Marketing your hotel or resort in a web 2.0 world – Presentation at HFTP annual convention

Marketing your hotel or resort in a web 2.0 world – Presentation at HFTP annual convention
Here’s my presentation on “Marketing Your Hotel or Resort in a Web 2.0 World” from the Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP) Annual Convention & Tradeshow, held at Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas.  With a 75 minute time slot and about 7.5 days of potential content, the attendees got an opportunity to sip from the fire hose of marketing strategy and web technology.

Web 2.0 Sites and TechnologiesCreative Commons License photo credit: pipeapple

An ever growing list of new Web 2.0 sites and technologies distract the Hotelier trying to focus on profitably filling rooms.

Due to the time constraints, there was not much opportunity to discuss the critical need for alignment between online and offline marketing tactics.  The full presentation is embedded below, but for those who are not flash-enabled (hey mobile browser developers, let’s follow Skyfire’s lead & get this done, shall we?) here are some of the highlights:

One key takeaway was straightforward – to be successful, marketing strategy must drive technology and channel decisions.  Hoteliers need to avoid getting caught in the slipstream of the rush to use the latest and hottest tools.  This does not mean new tools should not be considered or used; just that the marketing strategy and technology tool must work together to provide a specific guest benefit.

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Web 2.0 technologies provide the paradigm shift that drives a new social media based marketing process:

  1. Get found
  2. Get followed
  3. Get engaged

Of course, with every new process, there are pitfalls and social media is no exception:

  • Followers & Links do not Equal Engagement
  • Guest Engagement Formula is Integration of
        Marketing Strategy + Technology Deployment
  • Relationships are Based on Mutual Commitment
  • Trust is Earned
  • Divorces are Ugly

To reinforce social media’s demand for an outside-in, as opposed to a traditional inside-out business perspective, I looked to one of my favorite marketing articles – Tom Patty’s “The New 5 P’s of Marketing.”  Authored when he was President and National Account Director on the Nissan account for TBWA Chiat/Day, The 5 P’s, even though written in the late 1990’s, outlines the essential marketing elements required for social media success:

  • Paradox (creates opportunity)
  • Perspective (consumer relationship)
  • Paradigm (new processes)
  • Persuasion (effects change)
  • Passion (creates connection)

Most importantly, marketing strategies must be solidly grounded in business fundamentals:

  • It’s not an Objective if it Can’t be Measured
  • It’s not a Strategy if it’s Not Resourced

Finally, the Top 10 priorities for marketing a hotel or resort in a Web 2.0 world:

  1. Focus on Operations – Processes & Service Delivery System
  2. Define Key Points of Differentiation & Unique Selling Proposition
  3. Integrate Your Offline/Online Marketing Objectives & Strategies
  4. Strategy Dictates the Tool Set; The Tools do not Come First
  5. Ensure Quality Website Design, Navigation and Performance
  6. Use SEO & Link Building to Drive PageRank on Top Keywords
  7. Check for Consistent Content Across All Distribution Channels
  8. Look at Issues from the Guest’s Perspective
  9. Be Authentic
  10. Have Fun

For those who believe that nothing worth executing should take more than three bullet points, the following represents a simple shortcut to see if a hotel or resort property is indeed ready to get serious about social media:

  1. Prod­uct. Is it performing as designed? Is the ser­vice deliv­ery sys­tem func­tion­ing effi­ciently? This is essential.
  2. Brand Posi­tion­ing. Is your unique sell­ing propo­si­tion clearly defined and con­sis­tently exe­cuted? Does your audi­ence under­stand your brand’s per­son­al­ity & sen­si­bil­ity? This is also essential.
  3. Customer Engagement. Are you proac­tively inter­act­ing with your customers? This is highly desirable.

For most companies that put a lot of effort into the first two points, the value of cus­tomer engage­ment is under­stood and the third point becomes a no-??brainer.  My guess is that those companies that are not focused on point #3 may not be doing that great a job on points #1 or #2 either.

If the three points are well managed, then the foundation is in place to develop an effective social media plan.  As a good portion of the social media effort can be spent dealing with those three points, they should be addressed first to save time later…  The con­ver­sa­tion about your product and brand is already tak­ing place?—?the mar­ket is dictating your positioning and probably recommending what can be done to improve operationally — with the community eagerly awaiting your participation and input.

The presentation was created with Prezi – a great web-based zoomable presentation platform that enables the seamless inclusion of graphics, audio and video in a portable format that is presented using Flash.  It is an invaluable tool for non-linear, audience driven presentations.  An additional benefit is that it plays nicely when embedded in a Wordpress blog.  The navigation not only works well within its framed window, but hitting the “stretch” button zooms it to full screen mode.

Marketing Your Hotel or Resort in a Web 2.0 World

Again, my thanks to the folks at HFTP for hosting a great conference and providing me with an opportunity to provide my thoughts on integrating marketing strategy, Web 2.0 technology and social media.