“HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference is my favorite conference of the year! It’s not only a reunion of the best and brightest advancing digital marketing for hotels, but I also love the lightning rounds and jam-packed sessions,” said Stephanie Smith, CEO at Cogwheel Marketing & Analytics.

While it was impossible to attend all the sessions, here are some highlights:

How Customer Centric Are You, Really?

Think about any sleeping subscription that you might have, which is subscription you pay for, but likely haven’t used in quite some time. Most telecommunications companies have 3 options:

  • Let them continue to sleep
  • Warn them
  • Repay them

What option do most choose? Let them sleep.

So, the real question is: Are you willing to hurt yourself in short them for long term value?

It is easy to fall into the trap of “Who done it?” when something goes wrong. Or, sometimes to blame the customer. We need to realign our mindset to first fix the issue.

We also have to be careful that we give to much weight to the “bad customer”. Those are not who we should focus on or who should be getting our attention. If we allow, the 5% of bad customers rule the customer experience, where does that leave us? Don’t punish the 95%.

Presenter: Steven Van Belleghem

Leveraging Content Creators and Influencers

Tailor the offer to the needs of the influencer.

Be clear on the objective and what you want out of the partnership. For example, are you trying to target new demographic?

Make sure you understand the creator and review their past content for insight on their style and audience. Be sure to analyze their presence across all channels, not just Instagram or just TikTok. The “ask” to influencer: What type of content would you present?

If you want that influencer dedicated to your brand (i.e. and not stay at other brands), then brands need to pay for brand loyalty. With an ongoing influencer relationship, you will get more bang for buck for long term.

But they need more content than just a room, i.e. tie in local restaurants and things to do. Another good concept is working around recognizable long-term staff. Ask the creator if you want/need help with the itinerary.

When providing guidance to the influencer, let them know how do you measure success. Then allow the creator determine how to achieve that with that creative freedom. Metrics they look at:

  • Engagement, i.e. Likes and Comments
  • Saves
  • But do not expect direct revenue attribution.

How should you find influencers? Look at brands that have similar demographic and look at their organic following.

For more insight on influencers, check out the Cogwheel Marketing’s guide to influencers.

Presenter: Nima Vaez with Hopper

Lightning Rounds

Stephanie had the privilege of both introducing this section as well as being a past Lightning Round presenter to the tune of the Titanic. Nothing says be concise like condensing an entire presentation into under 7 minutes.

  • Michael Goldrich from Vivander Advisors on Generative AI. Generative AI will play a crucial role in the future of our industry. We’re at a point where current strategies need to adapt in anticipation of looming technological advancements. He spotlighted three primary areas to concentrate on immediately:
    • Boost direct bookings as traffic patterns will soon shift.
    • Ready your business for Generative AI by creating an internal/external generative AI blueprint.
    • Increase AI confidence through individual or team-wide upskilling workshops.
  • Holly Zoba from Hotel B School on Lessons from everyone’s favorite show “Ted Lasso”. See the full presentation from HSMAI.
    • Believe – More important than winning is helping your team become the best version of themselves.
    • Be a goldfish – who have an 11 second memory, so let it go.
    • Be curious, not judgmental – Ask questions to understand, not to make judgements.
    • It’s okay to be vulnerable – It is the only way to develop trust between team members.
    • Acknowledge and own your flaws – Appreciate others for pointing them out.
    • Reward good choices over skills.
  • Sarah Heatherly with Intermountain Hotels on Commercial Strategy. Creating a commercial strategy department is similar to creating the perfect sno-ball flavor. Finding the right mix comes together when your leaders let their strengths shine, communication is open and honest, and the needs of the company are being filled instead of positions.  

See you in 2024 for HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference in Charlotte!