Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Degree up your digital advertising and marketing and diversify your visitor acquisition technique

Karen Stephens: Good day, and welcome everybody to the Lodge Second podcast. I’m your host, Karen Stephens, the Chief Income Officer of Revinate, and immediately I’m delighted to be joined by Ross McAlpine, who’s the Director of CRM for EOS Hospitality. Welcome, Ross.

Ross McAlpine: Thanks, Karen. Nice to be right here.

Karen Stephens: Nicely, you realize what? We’re delighted to have you ever on the present. So EOS Hospitality is 1 of our favourite prospects. They use all of our services throughout their suite of inns, so I’m actually excited to dig into some juicy matters with you immediately, Ross.

Ross McAlpine: Sounds good. Trying ahead to it. Thanks.

Karen Stephens: Okay, cool. So you realize, all of our friends get 5 questions earlier than we get going.

So excited to leap into our subject immediately, which is gonna be all about digital advertising and marketing, first-party knowledge, and all the products. However first, I’m gonna ask you our 5 questions. So first query, when did you begin work within the hospitality business and do you bear in mind your first day on the job?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah, so first hospitality advertising and marketing position was really with Hilton. They’ve an workplace based mostly in Glasgow and Scotland the place I’m from initially. So I’d had a number of advertising and marketing positions in different industries previous to that. And I took a place with Hilton as a copywriter. So, I used to be engaged on web site content material, which actually helped in properties internationally. I bear in mind focusing, I believe within the first couple of days, on Bora Bora, in French Polynesia, you realize, the resorts that they’ve over the water? That’s most likely what hooked me into hospitality you realize, assuming that, all inns had been that good.

In order that was my very first place there. I really left that place, it was a temp position, and moved right into a place by an Edinburgh, for a legislation agency. However, you realize, rapidly realized that hospitality was, you realize, one thing that I used to be actually keen about, not simply due to the Bora Bora properties.

So, you realize, not lengthy after that, I moved into lodge administration within the UK previous to transferring over to the US. So, that was my first brush with hospitality.

Karen Stephens: Yeah, it’s a enjoyable business, and I’m positive if you’re writing content material — to put in writing about stunning properties, I imply, nothing incorrect with that. So.

Ross McAlpine: Completely.

Karen Stephens: Okay, so second query. What was essentially the most uplifting second up to now in your profession?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah, so, I used to be lucky to work in hospitality within the UK across the time of the London Olympics, round 2012. In order that was simply, you realize, an unimaginable time for town of London, and for the UK usually, to be concerned in inns and hospitality. And there was simply, you realize, such a spotlight within the administration firm I labored for on every part that was happening in London.

And I had the advantage of touring down there. My spouse and I watched a number of of the Olympic occasions that had been taking place across the metropolis, and it was simply such a good time to be concerned in inns and hospitality. That was, you realize, 1 of the issues that basically stands out from my time within the UK, was that interval of type of a month or 6 weeks of the London Olympics.

It was a good time to be concerned.

Karen Stephens: Completely. And shout out to London. I really lived in London for 3 and a half years. Sure, I left in 2011, so sadly proper earlier than the Olympics.

So, however, nice city. And undoubtedly saved in contact with all my buddies who had been there throughout that point. What a good time to be there.

So subsequent query, so that is extra of a private query, what’s the most placing expertise up to now for you personally, when it comes to a vacation, or keep, or a meals expertise that basically involves thoughts?

Ross McAlpine: I believe essentially the most impactful expertise, you realize, I’ve had is, throughout the time honor custom of backpacking by Thailand, and Australia, and New Zealand. I dunno, you residing in London, you might need skilled that — you realize, everybody from the UK goes to Australia and New Zealand, and everybody from Australia and New Zealand is available in the wrong way to work in inns and eating places in London and, and the like.

So, that have that I had, you realize, over, a few yr touring by Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand was simply an unimaginable expertise. , it simply gave me a lot when it comes to experiencing different cultures, and journey, cuz you realize, up till that time, I’d lived all my life in Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

So, that time frame, I believe, you realize, impacted me in such an enormous approach when it comes to understanding how hospitality labored — actually getting a bug for journey, and seeing, you realize, a lot extra tradition and life outdoors of Scotland is one thing I’ll all the time bear in mind and cherish.

