Traffic and Revenue and Likes…Oh My! KPIs for Today’s Hotel Marketer

At the February 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, a panel of chief marketing and digital officers agreed unanimously that marketing is increasingly relying on analytics, and that by 2020 analysts will be as common in marketing departments as creatives. 

Owners, asset managers, and CEOs are increasingly demanding more tangible and quantifiable metrics on the impact of hotel marketing initiatives. That pressure is driving companies to invest in marketing analytics at an unprecedented rate.  According to Entrepreneur magazine, “The Wall Street Journal reported spending on marketing analytics is expected to nearly double over the next two years, from 7 percent to 12 percent, as marketers supersede CTOs as a business’s biggest IT spender.”

Despite this pressure and investment, many hotel and travel marketers still grapple with a foundational question:  which metrics should I track, and what can they tell me about my performance?

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board recently discussed this issue and made a few suggestions for you to think about.

Matthew Clyde, President & Chief Strategist, Ideas Collide

As marketers and brands continue to invest more in content marketing to attract and entice consumers, shifting away from just clicks and pages views to true engagement metrics is essential. Tracking the time of engagement in an article, blog, or video is one variable of importance, and the other vital aspect is investing time to understand how or if it led to conversion. Whether it’s  an email lead secured, a share reaching 200 new prospects for a sweepstakes entry generating more marketing opportunities, or, of course, the direct booking reservation, being able to show multiple attributions and variables including engagement time, shares, and conversion paths is essential in content marketing metrics. 

Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

I recall attending an American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) Creative Conference in Florida nearly 20 years ago and listening to several contemporary advertising luminaries discuss their philosophies of what makes great advertising.  In this time before the proliferation of the Internet, with instantaneous feedback and ability to measure most every aspect of human behavior, ad industry giants like Jay Chiat, Dan Wieden, and Pat Fallon were led by intellect, instinct, and intuition which spawned many legendary campaigns and enduring brands.  Of the many pieces of advice shared that day with the audience of aspiring ad gurus, a young Donny Deutsch, who was running one of the hottest creative shops in New York, said these words which have always stuck with me:  “Great advertising should leave you with a guttural sense that you have to have what the brand is selling.” 

As our metrics have become virtually limitless, providing us with amazing real-time information on our marketing, we sometimes need to be reminded of the simple truth about communication and human behavior that Donny described that day.  Does your marketing make me want to buy your brand?

Bill Rubino, Partner, President, Panzano & Partners

While most everyone agrees on the need to maintain a strong Social Media profile, few agree on the metrics, if any, to quantify the value of engagement.

As marketers, we tend to focus on quantity as opposed to quality. While “followers” and “likes” are important, rarely are they trackable to the point-of-sale. Content development and maintenance has become a significant line item in many sales and marketing budgets. It is for this reason that owners and managers are looking to their marketing teams to justify these expenditures in a meaningful way. This is not a new dilemma in the marketing world, however. Questions such as, “Why are we spending so much on public relations?” or “What’s the value of expensive holiday decor?” are common. The farther we get from the point-of-sale the more difficult it is to assess value.

When in doubt, develop an index.

As with many things in life without a direct physical correlation, an index can be devised to help. Whether it’s the S&P 500 or the heat index, indices can be created to track and evaluate data in order to make better, more informed decisions. While Social Media indexes exist, true dollar and cents quantification isn’t readily available. So how do we get the information we need?

The Fantasy Football model

Perhaps we can take our cues from the millions of fantasy league players. For virtually every positive occurrence on a football field, fantasy players receive points based upon a sliding scale. The highest points are granted, of course, for touchdowns. In the world of the hotelier, the touchdown is the reservation. But unlike football, there are different types of reservations, each with a unique value. Does the repeat, loyal guest have more value than the first time visitor? Yes and no. While repeat guests are worth their weight in gold, the new guest creates an opportunity to begin to cultivate a new source of revenue. In any event, a point, or index value could be placed upon each type of transaction.

So if the reservation is truly the goal line, what is the play-by-play value? For instance, if I get you to watch my latest Facebook video, but that’s all you do, does the interaction have any value? While owners may disagree, marketing professionals will answer uniformly with “YES!” The value, of course, is rooted in brand building. We must believe in the inherent value of branding or else there is little point in the money that’s spent to do so. Therefore, in the absence of asking every guest whether a social media post influenced their decision to book, let’s give each interaction a numeric value. That value can be whatever we like, based upon the propensity for it to influence desirable behaviors.

For instance:

  • Viewing a post: 1 point
  • Liking a post: 3 points
  • Reposting: 5 points
  • Viewing any part of a video: 7 points
  • Viewing the entire video: 10 points
  • Reposting a video: 12 points
  • Clicking from a post to our website: 15 points
  • And so on…

The numbers themselves are irrelevant, as long as they are consistent in their unilateral application. For the index to have any value, we must all agree that while Social Media engagement is not the panacea for all communications challenges, any opportunity we have to influence or inform potential guests with well-crafted messaging will eventually bear fruit.

It would be great to one day report to the Board of Directors that our average Social Media Interaction indexes is at 93.6, which is 12% above the national average. Could happen.

LEARN MORE:  Hotel Digital Marketing Benchmark Study

Access the power of benchmarking in your quest to understand the performance of your digital marketing and your position within the industry. HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Benchmark Study, a project of HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council, will help you gauge your competitive position on a wide variety of topics that are top of mind for all hoteliers in today’s fast moving environment.

If you are an hotelier, please participate in the HSMAI Hotel Digital Benchmark Study by March 30, 2016.

  • The results will help you develop resource allocation strategies that drive revenue and profit.
  • All data collected will be kept strictly confidential, with all reports being an aggregation of the total survey responses.
  • It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete the 20-question survey about your digital marketing activities and results from 2015.

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board

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

  • Michael Bennett, Vice President, Marketing, White Lodging Services
  • Katie Briscoe, EVP, Client Services, MMGY Global
  • Diane Briskin, Managing Director, DKC Public Relations
  • Maureen Callahan, Vice President of Marketing Communication & Public Relations, Destination Hotels
  • Matthew Clyde, President & Chief Strategist, Ideas Collide
  • Nancy Deck, VP, Multi-Brand & Loyalty Marketing, Hilton Worldwide
  • Sean Dee, CMO & EVP, Outrigger Resorts
  • Agnelo Fernandes, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Terranea Resort / Destination Hotels and Resorts
  • Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
  • Teri Merritt, Vice President Brand Marketing & eCommerce – Americas, Marriott International
  • 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 Ross, President, rbb Public Relations
  • Andrew Rubinacci, CHSP, SVP, Distribution & Revenue Management Strategy, IHG
  • Bill Rubino, Partner, President, Panzano & Partners
  • Todd Sommers, Director, Brand Marketing & Content Strategy, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Casey Ueberroth, Chief Marketing Officer, Preferred Hotels & Resorts



Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles