Marketing for Hotels: how much should you invest? (part 2)

In the first part of this article we looked at why a hotel should invest in digital marketing, what percentage, what activities it could implement thanks to this investment, and what turnover increase goals it could achieve.
I am Giancarlo De Leonardo, a former restaurateur and hotelier and founder of Caro Colleague Ho.Re.Ca, and I have a past as an entrepreneur and manager in the hospitality sector, while today I work on developing digital marketing for Hotels and Restaurants together with a Dream Team of professionals under 30.

In this article

A Dream Team of Digital Professionals

Reading the biography of Steve Jobs, one of the many concepts that stuck with me was that he believed that ‘to make an A product you needed a team with exceptional skills and values’.
I spent most of my early managerial and entrepreneurial life trying to keep the books balanced. In Italy we know how high the cost of labour is, so my first goal was to save on the salary of the people I had to hire.
It was probably one of the biggest mistakes I made, and I will now share with you the thoughts I have matured over the past few years, after I spent a few years among innovative start-ups.

In an increasingly competitive and global world, in order to be competitive it is no longer enough to complete a job or to be present in the company the number of hours stipulated in the contract, but you have to feel involved in achieving company and personal goals.
So the first thing to do is to draw up a corporate culture manual that encapsulates the set of values and beliefs that inspire the members of an organization and look for employees aligned to this vision. Often attitude is more important than technical skills because the latter can be learnt while the former you either have it or you don’t.

I remember very well, when I was the General Manager of Poltu Quatu, that I hired two interns who had just graduated in marketing and who helped me in the tourist promotion of the resort. For the Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu, the manager had hired a couple of sales people who, in our minds, also did marketing as they developed business through trade agreements and trade fairs. There was no real marketing department, let alone someone who was in charge of digital marketing (at least as of 2017).

Today I would behave differently and aware of the results we could aspire to, I would integrate into the current team a Staff of Digital Professionals consisting of:

  • A Digital Marketing capable of studying and evaluating the digital strategies to be implemented;
  • A Web Designer who is in charge of designing the website or adding or modifying new pages or creating Landing Pages, which are extra website pages created for the specific purpose of converting the traffic that arrives from advertising campaigns;
  • A Developer who can ‘build’ what the Web Designer has designed;
  • A Social Media Manager who can align the communication of social channels with the company’s objectives;
  • An Ads Specialist (which is short for advertising) and deals with paid campaigns to drive traffic from Google and Social to us;
  • A Community Manager who monitors and responds to all requests from our customers, starting with reviews on Tripadvisor and Google, or all comments and requests that may arrive from the channels we have active (such as the company’s Google chat, Messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp, etc.);
  • A professional Photographer who intervenes to create the content necessary for the positioning we want to achieve and in the necessary formats (vertical or horizontal for example);
  • A professional Video Maker capable of making and editing content in the formats and duration required for each advertising channel (stories and reels for instagram, videos and shorts for youtube, videos for google, etc.).

Before you think I’m crazy, let me emphasize two things: These people you don’t have to hire them directly, but you have to tie them to you through a consultancy contract that has pre-determined goals to be achieved (perhaps with a money-back satisfied clause).

In addition to the investment for the consultancy, you have to budget the investment for advertising campaigns, which I recommend you pay directly (Google, Meta, Tripadvisor, etc. can charge your credit card or bank account directly for an amount established in advance).

The sum of the investment on consultancy + the investment on advertising campaigns over a minimum period of 12 months multiplied by three will give you the minimum extra turnover to be achieved directly attributable to digital activities. If you invest 100 you should get at least 300 back!

caro collega dream team

The Network of Enlightened Entrepreneurs

Now I want to share another thought with you: technology and digital have accelerated the process of acquiring skills and knowledge to such an extent that things can change from month to month or even week to week. How can the people who work in your hotel update themselves with this speed?

You see, the years I have spent in the world of innovative start-ups have helped me to develop a network of enlightened friends and entrepreneurs with whom I continually compare myself by involving all the people within the Dream Team of Caro Colleague. The contamination to which we voluntarily expose ourselves makes the Team grow and always motivates it to do better.
In addition, it should be borne in mind that we are vertical in the Hospitality sector, so we have a specific case history on Hotels and Restaurants that increases every day, helping each member of the Dream Team to improve individually and at the same time improve the performance of the whole team.
Finally, the approach we use for Hotels eligible for the Caro Collega Method is truly ‘disruptive’: set the objectives when defining the collaboration agreement, the Team’s commitment is to achieve them at all costs as we offer a ‘satisfied or reimbursed’ clause.

Do you understand the difference between an employee who still gets his salary at the end of the month and a Dream Team employee who is aware that he will lose a year’s work if performance falls short of what was agreed at the beginning?
It is no coincidence that, unlike all companies that profess to be one big family to which each member feels they belong according to the permanent contract they have signed, at Caro Colleague we feel more like the members of a high-performance sports team where everyone is always spurred on to give their best so as not to penalise the whole group. And to keep one’s job!
So why not think about having the employees who should be in charge of marketing within your hotel collaborate with those of a Dream Team that has complementary skills and together design ambitious goals for business growth?

Caro Collega horeca english

From Micro to Macro Marketing

So many hotelier friends with whom I exchange views on a daily basis are amazed by the time I dedicate to disseminating content like this. To give you an idea, an article like this is the result of vertical expertise acquired first in the hospitality industry and later in innovative start-ups and requires at least half a day’s work.

But within Dear Colleague we have set ourselves a memorable goal: through integrated digital marketing applied to hotels and restaurants we can help a country, a tourist destination, a city or an entire nation to compete in the global tourism market that has become extremely competitive.
Look at Italy for example, it has always been considered by Americans as having an ‘unfair competitive advantage’, but in reality Italian hoteliers and restaurateurs are penalized by the fact that they are too wary of the opportunities inherent in digital marketing. This results in doing nothing or only the bare minimum with a continuous erosion of market share.

Tourism and food and wine have always been an important driver for our country, what could happen if hotels and restaurants started to implement digital marketing plans with the aim of developing their business? Surely micro marketing could trigger a bigger marketing phenomenon at the level of a country, a tourist destination, a city or a whole nation.
And that would be a memorable feat…

Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, Former Restaurateur and Hotelier and Founder of