How storytellers shape travel marketing: Justin Klingenberg on advocacy

Here at, we’re pioneering marketing that’s good for travelers and great for business, too. So when we see our customers using advocacy to change the travel marketing game? Well, we think they’re worth celebrating.

Revenue manager Justin Klingenberg at the Stanley Hotel has spent the better part of the last decade learning hospitality inside and out. He recently shared some of his reflections on how the advocacy platform has revolutionized marketing for their property.

Take a look at what he had to say:

What’s been the impact of using real people as an extension of your marketing team?

Stanley Elk

The value of having past guests introduce potential future travelers to The Stanley Hotel is unprecedented.

Traveling is meant to be a social experience that brings people together. Having previous guests share their experiences helps show the history of The Stanley and experiences to be had on-property, as well as providing future guests an introduction to make them want to create their own experience here at the Stanley.

Plus, we always have confidence that is putting our property in front of a warm and quality audience because we are connecting with new potential guests by way of our past guests sharing their stories.

Since we have a positive relationship with our past guests, their family and friends are more likely to show interest in our property because of learning about us through travelers with similar interests and established experiences at the Stanley.

How has using helped you top your goals? Were you surprised by any changes you made?

Stanley Hotel Friends

For one, has changed my approach to social as a Revenue Manager. The platform has proven that these channels can be used to drive bookings thanks to the organic reach of our travelers sharing to their own audiences. We have been able to drive revenue and loyalty.

With, we’ve exponentially grown our reach by inviting guests to become storytellers for The Stanley Hotel and actively engaging with them well beyond their stay. Through these efforts, we’ve generated over 4,000 new “friends”—warm leads interested in a future stay at The Stanley.

At the end of the day, tracking down to dollars is a must. As a Revenue Manager, what’s your take? has helped the Stanley generate new leads and bookings in numerous ways, but one of the most powerful is how the platform allows you to interact with your guests in real time while having them become storytellers for your brand.

We have been able to drive massive ROI from the platform via increased booked room nights and ancillary outlet visits.

To keep up with more on what Justin is doing in the world of travel marketing, give him a follow here.

Ready to hear how the advocacy platform can put the power of word-of-mouth marketing to work for your brand with incredible impact? Let’s talk. We’ll share how you can reach, inspire and convert new audiences at a scale like never before.

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How to engage your hotel’s secret sales force

Here’s a special guest post from one of the number of incredible innovators, subject matter experts, and just all-around big idea folks that we love hearing from. At, we’re constantly looking to collaborate with people in the industry that inspire us. Get in touch and let’s do something amazing together.

From e-commerce to digital marketing, Tim Peter has been putting the web to work for hospitality for over 20 years. Today he’s sitting in on the blog to share a bit of that knowledge. Check out his take on the truly impactful marketing team for your hotel that’s been hiding in plain sight.


I really hate marketing sometimes. I know that’s a weird thing to hear from a guy who does marketing for a living. But the simple reality is that finding and attracting guests isn’t always easy. Far from it. Not only are you constantly competing with companies that possess a seemingly-endless mix of people, data, and budgets to chase down potential guests wherever they may be, but all of you compete with your customers for a tiny sliver of their attention. And that tiny sliver is only getting smaller every year.

Via Expedia

Check this out: According to research from Expedia, guests visit 38 sites on average over the course of 45 days before they make a reservation. 38 sites! 45 days! That’s crazy, right? And, remember, that’s not 45 days prior to the stay date; it’s 45 days ahead of the booking date.

Seriously, what’s taking them so long? Why can’t they make up their mind?

Well, for starters, most of them don’t know where they’re going. Google’s Road to Decision study suggests that over half have no particular destination in mind when they get started, while 84% of travelers aren’t sure which brand they’re going to choose once they do.

Via Google

Want an even crazier—and more troubling—stat? About two-thirds of guests don’t really understand the difference among the brands available to choose from. Sadly, this holds true even among many heavy business travelers. And the flood of information your potential guests face each day usually only adds more confusion, rather than simplifying the solution.

What you and your guests both need is someone who can help ease the guest decision process and cut through the cluttered content landscape, pointing out the benefits your property offers in a timely and efficient manner.

