Micro-influencers: why trust trumps ads

Micro-influencers can make a huge impact for your hotel marketing strategy—they’re trustworthy, authentic, and can even trump the influence of someone who has a large number of followers. Tune in as I share why:


Want to make micro-influencers part of your strategy? Check out Adweek, Venture Beat, and Jeff Bullas, or get in touch with me here.

Pro tips: kickstarting a career in the travel industry

When I first joined the hotel marketing world, I was given empowering and inspiring advice from coworkers and friends. Those words of wisdom helped me confidently dive head first into the industry. Now I’d like to pay it forward.

So I tapped the shoulders of coworkers, friends, partners, and mentors to share what they’ve learned along the way and what advice they have for newcomers in the travel industry.

Get the scoop on what they had to say below:

Patrick Grimes
Travel Sales & Marketing Veteran


Patrick has worn many hats in this industry, chiefly because others are quick to recognize his talent and initiative. Patrick’s advice comes from years of dedication to the industry and, of course, really hard (but smart) work.

Sweat every day. Literally or figuratively. Continue to move. When you don’t, you will struggle. Be in the sun. Get and stay uncomfortable.

Dream then do. Stay “creatively focused.” An idea is good but don’t let it wander into an infinite ether. What’s the first thing you need to do to action the idea, then what’s the second? Move forward with what’s worthy of your time and talents.

Go with your gut. Don’t ever second guess yourself and wonder, “Is this right?” Your accomplishments will be the sum of your instinct, ambition, and actions. Do it, then assess and learn.

Shelby Cunningham — Business Development Manager


Shelby is an industry vet who truly practices what she preaches. She promotes and embraces the philosophy that partnerships are give and take, never hesitating to lend a helping hand when needed.

I would give myself a twist on one of my favorite travel quotes—‘voyage, travel, and change of place impart vigor’—and recommend that I truly embrace all the passion that this industry holds—within each company vision, within the people who bring travel to life for others, and within each conference, partnership, and new friendship found.

This passion, this ‘vigor,’ this energy is what propels my commitment to continuing to grow and learn as a person, a fellow industry employee, and a participant in travel itself.

Chris Kane — Account Director of Leisure Sales
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin


Chris’s advice on networking should be heeded, not just because it’s correct, but because it’s coming from an expert. There are networkers in this industry, and then there’s Chris Kane. But don’t watch him work a room…you should be networking instead!

For those just starting out—try to intern whenever possible. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, learn a new skill set and of course hopefully lead to a paying job. Companies like to hire from within and what a better way to put yourself out there as a candidate.

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! You never know what doors can open by networking and getting to know your travel industry peers. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that gets you up in the travel industry ladder that much faster.

Avoid burning bridges with travel industry peers, bosses, and executives. You never know in your next steps down the career path whom you could be working with/for!

Find a mentor whenever possible. Their career experience and insight can be a huge asset to your own development, plus free first-hand education.

Wade Lindquist — Vice President of Sales


I met Wade at the ROC conference in New Orleans and became quick friends! He’s been in the industry for over 15 years and has a wealth of experience in hospitality sales and marketing.

If I knew back in the early 2000’s what I know today I would have:

1. Gone to college with an emphasis in hospitality.

2. Started helping hotels realize that they can directly market and compete against the OTA’s much earlier in my career—and might have been able to put a dent in their reliance on OTA’s several years earlier.

However, I could not be happier to be where I am today. I’m more passionate than ever about what I do and the industry I am blessed to be able to call my home!

Lola Feiger — Digital Marketing


ALICE & Flip.to always find each other in the same room at the industry’s biggest hospitality events. And when you’re in a room full of incredible talent, you meet great people—and that’s where we met Lola.

It would have been helpful to know early on that it’s good to experiment at the start to find your highest performing channel, but then you should narrow your focus quickly. Channels we focused a lot of resources on, like social media and paid social, wound up not being very useful for us, as hotel decision makers don’t spend a lot of time there.

I’d also tell newcomers that if they’re considering outsourcing their PR to professionals, they should direct the PR team’s attention primarily to getting mainstream consumer press and industry event speaking invitations, since running press releases and publishing in the hotel trades can be easily done on your own.

Sam Trotter — Corporate Brand Strategist
Charlestowne Hotels


When he’s not writing for HNN or working on marketing campaigns for Charlestowne Hotels, he’s welcoming newcomers to the industry with a beer and friendly conversations.

For your long term career having a big name matters often times more than your experience. I come from a family of small businesses and have always been too entrepreneurial for that type of environment, but missing that recognizable brand held me back from positions I was more than qualified for earlier on in my career.

I would recommend camping out at Google/Salesforce/Amazon/etc. until someone agrees to hire you!

Scott Robbins — Director of Sales & Marketing
The LA Hotel Downtown


Scott has spent the last 15 years mastering the world of sales and marketing at independent and branded properties. He’s sharp, persistent, and always answers his phone!

Working for a branded property (Marriott, Hilton) can give an individual wonderful experience in sales 101, but when it comes to marketing, that area tends to elude sales folks in the beginning of their careers since the branded properties have departments and dedicated folks that focus solely on the marketing side of the business.

The biggest exposure to the marketing arena is working for an independent property whereas one will have to manage the marketing side without the assistance of a Global office or individuals dedicated to the different facets of marketing such as social media, print/digital advertising, geo-fencing, etc.