And there was, you realize, 1 particular second in Thailand. I used to be type of touring by Thailand, about to enter Malaysia, and I used to be in southern Thailand at this very tiny little, family-owned lodge. And this was simply, to age myself a little bit bit, this was within the days of the Lonely Planet Guidebook.

This was not fairly pre-internet, however definitely pre-hotel web site days. So I picked this, you realize, from the ebook, arrived there, and so they, this household, you realize, insisted I keep for dinner.

They cook dinner this glorious Thai, meal. I ate with the husband, and the spouse, and the younger youngsters there. After which they made every part from scratch. It was unimaginable. After which they insisted that they offer me a trip by scooter the following day to the bus, to catch, and to Malaysia to proceed my travels from there. So, that have of true hospitality has all the time caught with me in addition to, actually humbling. An awesome reminiscence I’ve from that yr.

Karen Stephens: I really like that. And possibly the trip on the scooter was equally an ideal journey for those who’ve ever been in visitors in Southeast Asia.

Ross McAlpine: Certainly — with an enormous backpack on. , I’m fairly tall. I’m 6 foot 4, so 6 foot 4 Scottish man, with an enormous backpack, on a tiny scooter, was most likely a sight to behold. However yeah. Nice reminiscence.

Karen Stephens: And the way lengthy was that journey? Simply curious. The entire thing.? The entire tour?

Ross McAlpine: It was simply over a yr. All in. So yeah I moved round. Most of my time was in New Zealand and Australia — traveled round there and, had some enjoyable jobs alongside the best way as effectively.

Karen Stephens: You’ll always remember it. Youngsters take a niche yr. That’s what I’ve to say about that. Do it. You’ll always remember it. It’s superb. Improbable.

Ross McAlpine: Though as a dad or mum, I believe I might be a nervous wreck if I advisable that to my kids. However sure I might agree in any other case.

Karen Stephens: Nonetheless suggest it. Proper. Okay. Cool. All proper, so fourth query. Have you ever met any celebrities whereas working in hospitality?

Ross McAlpine: So I ought to most likely admit that my hospitality profession hasn’t been in a lot within the trenches as perhaps a few of your different friends. , I’ve been in on the company aspect, know-how aspect, and in addition on the lodge administration aspect. I did meet Jared Butler when he was in Scotland. , the actor, the Scottish actor.

Karen Stephens: One other tall Scottish dude.

Ross McAlpine: He’s really not as tall as you’ll assume, and there’s some Hollywood magic that goes into how he presents himself, very like Tom Cruise, I believe. However I did meet him. And though, he’s, you realize, very muscly, he’s not as tall as you may assume. However that’s, that’s most likely my finest brush with, Hollywood’s A-list.

Karen Stephens: There you go. Okay, and the final query for you. Who’re the ladies at work you have got been most impressed by?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah, I actually love this query. My former boss, the primary lodge administration firm that I labored for within the UK was chargeable for bringing me, you realize, into lodge administration, to start with. And he or she’s essentially the most organized supervisor and chief I’ve ever met. And I’ve continued, you realize, some 12, 13 years on, to have retained a few of her tips so far as the way you keep organized if you’ve acquired, you realize, a bunch of various conflicting deadlines, priorities, and she or he was simply so environment friendly along with her time.

She constructed an unimaginable crew at that administration firm throughout all the completely different disciplines of selling and e-commerce. And he or she was additionally chargeable for saying sure to a US sabbatical for 3 months, which is occurring 11 years now. So, she, you realize, I’ve loads to thank her for in some ways, however together with the truth that I had the prospect to come back to the US for the quick time period, after which, primarily by no means left.

So yeah, so her, you realize, her organizational expertise, and the best way she constructed a crew are issues that I’ve, you realize, take taken into my profession, and my management roles that I’ve had up to now as effectively. So, I take into consideration that time frame loads.

