Exit Interview With Two Roads Hospitality’s Maureen Callahan

When Maureen Callahan retired as a vice president of branding and marketing at Two Roads Hospitality this past December, she capped a decades-long career that was dominated by a 30-year stint with Destination Hotels & Resorts. But you don’t just have to imagine the experience and expertise that Callahan — who recently chaired HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board — accumulated along the way: She’ll be launching Callahan Hospitality Marketing this spring.

How did you get started in marketing?

My career path in marketing began in a destination resort as a DOSM and subsequently evolved to regional and corporate roles. I clearly benefited from serendipity and also by embracing new opportunities and opportunities to learn. Marketing is both art and science, and it involves strategy and execution, so I have always loved having a multidimensional role. While marketing has evolved and includes a foundation of very quantifiable performance expectations, successful marketers also need to be creative, strategic thinkers, and great team leaders.

How are marketing organizations evolving to meet the demands of today’s business environment?

Today’s marketer is aligned with sales, operations, and revenue management. With increased pressure on sales and marketing expense budgets, hotels are exploring creative options to better define and execute the marketing tactical plan. This includes shared services for marketing communication, digital and website management, and social media. Hotels are using more sophisticated revenue-management tools, pace and booking reporting, marketing-performance analytics, and return on investment (ROI) benchmarking resources. The marketing role requires sophisticated knowledge of evolving tools and resources, and is now much more aligned with the revenue-management and revenue-optimization role.

Digital marketing continues to grow as a predominant focus, and marketing and merchandising options — pay per click, re-marketing, meta-search, and online media — require a constant evaluation and alignment with revenue strategies and priorities. The marketing organization chart also continues to evolve as roles become more specialized (sales, marketing, social media, revenue management) and more integrated. Technology and the 24/7 access to analytics and reporting has changed the role of marketing and the critical importance of well-defined strategies, the consistent execution of the tactical plan, and ongoing alignment with the revenue-optimization team.

How can you turn your hotel staff into brand ambassadors?

In a hugely competitive environment, hotels need to define their differentiators and what makes their hotel experience truly authentic. The consistent delivery of a brand promise is essential in creating loyalty, building a brand, and achieving financial performance goals. Every associate plays a critical role in the delivery of the hotel’s brand and the customer experience.

The primary role of marketing is to merchandise the brand, and this starts by defining the brand positioning, articulating the brand promise, and creating the visuals that communicate the brand. The hotel team is charged with “bringing the brand to life.” This includes training on the brand positioning and the brand promise (how do you want your guests to feel), along with the key cornerstones and values of the brand. Associates can then align the delivery of the unique brand promise, along with core customer-service hospitality skills, to create an authentic guest experience that showcases the personality of the hotel and truly differentiates it in the marketplace. Exploring websites and social-media channels is ubiquitous in today’s world, and our guests use these channels to communicate and share their hospitality experiences, so it is critical that the hotel team is fully trained on the brand positioning and promise and the team is integrated, aligned, and empowered to bring the brand to life.

Categories: Revenue Management, Forecast
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