Interesting Insights and Advice from the HSMAI Conference

Last week I attended HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council and the Strategy Conference Planning Workgroup. The focus was on one of the most important  questions marketers face today in the digital world. How do I get the most out of my digital marketing efforts?

As marketers, it is important to know where to focus your resources, whether that’s on  social, mobile, local, traditional web channels,  or likely, all of them. These digital marketing opportunities are transforming our world and making it unacceptable to just sit back and go with the flow.


I thought I’d share some of the insights and advice that I learned from a variety of interesting presenters at the conference.

Bill Keen, Director of Product Management Web and Mobile solutions at IHG shared that their concierge app is gaining traction with the average time spent on it at 11 minutes. To make the app even more engaging, IHG plans to use iPad 2’s FaceTime to allow consumers to speak directly with the concierges at their hotels. Love this!

It seems that mobile and tablet apps are really working well at the chain level for IHG. However, hotels still need their own optimized mobile websites to reach the large population of consumers who are not brand loyal or prefer to use a browser than download an app.

Keen also talked about social media channels. Google+ already has more than 90 million users with over 1 million websites that offer the +1 button. Google is urging brands to create google+ page with links to their websites which can help out their search rankings. For inspiration on how to create a great Google+ page, check out Samsung and Intel.

Asif Khan, CEO, Founder and President of Location Based Marketing Association was in particular, an insightful speaker. Khan said that location based storytelling is up and coming.  He added that LBM (location based marketing), now offers an additional data point   that hotel marketers didn’t have access to previously, and will therefore become an integral part of the overall marketing  analysis. Asif also talked about the way that ATT has built a virtual fence around hotel properties, which takes advantage of a mobile device’s location tracking capabilities. This gives hotels the opportunity to push relevant content out to people based on their proximity to your hotel.

This year’s HSMAI’s digital conference was perhaps the most exciting in years, with a knowledgeable line-up of speakers sharing trends and ideas for digital marketing success.  I’m really glad I was there to listen and interact with this forward thinking community!

As a marketer with a focus on best practices for hotels, I urge you to first understand the needs of your customer segment(s) and establish your hotel’s story and voice around these needs.  Then focus your efforts on articulating and amplifying your story and promise through visuals and narrative, making sure you’re in front of those consumers wherever and whenever they’re shopping for travel online.  Social, mobile and local channels have made their way into the “point of influence” and “point of decision” within the travel shopping journey. Taking the first step may be the hardest part of getting started, but will be well worth the time and effort as you begin to engage your guests, differentiate your hotels from your competition and at the end of the day, increase bookings.

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