By Debbie Howarth, Ed.D., Professor, Johnson & Wales University College of Hospitality Management, and a member of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board
As part of a project to update HSMAI’s Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) study guide, HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board (MAB) recently discussed best practices for data analytics, attribution modeling, marketing skills, and more. Here are three takeaways from our conversation:
1. The role of hospitality marketing professional is constantly evolving. Many of the MAB members on our call offered different ways the role is changing, but all agreed that marketing professionals today need to know more and different things than marketers in the past. It is more than just learning and applying the new attribution or analytical tools. “Folks have to be scrappier than they used to be,” one MAB member said. “If you look back 20 years, there’s a lot of people who got stagnant and stuck in knowing what they know and not knowing what they didn’t, but today it’s different.”
Another member noted that the lines between the disciplines increasingly are becoming blurred. “In order to do the job, you need to understand what’s happening in operations and revenue management,” the member said. “You need to understand how they’re putting out rates and how you can develop that into a marketing campaign or even just have it on your website in a way that will get bookings.”
2. The scope of marketing analytics differs at the property vs. corporate level. An MAB member from a hotel management company sees more focus on marketing from a brand level, which can lead to conflicts at the property level in terms of where the money should go and who carries the cost. Meanwhile, an MAB member from an independent property struggles with doing everything on their own, including where to spend on marketing.
“I struggle with the feeling that if we were to only look at attribution modeling, we would put all of our money into digital and take everything out of any other traditional marketing avenue,” the member said. “Because it’s untrackable essentially, so it’s a lot of trying to grapple with my own convictions on things and with how much of the budget we should spend in those different areas.”
3. Different attribution models work better for different companies. One MAB member said how you calculate the numbers depends on what system you’re using for tracking. Another said it depends on the nature of the client and what their business goals are, which informs them how to make a marketing investment.
Another MAB member uses multiple attribution models and looks at the same data through several calculations. “We don’t believe that any attribution model is going to give you a precise number that you can take to the bank,” the member said. “We just think it’s a tool that helps us trend in and compare different campaigns to each other. So that’s why we kind of look at it from multiple lenses and have discussions about what each one means.”