Marketing in a Zero-Click World

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference — giving six marketing executives just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At the 2020 Marketing Strategy Conference on Jan 22, Tammie Carlisle, head of hospitality at Milestone Inc., focused on making sure your hotel website appears in search results in a Lightning Round presentation called “Marketing in a Zero-Click World.”

KEY TAKEAWAY: As Google is becoming more advanced, around half of all searches result in zero-clicks — in which the search engine finds and displays the answer without linking to a website. Hotels want Google to display the answer from their site, as opposed to OTAs’ sites, even if it doesn’t result in any clicks. Carlisle recommended providing detailed answers to common questions on your website and focusing on voice search results. “Structure data in a way to make it easier for the search engines to read,” Carlisle said.

The Convergence of Sales With Marketing, Revenue Optimization, Distribution, and Operations: Part 1 — Collaboration

Everyone has a story about working with others. Holly Zoba, CHDM, principal at Influencer Sales, shared one of her most memorable experiences collaborating with other disciplines in the hospitality industry with attendees at HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum 2019.

Back in the 1990s, when she was running sales and marketing for 15 Washington D.C. area hotels, Zoba worked with AOL to write up tourist information about Washington to put online. In return, AOL created a system that allowed Zoba’s team to chat live with customers who had questions about the city. Zoba’s team brought in $400,000 in additional revenue by recommending their own hotels to tourists. “It was a huge lesson to me, how partnering with other people can be really, really profitable,” Zoba said, “and I happily never forgot that.”

Save the Date: 2020 HSMAI Sales Leader Forum and Awards Dinner: October 27-28, Westin Stonebriar, Frisco, TX

 

Data & Analytics for Sales Leaders: Tips for Success

At HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum on Nov. 5–6, Dr. Kelly McGuire, principal with McRevenue LLC, presented a breakout session on “Data and Analytics for Sales Leaders.” Here is the third of four key takeaways:

In order to get into the groove of data-driven, fact-based decisions, McGuire recommends asking for proof in order to have stronger, more accurate data. “Get it built into your culture,” she said.

Second, all data is filthy. Data cleanliness initiatives take a long time, McGuire said, but you can’t wait until the data is perfect or you’ll be waiting forever. Third, get used to using visualizations beyond spreadsheets to more clearly illustrate data, especially when sharing with others.

Data & Analytics for Sales Leaders: Data Scientists

At HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum on Nov. 5–6, Dr. Kelly McGuire, principal with McRevenue LLC, presented a breakout session on “Data and Analytics for Sales Leaders.” Here is the first of four key takeaways:

  1. What are data scientists? Data scientists have three interlocking skill sets, McGuire said. They fully understand advanced algorithms and statistics knowledge, have coding and hacking skills, and have business expertise to translate business problems into math and produce useful results. “This is an extremely valuable yet incredibly unique skill set,” she said.

However, McGuire continued, not every problem needs a data scientist. There are other analysts out there who can help wrangle your data without having to wait to hire a data scientist or pay a data scientist’s salary.

Research in Action: Total Hotel Revenue Management

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

At HSMAI’s ROC 2019 event in June, six college and university faculty members from hotel schools across the U.S. and Canada presented research in areas related to revenue optimization in the hospitality industry. During one of the presentations, Dr. Gabor Forgacs, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, discussed his research “Total Hotel Revenue Management,” which focuses on current practices and future trends of total revenue optimization in hotels.

Working with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s Alice Zheng, Forgacs conducted in-depth interviews with a dozen industry leaders, academics, and revenue professionals, questioning them on their knowledge of total hotel revenue management and its use at properties. The research found that there is a growing awareness and strategic direction to embracing total hotel revenue management and gradual progression at the property level. However, the research also found that there are identifiable impediments to implementing it, including:

1. A lack of revenue personnel with experience and qualifications. According to a summary of Forgacs and Zheng’s research, most interviewees were concerned about whether will be sufficient revenue professionals to practice total revenue management in the future.

2. Technology challenges. The most pressing issue with regard to technology is the management of multiple revenue streams — particularly the seamless interfacing of data between systems.

3. Departmental conflicts. Departmental silos impede the alignment of objectives and incentives as well as a clear reporting structure for who has the final say in rate, inventory allocation, etc. According to the summary of the research, interviewees agreed that while the final decision maker on pricing and group sales should be the revenue manager, director of revenue, or general manager and that the revenue manager should have more authority than a sales manager, there are still hotels where the revenue management department reports to the sales and marketing department in the chain of command.

4. Organizational culture and employee education. Forgacs said that a lack revenue culture and a need for training to operationalize corporate strategic goals are two areas in which hotels can improve to achieve success with total hotel revenue optimization.

