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Mark Natale

Consistent and strategic branding can lead to a strong brand equity, which can add great value and credibility for hotels. Despite the challenges that have unfolded due to COVID-19, now is not the time to put off building a remarkable brand. In fact, it's quite the opposite. You should now be doubling down on your commitment to your brand. In this piece, Mark Natale, the chief executive officer of the award-winning integrated brand development agency Smarthinking Inc., shares some of the risks of not incorporating proper branding, as well as the initial steps each company should take to successfully develop their brand strategy. READ MORE

Laurence Bernstein

Hospitality may well be the industry most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it is also possibly the industry that has done the most to mitigate the effects and been the most innovative in developing programs and protocols to serve the needs of their customer, retain whatever revenue is possible and keep everybody safe while doing it. As an industry, we can all feel proud of how our colleagues have responded. But, it's not clear that in their haste to introduce mitigating programs, hotels thought through what will happen when this thing is over. READ MORE

Philia Tounta

A tourism crisis occurs when circumstances in a destination pose a change which is potentially destructive to the destination and to its tourism industry. Destinations can exploit the window of opportunities linking destination branding to their crisis management strategies. Branding is an essential tool for positioning the destination, and in order to be effective, a need to re-study the destination marketing strategy is crucial. For the firm execution of place branding is essential to examine and map culture, customs, characteristics and every feature required that can benefit place image. Preferably, a place branding project intends to build an overall perceived image, apart from priorities in mission when it comes to targeting tourism, investments, etc. READ MORE

Ford Blakely

COVID-19 has impacted every area of business operations, but few have been as affected as communication. Experiencing spikes in incoming requests from anxious customers, even hotels that have had to close their doors temporarily have had to make dramatic changes to their communication strategies. Everything about guest communication has changed overnight. From the conversations brands are having with guests to the resources facilitating these conversations, and most notably the very impact that real-time communications, or the lack thereof, has on an organization's success. It's fair to say that real-time communication has gone from a competitive advantage to a survival strategy. READ MORE

Brenda Fields

In navigating an unprecedented and epochal global crisis, each country, city, county, and province has had its own unique challenges and afflictions as well as experiencing common hardships with other countries and nations. Approaches varied. Some worked. Some didn't. But with them all, there was a steep learning curve that, at this writing, has not even come close to plateauing. In observing what was effective, it became apparent that leadership was the core component in how a country or a nation fared. This article will address some lessons learned about leadership at the onset of this global crisis. READ MORE

Amber Natale

In today's noisy world, brands are on a constant quest for more attention. To accomplish this, we often hear people discuss trends and how to best utilize them. One reason to follow a trend may be because you're trying to fit in. However, do you have to necessarily follow suit? In this piece, Amber Natale of the integrated brand development agency Smarthinking Inc. takes a closer look at four questions you should ask yourself to build brands that will stand the test of time and minimize the inherent risk that following trends brings with them. READ MORE

Marc Heyneker

Data has become hospitality's most valuable resource, allowing hoteliers to personalize each and every guest touchpoint, from which upsell offers to present before the stay, to which amenity to feature in a loyalty offer. For data to be actionable, though, hoteliers need a way to bring together disparate sources of data to create a single guest profile. A Guest Data Platform is hospitality's answer, making personalized marketing possible for every hotel and group. Marc Heyneker, Co-Founder and CEO of Revinate gives a heads-up on where we stand with hotel data at this time and advice on how to use it to your advantage. READ MORE

Bonnie Knutson

Change happens in the boiler room of our emotions…so find out how to light their fires. This little quotation probably should be embossed on the wall of every marketing or sales office of every hotel worldwide. Said another way, people buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. And it is getting more so by the minute because the consumer decision-making process has become more emotional. Therefore, so must your hotel's marketing become more emotional since that emotive connection between your hotel and your guest is what will differentiate the property from its competitors. In this article, you will read about the "fab five" of emotional marketing. READ MORE

Fernando Rivera

In the hospitality industry, the cookie-cutter approach just won't cut it anymore. With a new decade dawning, more and more travelers are looking for hotels that are immersed in local culture. They're on the hunt for a place the reflects local touches and offers local insight. They're avoiding the tourist traps in favor of truly local experiences, whether it's signature cuisine or attractions that shed light on a place. Today's traveler is searching for authenticity. Fernando Rivera, General Manager at the soon-to-be-opened Kimpton Palomar South Beach, has developed an array of strategies to help hotels tap into local culture. READ MORE

Jeff Hart

Jeff Hart, General Manager of the Los Angeles Airport Marriott explores the evolution of hotel club lounges and the everyday ways in which they can elevate their spaces and offerings. Hart discusses tactical tips and strategies that hotels can take to stand out and provide a unique experience for guests. From concierge access to exceptional views, and stellar food and beverage, hotels are finding that guests are willing to pay a premium to have access to a heightened hotel lounge experience, and Hart dives into simple touches and more modern renovations that show the unique ways in which they can level up their spaces, offerings and approach. READ MORE

Mark Natale

It is so much more impactful when the whole symphony plays together vs. one instrument. That's why, integrated brand development agency Smarthinking Inc. believes that it is most effective when a company's branding aligns with the experience found within the establishment, giving consumers a full experience. Mark Natale, Smarthinking Inc.'s chief executive officer, says that to be successful, you must take the time to define your brand terms. In his authored piece, he details the crucial questions you should be asking yourself in order to create an unforgettable hospitality brand. READ MORE

Lisa Ross

Video is an effective tool to enhance the power of social media marketing. Effective marketers use video as a tool to make meaningful emotional connections with target audiences and have measurable impacts on business success. Hotel marketers must experiment with video and stay abreast of how the channels connect with current guests and prospective travelers. Whether captured by a traveler or produced by the brand, the best-performing videos reel viewers in with a mix of compelling storytelling, relatable moments and emotional triggers that inspire action, from social sharing to buying. In this article, we lay out six tips hotel marketers should consider when creating video content. READ MORE

Stuart Butler

There's a dirty secret in our industry that no one is talking about (at least not publicly). There are attribution thieves within our midst, and they're taking too much credit for your bookings. While I don't think that (in most cases) this is a nefarious plot, it is still causing dollars to be invested in the wrong initiatives due to the proliferation of misinformation and the use of flawed attribution models. In this article, we take a look at ways that hotel marketers can fight back by being armed with knowledge, a willingness to break out our critical-thinking hats, and calculators. READ MORE

Bonnie Knutson

In this increasing Internet of Things world, how can hotels give guests the personalized and memorable experiences they want? Is Alexa the answer? What about Siri? Or maybe Cortana? Can any of them give hospitality and deliver those immersive experiences so you can delight your guests and improve your team's productivity. And what about privacy policies? Will a hotel be able to use Alexa to eavesdrop? These are the questions that every hotel will have to answer – and soon. This article will help you begin that process. READ MORE

Court Williams

Hotel brands these days have much to gain by integrating a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program into their core business strategy. Doing so benefits their profitability, increases trust with their target audience, and can significantly boost a hotel or chain's reputation. A strong CSR program enhances brand awareness and traveler loyalty, while providing the essential ingredients to build a competitive advantage in the market. Employees also benefit from the opportunities offered to give back to the community, and CSR can be a powerful way to retain top hotel talent. Discover some of the novel ways different types of hospitality properties have implemented CSR strategies, and how their activities are benefitting local (and not-so-local) communities. READ MORE

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Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.