The Hotel Marketing Roundtable organised by marketing agency, Blurb was a resounding success as senior professionals from the hospitality industry gained insightful nuggets of knowledge about the latest marketing trends in their respective field, on Wednesday 19thJuly, at 91Springboard, in Panjim.
With the tourism industry being the backbone of the economy in Goa and the state IT policy recently released, there were many hot topics lapped up by the attentive crowd. These travel and hospitality related subjects examined the finer points of digital marketing, influencer marketing and online travel agent bookings. The speakers and audience also participated in a very interactive Q & A segment. This was followed up with a networking opportunity, which also included young startup entrepreneurs that had gathered from the co-working space.
The panel included Saurabh Khanna, GM of The Park Hotels, Sachin Patil, CEO of Rubiq Solutions and STAAH channel management representative in Goa, Flexcia D’Souza, leading lifestyle writer and social media influencer in Goa, Wilbert Egipsy, revenue management consultant with Unomas hotels and Sapna Shahani, founder of Blurb. Sushila Mendonca was the compeer for the vibrant event, while Zhen Paintal of 91Springboard assisted in the coordination, along with the Blurb team.
“Our first marketing event was a big success. Not only did we have a full house but we got a lot of feedback from those who attended saying it was a great event. So maybe we will continue organising events like these where people from the hospitality industry can meet and discuss topics of importance to them. A lot of people stayed after the event to network and discuss their businesses as well,” remarked Blurb founder Sapna Shahani.
The following are answers from the expert panel:
What has worked well in your experience for marketing hotels?
“For marketing hotels you cannot beat word of mouth. In Goa there has to be a lot of personnel connect, compared to metros like Delhi where events sell out easily. The social media platforms we used include facebook and instagram. While print media is still active in Goa, it is slowing down elsewhere,” stated Saurabh Khanna, GM of The Park Hotels.
How can hotels increase direct bookings through their website?
“The core thing is to understand the competition and then provide competitive rates either through promotions or discounts on your own website. You then have to increase the visibility of your online presence through google ads, facebook campaigns, sms or mailers,” remarked Sachin Patil, CEO, Rubiq Solutions.
What is the importance and impact of influencer marketing for hotels?
People see your pictures and after they follow you the visibility time increases, which creates recall value. So these luxury locations stay in the back of the consumers mind as a good destination or good hotel to visit when planning a holiday. Slowly influencer marketing in Goa is becoming more organised as companies see the importance of this strategy. Before they would spend lakhs to use celebrities, now they can get the job done with influencers, remarked Flexcia D’Souza, Lifestyle writer and social media influencer.
What are some of the ways that a hotel can increase its value in the eyes of the customer?
Hotels need to develop their brand personality, by identifying their USP and execute this brand differentiation in a consistent way. One of the ways to do this is through social media marketing, where generic posts should be avoided. This is where agencies come in with great storytelling and create personalised work that engages with the audience. Professional photography and creative graphic design enhances the process,” stated Sapna Shahani, founder of Blurb.
What are the most important aspects of marketing that hotels often skip?
“Hotels should not copy other models and tell their own story. They should avoid template responses on tripadvisor as customers can see through this. Mistakes do happen, do not hide from bad reviews and the person who has made the mistake should reply. It’s also important for hotels to understand a little bit about technology so that they do not get taken advantage of. Social responsibility issues regarding the local environment is another important factor,” said Wilbert Egipsy, revenue management consultant with Unomas hotels.