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6 successful digital marketing case studies
January 31 2013

Hoteliers during the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference illustrated digital marketing initiatives that are producing results.

Highlights
  • Pandora proved to be a strong channel for engaging consumers during a recent Hilton campaign.
  • When redesigning a site, Vizergy uses Web trend analytics to look at sources of traffic and estimate competitors’ sources of traffic.
  • The average promotional hotel email blast is sent to 3,000 people and will generate $3,000 to $15,000.
By Jason Q. Freed
Contributing Editor, Tech Impact Report

NEW YORK—The silver bullet in hotel digital marketing is identifying promotions that drive measureable return on investment.

To illustrate digital marketing initiatives that are producing results, hoteliers during the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference this week provided case studies of successful programs.

The following is insight into real hotel digital marketing initiatives that drove significant results for their respective hotels.
 
Hamptonality Moments
The Hampton Inn & Suites digital marketing team produced a multi-pronged campaign that integrated public relations, social media and advertising and centered on “real people telling real stories.” The objective for the campaign was to differentiate the Hampton brand.

Judy Christa, VP of global brand marketing for Hampton Hotels and Hilton Garden Inn, said the videos produced for the campaign went viral. Pandora proved to be a strong channel for customer engagement, she said, and Hampton even leveraged Google+ as a marketing tool.

“Everything is connected, and everything is measured,” Christa said.

Website design and SEO
Robert Arnold, VP of sales at digital marketing firm Vizergy, discussed a specific website redesign for a client that eventually produced a 56:1 return on investment and 68% growth in website traffic.

The old, outdated website was designed with earth tones and was text heavy, he said, comparing it to a “house with shagged carpet and avocado tones.”

The relaunch was data-driven. Vizergy used Web trend analytics to look at sources of traffic and estimate competitors’ sources of traffic. The company took a search-engine marketing approach, including the purchase of keywords. The end result was an experiential site with little text.

Vizergy then helped develop a mobile and tablet strategy.

“It comes down to taking the time to analyze the opportunity and vet it,” Arnold said.

Tailoring websites to the user
The Wild Dunes Resort in Charleston, South Carolina, recently embarked on a website overhaul with the specific goal of behavioral targeting, or personalizing the resort’s website for each potential guest.

The resort’s former website was cumbersome and took guests too long to find information they were looking for, said Andressa Chapman, director of marketing. With niche marketing top of mind, the strategy for the new website spun into creating seven websites for the resort, each catered to a different type of guest. Websites were created to highlight different Wild Dunes areas of interest and amenities—tennis, golf, spa, retail, recreation, etc.

The property’s main site is designed to track a user’s movement and clicks in order to serve information that is most relevant.

Chapman said Wild Dunes is now realizing 40% higher revenue per reservation from those who book through one of the specialized sites.

Driving mobile bookings
In a response to the growing popularity of last-minute apps such as HotelTonight, the Wyndham Hotel Group has embarked on a strategy to increase direct, same-day bookings by creating new mobile websites for all 15 of its brands.

The experience was built around the same-day booking goal, said Keith Swiderski, director of mobile and emerging channels strategy and development at Wyndham Worldwide.

“The first thing that surprised us a little was the traffic was growing a lot faster than expected,” he said. “However, conversions were less than expected. Consumers will start on mobile but won’t always finish on mobile.

Swiderski suggested creating a user experience geared toward what users are doing on the site.

E-marketing best practices
Don Hay, founder and CEO of digital marketing firm Digital Alchemy, said the average promotional hotel email blast is sent to 3,000 people and will generate $3,000 to $15,000. The real work, however, starts after the email is sent, when hoteliers should be reviewing and analyzing results.

To maximize the efficiency of email targeting, Hay advised attendees to explore three things: the number of email addresses, the open rate and the offer appeal.

Marketers should get more email addresses by asking the consumer at every touch point, whether it be over the phone at time of reservation, on Facebook or while they’re booking a spa or golf reservation. Find associates who are good at collecting email addresses and reward them; find which associates are bad at it and train them, he said.

Maximizing open rates truly comes down to the subject line, he said. The time of day an email is sent also is critical. Finally, Hay suggested tailoring emails to guest by sending them an offer that’s relevant to them.

Survive negative reviews
At the Library Hotel Collection, marketing executives value online guest feedback and scores over traditional marketing and therefore have moved away from advertising and focused more on culminating positives scores on various review sites.

As a result, the four Library Collection boutique hotels are ranked in the top six out of more than 430 hotels in New York City.

Adele Gutman, VP of sales, marketing and revenue at the Library Hotel Collection, said even negative reviews can drive new customers.

“The most powerful way to show you care about someone is to listen to them,” she said.

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