I believe that any sales professional looking to make hospitality a career, should venture and learn the basics of marketing at the start of their journey or at least understand how important marketing is to the sales engine of any hotel.

Do you have a marketing tip you’d like to share? We’re alway looking to spread the word to newcomers! Send us your advice to hello@flip.to.

A sweet surprise from Chickasaw Nation

I’ve said it before—the biggest reason I love working in this industry? The hospitality. This week we were treated to one sweet surprise—an incredible selection of Bedré Fine Chocolates courtesy of Micha Krodel of Chickasaw Nation out of Oklahoma.

Milk Chocolate Oklahoma, Cowboy Boot & Hat
Milk Chocolate Oklahoma, Cowboy Boot & Hat

If the Chickasaw Nation wasn’t on your travel list, it should be. They have some spectacular offerings in store for their guests. From the breathtaking landscapes of their rec areas to a rich cultural center, opportunities to explore are limitless. Visitors can also relax in luxury at the Artesian Hotel, unwind at the Chickasaw Retreat spa, or even enjoy top-notch gaming at the WinStar World Casino and Resort.

Bedré is something really special, too. This small chocolatier was brought to life by the rich legacy of the Chickasaw Nation. Purchased in 2000, they’ve completely transformed it into a nationally recognized luxury chocolate brand. These sweets are offered in retail stores across the country, including The Artesian Hotel and Bedré Café.

(And our whole team can attest to the chocolate—we snagged a few pics prior to the devouring!)


We had just a taste, and it was enough for us to start planning our next trip to Oklahoma. Be sure to have a look for yourself!

Flip.to on the road: Lanyon Live

Last month, Lanyon Live wrapped up in Dallas—my first hospitality industry event, and an incredible one to kick-off at. It was “three days of inspiration”
featuring sessions from some of the industry’s well-known thought leaders, and expert speakers.

Going into the event, I was excited and nervous in anticipation for what was to come. Speakers, breakouts, networking—there was so much to take in! By the end of the event, my expectations were completely blown out of the water. The quality of the event, along with the outstanding speakers gave the audience (and me!) a ton to take away.

Terrace Pool at The Fairmont Dallas
Terrace Pool at The Fairmont Dallas

Day one got started at the Welcome Reception at The Fairmont Dallas. Hosted at the Terrace Pool, the skyline views of the city were needless to say, amazing. It was complemented by great conversation. Spanning from worldwide groups like Sonesta and Mövenpick, to local hotels like Crowne Plaza Dallas Downtown and The Joule, (to name just a few) the event was attended by an outstanding variety of hospitality professionals at the top of their field.

The crowd was a mix of old colleagues being reacquainted, and the introduction of new friends. Being a first-timer, I’d have to say that the genuine warm welcome I received was more than I could have ever expected. After all, this is hospitality—but the truth is the reception from the professionals in this industry stood out!

The next two days were buzzing with inspiring talks that offered huge value to the attendees. Keynote speakers Lori Greiner of QVC & Shark Tank, and Elizabeth Pinkham of Salesforce, both drove home key points on marketing strategy and success. To quote Greiner, “Don’t take no for an answer.” Charge ahead by staying focused on your goal, but be flexible enough to transform where needed to attain success. Lanyon’s advisory board panel also noted to keep in mind that you control the satisfaction and value your guests receive—being focused on your goal will help achieve that success.

Flip.to President, Edward St. Onge, giving a presentation at Lanyon Live

Lanyon Live’s breakouts covered topics in every corner of the hospitality industry. With 32 to choose from, there was something for everyone attending the event. Flip.to’s own President, Edward St. Onge, led a key session on group advocacy. Covering how hotels can drive more revenue with the power of a story well told, he shared how to use social in a far more effective way, letting advocates introduce your hotel to massive audiences of potential future guests. The driver? Incredible content by way of authentic, truly compelling guest stories. Not only does it give hotels more reach, but better reach—tapping the right guests for your hotel.

The Joule Hotel in Dallas, who attended the event, comes to mind when it comes to being tapped into the guest experience. This revitalized 1920s landmark building set in the heart of Dallas is an outstanding property with art, boutique shopping, great design and award-winning food and drink. Covering everything from culture and style, to local eating and wellness, their 1530 Main blog is a local hub for all things Dallas.

I also had the ability to sit in a second breakout about social by Sahana Jayaraman, SVP and Head of Digital & Content Marketing at Eastwick Communications. She touched on the simultaneously loved and hated hashtag. While they are important, they certainly aren’t everything if you aren’t using them right, even leading to buzzkills.

Lanyon Live Keynote
Lanyon Live Keynote

Another stand out for me came from Ebony Venters and Michelle Fisher at Lanyon. “From Funnel to Pipeline” talked about the importance of aligning sales with marketing, along with how best to nurture warm leads into becoming a customer. This resonated strongly with the Flip.to team, paralleling many of the points from RevPAR Hacking, our latest ebook on where the future of revenue management and marketing lies.

Overall, the themes remained clear: an authentic brand story builds a true relationship with your past and future guests, whether the channel is social media, your website, or otherwise. And it makes sense—the hospitality industry is built on the guest experience, so making it personal makes for good business, too.