Breaking Travel News

Breaking Travel News interview: Andy Mallinson, managing director, UK, Stackla

Breaking Travel News interview: Andy Mallinson, managing director, UK, Stackla Andy Mallinson, managing director, UK, Stackla, speaks exclusively to Breaking Travel News

Launched in 2012, Stackla allows brands to discover content from a host of social media platforms, using it to curate and tell a dynamic, ever-evolving story to their followers around the world.

The social media marketing platform grew from its home in Sydney, Australia, where product development is still based, to open new offices in San Francisco and now London.

A dedicated team of eight in the British capital is looking to grow by more than 50 per cent in 2015, as more brands become aware of the potential benefits on offer.

As Stackla UK managing director Andy Mallinson explains: “We grew out of a background in sports; a lot of teams were finding it hard to capture the support of their fans in the social media space – a problem Stackla sought to help them overcome.

“With our technology it is not just one social media channel being presented to the audience, its multiple channels.

“These are disparate, siloed, conversations. It is our aim to pull all of these into one place.”

Stackla in effect pulls together social media content, allowing organisations to curate and cherry pick the best of the information. 

The technology has tremendous potential for the hospitality industry - but it is a fast moving sector.

Mallinson explains: “People jumped into the social media arena knowing they ‘had to’.

“About three years ago a lot of brands were saying their websites were no longer necessary; there was a decision to move engagement to social media.

“More recently this has been reversed – it is now a matter of matching the power of social media to existing infrastructure.”

In part this has been driven by an understanding of the weaknesses of social media.

Mallinson continues: “Only a small number of social media messages are actually read by consumers, seen by perhaps two per cent of followers. Conversations with fans, customers or guests were therefore absent.”

Stackla argues consumers only ever see a window of content – a lot passes by unobserved.

An even smaller amount of people, 0.1 per cent of potential viewers, share or interact with this content.

Thus, brands that thought they were in control of their message realised this was not quite the case.

Stackla seeks to reverse this, putting social media content in a brand’s own environment, for example on websites, and attempting to create a story from it.

Commonwealth Games

Pointing to a recent partnership with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Mallinson reveals the system is quick to set up, but with the potential for almost unlimited tailoring.

He explains: “From our perspective it takes a matter of hours to establish.

“To get something live it very much depends on the client; we can be ready very quickly, but we work with them to ensure what goes live meets their specifications.

“Creatively there is a lot you can do with the platform.

“You can change the look and feel very quickly, but if you have coding skills, we open up that coding platform to allow customers to make the changes they desire.

“We are invested in relationship with the clients. If they are able to get the best out of the platform it is mutually beneficial.”

To achieve the vision of Commonwealth Games organisers, Stackla was used to aggregate official, competitor and fan content from multiple channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Flickr.

All up, over 150 terms and accounts were set up to pull in the social content.

Stackla’s curation platform was then used to automatically moderate and filter the posts according to the venue, sport or topic into over 50 different pages on the Glasgow 2014 website, mobile apps and stadium screens.

But is there not a danger too much curation can alienate the fans social media is designed to empower?

Mallinson counters: “We are not a TripAdvisor. Similar, but different.

“A lot of our clients have recognised visitors no longer simply want to see perfectly laid out hotel rooms.

“That still does have a role. But people also want to see real life content.

“A hotel, for example, can control what they want to see, but it will be real voices saying it.”

“The groups we are talking to have very recently, in the last six months, decided to move to earned media to owned media.”

Disaster Strikes

Indeed, this control can be beneficial in the event of a tragedy such as the recent Malaysian Airlines crashes.

A full moderation module within Stackla allows clients to control what is seen, changeable literally at the click of a mouse.

But more than that, Mallinson explains: “You can do is turn the situation around.

“The service can be used as a communication channel.

“For example, during a series of bush fire in New South Wales the local government activated an information page and released this through their social media channels.

“This sits alongside user generated content, from people on the scene.

“This gives a much fuller picture to people of what is happening.

“Organisations are able to have information prepared in advance.

“When events do occur it is possible to release a great deal of information very quickly.”

In the hospitality space this ability to disseminate a message, at a fraction of the cost of traditional media, can be a tremendous asset.

Mallinson continues: “If there is a positive message they have earned through their product, they should be able to use that.

“We are now starting to see brands not spend such large sums in the big television ads, and instead spend it on new media channels.

“The groups we are talking to have very recently, in the last six months, decided to move to earned media to owned media.”

Mallinson points to Travel Corporation as one organisation which has its house in order when it comes to the potential new technologies, putting social media at the heart of what they do.

“We work with Contiki Holidays, Trafalgar, Red Carnation Hotels and a handful of their other brands, and pretty much every one is moving in this direction.

“Right at the chief executive level there is an awareness of this; a fundamental change in how the organisations market themselves.

“For this to operate correctly there must be a seismic shift in how people are thinking.”

As the Millennial generation comes of age, and increases its spending power, these trends are going to become ever more important to the hospitality sector.

Mallinson explains: “This is a generational dividend.

“The channels people use to express their voices may change, but this generation will continue to use the voice they have found. That is not going to change for the foreseeable future.

“As more people realise what is useful they will take to it, so I can only see this sector growing.

“It takes time for things to come into the public consciousness, but once they do they grow.”

More Information

Stackla is a social content marketing platform, allowing brands to discover and curate content from the social web.

Find out more on their official website.