Customer Acquisition Should be Focused as Close to the Point of Purchase as Possible: Interview with Wyndham Hotel Group on Adjusting Their Marketing Strategy

  • EyeforTravel
  • 05.11.09
In response to the challenging economic climate, travel companies are re-examining every aspect of their business.

For instance, Orbitz in its first quarter results has stated that it has rationalized its approach to e-marketing, putting increased focus on operating efficiency to ensure that various distribution partnerships achieved a spend ratio targets. Even if this means sacrificing some top-line growth.

Significantly, Orbitz decided to rationalize its e-marketing strategy. The online travel company has stepped up its focus on generating cost-effective traffic by a search engine optimization and CRM.

“In this tough economic environment, an assessment of return on investment for any marketing spend is crucial for a brand to spend its marketing budget wisely and efficiently,” said Heny Gabay, vice president marketing and strategy, Wyndham Hotel Group.

From his company and hotel brands’ perspective, Gabay said each marketing program is evaluated in terms of the potential ROI it delivers, the certainty of that return and the timing of it.

“The sustainability is more dependent on the amount of spend we have and how long we would be able to invest in a specific programme and still remain within budget. We then prioritize programs based on those metrics and implement only the most efficient ones. That is one of the reasons that, from a media channel perspective, we are moving away from print advertising and focusing more on online channels,” said Gabay, who is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference June 3-4 in Miami, Fla.

Gaby also spoke about other critical issues in an interview with’s Ritesh Gupta. Excerpts from the interview are below:

On planning investments: Any company should first set its strategic goals and objectives and then based on that, analyse their businesses and invest in those most relevant to the objectives laid out by the company, keeping in mind ROI, risk profile and budget. Further, whatever programs are implemented should be constantly measured and monitored to ensure that the expected results are being achieved and objectives met.

On approach: Customer acquisition is essential to any business. In tough economic situations, where budgets are limited and spending is curbed, it is more efficient to retain rather than acquire customers.

That said, customer acquisition should be focused as close to the point of purchase as possible, to ensure that whatever product offered is as relevant to a potential new consumer as it can possibly be, thus increasing the probability of acquiring that customer. For the travel industry, online channels seem to be the most efficient, since we know that 90 percent of consumers research travel online and 45 percent book only online.

On social media: Social media can definitely assist consumers and increase awareness and knowledge of certain brands and services offered. However, businesses cannot forget that one of the key aspects of social media is interactivity with consumers.

Therefore, any messages in those mediums need to be conversations with consumers rather than at consumers. That is very different than traditional advertising, which can be annoying and negative in social media settings.

On monitoring conversations: I believe it is very important to be aware of and monitor conversations about your company or brand, since those conversations can give you valuable insights on how consumers perceive you, and what improvements and changes you need to make to better meet consumer needs.

On challenges in social networking strategy:  The main challenges are –

  • Ensuring that messaging is appropriate to every online channel and yet still allows for integration and communication of a single brand message.
  • Consumer feedback: Companies cannot control consumers’ opinions and what they write on social media sites. That can be a risk in the short term, although, if a company is nimble and flexible enough, it can be an advantage to get faster consumer feedback and be able to address it sooner rather than later, avoiding major damage to a brand or company.
  • Customer reach: Depending on the target customer, social media channels may not be appropriate to the target.

Heny Gabay, vice president marketing and strategy, Wyndham Hotel Group is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference June 3-4, in Miami, Fla.

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