The 2016 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference brought together some of the most innovative minds in the industry to discuss where travel is heading. The common theme was disruption. A successful digital front is now the norm and a basic expectation of the consumer, and it’s apparent that hotels must now innovate their digital channels to produce the most personalized and responsive content for their guests.
The day was opened by Dr. Laila Rach, who (hilariously) took over the role of both Emcee and the Keynote speaker, and discussed what disruption looked like in the past, and how hotels can innovate to ensure they’re standing out in today’s digital economy. The point was driven home by two of this year’s Adrian Award winners, one of whom unlocked a scarcely used feature of Twitter to gain both social awareness and bookings. It was apparent that the key to innovation is answering the customer need, before they know they have it. With a new breed of travelers who are more mobile and current than any generation before, understanding a brand’s core audience and their interests and disinterests are what make up a successful campaign.
Over the remainder of the day, the same questions were asked- in an industry where customer experience is everything, how can we be hospitable before a guest even enters a hotel? The answer- personalize the relationship, from the very first website visit to the post stay interaction. This can sometimes be tricky for hotels as they ensure guests needs are met with the available technology. Many spoke on the importance of integrating the most successful and powerful solutions with one another to create a customer centric platform that gives an experience in a way no one else can.
Google Account Executive, Shaun Aukland, touched on how this same question is affected by mobile. Mobile responsiveness will be a huge focus for all business moving forward as it recently surpassed desktop in search... and these searchers are some of the most fleeting. The mobile customer can be unpredictable and just having a nice mobile app is no longer enough to keep visitors engaged. For the industry, collecting audience data and creating a seamless and personal experience across devices will be key in 2016.
Though the conference was full of innovation, case studies, and success across the industry, the round table discussion closed the day shedding some light the opportunities that still lie within hospitality. Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom were referenced as the company’s hotels should take after as they create a unique and innovative digital landscape for their brand. It was apparent that the growth of OTA’s and new Google features are on the mind of these industry professionals as they continue to successfully grow the top brands in the industry.
Overall the day was a fun and exciting view into what’s to come for hospitality. The entire industry is embracing the new technology and processes that can both broaden their reach and create the experience that travelers are looking for. Here’s to a year of change- can’t wait for the HSMAI DMSC ‘17!