HSMAI Arizona - Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Arizona Chapter

Consumers Are Changing, Are You?

A November meeting recap by Don Prince, AIR Marketing

The reality in today's marketplace is that consumers are inundated with information and new forms of content management. So much so, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach them through traditional media delivery. So says my colleague, Richard Cassey of AIR Marketing who addressed the challenges that an increasingly fragmented media landscape and rapidly changing technology has created for all marketers, including hospitality. Some of Richard's key points were:

Take advantage of technology to leverage data and build relationships. We have gone from 1:1 sales (the door-to-door salesman) to mass delivery of advertising content, to segmented delivery of content, to our present technology-enabled ability to deliver content on a 1:1 basis to our customers.

What does that mean? We have to understand our customers - know them deeply and love them! This means creating systems that engage our customers with our products and services in order to extract and collect information that will allow us to sell in a way that is meaningful and follows their expressed interests.

Knowing them deeply - segmented is not good enough! Marketing technology allow us to put systems into place to collect customer data at an individual level to measurably improve ROI. Segmenting customers into groups or clusters is no longer good enough when we can know and interact with our customers as individuals.

Our understanding of our customers needs to start by knowing where they came from and how they became a client. Was it direct marketing, from the website, a referral or a third party? A complete understanding of our client will allow us to place some context around their buying decisions and allow us to not simply satisfy but to delight them, and not just at the property level, but at all customer touch points.

What affect do aggregators have on our business? Most DOSMs are concerned about how much margin do they have to give away in order to maintain occupancy. The real issue is that online aggregators have the relationship with the client and our goal should be to break that relationship by creating and building our own relationship with the customer. Keep in mind that 80% of online travel purchasers go to the vendor's site in order to validate their purchase. The value of the aggregator to the customer is the "one stop shopping experience". Most customers don't want to go to multiple websites to buy each component of their travel purchase separately. The opportunity then exists for vendors to bundle their own travel packages with value added components that match their customer's individual preferences - thus reducing or eliminating the need for discounting.

Practical advice for communicating with consumers:

  • Engage: Communicate from the customer's perspective - not yours. Marketing technology can give you that information and perspective. Remember also that this advice is equally valid for the group and meeting markets - meeting planners also want information that is informative and relevant specifically to them and their clients.
  • Enrich: Enrich your customer's experience with value added components that are meaningful to them
  • Relate: Relate to them based on what you know about them. Marketing technology allows us to interact with our clients on a 1:1 basis, without mass media, to deliver meaningful content that they are pre-disposed to buy.
  • Transact: Now you can sell!
  • Repeat as needed!

Measurement Matters. Return on Investment (ROI) must be measured. The number 1 priority for CEO of Fortune 500 companies according to a recent survey is to improve marketing analytics and to identify best practices in marketing. The number one goal of marketing executives is to invest in performance measuring systems.

Set high but attainable goals. The 10:1 return on marketing investment that Richard has been able to deliver to his clients is considered to be exceptional, but with the insights provided by marketing technology such as AIR Marketing's "Cyclone" system, coupled with high impact creative and carefully selected media vehicles, an ROI of 20:1, or even 30:1, should be an attainable goal.

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