Entries tagged with “marketing”.


This Quora question here finally provided me an outlet to sum up all my tired cliches. The best in this business are constantly innovating, but here’s why the overall industry is a conservative bunch of bores. This may clue all you tech and app people in to why we are so hard to reach, and even if you do find access to the innovator or connected “in the know” guy at any hospitality company, the difference between “getting it” and implementation is day and night… especially from a corporate HQ to property level.  Getting acceptance at corporate is easy.  Getting the idea distributed and implemented is a different story.

So, why don’t hotels innovate more?

Historically, we’re not a money business, and we’re certainly not a tech business. The famous saying is “Hotels aren’t pioneers, because pioneers were shot in the back with arrows.” We couldn’t afford to make capital cost mistakes with new fangled design, tech, etc. If you have ever let an architect make a daring and new “tech” design decision, and then during your opening week have to rip an entire HVAC system from a brand new hotel because it doesn’t work, you learn VERY QUICKLY not to take risks on innovating something if there is a potential failure rate. Within the last couple years, radiant flooring had been this issue – architects and owners designing from residential preference versus the complexity of commercial application. It’s a problem, and it makes hotelier like me seem boring. But the simple fact is this:

Do you want to innovate and potentially fail spectacularly, or do you want to be boring and conservative and have an operating hotel?

It’s not always *our* money to take those risks with, either… and a good ownership or management group will protect the assets. When we tried to pioneer infrastructural solutions ranging from phones or internet, we got burned by trusting salesman whose interest is to sell, and not worried about back end support. So we lost a lot of money trying to pioneer systems like that. Sales people will always sell products that their operational department can’t support – like marketing writing checks that ops can’t cash.

What we quickly learned is that we can have a hospital or dormitory spend their own capital (and public vs private) funds, learning from their errors…

Then we steal the way they built out infrastructure at infinitely lower costs because you don’t have the learning curve or associated costs with capital spending failures.

This is true of phones, which I talk about here:
The Story of the In-Room Phone, & the future of on property telephony

and even reaches something seemingly prosaic and simple, like in room coffee, which I talk about here: A coffee laden ramble about… hotel coffee. What does your coffee program, or lack of it, say about your hotel brand?

You will note the similar “pioneer” themes – and that we become conservative in the face of multi-layered complexities in regards to execution.

Basically, hotels aren’t a money business. They are about hospitality, and part of being hospitable means having things that work properly. Early adopters suffer everything from outages to glitches, and more – and it isn’t in the best interest of a hotel to spend liberal amounts of capital on things with high rates of failure. This is why you can easily see a trend of about 10 years behind the times for everything…. not just phones or wireless infrastructure, but even with websites and SEO, as well.

The sea change moment for hospitality might have been SEO – many hotels got so burned by their own unawareness that they vowed never to be left in the dust again. I still know some hotels that can’t be found in their market. That’s why the savvier of hospitality groups are *VERY* on top of social media, and most operators look at it as a phone, instead of the billboard. Marketing is trying to lead us astray, but in the end it will become an operator’s real time brand management and guest expectation / service tool.

Anyways, that basically sums it up:

Hotels aren’t innovators simply because we aren’t innovative. We rather be boring and actually work, than innovative and broken.

Why don’t we innovate? Because that, historically, hasn’t been our job, and we can’t afford to.

UGH – the word “engagement”, indeed, will make me rant. Pardon me. A TNooz article quotes Facebook Travel,  “a team lead for the travel vertical in Facebook said that the travel industry is lagging behind other industries in maximizing the power of the social networking site for marketing messages”. That’s disappointing they think that. But maybe it’s not me, it’s you….

 

Enjoy exploring this page, yourselves: https://www.facebook.com/deals/checkin/business/

 

See this is the disconnect with Facebook, and real business. Real business needs to make sense of real dollars, and don’t really get “engagement”. You can’t just say things and hope they mean something when your infrastructure is broken. I have drunk the social kool-aid 100%. Review sites have upended traditional marketing models, and how operations steers the ship. It’s more revolutionary than the printing press, in many ways. We have a networked superconsciousness now, and we all have almost ESP like access to each other’s information.

But for Facebook to talk about “engagement” as a currency, when it just, truly, does not exist on Facebook (yet?), is dense. It’s a bad move for them – I have talked about all their bad moves, ad naseoum, and am beginning to wrap it up. I imagine I am not the only industry person who will have this point of view. If you don’t, then explain why Facebook chastises our industry, where marketing features like Check-Ins that they claim they are “committed to” offer zero help, broken videos, and links to dead guides (especially funny as the “how to do facebook check-ins” guide links to a pitch black page, a literal black hole, if you will.<br/>
fb wrong

UPDATE: It now leads to a “This page doesn’t exist” link.

For Facebook, I think it’s too late. That spontaneous press conference to announce social graph search (unavailable but to .01% of users, and slow to roll out, taking years?) seemed a bit spontaneous in lieu of losing 1.4 million users in the US and 600,000 in the UK, last December alone.

It seems to be a desperate way to keep people’s attention.

But we all know how silent that world of Facebook has been recently. Updates, changes, settings confusion, privacy confusion, purges. That’s lost some people, for others – there’s only so much you can know about people you know. We all know how frustrated we are with the site. The unstable, complex architecture –  it’s exhausting to keep up with, for those that haven’t already given up.

“Engagement” hasn’t meant anything there, and now it’s just storytelling with pictures.  Building brand, slowly, with little cost, *is* valuable, but we shouldn’t overvalue it. Definitely not on this website. The fact is, it’s a closed system, so it may end up irrelevant. Twitter, alone, is concierge services, storytelling, a telephone, service recovery, a Q&A platform, and more. It’s far more useful. Google Plus is heading in that direction too, with the marketing capabilities of hangouts, it’s amazing.

However we end up measuring “engagement”, there’s almost none of it on Facebook for most smaller travel brands. If you crunch the numbers of likes and comments on most major brands, it’s approximately .00005% engagement of their “liked” fan base.

A huge issue, and a metric I am waiting for from Facebook, is how many people have liked your page, and subsequently hidden your page. I think that is really important. How much of our audience is even really there? How many hotels overposted or were too self absorbed early on in their Facebook page career, and were hidden by most of their “liked” users? (I wasn’t – I treated posting like an email database, and wanted to make sure not to overuse).

That surely should be known, though, as Facebook keeps talking about “engagement” as transaction. Engagement isn’t the same on Facebook, all the while it happens everywhere else: Tripadvisor, Yelp, Travel Forums, Twitter, Google+. Hotels are engaged ***everywhere***. It’s not that our industry isn’t doing it right, on Facebook. It’s …. just….. that …… it’s …… Facebook.

Recently, I saw a hospitality marketer post something that I found completely objectionable. It stood for just about everything wrong with the current state of marketing within our travel world. In deference to opinions, I am not going to link the piece, but it was a sloppily handled commentary of “how to market your hotel during a natural disaster”. It talked about pulling back on SEM, or doubling social media (inherently self interested)…. but it never once mentioned operations, nor did it mention anything about helping the community, being available with supplies, or help, or offering shelter, showers, and warmth to people in desperate need. It was obviously something internal that should never have been posted by the marketer.

 

 

You don’t market your hotel during a natural disaster. You *operate* your hotel during a natural disaster. If you don’t get the difference, this is indicative of the disconnect of today’s hospitality marketers. We have an ethical obligation to our community and responsibility to be deeply rooted, and responsible  to the place that creates our success.

MARKETING DOES NOT CREATE SUCCESS.  Operations creates success- Employees create success, our community, our neighborhoods, our cities – they all create success.  If you think marketing is responsible for that, I will be a gentleman enough to hold the door open for you on your way out.  Marketing simply highlights what operations does. Period.  Don’t lie to yourself anymore. (more…)

Something exciting (finally) at Hi-Tec via @Tnooz

My thoughts about big data in hospitality:

First, I read this tweet yesterday, after having titled this “Big Data”, and it gave me pause:

“As a technology descriptor, Big Data is about as caveman as it gets — so broad and ambigous that it is better grunted than spoken.”

This is true. But “Big Data” will still be used, and it’s a commentary on the stage we are it…. labeling things something ambiguous because we haven’t even begun to understand it. Yet vendors rush to monetize it, for a number of industries that don’t yet have the capacity to truly understand it.  I question whether those who peddle big data are truly understanding of it, themselves.  What’s more, I would love to ask each individual consumer data group that uses data to monetize end users one simple question: “Do you have a corporate standard of ethics in regards to how you leverage or extapolate datas?” (click for more) (more…)

This is a really big question. I would love to see the industry really delve into this.  The transition from real world to online has been very fast, and a lot of the “infrastructure” is so much e-duct tape, putty, and last minute jury rigs – all of which should have meant to be temporary so that we can rebuild our online world of distribution based off tried and true methods, as they evolve.  I know our industry is never that pro-active, but maybe we have an opportunity to start learning from where we are losing the most money, and patch those leaks.
(more…)