GDPR: A primer for everyone in travel

GDPR. It’s a regulation that, in just over a month, will have a huge impact for marketers everywhere. While building compliance into our platform, we’ve gotten a ton of questions as to why it’s important, and how we’re handling the shift.

To help, we’re raising awareness industry-wide with a primer on how it affects all of us in travel:


To go further, we’re sharing what else we’ve learned.

For one thing, there’s the possibility that your existing marketing database is at risk. Legal counsel or insurance providers may stop use without proof that it’s in compliance. In the short-term, this potentially invaluable asset is where your focus should be.

If you’d like information about de-risking your database, get in touch with us here. We’ll share a usable fix to segment existing audiences, while kicking off a marketing campaign that’s a win for everyone involved.

In the meantime, check out AdWeek’s full take and let us know how you’re preparing for the long-term.

Set to go beyond data, we see it as a way to get into personal conversations that are expected and wanted by your travelers—leveling up all of us as travel marketers.

Watch now: Why Inspiration

Scott and I go back over 20 years. He’s the EVP of Marketing at Visit Myrtle Beach, but he also happens to be a leader in destination marketing. Though the landscape has changed dramatically, Scott has continued to evolve to keep Myrtle Beach top of mind with travelers everywhere.

He’s also someone I’m glad to call a great friend. (Neither of our hairlines has changed in the last 20 years!)

Scott recently sat in with the team here to give his take on why competing in the inspiration phase is such a critical piece of any marketing strategy—a point that resonates (and not just for destination marketers.)

Tune in below as he shares some great insight:


The big picture: it’s incredibly hard to compete with the big guys at “Book Now,” and Scott’s take reinventing the approach for travel marketing is spot on.

Dig into more from Tnooz and Google or for more like this, give Scott a follow here.

And for you destination marketers out there—interested in how advocacy is changing the game for destinations worldwide? Let’s chat. (I promise you’ll be in store for a fun conversation.)

Stories matter: what hotels can learn from content marketers at large

Forrester defines content marketing as:

“A marketing strategy where brands create interest, relevance and relationships with customers by producing, curating and sharing content that addresses specific customer needs and delivers visible value.”

Notice that it’s more than just creating content to put in front of your guests. It’s creating effective content with a purpose—to educate and inspire.

And when it comes to this strategy, in particular, hoteliers can take cues from brands across every industry. From the most extreme examples like Red Bull TV to the more subtle like Leadpages, they all have one thing is common: incredible content marketing and storytelling.

The case for better content

There’s no shortage of content out there on the internet. Just about everyone is creating it. But is it effective? It’s critical to measure if your content marketing is working. To do this, you need to define what success is from the start. What metrics are important to your hotel? What are the wins (both large and small) to get you there?

Without a clear plan in place, it’s easy to fall into a trap of creating more content rather than creating content that’s actually effective at meeting your goals. Remember the endgame here—create interest, relevance and relationships with your guests.

According to Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, there’s no one way to do just that. But she does offer a few suggestions to consider for your next piece:

  • Focus on empathy and experiences
  • Focus on relevant and inspiring stories
  • Focus on making it useful

Great content = Useful x Empathic x Inspirational

It’s important to note that all three factors are needed. Without one, the system (and it’s effectiveness) fails.

The case for storytelling

The medium you use to distribute your work and even what you define as useful or relevant is completely dependent on your brand, guests and business goals. For hoteliers, in particular, stories have an important role to play.

Stories help build powerful connections with guests, creating loyalty and trust that can make a hotel stand out from the competition. Let’s dig into why.

Stories are useful

For centuries, humans have told stories to share information and teach important lessons. Over time they shape our perceptions and beliefs, whether that’s about individuals, food, political views, or even your hotel.

As your story is cultivated, it develops into a powerful means for future travelers to learn about your hotel and the experiences your property has to offer in an authentic way. When all of these things come together, that’s when your guest is ready to book.

Stories are empathetic

Your guests are the core characters of your hotel’s story and they have relevance to the people they know—future travelers perfect for your hotel. It’s hard for these prospective guests to identify with a building. But your guests’ perspectives offer an authentic connection that resonates. They’ll breathe life into your hotel with messages that traditional advertising can’t touch.

Don’t just take my word for it. Robert McKee, regarded as one of the best brand storytellers, said in this interview, “When a story stars a consumer, there’s a kind of natural empathy. That character is a human being, just like me.”

