HSMAI recently had the opportunity to discuss digital marketing and hotels with Mark Snyder, keynote speaker for HSMAI's Digital Marketing Strategy Conference.
Among the insights provided by Snyder:
HSMAI: How would you characterize the state of digital marketing by hotels and travel companies today?
Snyder: With few exceptions, most hotels and travel brands start every relationship in the digital space with a monetary transaction, and then fail to build a deeper engagement with the customer beyond that. As evidenced in other market categories, a significant opportunity exists for the hospitality segment to embrace the fusion of content and commerce to create meaningful customer loyalty. There also appears to be a lack of integration in overall marketing efforts, meaning the digital strategy is viewed as something separate from the marketing strategy.
HSMAI: What are some of the keys to creating engagement with today's travelers?
Snyder: One congruency I have found between traditional marketing and the digital space, is that the most effective content allows the customer to be able to find themselves in the message, and the experience of the brand or product. You could certainly take the point of view that most digital content for the travel category today is based on the "needs, features, benefits" approach to engagement. That's a pretty rationale approach for a very emotional category. Co-creation for example is a huge trend in social content development in retail, and has proven to be an effective way to engage customers, and incite advocacy. The digital era will reward those organizations that realize they don't create value all by themselves. That's a seismic mind shift for the hospitality category.
HSMAI: You talk about the new "connection economy" – what do you mean by that?
Snyder: If the industrial era was about building things, the digital era is about connecting things, people and ideas. Simply put, we feel better buying experiences that are endorsed or recommended by our social community and friends, be they well known or acquaintance based relationships. That's a shift from the past where businesses were the only ones that could market to "you". Today---it's "you" marketing that business to "me", me marketing another brand I use in my world to you. So—our "connections" have the influence to drive our purchase behavior, and shape our views about brands and services, and drive the ultimate outcomes of any business.
HSMAI:What can marketing professionals expect to take away from your session on "The Changing Face of the Digital Marketplace" at the HSMAI's Digital Marketing Strategy Conference?
Snyder: Attendees will learn how to understand and sort the number of digital options they have available to market their hotel, brand or travel product into an effective strategy, understand the power of co-creation, create value for their connections while allowing their connections to create value for them, build social capital, and move beyond a pure transaction play to drive purchase intent, retention and loyalty.
Mark is a transformational senior marketing executive and strategist, with deep experience leading global enterprises, applying more than 20 years of experience to exceptional brand and product development, matrixed team performance, and profitable revenue growth in the hospitality and travel categories. His resume includes: Chief Marketing Officer, Kmart; Senior Vice President, Global Brand Management, Holiday Inn Hotels; and Senior Vice President, Brand Management, Embassy Suites Hotels.
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