An interview in ‘A Hotelier’s Mind, setting strategy for the future’ by Jeroen Gulickx, with Travel writer and Mocinno International colleague, Lola Akinmade Äkerström, who’s work has appeared in Travel Writer & Photographer for National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Travel + Leisure, Slate, Travel Channel, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, National Geographic Channel, several in-flight magazines, New York Times online.
‘A Hotelier’s Mind, setting strategy for the future’ by Jeroen Gulickx, owner and Managing Director of Hospitality Consulting company Mocinno International, is a book for people with a passion for the hotel industry.
Your quote on the Future of Hotel and Exploration of data:
Hotels need more human storytelling voices and less glossy magazine personas. Guests are savvy and aren’t easily lured by perfect hotel stock photos. They want to hear human stories, to go behind the scenes, to follow their food’s journey from farm and sea to plate, and to learn what hotels are doing to stay sustainable in creative and innovative ways.
1. Please tell us about the objectives of your company?
Geotraveler Media Sweden is the umbrella company for all my creative consulting services – from content marketing and
generation to editorial work, photography, social media campaigns, and other digital services that help travel brands and destinations
reach their target audiences.
2. You travel the world, collecting data for major Hotel chains, and being involved in the content marketing. How do you feel the Hotel industry is adjusting to follow this trend of active data collection?
The hotel and its services need to seamlessly wrap around the customer. By analyzing and harnessing big data about your customer wisely, the smartest hotels have used this data to build engaging relationships with their customers. The customers do not only stay at the property and possibly review their experiences on sites like TripAdvisor, they come back and actively engage with the brands on social media. From specific hashtags which build a sense of community and belonging to participating in Twitter chats hosted by the hotel brand. It is all about engaging your customers that organically grows them into brand ambassadors. For example, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts uses hashtags such as #FSTaste for food & drink and #FSFamily for family experiences
so its customers can share and rally around those themes to create a sense of community.
3. What are the core principles of creating a Brand through content marketing?
Answer: For me, it’s all about consistency, community, and creativity. You want to create and market content that is consistent in terms of quality and style so that even if it changes direction in terms of subject matter, people still recognize the brand in the messaging. Building community is important and this could involve crowdsourcing of information and data so customers feel invested in the brand, and of course, creativity in terms of staying fresh and relevant in this new digital age.
4. What can hotels do to improve the use of Data Collection?
Hotels need to mine data in a smart way that not only connects them to their customers’ preferences but actually to their customers’ daily rituals and routines. They need to start getting to the level of knowing, not only if the customer wants a hotel with a gym, but also if their customers’ daily rituals and routines. They need to start getting to the level of knowing, not only if the customer wants a hotel with a gym, but actually if their customers get up early for morning jogs and how they can make that experience as seamless for the customer as possible by delivering suggested jogging routes, monitoring tools, gear, etc. even before they check in.
5. You are a busy writer, blogger and photographer. Within Hotels there is an incredible enthusiasm and need, what are the key skills
for a person to be able to transfer your experiences to manageable materials?
Hotels should continue to look to external influencers, writers, and photographers to bring a more authentic voice and unique
storytelling beyond beautiful brochure pictures. Guests are savvy and aren’t easily lured anymore by the perfect hotel stock photo.
They want to hear human voices and stories, they want to go behind the scenes, and learn more about the journey the food takes from its source to their plates, they want to learn more about the people and staff that work at the hotel, and they want to learn more about what hotels are doing to be sustainable in creative and innovative ways. Hotels need more human storytelling voices and less glossy magazine personas.
6. How can Hotels establish a relationship with their guests through content marketing and use of photography?
As I’ve mentioned above, by creating an engaging community where guests can tag and share their content as well and feel part of the tribe as it were. Hotels can crowdsource advice, run chats to directly engage, regularly feature and spotlight guests, and make it more about uplifting the guest and their experiences organically as a natural ambassador for the brand.
7. Besides the actual use and applications of the content, photography and online presence, what should hotels build into their Strategy related to this?
Hotels should have dedicated budgets put aside for online engagement and social media outreach and amplification through
campaigns and by working with travel influencers and digital storytellers.
8. As a frequent traveler yourself, what ways do you feel Hotels can be more effective within communicating directly with you, and
what are the privacy challenges in that?
As I’ve mentioned, hotels need to smartly analyze their guest data so they can connect on a more personal level with the guests even before they ever check in. I remember a wonderful experience with The Milestone luxury hotel in London where I was sent a
simple form to fill out before I arrived at the property with a ton of preferences with questions like:
-- Which of the following items may we place in your room?
Feather pillows, foam pillows, neck support pillow, printer for
laptop, trouser press, humidifier, etc.
-- What are your hobbies/interests/favorite colors/favorite
-- Asking if they could pre-book a personal trainer, English
afternoon tea, make dinner reservations, etc.
All before I ever arrived and checked in at the hotel. Hotels need to form relationships with guests by learning their preferences and
continually communicating with them using those preferences long after they’ve checked out. The goal is to have guests become
your natural brand champions
9. Branding within Hospitality is highly associated with the recognition of the many generations. What part does Social Media take in that, and will market segmentation be enough?
Social media is here to stay. It will evolve and mutate to flow with the ways we choose to discover and consume information but for
the most part, it is here to stay. Brands who are not actively using any form of social media or adding it to their business strategy risk
becoming isolated, obscure, and left behind. Social media can also easily hijack your brand and brand message, so hotels need to be
actively involved in various social media channels to make sure they are monitoring their brand message.
10. Content marketing is often misunderstood as being a standalone effort within Hotels. What are some tips of how Senior
Management can ensure that it is a part of the entire Strategy?
This ties back to the fact that guests and consumers are becoming more and more savvy in their needs, requirements, and tastes.
They want true and authentic stories they can connect with and so digital content marketing and storytelling should be an integral
part of a hotel’s marketing strategy.