Practicing Digital Promoflex - Don't Lock it in

By Ron Caughlin Senior Vice President Brand & Digital Strategy, RadonicRodgers Strategy+ | February 12, 2017

When accessing and converting potential guests to your hotel, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns or Social Media Marketing. The most valuable tool you have in the battle for Google’s favor should be the ability to evolve, I like to call this “Digital Promoflex” in today’s marketing environment. We all know, just like in chess, we need a plan in order to play a decent game.

This is exactly the same premise in digital and social media marketing. In order to determine what kind of channels to target your audience, we must have some general idea what our goals are and what we are trying to accomplish from a marketing perspective.

Consistently following a plan is crucial to success, yet at the same time maintaining flexibility and the ability to learn and adjust is critical in today’s fluid Travel & Tourism space. The plan is not the State of the Union, rather it is like a living and breathing organism, that adapts and changes with environmental and market conditions.

I can remember a time when marketing plans were set in stone. Back in the day, we thought we were measuring our success and making changes to reflect market conditions. We actually had a term for this called - Promoflex. This meant we would watch how campaigns and global world events were affecting bookings and sales results, and then respond accordingly by changing campaign offers, reducing room prices and even shifting media channels six months into the plan. We thought this was a fast and flexible way to respond. Actually, traditional media and national networks would only give you a 30-day period to make a change or cancel a campaign, which made it difficult to change the plan. In today’s digital landscape, the environment has vastly changed how we market and react. Your efforts therefore need, and can be, much more flexible. There is no absolute way to predict how your campaign will respond. Digital media channels allow flexibility and give you the ability to make changes mid-course. This is what I like to call – Digital Promoflex.

Of course, Digital Promoflex is not easy and can be a painful process at times. You may have a great idea that you thought would break sales records. Yet you may have to let go of something you had hoped would be successful, but in the end, was not. Monitoring and paying attention to your campaign will give you the ability to respond to your online marketing and re-consider the overall messaging, imagery, offering and channels you are using. Your plan isn’t finished until the campaign period is over and you have started to craft a new one all over again.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.