Karen Stephens: And what’s her title?

Ross McAlpine: It’s Yvonne, who’s nonetheless working in lodge administration in Glasgow. So I’ll, I’ll must ship her this recording. She’s most likely unaware of all the issues that she did to affect my ardour for this business.

Karen Stephens: That’s nice. Nicely, shout out to Yvonne. Proper, so switching gears. Let’s speak about ardour. So that you’ve spent — ardour together with your job anyway, proper? You, so that you spent over a decade in advertising and marketing, and also you’ve executed a lot working each on the company aspect, and now with EOS hospitality. So I’ve to ask you, what’s it about advertising and marketing that, you realize, will get you away from bed within the morning, and makes you excited to be working on this specific a part of the business?

Ross McAlpine: Sure, it’s such a dynamic, altering space of hospitality. , yr on yr, even generally, you realize, month to month, issues are all the time altering — the best way that you just do issues, the issues that that you must take note of. And, you realize, I discovered it so attention-grabbing through the years how our focus areas have modified.

, how targeted we’ve been on varied facets has modified over time, and there’s simply, there’s by no means a uninteresting second. So, you realize, the main target in the intervening time for us is loads on, first-party knowledge, visitor knowledge database, and owned property versus paid, and paid media.

And you realize, these issues are all the time actually attention-grabbing, and it retains you in your toes as a result of there may be all the time one thing to dive deeper into and perceive, you realize, “Is that this the following massive factor? Ought to we be targeted on this as a administration firm? As an e-commerce crew as effectively?”

Karen Stephens: Yeah, in order that, you talked about one thing there about first-party knowledge, and the way advertising and marketing modifications. And I believe 1 of the most important shifts that we’ve seen, that we’re form of nonetheless in the midst of right here, is the shift away from third-party knowledge. you realize, and cookies, into first-party knowledge. So are you able to speak a little bit bit about how hoteliers ought to take into consideration accumulating that first-party knowledge?

If you happen to don’t have entry to the cookies and the remaining anymore, how ought to they give thought to accumulating that, and the place are they limiting themselves in the event that they’re not that correctly?

Ross McAlpine: Now we have a giant focus at EOS hospitality on maximizing using first-party knowledge. So first-party knowledge being knowledge you have got collected as a lodge, or as a lodge group, that you’ve got particular, you realize, permission to market to these friends. So, a giant focus for my position as Director of CRM for EOS is to grasp all the factors at which we’re connecting knowledge, or the factors of which we’re accumulating knowledge, after which how will we feed that right into a central system?

And clearly, that’s the place Revinate is available in as our central system, as our CRM platform. “After which how can we construct up the most effective image of our friends as doable?” , “What are their preferences, the place are their preferences? The place are they coming from? What do they wish to ebook? How can we layer on expertise ranges, onto their reserving?”

And, you realize, “What’s the journey of that visitor from the second that they begin on our web site, by to the reserving, by to the arrival sequence, and clearly into to post-stay? And the way will we encourage that 1 keep to change into 2, and lots of stays? So a giant focus for me is, you realize, “What are the info platforms that we’re utilizing to gather knowledge, and the way will we get that into Revinate?”

“How will we construct up the most effective image of a super visitor? After which how will we take that image and discover others identical to them?”

Karen Stephens: Okay, wonderful. So you realize, you talked about getting the image of a visitor collectively, and successfully utilizing segmentation then to drive bookings. I believe that’s form of the underside line, proper? The extra you realize a few visitor, the extra that you could actually drive that direct reserving. And, I believe post-Covid, what we’re seeing increasingly more of is, OTAs are beginning to make that resurgence again into the market.

So are you able to speak a little bit bit about, I imply, I’m positive most of our listeners are conscious of why direct reserving is a good suggestion, however the way you method that at EOS, utilizing that first-party knowledge to guarantee that the reserving comes by to you within the first occasion?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, I believe a battle that’s acquainted to most likely most of your listeners, proper? Is, “How will we take possession of that visitor when it comes from an OTA reserving?” And, we’re doing quite a lot of, I believe, attention-grabbing assessments to see how we are able to pair up knowledge that we seize outdoors of the OTA reserving, with knowledge that we’ve collected from the reserving itself.