What’s Different About Revenue Management in Franchised Hotels?

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s ROC event — giving six revenue optimization leaders just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At ROC 2019, Sharon Paine, vice president of revenue management for IHG, used her Lightning Round to ask and answer the question “What’s Different About Revenue Management in Franchised Hotels?”

KEY TAKEAWAY: One of the biggest challenges in working with franchises, according to Paine, is the many differences between individual hotels, from upscale to midsize, cities to small towns and suburbs. Because some properties rely on transient guests and last-minute bookings more than others, it can be difficult to forecast, which makes it even more important to get pricing right every single day. That means that revenue optimization professionals have to be resourceful, resilient and flexible. They also need great communication skills, and must be able to build good relationships with their different hotels. And finally, Paine said, they must deliver measurable and sustainable results that the owner can see in order to justify the cost of their job.

The Biggest Threat to Digital Marketing and Distribution This Year

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s ROC event — giving six revenue optimization leaders just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At ROC 2019, Tim Peter, president of Tim Peter & Associates, used his Lightning Round session to warn attendees about “The Biggest Threat to Digital Marketing and Distribution This Year” — which is that low-cost revenue is going away, changing the way guests find hotels, making it harder to drive organic traffic, and making it more important than ever to focus on strong content.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Having content that will answer guests’ questions and draw them in is a necessity. Beyond that, Peters said, guests need a great customer experience that will encourage them to share that experience with others, particularly on social media. The thread connecting these things is data, which hotels can use to tell a targeted story to guests. While metrics such as dwell time and post engagement are new to the industry, if hospitality professionals stick to making their content, customer experience, and data points strong, they will be able to bring in new guests. “Content will always be king,” Peters said. “Customer experience is queen, … and data is the crown jewels.”

 

Revenue Management — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s ROC event — giving six revenue optimization executives just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At ROC 2019, Paul Murray, vice president of the hospitality practice for Revenue Analytics, covered the good, the bad, and the ugly of revenue management in a Lightning Round session called … well, take a guess.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Murray said that while the industry has seen a decade of growth, it’s now going to be an uphill battle as supply is outpacing demand for the first time in those 10 years — which, on the positive side, will lead to a renewed reliance on revenue management. Owners and investors have recently been putting their money into technology that focuses on automation and efficiency, but Murray predicts the next investment focus will be on revenue management. And finally, consolidation and mergers have led to deeper loyalty power, but produced an environment in which the technology is overly homogeneous, creating a need for tailored and integrated solutions. Murray concluded: “We need to build strategies for long-term success in our industry.”

Get Their Hands Out of Your Cookie Jar!

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s ROC event — giving six revenue optimization executives just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At ROC 2019, Roy Madhok, CRME, CHIA, vice president of revenue management for Real Hospitality Group, focused on getting “cookies” — i.e., extra fees — in a Lightning Round presentation called “Get Their Hands Out of Your Cookie Jar!”

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to Madhok, hotels don’t charge enough fees, partially due to their fear of low guest satisfaction. Airlines, on the other hand, raise billions of dollars in fees every year. Madhok recommended charging fees for cancellations, no-shows, and early departures, and suggested recording each fee on a separate line to keep it straight. “Remember,” he joked, “a cookie a day keeps the monster [the director of revenue] away.”

Don’t Let Fear Control You — Takeaways From ROC Keynoter Judi Holler

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Speaker and improviser Judi Holler encourages people to get outside of their comfort zone in order to be more successful in their careers. She offered a variety of tips for doing that during a keynote presentation at HSMAI’s ROC 2019 event — as you’ll see in these videos as well as our roundup below:

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. None of us have a script, so we just have to keep moving forward. We miss opportunities when we stay in our comfort zone, which leads to regrets both personally and professionally. “If you ever want anything to happen, if you ever want to change your life,” Holler said, “you’ve got to get scared, and you’ve got to get uncomfortable.”
  2. Be the boss of your own fear. Fear is what is responsible for robbing you of opportunities. Focus on managing your fear instead of being fearless. “We’re focused on being fearless, but what we should do is chase the goal of fearing fear less,” Holler said. “That is what makes you brave.”
  3. We can’t let mistakes stop us. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but to accomplish anything, you have to. “Scary things don’t get less scary, but you will get stronger,” Holler said. “If you want to become memorable, you’ve got to have the guts to be memorable. It’s not someone’s job to remember you, it’s your job to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you.”
  4. Get uncomfortable every day, on purpose. Start small, by conducting daily fear experiments. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone, like asking questions or speaking up, and build up to doing bigger things. “When you can manage your fear, you will become more innovative, outgoing, joyful, and healthier,” Holler said. “You’ll take more risks, make things happen, and realize that your voice matters.”