A Quarterback for the Digital Services Playbook

What do Superbowl champions and hospitality organizations have in common?

They both need:

  1. Winning playbook to beat the competition
  2. Great coaches to provide direction before during and after engagements
  3. Quarterback to execute a winning plan in real time

The owners of both are the key to success.

1 Winning Playbook

A winning digital services playbook combines sales, marketing and revenue management to steal market share. Like Superbowl winners, the playbook is a dynamic document that continues to change. Team owners and coaches produce the strategy then players follow it.

It requires considerable thought and research.  Developing a winning digital services playbook should be a major focus of hospitality owners and managers.

A digital marketing playbook must include events in the city, spend, organizational goals and timeline of offers. It should also anticipate market changes due to seasonality and competition.  This playbook should be shared with players of vendors and revenue management as well.

2 Great Coaches

Hospitality digital marketing is complex.  It involves a holistic strategy that combines website design and functionality, search marketing, social media and content marketing plus e-mail and campaign marketing.  Typically, there are vendors that provide advice and guidance against data and systems in each of these areas.

Like Superbowl champion owners choosing coaches, hotel owners must make the right decisions about which vendors to partner with. Like the digital services playbook, putting together the best combination of vendors is an important task for owners.  These coaches should be able to challenge the strategy and get the most of out of each of player.

3 A Great Quarterback

Executing real-time hospitality digital marketing in a changing market is hard.  Like a winning quarterback, making the right play calls and timely adjustments is based on being able to read the situation. Keeping an eye on key performance indicators for digital marketing plus revenue management results is crucial.

There needs to be a digital marketing quarterback capable of making the right calls based on great coaching and a solid playbook.  A quarterback doesn’t have to be right all the time.  But they should be right enough to post a winning “score” for the owner.

Advice for Owners and Senior Managers

  1. Spend time, effort and resources on digital marketing strategy. Ensure the strategy aligns with property assets, human and material.
  2. Pick the right vendors and partners that fit the organization’s goals and are willing to work together.
  3. Hire the best “quarterback” to develop and execute the digital services playbook.

About the Authors:

This is a joint article between Cayuga Hospitality Consultant members Bill Carroll and Stephanie Smith of Cogwheel Marketing. Bill is a former university football player and coach.  Stephanie loves Hokie football.

Chris Breikss of Major Tom made the suggestion of having a good digital quarterback as a key to success during Cayuga Hospitality Consultants annual meeting and was the inspiration for this article.

About the Panel

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Sparks Smith can weave through the intricacies of the large hotel brands’ digital marketing systems and strategies. As Founder and Digital Matriarch at Cogwheel Marketing, Stephanie and her team help management companies identify the gap between brand and hotel level marketing to drive incremental revenue to their individual Marriott, Hilton and IHG hotels. She was a member of the Marriott Digital Franchise Advisory Council plus IHG Owner’s Association for 3 years each. Previously she was VP of eCommerce and Technology for a management company that grew to over 100 hotels by focusing on new builds. She has an MBA from University of Texas at Dallas and is a partner at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.

Bill Carroll, Ph. D.

Bill Carroll is actively engaged with hotel ownership groups, intermediaries and start ups in the areas of digital media management, pricing, and marketing. He is capable of taking a holistic view of marketing, pricing, distribution and revenue management for hospitality related firms. He helps clients chart a successful courses of action through improved strategic focus, organizational change and systems solutions choices. Bill is a Consulting Member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants and a senior analyst with Phocuswright.


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