property that builds upon James Logan’s historical significance to the city as well as to the nation. As well, these sought to make the hotel more accessible to locals, as highlighted by an engagement program called ‘Living The Logan’ where monthly events feature resident art exhibits from nearby university students.

All told, this rebrand is a daunting task that took six months to complete from mid-June to December 2015. While visiting recently, I met with Sandy Heydt, Director of Sales & Marketing to discuss this transition and the strategy for the hotel moving forward.

Why was Hilton Curio chosen as a soft brand?

By its definition, the Curio brand is a collection of unique hotels, each with its own history and character in cities across the globe. We embody exactly that – our property has a wealth of history in the city, and our design has countless historical elements worthy of exploration. Our namesake, James Logan’s character and lifestyle, can be found around every corner, with nods to Philadelphia’s history in manufacturing, fashion and textiles. Our curated local art collection is quickly become a destination in its own right, leaving guests captivated by the impressive works created especially for our property and wholly inspired by Philadelphia.

What was the total CAPEX investment in the refurbishment of the property?

While we can’t disclose the exact amount, it was significant to say the least. All public space was taken down to frame, guest rooms were updated, corridors renovated, spa and fitness center tripled in size, lower level renovation, outdoor spaces enhanced, and the library and rooftop lounge were added.

What do you see as the advantages of having a Curio brand vs a stand-alone independent?

We have the benefits of being soft branded which allows us to remain independent while still offering benefits to travelers in the Hilton network who would like to use their points for a more unique experience. We have access to the vast Hilton distribution system and marketing programs and can opt in at our own discretion.

What unique positioning elements are part of the property that you see as differentiators?

There are many unique position elements and selling points that are part of The Logan that we see as key differentiating factors from our competition.

  1. Connection and easy access to an events venue/conference center. The Logan is located at the foot of Philadelphia’s mecca of museums, art and historical landmarks. From The Logan, visitors have easy access to major highways, and are walking distance to Center City shopping and the restaurant district.
  2. Rooftop bar/lounge. The Logan’s Assembly Rooftop Bar & Lounge is a major signature item for us as no other hotel in Philadelphia has a rooftop bar with such views. Assembly is located nine floors above the city and is a chic ultra-modern space with its unhindered panoramic view of Logan Square to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  3. In-house art program. The Logan has collaborated with a bevy of Philadelphia based artists, who collectively work together (as well as artists who work independently) to promote and support the local art community. There are over 1,800 pieces of art in The Logan collection displayed throughout the hotel. Most notably, the Philadelphia Elite Silhouette chandelier created by over 300 images celebrating famous Philadelphians across history, the Crew statue honoring Boathouse Row and Philadelphia’s Crew history, and Hombre De Hierro or ‘The Logan Man’ which honors the men and women who shaped Philadelphia’s industrial history through innovation and craftsmanship.
  4. Unique design. The concept for the brand of the hotel is driven by the idea that the hotel embodies the independent character of Philadelphia, blending classic and historic elements with modern influences, as sophisticated and stylish as Philadelphia itself.
  5. Outdoor spaces. The Logan has lush outdoor living spaces with multiple exits from the hotel. Expansive terraces have comfortable furnishings that encourage you to step outside and get a different perspective on the city.

If an owner was planning to launch a property, does a soft brand make sense, and why?

Absolutely. The soft brand gives you access to millions of potential loyal brand customers while allowing the property to maintain its independence. It is the best of both worlds. An owner can literally save dollars in marketing and sales costs making the decision to partner with a soft brand. I have worked in both scenarios. It is very expensive to launch a new hotel with a new name and new brand, as a total independent. Such an endeavor also takes much longer as well.

Anything else that you might add?

As the former Four Seasons Hotel, we knew we were renovating and reopening an iconic property that locals and out-of-towners alike already had much affection for. The reviews from our customers and locals have been overwhelmingly positive. I believe it is because we tell the story of Philadelphia around every corner and we have created a very unique contemporary hotel with an energized vibe that is warmly inclusive to all. We have been rewarded by gaining the reputation as being one of Philadelphia’s social hubs.