Hotelintel.co hosted a PR Forum on the 16th of June 2016 on a topic that many believed was very timely for PR and Marketing communication professionals – ‘Digital Marketing in Hotels – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. Marcos Cadena, Vice President Digital, E-Commerce & Distribution of Minor Hotels was one of our panelists and after the event was kind enough to go into deeper into details on several of the topics that he spoke about during the panel discussion.
I believe that misconceptions come from the fact that Digital Marketing has evolved too quickly for everyone to catch up with – especially for independent hotels. The technological development and the need for tools and training have totally transformed the way we do things so as to be up to date you need to invest in knowhow, and a majority of organizations don’t realize that it is people that make the difference and not only systems. Most hotels have invested in tools but don’t have anybody that can use them correctly or see the relationship between them. Without those people, it is just marketing with digital tools.
Digital Marketing is relatively new for some hotels.
In my experience I have seen a big transformation in that way that ‘digital marketing’ is defined. It has become a very specialised area within organizations and today is taking a central place in all the commercial roles. So from this perspective I see digital as a pivotal area that is sharing multiple roles. It is a hybrid thing now. An independent department that shares very strong bonds with revenue, PR and sales etc.
To illustrate this let me give you some examples. PR is mainly driven by top online magazines and newspapers, bloggers, social and modern distribution. All these tools have a very strong connection with the SEO strategies as it is the linking strategies from these sources that will determine the position of keywords in Google. Because of this web of functions, we can’t be disconnected from one another.
Furthermore, CRM has become key role in e-commerce. It is a multi-channel profile management communication tool. In the past this role was reserved for marketing emails, but today it has taken a multichannel approach that includes chat, mobile, apps and operational aspects of the stay.
The key to successful digital marketing is having the right people with the right skills as today the entire digital marketing arena has been democratised. That means that good and cheap access has been given to every man and his dog. If in the past it was sufficient to have a good website today, now this is just one of the pillars needed for success. The key today is having round people and for larger structures, specialists that understand the relationship between technology (websites, booking engines conversion), CRM (databases), sales (PPC, digital display advertisements), and social and web PR(Social media sales, segmentation, SEO) as each element is connected to the other and should be seen as a whole.
Social media has become the fourth pillar of digital, ecommerce and distribution. Organizations who fail to see the importance of the role will lose revenue and positioning opportunities.
Within Minor, the role of social media is called SMO Manager (Social Media Optimisation manager), as it is not a PR role as is misunderstood in many organizations. It is a role that has a mix of technical and creative, but with a clear focus on tangible analytical results.
For Minor, we are proud to focus investments where we can see the results and measure them social media has shown a growth year on year of 100%. Additionally, social media has been a great tool to utilize segmentation and the language capabilities as most organization today still don’t understand how to use language segmentation and add two languages in the same post. Another mistake that they make is making a post too long, forgetting that people mainly read social media on mobile devices and half of the text they write never appears to the customer.
You need to focus on people with a mix of analytical skills and good writing skills, but pay particular attention to the analytical and technical skills side of it, as you can always get marketing to help with writing. It’s more difficult to teach those technical analytical skills to someone. This is key as measurement and the understanding of the results and A/B testing is what will drive the performance of your new department.
Marcos added on OTA’s that ‘I don’t believe at this point we can live without the OTA’s as they have become the search engines of the hotel industry, but I do believe we can strategize to maximize our own channels while keeping rate parity’.