Can you strike a balance between traditional and digital marketing?

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board recently debated the question of how hotels can strike a balance between traditional and digital marketing…and should they?!

From the beginning of time (at least in the world of marketing) everyone has agreed that a balanced marketing plan had to span multiple channels. But as of late, digital programming has begun to place a heavier weight on one side of the marketing seesaw. Digital’s immediacy and its ability to deliver strong, trackable ROI have made it the mainstay of most marketing plans. But…

Can you have too much of a good thing?

Perhaps the better question to ask is, how can hotels best integrate traditional and digital marketing?

It was agreed that there is definitely a time a place for both digital and traditional, and the most successful marketers use a well-planned mix of strategies – from direct marketing and media relations to affinity partnerships and all things digital – to drive brand awareness as well as conversion.

That’s easier said than done some times because – let’s face it – digital can be a lot of FUN.  The new and evolving tools and technologies are different and engaging; it’s exciting and invigorating to play around with them. With an almost limitless number of techniques and strategies at your fingertips, it’s tempting to get distracted by the latest trend.

The real trick is utilizing the right medium for the right task – generally driving awareness through traditional means, while also getting guests into and through the conversation funnel more with digital tools and strategies.  The Advisory Board offered some thoughts to remember:

  • Define your audience based on demographics and psychographics and choose the right method to reach them – when talking to the trade, you’ll be more traditional; when consumer-direct, lean more heavily toward digital.
  • Today’s consumer is so accustomed to the digital environment that the challenge to marketers is to “know your customer” and personalize, innovate, and individualize the marketing communication to drive that quantifiable conversion!
  • At the points of evaluation and consideration, online becomes more relevant. Digital touches influence and shape the customer experience and their expectations. Think TripAdvisor reviews, YouTube videos, social media sites and promotions, brand and property websites, loyalty and CRM online promotions, and more.
  • We might need to consider adjusting our vocabulary around this issue because it’s not that easy to define “traditional” any more.  Are webisodes TV or digital?! 

What percent of total marketing revenues and human resources (in your organization) are dedicated to digital marketing?

  • When the economy dropped a few years ago, lots of resources were shifted into the digital space. With the economic recovery, we’re seeing a swing back toward more traditional channels.
  • One advisory board member reported that across her agency’s client base spending $40 million annually, 60% is going to digital and 40% to traditional – stretching into multiple channels on and off line.
  • Have you heard about Visit Indy’s decision to move 100% of its marketing into the digital space?  Depending on the organization, that might make sense. For instance, Sean Dee, CMO at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, shared that Outrigger is almost at 100% digital as well.  By the time a guest decides on the Maldives or Mauritius or Fiji, they are in the funnel and their hotel choices are fairly narrowed down. So it makes sense for them to deploy resources nimbly in the digital space.
  • HSMAI’s 2016 Hotel Digital Marketing Benchmark Study found that:
    • 17% of hotels are dedicating 25% or less of their total marketing budget (excluding salaries and facilities) to digital marketing
    • 37% dedicate 26-50%
    • 30% dedicate 51-75%
    • 12% dedicate more than 75%

Does the industry’s reliance on digital pose any potential problems or risks going forward?

  • People are addicted to the measurements and almost instant ROI you can see from digital initiatives.  However, attribution in traditional channels is a little easier than it was 5-10 years ago. As multi-touch attribution models evolve and gain traction, we’ll be better able to understand how consumers interact with all of our advertising models.
  • Online is not the only source of business, and you would cut out a lot of opportunities if you only played in the digital space.
  • There generally is not as much pressure or priority placed on developing new, creative traditional marketing vehicles as there has been on developing new digital products.  We need to think about what that means for the future of traditional channels.
  • The integrated marketing plan requires a “balance” and one that integrates traditional and digital – but traditional that is still effective.  Print media, collateral, direct mail campaigns – all carry significant production and execution costs and digital marketing can provide resources for significantly less investment.

Watch for the next Point of View from HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board:  [Meaningful] Virtual Reality for Hotels.

About HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board leverages insights, emerging trends, and industry innovations to inspire marketing for hotels. Members include:

  • CHAIR:  Maureen Callahan, Vice President of Marketing Communication & Public Relations, Destination Hotels
  • Michael Bennett, Vice President, Marketing, White Lodging Services
  • Katie Briscoe, EVP, Client Services, MMGY Global
  • Diane Briskin, Managing Director, DKC Public Relations
  • Matthew Clyde, President & Chief Strategist, Ideas Collide
  • Sean Dee, CMO & EVP, Outrigger Resorts
  • Agnelo Fernandes, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Terranea Resort / Destination Hotels and Resorts
  • Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, Explore St. Louis
  • Natalie Osborn, Senior Industry Consultant, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS Institute, Inc.
  • Mandy Penn, Senior Director of Resort Marketing, Universal Orlando Resort
  • Florence Quinn, President, Quinn
  • Lisa K. Ross, President, rbb Communications
  • Andrew Rubinacci, CHSP, SVP, Distribution & Revenue Management Strategy, IHG
  • Bill Rubino, Partner, President, Panzano & Partners
  • Todd Sommers, Senior Manager, Public Relations, Best Western International
  • Casey Ueberroth, Chief Marketing Officer, Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles