Article by Darron Guy.

Over the last decade I have seen many hoteliers grapple with the complexities of digital marketing trying to ensure that the plethora of new channels are employed to enhance their brands and deliver the holy grail: healthy ROI.

As a digital practitioner, I am the first to exalt the value of having a clear digital strategy with realistic, measurable and relevant objectives. So why would I not recommend a Digital Marketing Manager to my clients?

Simply, a sole focus on digital at the expense of traditional marketing media ensures missing opportunities to engage with new and existing guests whilst standing apart in a crowded marketplace. It is important to have a Marketing Manager who can not only develop a hotel’s activation and retention strategies but also choose the right channels to maximize response and revenue opportunities, be they digital or traditional.  

By seamlessly employing a range of integrated channels with consistency of message and ‘look and feel’, campaigns will deliver maximum impact to targeted audiences, especially in the local market.

So how do we ensure we don’t miss out by ignoring traditional media?

A customer-focused strategy has to be developed driven by my favourite tool; the marketing database. Here all relevant transactional, contact, behavioral and descriptive data relating to a guest’s relationship with the hotel can be maintained and used to create groups of customers with similar profiles. Campaigns and promotions can be developed for guests based on factors including their level of previous spend, dining preferences, visit behavior, location, loyalty and potential value.

So how do we integrate traditional media into our campaigns?

Communicate with guests using the channels they prefer.

In local markets, a surprisingly high number of people still value a classy, informative, and personalized mailer for an invitation to an event or promotion. This invariably attains a higher response than an email with the same message as it evokes feelings of care and privilege from the hotel. It can be a better tool for branding, and is particularly effective with the more mature (and often wealthier) segments who can miss emails and don’t like to fiddle too much with all the new-fangled technologies!

Other often overlooked traditional media include radio, billboard, and print, which offer high exposure, often at competitive rates.

Develop campaigns using traditional and digital channels.

It is often successful to follow up mailers by telephone, giving the opportunity for further engagement whilst enhancing the brand and generally increasing attendance/redemption by 5-15%. By sending a combination of mailer, email, or SMS and measuring the response, the favored channel can be elicited for each customer, which can be verified through further communication and recorded on the marketing database.

Make an impact.

Often you will be alone in using traditional channels so make it count.

For a Thai automaker I used A3 postcards for a repurchase campaign and increased response by 250%! It can be effective to incorporate an offer unique to the channel, which is time-limited to drive action. You can also offer referral incentives to gain business and increase your customer base.

Test, test, test and track!

For any communication, try to employ a range of media and record the response to ascertain which is the most successful, and which will work well in combination.

For each channel used, offer a number of response channels such as telephone, SMS, print, website, email, so the customer can choose how to respond. It is important to have a unique voucher code to track which of the channels provoked the response, as in some cases one channel may provide the winning message but a different one is used by the recipient to respond.

Finally, ensure that all the data you have are collected on the marketing database so you can learn which customer groups respond to which promotions, through which media, and by which channel. Using this information in future allows relevant and timely communications to be delivered to the right audiences which increases response, eliminates wastage of resources, and maximizes ROI.

In summary, find a good Marketing Manager with broad skills and experience in both digital and traditional marketing with the ability to use both in seamless multi-channel campaigns to achieve your key objectives.

Darron has over twenty years of marketing and communications experience in Asia, creating and delivering sales, marketing and operations strategies for MNCs and start-ups in the hospitality, advertising, automotive, education, telecoms, consumer electronics and luxury sectors.

A specialist in hospitality he has worked with Banyan Tree, Laguna, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Novotel, ParkRoyal, Rest Detail, KC Resorts, X2 Hotels and numerous independent hotels in areas includingMarketing Strategy, Campaign Management, Social Media, Distribution, Loyalty/Membership and Customer Relationship Marketing. He graduated PG Dip Digital Marketing (Masters) , Bsc (Hons) Chemistry