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Hospitality Insights

Why Most Hotel Marketers Will Never Operate at the Cutting Edge

12 June 2024


One of my favourite Steve Jobs moments was when he quoted Alan Kay, saying, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” While the late Mr Jobs was clearly referring to operating systems, the message I take from this is the importance of truly blending the seen and unseen, particularly if you want to operate at the frontier of your technical field.

One notable embodiment of this principle was when Apple branched out and created its own processors. I’m a PC lover at heart, but those new M chips sure do run well. The software and hardware are perfectly matched—the seen and the unseen.

I would argue that the majority of marketing operates in the seen space: the visual output, the carefully crafted copy, the glossy print material, the crisp social posts, the internal reporting, the design briefs, etc. When done correctly, however, there is a significant portion of marketing that operates in the unseen. I see this spanning both the strategic as well as the technical.

Marketing strategy, particularly when adopting and implementing principles such as segmenting, targeting, and positioning, Porter’s Five Forces, the various ‘Ps’, etc., is a great place to start. These will certainly allow the ‘seen’ elements of marketing to pull in the right direction and hit their mark. While the strategy is semi-unseen, it is at least relatable to other departments.

Going even more under the hood is something even more unseen: the data strategy, or perhaps an overall technical strategy, which should empower everything above it. Circling back to my earlier reference, if you are serious about marketing, you need to invest in the underlying infrastructure.

This might still seem a bit abstract, so let me give some examples of how a technical strategy is essential when operating at the leading edge:

It may seem an obvious step to some, but the reality is that a strategic approach to marketing technology is painfully absent in most hospitality businesses. The systems in play are a collection of SaaS solutions that are inadequately connected to each other.

There are a number of forward-thinking organisations looking at five-year technology roadmaps, but most are approaching marketing and connectivity in the same way they have been doing for the last decade. For some, that might involve a gap analysis of your current systems; for others, it might mean working out what systems or connections are needed.

In order to operate at the leading edge, you simply must have a clearly defined approach to technology that maps out the following:

My goal this year is to create awareness of the technical skill sets required here. I have been blowing the ‘Hotel CTO’ trumpet. I would love to help, train, workshop, and support marketers and hospitality leaders to be more strategic with their tech.

If any of the above resonated with you, reach out to my team, and we can look to arrange something.

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