Stories are inspirational

Stories engage consumers, pulling them in to participate in the conversation, rather than telling them what to think. Plus, stories evoke emotions, and emotions inspire us to take action.

Just remember that authenticity matters here. Travelers see right through content that’s not authentic and you’re running the risk of losing valuable credibility with your audience.

Brands across every industry recognize that storytelling is an effective avenue for marketing. It captures what today’s consumers want: useful, empathetic and inspirational content. For the hospitality industry, adapting this mindset while enlisting the help of your guests will be a win-win for your hotel.

Fuel Webisodes_Blog_Banner on the road: CHIEF Conference

Jeff and I recently wrapped up a trip to the Caribbean to attend CHTA’s CHIEF 2016 in Puerto Rico. I met some outstanding industry leaders from the area and got a taste of the incredible Caribbean hospitality and culture.

The event offered some huge takeaways as industry players came together to tackle challenges hoteliers face every day. But something else I was amazed by was how open everyone was in sharing their stories. It took this event to another level.

Check out some of our favorites below from a few of the fine folks we met at this inspirational event.

Thor Harris, Founder & CEO, Percepture

Thor from Percepture provided some fantastic foresight in communication strategies within the hospitality industry. Thanks for sharing some key takeaways from your 12 years experience in public relations, digital marketing and crisis management.

Jodi Diamond, CEO & President, Diamond PR

Jodi did an outstanding job leading and moderating the panel I participated in, ‘Once Upon a Time: Making Sales thru Tales’. Not only did she know just about everyone there, she made a point to make sure we met all of them. Huge thank you for your hospitality!

David Moore & Jessica Peguero, Hotel Managers, Hostal Casa Culebra

David and Jessica’s story is truly inspirational. They jumped headfirst into the hospitality industry by quitting their jobs to lease a 7-room property in Puerto Rico. Not only that, but they’re growing their staff by 33% with the arrival of their first child this fall!

David Chesler, EVP Global Enterprise Sales & Business Development, SiteMinder

David is a longtime friend of What do friends let their friends do? In our case, crash and co-host dinner. Thanks for the incredible opportunity to mingle with some amazing industry folk!

Sunil Chatrani, CEO, Elegant Hotels Group & Geeta Chatrani, Managing Director, Yellow Bird Hotel

Congrats to Sunil and Geeta who snagged the CHIEF 2016 Sales & Marketing Award! It’s clear why when you take a look at Elegant Hotel Group’s social accounts that they do a wonderful job telling their properties’ stories.

Matt Cooper, Chief Marketing Officer, CHTA

As the Chief Marketing Officer for CHTA, Matt knows Caribbean hospitality. He made sure we met some amazing properties, opening our eyes to all the wonderful hotels and the tight-knit community in the Caribbean.

Ed Wetschler, Caribbean Editor of Recommend Magazine

Not only did Ed give a great talk on contemporary communications, but he made it a point to take a photo with all the Eds at the conference. What can I say though, us Eds have got to stick together!

Evy Garcia, Director of Sales, El Conquistador

During our time in Puerto Rico we stayed in El Conquistador Resort. The food, staff and overall resort were outstanding!

In my panel discussion though, I made a remark about how El Conquistador could use an operational survey to gather important feedback on a fictitious problem. Unbeknown to me, the resort’s Director of Sales, Evy, was in the audience and quickly took action to resolve my fictitious problem!

After I was done she quickly came up to me to apologize, and we had a good laugh after I explained it was just an example. Evy and her staff exemplified amazing hospitality—and I was glad to see she and her team had a good sense of humor, too!

Diana Plazas, Caribbean and Latin America Region at Marriott

Beyond sharing incredible insights on the future of the Caribbean travel industry, Diana was our ‘reporter at large,’ updating us folks about the football matchups all weekend. (Fortunately she only had good news to report to me.) Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Diana!

Karolin Güler Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of Marketing and Operations, Jade Mountain Resort

Running one of the top resorts in the Caribbean, Karolin stands out as an industry leader. Meeting her at this event was a nice surprise as we know she’s an advocate for social media driving business for her resort. It just goes to show more on why the Caribbean stands out in the hospitality industry.

By the time the conference was over, Jeff and I met some unbelievable influencers from the Caribbean hospitality market. The event was welcoming, informative and especially inspirational. Thank you to everyone that made this event an outstanding experience!

