HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference will address the latest data, research, and new developments in marketers’ efforts — online and off — to connect with, track, and influence changing consumer sentiments throughout all phases of travel.
Daniel Levine, executive director at Avant Guide Institute, will present the general session, “Global Trends & Evolving Customers…and What They Mean for Hotel Marketing,” on June 28. Here, he tells HSMAI what attendees can expect to learn during his presentation as well as one key takeaway they can immediately implement at work.
HSMAI: What can conference attendees expect to learn during your general session?
Daniel Levine: We already know that hospitality marketing doesn’t operate in a bubble. Likewise, consumer trends aren’t siloed by industry: Trends reflect what people are thinking and feeling in their lives in general. Consumers look to products and services to fulfill those same needs and desires in all parts of their lives, including the cars they buy, the clothes they wear, and the travel decisions they make. My goal for this event is to show how you can embrace successful marketing techniques from outside the hospitality industry to attract the same customers within. I believe we can all blossom from industrial cross-pollination. Secondly, I hope to inspire attendees with new thinking about guests by looking into my crystal ball and showing what changes I’m seeing in our immediate future.
What is one trend that has surprised you most when it comes to the marketing landscape during pandemic recovery?
In the hospitality world, I am surprised that exorbitant mandatory extra fees are still a thing and that they are often still only revealed on the final booking page. This is the most consumer-unfriendly aspect of the booking process and marketers are usually not even consulted by the revenue managers who are implementing this. Corporate transparency and honesty have become huge trends in the marketing world in general, and this behavior is opaque and sneaky. When it comes to deciding if, how, and when to implement mandatory extra fees, hotel marketers should have a seat at this table.
What should hospitality marketers know about customers now that’s changed over the past two years?
That is the million-dollar question, and it gets to the heart of my presentation! What I will say here is two things: First, in all my years of tracking consumer trends, I have never seen such momentous cultural change as we are currently experiencing. This has lots of knock-on effects that are crucial for marketers to get their arms around, and there has never been a more important time to understand and benefit from them. Secondly, too many hoteliers who are doing well right now are not paying enough attention to the future. As the old farmers’ saying goes, the time to plan for dry years is during a plentiful harvest.
What is one key takeaway attendees will be able to immediately take to work after hearing your presentation?
Almost everything you do that attracts guests will probably work to attract and retain employees, too.
What are you looking forward to most about the Marketing Strategy Conference?
It might surprise people to learn that I prefer traveling for business more than leisure. For me, the biggest joy and benefit of travel in general is interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Travel is about enriching oneself. When I travel for leisure, most of the locals I meet are in the service industry (hotels, restaurants, etc.), which is fine, but not even close to as immersive and deepening as when I attend a conference like this, get to work with people, and help inspire them create something new and innovative. Meetings like this are the kind of travel I live for and I’m sure many attendees feel the same way, especially those who haven’t experienced much of this in the past couple of years. So please introduce yourself to me and say hello!