90 – Winter Workshop Takeaways

by | December 22, 2021

In this episode of Suite Spot, host Ryan Embree covers key insights and takeaways from Travel Media Group’s winter workshop. After talking with many hoteliers over the course of the workshop, Ryan has found some common themes and gives advice to other hoteliers out there on how they can prepare for 2022.

Episode Transcript

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Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot where hoteliers check in and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree.

Ryan Embree:
Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Suite Spot. This is your host, Ryan Embree. Thank you all for joining me today for episode 90 of the Sweet Spot. This is a special edition of the Suite Spot. This is actually the second edition of what we call one-on-one digital marketing workshop takeaways. So for those that are not familiar, at Travel Media Group, we put on seasonal marketing workshops for hoteliers. We theme them every single season: spring, summer, fall, and of course, winter, which we just completed. So this workshop was called “Create an Occupancy Flurry”, and we’ve got some sort of takeaways and insights from the hotels and groups that I was speaking to during these workshops. So that’s what this episode is all about. I’ll give you some key insights and really just patterns and trends that we’ve uncovered during these digital one-on-one workshops.

Ryan Embree:
So the first trend that we’re gonna take a look at is, and I just love to see it, the optimism coming into 2022, especially around key groups like business and extended stays. Hoteliers are anticipating the return of these two segments, which have almost completely disappeared over the last couple years. We have been leaning so heavily on those leisure travelers as a crutch to kind of fill our rooms. In 2022, a lot of hoteliers that I talked to had the feeling that this business travel was going to return. These, these stays that might have just been maybe one or two nights might be into extended stays. And part of that is because of what we’ve talked about with bleisure happening. So business and leisure kind of blending together. Some people taking an extended vacation, maybe on a Thursday night, because they’re really able to work from anywhere.

Ryan Embree:
We’ve talked about that in this podcast, how that hybrid workspace is, is really gonna benefit hoteliers because it could extend someone’s vacation a couple extra nights. So with that optimism for business, a lot of the things that we talked about to hoteliers in these workshops were optimizing on places like LinkedIn. Think about how many weddings got canceled, rescheduled. Annual events that have been going on for decades had been canceled. This is your opportunity to promote your hotel, to try to capture some of that pent-up demand. LinkedIn is the channel for that. That’s where all of your event planners are going to be. That’s where your wedding planners are gonna be joining your local business associations. It, it could lead to a lot of revenue and a lot of bookings, one particular wedding block is not just one room, that’s going to relay into a whole mess of bookings.

Ryan Embree:
So LinkedIn and being active on that site is gonna absolutely be crucial in 2022. That’s where the decision-makers are, especially for these groups. So if you’re looking to see what type of trade shows and events are coming your way, LinkedIn is a great spot for that. And it’s gonna be the hoteliers are jumping on that trend that are really gonna take advantage as business travel starts to return. The second trend that we uncovered in this workshop really still had to do with staffing. Now, the last digital workshop that we had in the fall, we were in the thick of the staffing shortages, and it’s really almost taught hoteliers, how to adapt and change when it comes to certain things that they’re doing at the property. GMs owners, director of sales are wearing hats they’ve never had to do before. So what they’re doing is they’re actually getting a little bit more comfortable outsourcing some of their day-to-day activities, especially around digital marketing, which obviously Travel Media Group specializes in.

Ryan Embree:
So it’s, it’s not out of the question now to outsource your review responses, to make sure that you’re getting that task done. Outsourcing your social media, making sure that you’re consistent. I talked to a lot of groups of hotels that lost a lot of key positions, people that were managing and posting on their social media. And the funny thing is, is when I come to these accounts, I can almost predict to the day when that person had left their position because that’s when the posting just stops. Now as hoteliers, we understand that there’s a staffing shortage: guests and travelers, they don’t. So they’re coming to your Facebook page, just like they did when you were posting and they’re seeing now that you haven’t posted since the summer, that’s gonna give an impression to the traveler and it’s not gonna be a positive one. So we came across a lot of instances where just like you’re outsourcing your landscaping, maybe your pool cleaning, more and more hoteliers are getting comfortable outsourcing things like their digital marketing to companies out there.