Canning spam: Relevancy, graymail, and the path to better communication for hotels

Unwanted email is something everyone can relate to. We’ve all been on the receiving end of what’s universally labeled as “spam.” Spam has become such an issue that it’s received intense, global legislative attention. While this has benefited consumers, it’s led many hotel marketers to err on the side of caution—what is spam? Too much email? In reality, this should beg the bigger question, “How do I better communicate with my guests?”

First, let’s look at Google’s definition of spam:

“Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients”

The key term in that definition is “irrelevant.” So, to try to prevent content from being flagged as spam, many marketers simply send fewer emails.

And sure, timing is important, but I’ll ask you this—when did relevancy come to be synonymous with quantity?

To some degree, what constitutes spam is ultimately the subjective opinion of the recipient. That makes it challenging for marketers to know definitively whether what they’re sending out will strike a chord or not.

Enter “graymail.” HubSpot defines graymail as “email you opted in to receive, but don’t really want.” (So blurred have the lines become that we needed a term for that in-between message that maybe you want, but not necessarily right now.)

Graymail isn’t necessarily spam, but it’s also not especially relevant to your customers either. In fact, email providers are often able to treat graymail differently from spam even though consumers are still not likely at all to engage with those messages.

For this reason, as marketers, it’s clear that how you communicate with your guests is equally important as what you’re saying.

For hotels this can be accomplished through real personalization, (more than just “Hi [firstname],”) and by considering where the guest is in his or her relationship with the property. For example:

Suppose you have a past guest from about a year ago that booked direct with you at a standard rate. From your post-stay communication, you know they enjoyed their stay. Here’s a common situation for hoteliers. Let’s take inventory of what you know:

  • Past guest = name, email address (possibly more)
  • Travel dates + booking dates = planning window
  • Standard rate = no discounting; they booked for intrinsic value
  • Overall a satisfied guest = no clear reason NOT to come back

We’ve learned a LOT— I’m only scratching the surface of what most hotels actually know. (Especially if you’re employing a CRM.)

However, what typically happens is this guest goes into a database, starts receiving the exact same emails as everyone else, and becomes progressively less interested until they eventually unsubscribe and start shopping around.

Instead, they could have been spoken to in a way that acknowledges the things they’ve told you and infuses them into your communication. And this is just a single example.

Whether it’s a past guest or a potential future guest, each may be at a different point in their relationship with your hotel. Once your messaging is on point, email volume doesn’t matter nearly as much because what you’re saying is relevant to your standing with the guest/prospect.

Understanding and expressing this through your communication is key to canning spam.

Fuel Webisodes_Blog_Banner 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.

ed-at-lanyon-live 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.’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 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. & Vizergy partner to help hotels turn guest referrals into a powerful new business channel partners with Vizergy, the leading partner in hotel internet marketing

ORLANDO, FL – NOVEMBER is proud to announce its most recent strategic partnership with Vizergy, the hospitality industry’s leading partner in hotel internet marketing., the brand advocate platform, turns hotel guests into a huge, trusted extension of a hotel’s marketing force, boosting brand awareness and earning new guests around the world.

Vizergy has partnered with on multiple fronts, ranging from a new product offering within Vizergy’s best-in-class suite of marketing services, to a seamless integration with Secure-Res, their globally respected booking platform. This partnership has allowed Vizergy clients to take full advantage of the brand advocate platform and has laid the foundation for hotels to earn increased customer engagement and generate new guests, with the help of their existing guests.

Since partnering, Vizergy has integrated on a number of customer websites, as well as a variety of booking engines. The roster of Vizergy’s customers that have opted to integrate this service into their online strategy continue to see added revenue gains and increased traffic due to viral marketing. These successes are driven by the performance of the platform and its ability to create uniquely personalized messaging for guests of each specific hotel property.

“ and Vizergy are proactively working together to design an integrated platform that has a real impact for our mutual customers based on what’s best suited for each one. Our mission is to help hotels earn new guests and we’re laser-focused on doing just that everyday,” said Edward St.Onge, President of

“We are thrilled to continue partnering with innovative new social platforms such as,” said Robert Arnold, President of Vizergy. “As guests become increasingly vocal in the social sphere, it is critical to bring new and unique products to the table that will allow our clients to maximize booking potential and enhance relevant and targeted messaging for their properties. delivers that added benefit of trusted word-of-mouth marketing, and we look forward to providing this service to many more of our socially savvy hotel clientele.” + 2 celebrity guests = 56,000 connections for Atlantic Hotel & Spa

Two celebrity guests reach over 56,000 like-minded travelers for the Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale

ORLANDO, FL – NOVEMBER 2014 – Two TV broadcasters spread the word to their massive social networks about their upcoming stay at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale with the help of the brand advocate platform,

The Atlantic Hotel & Spa
The Atlantic Hotel & Spa

“We were extremely fortunate to reach 56,000 people from just two guests – that is priceless publicity for our hotel. is truly engaging. An amazing amount of our guests and their friends use the incentives earned for future travel,” said Scott Frothingham, Hospitality Revenue Consultant for the Atlantic Hotel & Spa. “ has been great on reaching a completely different area of social media versus your traditional review sites and getting a few ‘likes’ here and there.”

