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Improving the Lifetime Value of a Customer: Interview With
Ted Schweitzer, VP eCommerce, La Quinta

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April 29, 2009 - Marketers need to prioritise their marketing initiatives across several dimensions. 

These are – the amount of return on the marketing spend, certainty (the likelihood of the amount of return), timing (estimating when the return would be accrued) and sustainability (for how long there can be a steady stream of profit).

According to Ted Schweitzer, VP e-commerce, La Quinta, there is another measurement, which needs to be assessed. 

“That is - the impact of the brand engagement and how that improves the lifetime value of the customer,” said Schweitzer told EyeforTravel.com’s Ritesh Gupta. 

That lifetime value, if improved, can increase the effectiveness and return on the advertising spend. 

In effect, the better the brand engagement in the process, the more effective the spend for a longer period of time.

It is recommended that companies should understand their risk profile and strategic goals, develop marketing plans/investments accordingly and encourage a culture of testing new ideas and optimising existing programmes.

“From our own process of review, analysis and planning that we do utilise strategy and long term planning to determine the best mix of our overall marketing plans.  We do some testing but only in areas we think have longer term potential for the brand marketing mix.  With mix modeling, direct measurement tools, wave tracking and site traffic, our data set provides a strong base from which to build,” said Schweitzer, who is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference (June 3-4, Miami).

Approach

One way of developing business is via a “bottom-up” approach, where each customer is acquired profitably in the short-term.

La Quinta works on both broad and direct reach. 

“While today’s economy is challenging, it’s not changing our acquisition and retention plans dramatically. We feel the combined impact of both traditional media and digital media are extremely important,” said Schweitzer.

He agrees that the successful businesses of the future still need to follow the twin brand marketing strategy i. e. with acquisition and conversion strategy throughout. 

“Fully integrated marketing with brand, conversion, retention with a solid media mix should always be the goal,” he said. 

Social media

Schweitzer says there are a lot of different options to look at with social media and ultimately letting the customer direct the interaction with the brand. 

This breadth of channels from which to connect with brands is creating some opportunity for brands to broaden existing models (email, contact centers, reviews) “to a new more broadcast-oriented field”. 

“Adapting to these new channels will be critical and something we’ve not yet accomplished at LQ,” he said. 

Marketers acknowledged that it is essential that brands are aware of and monitor conversations that are happening about them real-time so they can understand how their customers feel and can also protect their reputation where necessary

Multiple companies have started targeting this area for fairly reasonable fees, says Schweitzer. 

“It’s basically providing a dashboard and response mechanisms for brands, stores etc. to be able to see what “chatter” is out there,” he said. 

Responses are not always necessary but knowledge of what’s being said certainly is. 

For companies with individual properties (i.e. hotels) it’s a challenge to create the right balance of staying aware and deciding when more action is required.  The response approach is more important than ever based on social media.

It is acknowledged that the real benefit can be derived by aligning a company’s social networking strategy with that of company’s brand and then integrating social elements into the fabric of everything you do online. 

Schweitzer considers the challenges to be similar for most of the companies right now. 

“That is funding the approach and then as usual, integration of a new and permanent channel in terms of the mix. This can be as simple as having the resources to align with the new medium, but in reality it must be pervasive, inclusive and closely monitored,” he said . 

It’s not a turn-it-on-and-forget-it engine. 

Given the immediacy of social networking, it’s imperative that the strategy and execution don’t end once it’s out. 

“The ability to quickly adapt and modify the approach is important based on that monitoring,” concluded Schweitzer.
 

Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA

Ted Schweitzer, VP e-commerce, La Quinta is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference (June 3-4, Miami)

Fore more information, click here: http://events.eyefortravel.com/online-marketing/agenda.asp

 

 
Contact:

Helen Raff 
VP North America 
EyeforTravel 
+44 (0) 207 375 7582 
helen@eyefortravel.com
 

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