So, to offer you an thought, we’re testing some know-how the place Wi-Fi logins might be linked into Revinate, and be paired up with the identical visitor profile that could be booked by Expedia or And which may give us a very great way of bridging that hole to a direct electronic mail handle, and due to this fact a direct relationship going ahead.

So we’re testing issues like that. We’re additionally testing, you realize, “At what level ought to our electronic mail correspondence be despatched with the intention to try to encourage a direct dialogue with the lodge as effectively?” I believe, you realize, the previous couple of years, definitely for EOS, we’ve had enormous progress as a comparatively younger lodge administration firm. We’ve had enormous progress yr on yr and, I believe we’re beginning to see a little bit little bit of an financial slowdown — a little bit little bit of the revenge journey and the journey growth of the final couple of years, slowing barely, a minimum of in sure markets.

And we’re actually turning our consideration from an e-commerce and a advertising and marketing perspective to, “How will we maximize the database, and the visitor relationships that we’ve already constructed, slightly than, you realize, by costly acquisition?” Acquisition being both by, you realize, paid search in media, or by OTA bookings, which is clearly, you realize, far costlier than our net direct channels.

Karen Stephens: That’s nice. , one other factor, simply form of talking about utilizing your visitor database and lookalike vacationers, I learn an article the place you talked about user-generated content material (UGC), which I assumed was actually attention-grabbing. So the concept your friends are amplifying your model values. So are you able to speak a little bit bit about how you concentrate on user-generated content material and the way hoteliers ought to be fascinated by that to maximise loyalty and new bookings?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah, so we’re, you realize, we’re fortunate at EOS, to start with, that we have now some unimaginable inns which are Instagram-worthy, that folks need to take images of. , that nice Instagram shot. Possibly it’s a sundown in 1 of our stunning resorts in Key West, or, you realize, an ideal shot from our historic lodge in Washington DC? Which was our first lodge referred to as The Hamilton.

So, it begins with, you realize, “Do you have got areas throughout the lodge or resort that individuals are more likely to need to seize moments and recollections? After which, you realize, what’s the, “How will we make that seen to different friends?”

I actually consider that the user-generated content material that we get from these forms of moments from actual friends is much extra of a purchase order, type of confidence in making a purchase order for different friends, than inventory photos or photos of your lodge that seem empty or quiet.

And I believe that was much more the case with the pandemic the place friends had been involved concerning the inns that they had been selecting. , “Is it secure? What’s the expertise of different friends?” I need to know that earlier than I journey, and user-generated content material I believe is a good way simply to point out potential friends precisely what the expertise is thru the lens of individuals which are already there.

So we make house accessible inside our web site in varied methods to showcase that user-generated content material. We’ve additionally began to make use of that very same content material inside our electronic mail advertising and marketing applications by Revinate as effectively. And once more, I simply assume it’s been confirmed to be extra reliable, as individuals are making buy choices. And it’s change into, I believe Instagram particularly, and possibly extra not too long ago now TikTok, have change into procuring and looking platforms in their very own proper. And I believe for those who can amplify a few of that in your web site, you improve the belief alerts, and also you show the expertise much better than you possibly can with simply customary photos or customary video and that type of factor.

Karen Stephens: 100%. I agree with you 100%. I believe if hoteliers aren’t leveraging that channel, it’s a bit loopy. It’s nice to see that you just’re out in entrance of that as a result of I believe it does lend authenticity. , when individuals are wanting, perhaps they’re attempting, they’re in search of inspiration, they know they want a break, after which they begin to see a few of these photos, and it actually simply conjures up them to make that reserving.

