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​by Georges Panayotis

Is digital marketing turning clientele into veritable tyrants who dictate the law and do away with every new initiative? The subject deserves attention if we don’t want to fall into a kind of dictatorship due to posts on community websites.

Traumatized by the reactions of customers that hurt their average scores, hoteliers are getting used to reacting to the slightest solicitation from a dissatisfied customer by adapting their product. If it is a matter of correcting imperfections, making amends for a mistake on the spot, there is no need to say anything further. But when customer comments become the foundations for new marketing methods, then there is reason to be concerned about the evolution of hotel concepts.

The quest for a consensus and global satisfaction of clientele can only lead to marketing through compromises, the quest for a common denominator between individual clients and groups, between Americans and Europeans, newlyweds and active senior citizens… There is no universal establishment and to try to build a Tower of Babel where everyone may voice their opinion to gain satisfaction of their priorities leads to the same final result, a collapsing of walls.

The exploratory vision that leads to the proposal of a new concept is the antithesis of the compromise. It is an alchemical quest with risks because it is projected into the future and is based on behavior studies and a strong dose of intuition. Success is not guaranteed and acceptance of the concept can take a while, but that is how an industry progresses with real innovations.

Hotel groups should not err excessively to caution and entrust the supply of the future to the analytics of search engines, to the diktats of community websites, and Big Data manipulations. There are no algorithms for creativity, and that is a good thing since computers would end up offering a product that is similar and conform only to the spirit of the moment. There is no equation for the imagination, and even more no digital formula, and it does not go into the past.

Marketing teams cannot hide behind their desks and ignore what’s happening out on the field. They must get out there. The digital is just another tool in the full panoply that tries to know the client, measures their satisfaction, loyalty or, even more basic, the signage, promotional operations, partnerships… All that also requires knowledge of a trade, an awareness of the hospitality culture that subtends marketing operations. Luring experts from other areas by capitalizing on their technological experience alone risks widening the gap between operations and actions at headquarters.

The engine behind innovation is its effect of surprise. The Wow! effect that goes further than natural expectations to make the client enter another world, to offer another, unexpected, way to consume. Hotel groups must make them reach the critical size that will satisfy the ratios and shareholders, but that is second to the necessary move to take risks.

Today, it is symptomatic that the new, most off-beat, concepts come from smaller, more agile, groups that are undoubtedly bolder, fearless of facing many refusals and amused smiles from bankers and institutions, before realizing their dream and taking off.

Listening to clients is imperative, but listening only to their recriminations and expressed needs can freeze the relationship in the present, so it is only possible to catch up with the flow rather than bring on the wave that makes it possible to ride the curl ahead of the others.  

About MKG Group

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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