From Social Media Blogging to being a Hotel Marketing Expert, Are Morch works closely with Hotels to create Social Media strategies that fit their needs and properties. His career has revolved around hotel management and he is very passionate about this topic.We got the opportunity to interview the Hotel Marketing veteran about his journey in hospitality industry and his productivity hacks as a Social Media Blogger.
1. When did you enter the Hospitality Industry?
It has always been in my blood. I come from a home where we parents were hosts to people all walk of lives.When we went on vacation we used to drive to Scandinavia and my dad was an expert in finding some unique Bed and Breakfast and Inns.Hospitality to me is a passion that comes from your heart. I started my first Hotel job as a reservation agent. This was a really great way to learn more about the Hospitality and Hotel Industry.And from there I went onto start working as a Front Desk agent. After this, I ended a period in the Housekeeping management team. Then I was promoted to Manager on Duty.
Over the years I got myself certified in Hospitality Management from eCornell, Hospitality Digital Marketing from HSMAI and Introduction to Global Hospitality Management from Cornell University.
2. What inspired you to be a Hotel Blogger?
The inspiration to be Hotel Blogger came from my long passion for the Hospitality Industry, and the value it has given me to serve people from all walks of life.Though I did not just wake up one morning and thought Hotel Blogging was going to be my entrepreneurial journey.I actually started out with some Social Media Blogging.
The inspiration for Hotel Blogging came after I had just lost my mother and my father had passed away two years earlier. And I needed a break to get my mindset on track. I and my wife took a cruise together with my brother and sister-in-law.And while we were talking over dinner one day we got into talking about Hotels. My brother-in-law told me afterward that he was really impressed by my passion for Hotels.When we came home from the cruise that was when it the idea popped up in my head. So, in my mind, I am fulfilling the journey that my parents started with me.
3. As a Social Media Expert what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?
My favorite productivity hack is to both utilize and create Social Media Marketing Frameworks. The Social Media Marketing Framework has two sides- State (Human) & Content (Engagement).On the State side I focus on cognitive, effective and behaviour. On the Content side I focus on foundation, funnel and amplification.I am a big fan of using Kanban boards.The Kanban board allows me to set up weekly processes that indicate what to do, what i am doing and what is done.When I know what I am going to do then it all I have to do is to input my content for the week in my Social Media Management Scheduler. My preference is eClincher which also has great integrations that makes it easy for me to measure both important Key Performance Indicators and Reputation Management.
4. Do you think Marketing is an important division in Hotel Industry?
My perception of any Hotel is that is as good as the happiness of their team. Technology and Social Media has made marketing more diverse than the traditional Hotel Marketing.We have for many years experienced a tremendous shift among travelers and how they behave. Today’s travelers are more connected through mobile, tablets, laptops and IoTs. And today's Hotel marketers have to reach and connect with these travelers in real time and create campaigns that work across all of these new mediums.I believe the Marketing division is critical for any Hotel today. Though it has to embrace and adapt to a new culture.
5. You are an Experienced Hotel Blogger. What tools in social media would you recommend hoteliers to use to make their guests happy and satisfied.
Either it is Social Media or a human to human experience to me the most important and valuable tool for any Hotel is a Happy Team member.To me Hospitality is Art. It is like the painter that uses a combination of colors to create a picture. And we all will have a different perspective of how we view the finished product. The key is to bring out the commonalities that tell us that this is an experience we want to share with others.In my articles, I often talk about the importance of technology, Social Media, and New Media. But in today’s modern Hotels their most important assets are their team members.Some research has shown that team members efficiency and talent determine the pace and the growth of the organization. And a Hotels team members skills account for 85% of the organization’s assets.So, for the modern Hotel today the most valuable asset will be their knowledgeable and productive team members.
6. How new school of marketing i.e. Digital Marketing is different from traditional methods, for a hotel marketer?
I believe few of the primary differences between digital marketing and traditional marketing lays in the human connection and conversations.
- Digital marketing is a two-way conversation while Traditional marketing is a one-way conversation
- Digital marketing is human-to-human (one-on-one) marketing while Traditional marketing is mass-marketing
- Digital marketing is about YOU and Traditional marketing is about ME
7. What hurdles do hotels face when trying to embrace more of online marketing in their media plan? Is traditional advertising still important? If yes/no,why do you think so?