Ryan Embree:
Now number three was using feedback and data to make changes. One of the things the pandemic has taught us is that we need to listen to our guests a whole lot more. Not that we weren’t before, but using some of the data and using some of the insights and clues that guests are giving us every single day when they leave reviews, when they engage with our social posts. So these are all clues. Your guests are trying to tell you what makes them tick. So going to a social media post and seeing that on this day, posting about family-friendly events had maybe 17 likes and then posting something else, a little bit more business professional didn’t have as much engagement, that should tell you something. It means that a lot of families are following. You have an audience of people that are leisure travelers that are looking for family-friendly style things, and then you start to adapt.

Ryan Embree:
And, and that’s what a social strategy is. You start to adapt based on that engagement, you start really expanding your audience and giving the content that they want to see. Same is true with reviews. They’re trying to tell you exactly how they feel. One of the things that we launched earlier this year was our advanced sentiment. So we reviewed that with a lot of hotels that I went over and you’d be surprised once all of that data is aggregated in one particular place, like TMG’s OneView, you’d be surprised some of the insights that we found, some of the hotels didn’t feel like they had a problem with breakfast. Yet when we looked up the tag breakfast in their reviews, it was almost two points lower than their overall review score. So this tells you that there’s something missing there. And I reminded these hoteliers that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing a bad job at the property.

Ryan Embree:
Maybe you’re doing a bad job of setting expectations. As a key difference between those two things, hoteliers are using places like review response, their websites and social media, to set the expectations of the new normal as travelers come back into the travel world, as business travel returns. What does that breakfast look like now? Is it still a grab-and-go, is it a hybrid? Is it a buffet? Your guest needs to know this before they arrive because you risk not meeting or exceeding their expectations. So again, using that sentiment to make changes to your property, and it’ll also give you some clues on the positive side, what to market what to advertise for the property. One of the hotels I was looking at had an outstanding score when it came to their location. So we dove in a little deeper. I asked that hotelier, what is it that people love about your location?

Ryan Embree:
We clicked into their reviews and that sentiment tag, and we were able to see that they were conveniently nearby a bunch of different restaurants that were highly rated. So figuring out a way to partner with those restaurants, to be promoting and advertising that you’re near all of these restaurants and your guests are just footsteps away from that. So these are the type of insights and data that not necessarily hoteliers weren’t looking at prior to COVID, but they’re looking at a lot more closely now because it’s giving them some really, really good data that they can use to make better operational decisions for the property. And lastly, and this was, this was just so great to see was it felt like the hoteliers that I spoke to, there was a relief of trying to find consistency. Now it sometimes feels like since 2020 it’s been a decade.

Ryan Embree:
Sometimes it feels like it’s been just a couple days, but we’re about to go into 2022. And for the first time, obviously, there are some variables there with, with some variants and things of that nature. But for the first time, there’s that feeling of optimism like I talked about, but also a feeling of looking forward to trying to find some consistency. Maybe they have that staff in place, and they’re trying to set new standards of performance for them, new guidelines on how they’re gonna handle guests. Who’s going to be the one responsible for posting on social media, to responding to reviews, to checking rates online. There’s, there’s just this sense of consistency. Last year at this time, we were just talking about the vaccines being on the horizon. They’re here, they’ve arrived. So 2022 looks like it’s gonna be a little bit more consistent and less volatile than we’ve seen for the past two years.

Ryan Embree:
And I think that means good news for the hotel industry. So I absolutely love performing these workshops. I think they’re super insightful. And, and just to kind of get to hear from our hoteliers and what they’re experiencing on a day-to-day basis, as we move towards 2022, it’s gonna be so critical for hoteliers to be looking at these things online, making those changes like we talked about recovery is here, the guests are there for the taking and more and more are gonna start coming out of their doors and into your lobby. Position yourself to win those bookings as best you can. They’re going to be looking closer and closer at your reviews. They’re going to be looking closer and closer at your social media. So if you’re not prepared, you could run the risk of losing occupancy and market share as more and more travel comes on board.

Ryan Embree:
So absolutely amazing workshop. If you’re interested in these workshops, we do them once every quarter. So we’re gonna be doing a spring workshop here in March, which I’d love to speak with you. Obviously, we know that’s when occupancy starts to ramp up again and people are excited. They’re starting to see their occupancy starting to see those rates up. We love to see it. I want to thank everyone for listening to this episode, and we’ll talk to you next time on the Suite Spot.

Ryan Embree:
To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group with cover art by Bary Gordon. I’m your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

 

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