And, yes, that’s what your sales force and marketing team strive to do every day. Most do a pretty good job of it, too. But, let’s be fair. It’s really hard work (see above, for instance). Google’s made it more challenging to rank in search, favoring PPC ads over its traditional organic results. And as Richard Dunbar pointed out here on the blog recently, getting your content in front of guests on sites like Facebook has gotten both more difficult and more expensive due to the social media giant’s algorithm changes over the past couple of years. And even those messages that make it through Facebook’s filters are fighting for your guests’ time, attention, and action.

The simple fact remains that you’re competing against the hundreds or thousands of marketing messages that your guests see every single day. In such an oversaturated media environment, it’s no surprise that even well-trusted brands and long-standing relationships sometimes struggle to make an impression—to say nothing of close the sale.

Bet you’re hating marketing right about now, too.

But here’s the good news. You’ve got a secret sales force at your disposal, one who knows all about the exceptional experience and value your property offers and represents a trusted source of information to the thousands of potential guests you’re looking to reach every year. Even better, you don’t have to cover much overhead to put this secret sales force to work.

So, just who is this secret sales force?

Via Nielsen

Your current guests, that’s who. According to Nielsen, most people trust the recommendations they receive from their friends and family on social. And on average each of your guests connects with roughly 200 friends and family on Facebook and other social media. Your existing guests offer you a trusted connection with these potential customers.

Just consider the math for a moment. Let’s say you’re responsible for a 100 room hotel, that runs at 60% occupancy and hosts 1.4 guests per room each night. That’s almost 31,000 guests per year that you can put to work telling your brand story. Which, y’know, is a lot of people. And, even using conservative numbers about how many friends each has on social media, those 31,000 guests can reach millions of other potential guests on your behalf (since most of you probably hate math way more than you hate marketing, I’ve tucked that away down at the end of this post, but those numbers are real).

Facebook has made it plain that it plans to show its users more content from close friends and family. Put your guests to work telling your hotel’s story, and the friends and family Facebook favors will be the folks staying in your rooms every night. They’re the ones who can share compelling stories about how much they enjoyed their stay, highlight the outstanding value they received, and sell their connections on why they ought to consider your property too. Their posts on social get in front of their friends and family and provide you a trusted entry into a dialogue with those potential guests. That’s your secret sales force.

And it’s one you can’t afford to waste.

It’s no secret that guests have chosen for years to write reviews on TripAdvisor and booking sites, sharing the details about their stay with folks all over the world. Those reviews often drive valuable business for your brand. But why not put content like that to work for your hotel? How about getting your guests to share on behalf of your property to a targeted audience, instead of just about your property to some random bunch of strangers on the Web? This isn’t just about (though, as you might imagine, the company offers a really great way of empowering your guests to tell your hotel’s story). This is a huge opportunity for you to reach new business effectively and efficiently, regardless of how you choose to engage them.

The simple fact remains that your secret sales force offers you a near-perfect opportunity to connect with potential guests. Their messages get seen and are trusted by your target audience. They’re well-informed about your value, and I don’t know about you, but it’s enough to make me fall in love with marketing all over again.


Appendix: The Math Behind the Hidden Sales Force’s Social Connections

According to Pew Research, 39% of “adult Facebook users” have 1-100 friends, 23% have 101-250, 20% have 251-500, and 15% have over 500 friends. So, using the lowest possible number of friends on Facebook per brand:


(39% x 31,000 * 1) + (23% x 31,000 * 101) + (20% * 31,000 * 251) + (15% x 31,000 x 501) = 4,618,070

Which, again, is a lot. What’s even crazier is if you use the higher number in each range:
(39% x 31,000 * 100) + (23% x 31,000 * 250) + (20% * 31,000 * 500) + (15% x 31,000 x 501) = 8,421,150


Note: Since we don’t know the upper bound of friends in Pew’s topmost group, I’m still assuming “only” 501 friends for the most connected cohort on Facebook.

And here’s the thing. Assume for a moment that these numbers are way too high, say maybe twice as high as they should be. Your guests still connect you with 2 to 4 million other people on Facebook alone. Pretty cool, eh?

A glimpse into 2016: what can your hotel expect?