In order that’s thrilling. okay. So my final query for you. The place do you see digital advertising and marketing evolving over the following yr or so? You talked about that beginning to see some softness, perhaps revenge journey. I believe individuals will all the time journey, however I believe the excessive ADRs, and the issues that we had been seeing perhaps final summer time beginning to soften a bit. So, what are you seeing for the way forward for digital advertising and marketing and hospitality to the brand new tendencies coming down the road?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah. I believe on the journey aspect, to start with, you realize, we’re seeing some actually, some nice numbers. I believe Deloitte got here out with a journey survey not too long ago that mentioned, you realize, People are touring. I believe 50% of People plan to journey this summer time?

I believe reserving intention for inns is up, yr over yr, and approach above personal leases, which I believe is attention-grabbing as effectively. And I believe that talks concerning the expertise that individuals are in search of. And a part of that research confirmed that 1 in 5 individuals are taking summer time journeys to make up for getaways that they misplaced throughout the pandemic.

So I believe that revenge journey has lessened a little bit bit, however I believe it’s been changed by a extra, probability to journey. A part of that research confirmed that individuals are taking barely shorter marquee journeys. In order that journey that may be, you realize, a number of nights in a resort-type location, however are taking extra journeys. So barely shorter marquee journeys, however extra journeys general.

, that’s good for our properties in these vacation spot markets. And I believe, you realize, general there’s a realization post-pandemic, that folks don’t need to anticipate the bucket record. They wanna do these bucket record experiences now, and never anticipate retirement, or anticipate a second sooner or later.

I believe, you realize, a part of what pursuits me a lot about hospitality is how a lot of an indicator of the financial system it may be. And I believe it’s so attention-grabbing to consider the affect on housing costs and mortgage charges. There’s knowledge to point out that folks are actually touring extra as a result of they’re valuing experiences and journey over perhaps saving or buying properties.

And that’s once more, you realize, good factor for hospitality and journey within the US. And I believe, you realize, there’s additionally a whole lot of debate as as to if the notion of the drive market, or, you realize, these street journeys, whether or not or not these will reduce now that individuals are flying extra. I believe it may go both approach. Personally, I believe, you realize, flights are nonetheless comparatively costly, and fuel costs have come down a little bit bit which could make individuals extra susceptible to journey by automobile, slightly than by flights, particularly if flights costs go up over the summer time. I believe there’s a whole lot of probability that folks may keep domestically slightly than having that costly journey internationally.

And once more, you realize, that’s good for EOS, as we have now quite a lot of out of doors hospitality properties, campgrounds, luxurious yurts, and people forms of merchandise that individuals are nonetheless valuing the outside. I believe on the advertising and marketing aspect, we’re most likely, like a whole lot of your listeners, all experimenting with ChatGPT in the intervening time. We’re, you realize, how that may create some efficiencies for us in advertising and marketing and e-commerce, significantly round content material and copywriting. , can we get to market and campaigns quicker, through the use of ChatGPT. And we’ve acquired some attention-grabbing experiments and assessments as to how we are able to plug ChatGPT into our web sites, and supercharge issues like our, you realize, stay chat, or chatbots on the web site. And I’m actually enthusiastic about these facets which may change into — proper now for us they’re testing, and so they’re novel, and attention-grabbing, however I believe, you realize, within the subsequent yr or so, we’ll begin to actually embed, AI or instruments like ChatGPT will change into extra of our common device set, versus novelty. And, you realize, issues that we’re simply experimenting with.

Karen Stephens: Wow. So we’ll go away it there, and perhaps make an settlement to have you ever again on the podcast in a yr as a result of I might love to listen to the outcomes of the ChatGPT. That’s thrilling. Okay, nice. Nicely, my visitor has been Ross Mc Alpine, who’s the Director of CRM at EOS. And Ross, if individuals wanna discover out extra about your lodge portfolio, and all of your stunning properties, and yurts, and the entire 9 yards, the place do they go?

Ross McAlpine: Yeah, thanks Karen. Our web site’s, EOS Hospitality, that’s, and you’ll find out all about our administration firm, and clearly our portfolio of inns, resorts, and campgrounds there.

Karen Stephens: Superior. Thanks, Ross. It’s been a pleasure. Actually respect it.

Ross McAlpine: Thanks, Karen. Nice to speak to you.

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