Molly Israel, director of marketing and sales operations for TIG Global, reports back on the recent discussion among hospitality industry leaders on the value of interactive marketing.
This week, I had the honor of participating in a Cornell Hospitality Entrepreneurship roundtable on the topic of revenue management and marketing integration. With a mixed crowd of executives from both the marketing and revenue management sides, the discussion was often heated, but all the more interesting.
We discussed the value of social media at length and how we can measure its value as a marketing tool. The revenue managers of the group wanted quantitative evidence of generated revenue and, after much debate, all agreed that current social media tracking capabilities leave much to be desired. Facebook and Twitter amass followings but how those relationships translate into sales is still not proven. Nonetheless, everyone from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts to Southwest Airlines stated that it was absolutely necessary to participate in these mediums now because it is where the customers are.
Another topic of much contention stemmed from the frustration that many revenue managers are now facing in trying to increase occupancy for specific need times. Revenue managers in attendance felt that the nimbleness of internet marketing strategies like search marketing should be able to deliver consumers to book on certain days of the week or certain low demand weekends. The marketers in the group were quick to defend the medium and perpetuate its advantageous qualities over the traditional mediums of print and television that require several months of advance planning and booking. Ideas on how to use special promotions, packages, and email marketing techniques were also outlined, but the marketers’ final declaration was that marketing can only capture demand that exists, it can’t be relied on to create demand on its own. In other words marketers can drive revenue to a Tuesday night, limited service, airport hotel, but only if there is a package or event they can promote. Without the assistance of operations to host such an event, or the agreement of revenue management to approve such a package, marketers will have a near impossible chance of driving revenue for niche need times through online marketing alone.
The final session of the roundtable was reserved for the panelists to share career wisdom with the Cornell Hotel School students. The one point of advice that was repeatedly stressed was: “worry less about the first job you accept out of college, because you never know how your job will change in as little as five years.” All of the successful executives on the panel agreed that they never foresaw themselves in a career focused on online marketing because it simply didn’t exist when they began their careers. This point makes one think how the role of internet marketing will continue to evolve and shape the hospitality industry in the next five, ten, or twenty years.
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