2016 looks like it’s going to be an excellent year for hoteliers. Robert Rauch, President of RAR Hospitality and a leading hospitality management and consulting firm in San Diego, recently came out with his yearly trends report.

Rauch reveals some outstanding insights that will help your hotel maximize your efforts in 2016. Check out what we’ve taken away below, and be sure to read Rauch’s article for the full story.

Personalized experiences create value

Trends in the digital space are heavily influenced by the increasing interest of travelers to have personal experiences that create value. As more and more travelers are using the internet as their go-to source for travel considerations, this leaves hotels with the responsibility to communicate that they understand guests’ interests and needs online.

No matter the channel your hotel picks (social media, blogs, forums), potential guests are gauging your brand’s identity and making purchase decisions based on those perceptions.
As Rauch explains, that’s why it is so important to communicate your hotel’s unique story and make a great first impression when a potential guest engages with your brand.

At, we couldn’t agree more. We help hoteliers make their guests’ stories an integral part of their hotel’s story. We see firsthand that our customers’ guests have incredible stories to tell and huge audience who are listening. When it all comes together, the stories that people tell each other are far more convincing, easier to relate to, personable and trustworthy than any story told through an advertisement.

Rauch reminds us that experience design extends beyond the digital world, and encourages hoteliers to think about how their hotel spaces are designed–combining work, play, food and drink into an experience that keeps the youthful customer in mind.

Digital, digital, digital, and when you’re done, more digital

Digital matters in 2016, which goes without surprise. Rauch states that digital marketing boils down to two things for 2016: mobile and video. Mobile is an increasingly popular trend. More and more potential guests are using mobile to research and book travel. That’s why responsive websites, mobile-friendly emails, and even dedicated mobile apps are advised.

Plus, hoteliers should take note of the growing trend in live-streaming on mobile. Apps like Periscope average 2 million daily active users (oh, and Periscope just launched on March of this year). This growing trend is beginning to replace traditional television for millennials, and hoteliers should keep track of this new channel to stay relevant to this growing market.

Hoteliers should also take note the disruption caused by companies like Airbnb and HomeAway that have paved the way in the Sharing Economy. Rauch explains, “Mobile and digital check-in, easily accessible and plentiful outlets in all areas, reliable and fast wifi are some of the amenities desired by those who utilize Airbnb and HomeAway.” Hotels should continue to innovate and offer alternatives to these types of amenities in order to capture the attention of the modern traveler.

Take revenue strategy by the horns

By investing in new revenue management technologies, hoteliers can better forecast demand for a clearer idea of their most profitable customers and rooms, all of which help to maximize profits in the long-run.

Revenue management technologies are just one part of a more important revenue strategy, though. At, we’ve talked about how your guests, your team, and your hotel’s bottom line all win when you create a revenue culture, part of which includes prioritizing channels based on net revenue.

Rauch challenges hoteliers to balance their channels and evaluate where OTAs fit in. Focus on driving more eyeballs to your hotel’s website and maximizing profits.

Technology has changed the way hoteliers manage revenue and reach new guests. Going into 2016, hoteliers should continue to think about revenue management technologies and revenue culture, how to improve personalized guest experiences, and how to make an impact with mobile and video in the digital world. Here is the full article of Top 10 Trends for 2016 from Robert Rauch and our friends at RAR Hospitality.

The pros weigh in: tips for creating a revenue culture

The focus on creating collaborative teams is a byproduct of the rapidly changing and increasingly complex world hoteliers operate in today. Ideally, your sales, marketing, and revenue management teams are already collaborating in order to keep up with these changes.

At, we go further to say that at the core of every collaborative team should be a focus on creating a culture that aligns hotel marketing and revenue management. That’s why we created RevPAR Hacking.

Since releasing RevPAR Hacking, we’ve gathered some great feedback. Among the feedback lies insight from other industry leaders on how they approach a revenue culture.

Tips from the Pros: How to Approach a Revenue Culture

Ed Conway, General Manager, Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa


“Our whole team is focused on revenue as a shared metric. We’ve been able to work closer together and have a better understanding of how each individual affects the success of the joint effort.

I’ve also noticed that when our entire team is conscious of revenue considerations, we not only make smart financial decisions for our hotel, but also for reaching the right guests–starting with building on advocates that are likely to rebook and tell their network about us.”

Mark Oliver, Vice President, Business Development, GCommerce


“For our hotel clients, creating a revenue-centric culture leads to overall better communication and engagement across their teams–both keys for reaching a hotel’s goals. For example, a revenue team may feel more engaged with their marketing team when their revenue expertise is used in conjunction with marketing’s overall strategy. It becomes more of a partnership than anything else.”

Victor Garland, Commercial Director, In1 Solutions Ltd


“The arguments laid out in the book are a real opportunity to get sales, marketing, and general managers to put RevPar first and foremost in their mind when implementing anything to do with the sales and marketing mix.

Independent hotel clients that may not have the resources of large hotel chains can still implement these best practices. They’ll benefit from a greater understanding of cause and effect. More direct bookings will reduce overall distribution costs and give them back the relationship with the guest. Advocacy expands that relationship to a market that is in the same category as your existing guests.”

Your guests, your team, and your hotel’s bottom line all win when you aspire to generate the most revenue. More and more hoteliers are focusing on tactics that acquire more guests through direct bookings, and aim to reach a new audiences of potential guests that typically goes untapped–their friends, relatives, and colleagues.

Make sure you grab your free copy of RevPAR Hacking below if you want to learn more about the tactics and insights involved in creating a revenue culture.

revpar-callout-imageRevPAR Hacking is the ultimate guide to the impact of revenue culture. Not only will readers get insight from leading experts in their field, but they’ll also learn the tips and tools to put them at the forefront of hotel marketing and revenue management.

Get RevPAR Hacking boosts revenue and direct bookings for Platinum Hotel as part of their cutting-edge revenue and marketing strategy

Advocacy platform sparks results; hotel and guests both win

Platinum Hotel, Pool
Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas, Pool

ORLANDO, FL — November 09, 2015 —, the advocacy platform for hotels, has increased direct bookings and captured added revenue for Platinum Hotel, an all-suite property located in Las Vegas, Nevada. tapped into the right demographic for the hotel and spa—a non-smoking, non-gaming retreat, just a few blocks off of the main strip.

Designed to earn new guests by way of the warm introductions of their existing guests,’s advocacy platform extends the hotel’s reach to a massive and highly targeted audience of potential future guests in an authentic and trusted way.

Platinum Hotel, Lounge
Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas, Lounge

Platinum Hotel has seen the immediate impact on top-line growth. In addition to the revenue earned by way of booked room nights, more than 20% of their guests have advocated on behalf of the hotel. They’ve shared to a network of over 15,000 friends and colleagues in just two months—each that fall within a pool of like-minded, warm leads with similar travel and purchasing habits just one degree from the hotel’s advocate.

The move to implement has been part of a comprehensive revenue approach by Platinum Hotel, led in part by Director of Sales and Revenue Strategy, Melissa Graves.

“We employ a hybrid approach that aligns revenue, marketing and sales. fit seamlessly within this effort by letting us drive more direct bookings while creating a huge impact on our brand and ROI. Plus, we’re able to thank our loyal advocates, rewarding those that stay, and eventually their friends and family. It’s a win-win-win for the hotel, our guests and their network.”

Graves went on to add that the ease of implementation was an added benefit to the platform for Platinum Hotel. “ is incredibly easy to manage and take live, with an Account Management team that made the process quick and seamless,” said Melissa Graves. “I only wish we had started sooner.”

Platinum Hotel
Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas, Lobby

This approach is part of a larger shift in the industry that has identified the need to align hotel marketing, revenue management and sales to optimize demand and pave the way for the highest profit potential. Revenue strategists are consistently looking to adopt new technology platforms that employ these methods. Though cutting-edge today, this irrevocable change is fast becoming the standard in the industry.

“Reaching the right demographic for your hotel with your marketing efforts is critical,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales, Americas at “This is especially true as the cost of traditional digital channels like PPC ads can be hugely expensive for hotels in this market. tracks everything, right down to booked room nights. It’s really made an incredible impact for The Platinum, who’s quiet getaway is the perfect retreat from the Las Vegas Strip.”