The biggest online marketing challenge for Hotels today is how disruptive market trends brings on new innovative and effective players that are starting to attract chunk size portions of travelers into their market segments.For today’s biggest market segments Millennials, trends are showing that price is not the primary decision factor but is the experience.Today Hotels face three big challenges that we see they struggle to adapt to their marketing plans;
- Real-time data
I have over the years done various surveys and talked with several Hoteliers. When I ask them, they indicate the biggest challenge is CONTENT. And on the other side, the primary outcome they want is more ONLINE VISIBILITY.To me, the challenge is more about putting the CONTENT into CONTEXT that addresses disruption, real-time data, and experience.
And the primary outcome should be HAPPINESS.It is no longer about SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, but it is all about search EXPERIENCE OPTIMIZATION. I believe this shift provides some great opportunities to innovate Traditional Marketing. Experience packages that include local values will be what travelers want from Hotels. This aspect open for a comeback of creative Loyalty programs.
8. According to you, what is the future of Marketing in Hotel Industry?
Context and experience are the future of Hotel marketing because travelers demand it, the new media environment supports it, and it is proving to be a much greater driver of action than advertising. And now is the time where the line in the sand will be drawn.I will quote Shakespeare here: “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”Social Media, New Media, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented reality is no longer hypes or something any Hotels can afford to take for granted.Trends show that by 2020 experience will overtake price as the most important driver in the traveler’s decision process.
Hotels that don’t take actions by then to adapt to Social Media, New Media, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented reality will learn that travelers will draw the line in the sand for them.It is time to be proactive now, and it is OK to ask for help. There are affordable solutions available that are fit for any Hotel today. Not all Hotels need a Robot Butler.
9. How would you describe a ‘Future Smart Hotel’? How long do you think it will take for the existence of such a hotel? Do you think Hotels are ready for it?
We know the sharing economy has brought on disruptive experience alternatives like Airbnb and Uber. These disruptive alternatives have offered collaborative opportunities for the travelers that been tired of traditional offers from the Hospitality Industry.And the rapid development in technology, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality along with travelers increasing willingness to participate in collaborative opportunities is a clear sign that Hotels need to be proactive here.Hotels need to have a better understanding of traveler’s needs, cognitive, effective and behavior.
Since Hotels collect a lot of data about travelers they need to a have a clear understanding of how GDPR will impact their service. And from there take the appropriate measures to assure they are compliant.Two of the largest costs for Hotels today is labor and customer acquisitions.
New technology and artificial intelligence will help Hotels cut down on these costs. This will help us identify tasks that can be automated, and data that gives a better understanding of the traveler’s real-time needs.Hotels will have to train or hire new skill sets that are prepared for these shifts. It is critical for Hotels to be proactive and take actions.We have seen some Hotels that are proactive and preparing themselves for these shifts.
The first tech Hotels are already here.
We are seeing Hotels with robot receptionist, a robot butler, robotic luggage handling, Alexa for Hotels, chatbots, apps that control light in the room, TV, in-room dining, room key-lock, wristbands for minibar, smart shower and advanced streaming service just to mention some examples.And then you have KViHOTEL in Budapest the first 360 Hotel for the modern traveler. Where the guest controls everything at the Hotel with their mobile device.
10. What’s the best hotel service you’ve ever got and in which hotel?
I see with myself that I am not different than the average traveler today. Often it is the small things that will distinguish between a bad, good, and awesome experience.And I also enjoy Hotels that provide an experience that goes beyond a traditional Hotel experience.
To me, Marriott’s Beachplace Towers in Fort Lauderdale has provided me with one of my best experiences.Upgrading us to beach view on a high floor, welcoming us with a smile, calling us to make sure the room was ok, plus share great local information, and making reservations at a local restaurant when I and my wife was there for a special occasion.
Just the memory of sitting at the balcony with a good place of red wine, great company, and the ocean breeze in our face tells me this was one of those special micro-moments all of us wants to forget the daily stress and pressure.To me, this verifies that we need Hotel Experience Ambassadors that is empowered to pull of these types of experiences.When I read bad reviews often I see that it was due to the Hotels missed out on the small things.Remember travelers will remember the small thing either it is awesome or bad and shares with their community.Be Awesome and serve your guests with Happiness!
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PS: To learn more about Are Morch – Hotel Blogger and Social Media Consultant visit his blog at https://aremorch.com