What does digital marketing mean for hospitality professionals in 2019? Attendees at HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference in New York City on Jan. 23 will get some answers from a general-session panel called “Executive Perspective: A View From the Top.” Moderated by Natalie Osborn, director of marketing for SAS Institute, the panel will feature four industry experts: Jessica Davidson, CHDM, vice president of digital content and creative for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts; Jeff Doane, senior vice president of sales and marketing – North and Central America for AccorHotels; Flo Lugli, chief commercial officer – Americas for Radisson; and Tammy Lucas, vice president of marketing for Best Western Hotels & Resorts.
We asked Osborn for a preview of the panel’s discussion.
What will these hospitality marketing executives be talking about?
Forrester is predicting that 2019 is the year that marketing gets sexy again. We hear a lot about revenue management — I’d say they’ve had all the sexy coverage the last few years — but we as marketers are very excited that we’re coming into our own. We’re going to be talking about some of the areas in hospitality marketing where we think innovation is a bit overdue — where our panel members have plans for innovation, how they sell that to their organizations, how they get people onboard with taking an innovative concept to execution. We’re also going to talk about their technology stacks and how they support those goals of innovation —talking about voice and AI, data analytics, and thinking about the capabilities they want.
What makes this such an interesting time for hospitality marketing?
It’s always interesting when we go into a phase of commoditization, and recently there’s been this explosion of brands and flags. Honestly, I’m not even sure how consumers keep it straight. What I think is interesting about this time is the emphasis on building brand again. I think we’ve lost that a little bit in our desire to expand and grow and introduce new products. We’ve lost the reason why a customer or consumer would have a relationship with us.
Returning to that, thinking more about that emotional connection, building out that relationship — that’s what I’m expecting we’ll get into with the panel. How do we build those relationships? How do we personalize them, but without making them extremely creepy and uncomfortable for people? It’s really getting back to more traditional hospitality, I think.
Why this particular mix of panelists?
We have Jessica Davidson, who’s a VP of digital content and creative, so I think that type of digital-expression element is really important to the panel. Jeff Doane is an SVP of sales and marketing — so, relationship building in a one-to-one environment through sales and then one-to-many through marketing. Flo Lugli really brings the C-suite perspective to this conversation. And then lastly, we have Tammy Lucas, who’s a VP of marketing, so she kind of spans everything. She brings a really interesting perspective as well just because she’s in more of a traditional marketing role, not so heavy on the digital or on the sales side.
What do you want the audience to take away from this session?
I would love it if they walk out energized about the direction hospitality marketing is taking. This is primarily marketing professionals in the room. I hope they’re inspired by some of the thoughts that are shared and the direction that the companies that we have on the stage are taking, and I hope that they also come away with more-personal thoughts about how they might mold their career toward a certain direction or another. We will talk a little bit about growth and leadership — things like, what would you have done differently in your career and where might that have led to? What things would you have changed? They’re obviously reaching the pinnacles of their careers, but for someone who’s mid-career and is trying to decide a direction, what would you tell them? I think it’ll be interesting.