Many guests have hundreds, if not thousands of potential future guests in their social networks. encourages guests to spread the word about their upcoming stay with their friends and family, and provides a personal experience for each, while taking them down the path toward a future booking at the hotel.

The Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Balcony View
The Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Balcony View

“Whether your guests have 100 or 30,000 connections, a personal endorsement builds strong trust and brand awareness, bringing traffic directly to your site,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for “That traffic turns into booked room nights or plans for a future stay. Either way it’s a win for your hotel.”

To find out more about how can help create a significant, measurable impact for your hotel, please get in touch with Debi Moses at or visit

Luxury Hollywood hotel reaches upscale clientele with

Since implementing the brand advocacy platform six months ago, Chamberlain guests have shared about their stay with 143,000 friends and family around the world

Lobby at Chamberlain West Hollywood
Lobby at Chamberlain West Hollywood

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 2014 – How do you reach thousands of potential guests who want a dramatic, luxurious West Hollywood experience when they stay in LA? That was the question for the Chamberlain West Hollywood, which wanted to extend their marketing reach beyond their strong social media presence.

The answer was Since implementing the brand advocacy platform six months ago, Chamberlain guests have shared about their stay with 143,000 friends and family around the world – people who likely share their upscale demographic, and who desire a luxury hotel when they visit LA.

“ has been able to drive bookings and awareness to our upscale boutique hotel,” said John Douponce, General Manager of the Chamberlain West Hollywood. “Fully 21% of our guests have shared about our hotel with their friends.”

Guests shared a branded message with their personal networks through, becoming an integral marketing tool by creating a personal awareness about the hotel for every one of their connections. Each guest post directed their friend or relative to the hotel’s website, which then dynamically personalized for each and every guest connection.

Guestroom at Chamberlain West Hollywood
Guestroom at Chamberlain West Hollywood

“Chamberlain West Hollywood is a luxury hotel, and wanted to reach a similarly upscale clientele,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for “The beauty of is that whether your hotel is high-end or limited-service, your guests will share with friends who are similar to themselves. That’s your core market.”

To find out more about how can help create a significant, measurable impact for your hotel, please get in touch with Debi Moses at or visit

Shore Hotel reaches millennial travelers with’s innovative approach

Santa Monica hotel has reached nearly 150,000 of their guests’ social connections, a large percentage of tech-savvy Millennial travelers

The pool at Shore Hotel
The pool at Shore Hotel

ORLANDO, FL – AUGUST 2014 – Since launching in April 2014, Shore Hotel in Santa Monica has reached nearly 150,000 of their guests’ social connections – a demographic with a large percentage of tech-savvy Millennial travelers.

“We were immediately intrigued by the concept and the platform. provided us with an innovative way to engage our existing guests and increase direct bookings through our website,” said Lori Harrison, Director of Sales and Marketing for Shore Hotel. “The market is saturated with Millennial travel buyers who eagerly reach out to their networks, so we are now able to reach this demographic through technology. We’ve been pleased with’s awareness of the travel market, and the resulting ROI with their product.” encourages guests of Shore Hotel to become brand advocates. Each advocate spreads the word about their upcoming stay to friends around the world, who are typically a similar demographic as the guest. That makes these trusted brand connections extremely valuable to the hotel, because they’re targeted at the travelers who have a high potential of being a future guest. then creates a personal experience for each one of their guests’ social connections, with the goal of turning them into a guest.

Ocean view at Shore Hotel
Ocean view at Shore Hotel

“Shore Hotel has had an impressive growth across several areas, but their increase in guest connections stands out the most. The friends of their guests are the exact demographic that hotel is trying to reach and the results speak for themselves,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for “Our platform has increased their web traffic, sign-ups, and bookings across the board.”

To find out more about how can help create a significant, measurable impact for your hotel, please get in touch with Debi Moses at or visit