It’s time to go all in!

To steal a lyric from The Smiths; “Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.” We’re all aware that the dramatic, and oftentimes frustrating, evolution of technology has fundamentally changed the way traveling consumers approach booking decisions. Thanks to the Internet and mobile technology—smart phones, pads and laptops—travelers can shop, compare and purchase at anytime, from anywhere.

It’s also turned hordes of “couch-potatoes come couch surfers” into creators, empowering a whole new breed of amateur travel reviewers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… we’ve all read, heard, or perhaps even said it ourselves hundreds of times by now, right?

So what are we doing about it?

If you’re like most hoteliers I know, you’re struggling—hard. Not just because it’s inherently difficult to keep up with the ever-changing societal and technological trends, but because of today’s economic challenges, your marketing budget is being subjected to a whole new level of scrutiny and you’re being asked to do far more with much less.

As such, you’re left to throw a few chips on the table, trying to spread your bets across a variety of interactive and social media marketing initiatives, barely able to sit at the five-dollar table.

I say it’s time to go all in!

This cover-your-bases tack that hoteliers seem to now favor may allow them to demonstrate to their owners and asset managers that they’re doing a variety of things in relation to interactive and social media, some pretty well in fact, but no single initiative is generating significant return on investment. The grim reality is that most of these initiatives fail, giving social media in particularly, a bum rap.

In contrast, hoteliers who have developed best-in-class interactive marketing and social media capabilities are winning big, by focusing on a few, well crafted, very strategic, measureable initiatives—going all in so to speak, and maximizing their marketing dollars.

Strategy must lead the way. With so much in flux and so much at stake, hoteliers need to be genuinely strategic when it comes to managing their marketing team and resources. They should begin by weighing how important interactive marketing and social media are to their overall strategy and allocate an appropriate level of investment.

Hoteliers need to narrow their focus, identify the few capabilities that should be pursued that will give them the ability to engage with a better-than-even chance of success—in the markets in which they compete.

For example, social media’s mere popularity should not automatically make it a priority to participate on all the channels; Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, et al. Marketers should weigh how important each social media channel is to their hotel’s overall strategy, and allocate an appropriate level of investment.

The same critical thinking should apply to search engine marketing, mobile marketing, and other relevant platforms.

By crafting a clear strategy and staying with it, marketers should begin to know inherently when to say “no” and walk away from the table.

In order to begin to do this, hoteliers need to hire and retain the talent that will help them develop and implement these capabilities—digital marketing, social marketing, and multi-media specialists, who can combine their abilities to collaborate, and possess the all-important critical thinking skills necessary to craft a strategy.

Building marketing capabilities in-house can pay big dividends, especially as it relates to knowledgeable engagement, content, imagery and videos. But turning to outside partners for help may be necessary depending on the size of the hotel or resort‘s operation and overall marketing budget. Either approach will require hoteliers place more emphasis than ever before on attracting and cultivating the right talent.

This will no-doubt continue to be a worthwhile investment, as the requirement to engage with potential, current and past guests is clearly here to stay. In survey after survey, traveling consumers have stated loud and clear that they genuinely want to have conversations with hoteliers. They want to ask questions, share, be heard and feel that their opinions matter.

The proliferation of social media, hotel review sites and booking channels is enabling hospitality marketers to interact with consumers in ways that did not exist a short time ago. And because they have access to more and more data about travelers’ habits and preferences, they can now tailor these interactions to maximize their impact.

But only if they choose to actually use the information, hire the right people, develop the right strategies, and use the right tools and incentives that will get traveling consumers talking in their social circles—online and offline—about their hotels and resorts.

There may never have been a time when fresh strategic thinking and creative marketing solutions were more urgently needed in the hospitality industry. In this brutally competitive, over-branded world of hotels and resorts, those who find the best ways to connect and engage with today’s traveling consumers will win.

Are you ready to go all in?

This entry was originally published by on August 24th, 2012. Click here to view the original post.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 12:03 pm and is filed under Advice, Strategy . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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