|by Jitendra Jain, December 2008
As the world gets harder, better, faster, stronger in many respects,
so do the ripple effects of world events. The recent attacks in Mumbai
are a prime example - hotels the world over are now scrambling to take
a re-look at their security measures. In terms of broader trends, the worrying
shifts in climate pales in comparison to the economic downturn now upon
us. Experts claim that this recession is the worst since World War II.
The world has always gone through natural economic cycles where every decade
or more we take a step back and reevaluate just where we’ve been going
wrong…but with increasing interconnectedness, reliance on virtual financial
models and technology, the house of cards has become ever so precariously
The great thing about tough times is that it separates the boys from
the men! It’s a cleansing process so to speak…one that rids us of old inefficiencies
and forces us to look at better, smarter ways of living and doing business.
In terms of hotel operations, the year 2009 promises to be a challenging
one. Hoteliers will have to shake off those cobwebs and put on their ‘exceptional
service’ hats. Hotel Marketers and Public Relations Managers will have
to take a critical look at their spending habits and find more efficient
ways to generating buzz and marketing ROI. This environment is perfect
for great Hotel eMarketers to shine and utilize the full potential of the
Internet. From exploring new ways of creating consumer pull (compared to
the older sledgehammer approach to pushing advertising) to making existing
sites, campaigns and CRM more effective, the creative hotel eMarketer will
have his hands full in the times to come.
Since the hotel emarketing niche is so new, you may be wondering just
what sets great eMarketers aside from the mediocre? How do you find these
people, hire them and more importantly…retain them? Here are a few thoughts
and personal observations…
So what are the 5 Hallmarks of a Great Hotel eMarketer?
For those Hotel Managers looking to get great hotel internet marketing
professionals onboard, here are 5 Key Tips on hiring and holding onto
Great Hotel eMarketers get bored easily – More often than not, eMarketers
hate repetitive work and will do anything to bring a little excitement
and creativity into the mix. They require playtime to innovate and experiment…once
a great idea emerges, they’re usually back to business and thinking of
serious ways to structure and implement their project. The most successful
eMarketers will always be those who stand out from the crowd by doing things
like no one else. Boredom, then, is simply an avenue to looking beyond
Great Hotel eMarketers are flexible – The Internet is in a state
of constant flux and trends change fast. Great online marketing professionals
realize this and welcome change…even if it means abandoning groundbreaking
pet projects if they just don’t make the cut for the business.
Great Hotel eMarketers have a hunger for learning – If anyone walks
up to you today and claims they’re an ‘Internet expert’, walk away…fast!
The web as we know it today has evolved just over the last 18 years, yet
no other technology has impacted humanity so radically in our history.
Great Hotel eMarketers are constantly learning and looking for ways to
harness the power of new developments and trends.
Great Hotel eMarketers share a passion for technology – Technology
is anything that applies human intelligence and imagination to generate
processes and systems to improve the human condition. Great hotel internet
marketers have an innate love for progress, problem solving and doing things
better, faster, easier and differently.
Great Hotel eMarketers are great at sharing knowledge and networking
– Competitive as they may be, great Hotel eMarketers are confident in their
knowledge and passion for what they do and will always share that knowledge
with others. These professionals are also great at building active and
passive networks that they can constantly interact with and learn from.
Excelling in difficult times boils down to a great mix of innovation, competition
and working smarter, not just harder. So in the recession to come, hoteliers
need to ensure they’re using the full potential of the Internet. Get yourself
a savvy Hotel eMarketer who’s just as excited about your business as you
are. If you’re lucky enough to already have one, send him/her out to PLAY
even harder…and watch the tides turn.
Hire eMarketers for attitude AND skill potential – Yes, attitude
is extremely important…but in the Internet Marketing game, so is an understanding
and grasp of the changing playing field. You’re unlikely to find someone
who ‘knows it all’ (they’d either be self-employed or you just won’t be
able to afford them!), so look for the odd ones, the misfits…the dreamers
and tinkerers who love technology, learning and experimentation…help them
grow into the role.
Define the big picture and set SMART goals –Ensure you involve your
hotel eMarketers in ‘big picture’ discussions and strategy meetings for
marketing, PR and revenue management. Not only will great new ideas come
to fore, you’ll also ensure your online activities are in sync with everything
else. Set Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound
goals with your eMarketers, so you both know what you’re working towards.
Leave them alone! – Once you’ve set those big picture goals, stop
peering over their shoulders! Great Hotel eMarketers work best with a healthy
dose of autonomy and creative license…the best way to ensure they pack
up and leave is micromanaging them and through rigid job controls.
Provide the right resources – Ensure you allocate the right operational
resources to eMarketing activities and projects! Even if you’ve never done
this before and are unsure of the results, take a gamble with calculated
risks. While tried and tested internet marketing strategies can be planned
and budgeted for, the more innovative attempts are often hit and miss.
Encourage experimentation and make failures learning opportunities.
Recognize and reward success –Hotel eMarketing does have its exciting
visible elements and successes, but it also involves a lot of back breaking
technical work, failed attempts and constant research. Just because eMarketing
is a difficult area to understand and relate to, hoteliers must avoid the
costly mistake of letting it slip to the bylines. Make it a habit to celebrate
successes and reward your eMarketing pro with the recognition they deserve.
the Author: At work, Jitendra Jain (JJ) is employed with Starwood Hotels
& Resorts in Dubai as an E-Commerce Manager and handles hotel online
marketing & distribution. At play, he is the founder of various online
initiatives like www.hotelemarketer.com,
(among others) that dream, connect, educate and share all that is glorious
about hospitality, technology and most importantly…the people that define
Disclamer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not reflect the views, developments or outlook of Starwood Hotels