The Platinum Hotel offers a welcoming Las Vegas escape, letting guests relax amid superb amenities in any of their 255 one- and two-bedroom suites. To reserve a stay, visit, or contact Melissa Graves at


RevPAR Hacking is the ultimate guide to the impact of revenue culture. Not only will readers get insight from leading experts in their field, but they’ll also learn the tips and tools to put them at the forefront of hotel marketing and revenue management.

Get RevPAR Hacking

Be a part of the future of hotel marketing and revenue management with RevPAR Hacking

Hot off the press from and industry leaders, RevPAR Hacking is the ultimate guide to the impact of revenue culture. Not only will readers get insight from leading experts in their field, but they’ll also learn the tips and tools to put them at the forefront of hotel marketing and revenue management.

RevPAR Hacking Cover

Download RevPAR Hacking to learn about the impact of revenue culture, plus the thoughtful approaches to get you there.

So what does it mean for a hotel to have a revenue culture?

By aligning collective goals, teams work together as they aspire to generate the most revenue—and the entire organization will reap the rewards. In fact, so will the guests, as there will be more resources available to serve their needs. A revenue culture spans everyone responsible for driving the hotel’s bottom line—marketing, e-commerce, revenue management and sales succeed by sharing revenue considerations at every level of their strategy.

To go further, guest data and revenue data should inform one another at every level. A comprehensive revenue approach to this degree will not only align your teams, it’ll also target the most profitable business for your hotel—the right guest at the right price.

In RevPAR Hacking, industry thought leaders open up on how they’ve created a growth-minded revenue culture that has set up their teams for success. These models shed light on the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of revenue culture, but also why it’s a valuable (and inevitable) shift for hotels who continue to seek growth.

A revenue culture that aligns your hotel’s goals will be a key driver of success—your team, your guests, and your bottom line will all win.

See for yourself how RevPAR Hacking reveals the impact of revenue culture, plus the thoughtful approaches to get you there.

Seeing is believing

5 ways to target the right guest for your hotel using advocacy

Advocacy works for all types of hotels—the friends, relatives & colleagues of your guests are the perfect demographic for your hotel to reach. Whether your hotel fits in the business, leisure, resort, limited service or luxury markets, you have the ability to make trusted introductions to entirely new audiences of future guests with an advocacy campaign.

Your guests are already sharing their travels—get them talking about their stay too. Check out some tips below on how your hotel can reach the right guest by marketing with advocacy:

  1. Connect the right guest with the right incentive for the best engagement. Two glasses of wine may engage guests booking a romance package to advocate more than a flat discount off of food & beverage (perhaps better suited to a family). Likewise, business travelers may enjoy a complimentary room upgrade or loyalty points.
  2. Tailor guest share messaging for your brand. Your guests have like-minded travelers in their networks. Don’t be afraid to play up your guest share to build stronger connections with potential future guests. Just remember to keep it conversational—this message is coming from your guests on your behalf, not the other way around.
  3. Enhance your advocacy strategies to optimize results. Pre-stay, Post-stay, and Photo Advocacy are all great experiences to engage your guests at different times of their travel. For example, guests love sharing moments at spectacular leisure destinations. Adding Photo Advocacy would be a great fit for this type of property. Our advocology experts can help guide you through the process of putting the best campaign together for your hotel.
  4. Engage top advocates even further. Some of your advocates have astounding reach! With the dashboard, you can easily sort by top advocates. Keep an eye out at check-in for these notable guests (our handy front-desk guest-list email will help, too) and make their trip a bit more special. Building these connections convert your guests into even greater promoters of your brand (and even co-creators,) giving them further reason to continue to advocate for your hotel.
  5. Don’t forget to share! When your guests supply your hotel valuable moments from their stay in the way of photos and quotes, share! These authentic moments are perfectly suited to share to your own network and reinforce what’s unique about your experience. Plus, it’s built right into the platform—click to curate in just a few moments.

It’s important to remember that when you target guests using advocacy, you have the ability to be strategic across campaigns, incentives, share messages, and more. This will further optimize your outreach across your different markets. These small efforts can mean a big boost in engagement and revenue for your hotel!