The Hotel Digital Marketing Specialist (DMS)

Since “officially” entering the hospitality digital marketing universe in 2009 – first as a social media strategist and then evolving my scope of work by focusing on larger, integrated digital marketing initiatives – my roles have consistently required a keen analytical approach. If we rewind three years ago, the social space was convoluted by ROI skepticism, with the hotel marketing key decision makers ascertaining a titanic level of uncertainty over why truly their hotel(s) should invest in social, location or even digital marketing for that matter. As a result, those specifically who “championed” the social media investment, at the time, were tasked with finding ways to prove their worth as digital marketers, focusing on media impressions acquired and social reach metrics – whenever available – to validate their “successes” for the hotels.

The Hotel Digital Marketing Specialist

In turn, I quickly evolved my approach as a social media strategist, who was initially concerned with the “soft” authenticity-building marketing benefits that social could achieve for your brand, and incorporated a layer of analytical reporting into each initiative I spearheaded. For example, each time I suggested investing in Facebook advertising spend, I first delivered a detailed one-pager of fan demographic data informing said initiative, accompanied by strategic objectives for the campaign(s) clearly defined, so that key stakeholders fully understood what they were trying to purposefully achieve. 

Fast forward three years later and the hospitality digital marketing landscape has completely evolved. No longer are we, as digital advocates, pressured to persistently answer the question “is social media really worth investing in?” and now can focus on the more appropriate question of: “how do we leverage all of the digital channels available to optimize our hotel digital footprint and, more specifically, shift our distribution shares to that ideally sought after mix?” With this advancement in the space, possessing an analytical approach to the role has become all the more imperative. In 2012, I contend that the role of the hotel digital marketing and e-commerce professional is to – in collaboration with your property’s Directors of Sales & Marketing (DOSM), Revenue Management (DRM) and Public Relations (DPR) – identify, prioritize and action the digital marketing strategic initiatives with the highest ROI potential across multi-channels and platforms. With a well-reasoned approach, this challenge is not only achievable but, when carried out tactfully, can potentially yield a significant increase in optimal market share for your hotels.

LISTEN: Check out my All Things Considered feature on National Public Radio (NPR)

Madonna A Modern Marvel with ‘MDNA’

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The year was 1987, and a trifecta of iconic pop stars named Michael, Whitney and Madonna were ruling the Top 40 airways with hit-after-hit records. After emerging as the world’s most prolific male solo artist with his trailblazing Off the Wall and Thriller records, 1987 would be the year when Michael Jackson would cement his status as pop music royalty, delivering a string of five consecutive #1 pop singles off of his Bad record. 1987 would also be the year when Whitney Houston would continue her record-setting run of seven consecutive #1 singles by releasing her sophomore 9x platinum-selling album, WhitneyAnd then there was Madonna – the third member of this illustrious trio of pop talent who, while achieving tremendous success with her previous records Like a Virgin and True Blue had yet to ascend to her critical or commercial peak (this would come two years later with the 1989 release of Like a Prayer).

With each artist at or near their commercial and creative highs, the year encapsulated a tremendous time for music – a peak that, unfortunately, the trio would never together get to enjoy again. For Michael and Whitney, their careers would tragically – over time – take very publicly turbulent turns for the worse, the former enduring – among other things – two very ugly sexual abuse court cases, and the latter dealing with a highly combative marriage and increasingly damaging drug addiction.

Fast forward to 2012, and the world has lost both treasured talents, leaving the increasingly immortal Madonna left as the remaining pop icon of the 1980s. It is a testament to her work ethic, career savvy and resolute will power that Madonna not only is still around but has – through her now thirty plus year career – remained focused, engaged and relevant in an industry that holds youth and of-the-moment sounds in the highest regard. During her thirty years in the public eye, we have seen her transform and adapt her look, sound and persona – in true pop icon form – to fit the times. The most convincing of pop chameleons, we have seen so many varied “Madonnas” – from Like a Virgin bridal tease to Ray of Light Kabbalah practitioner and everything else in between – that it’s exhausting to even attempt to recount all of them here. Instead, let us focus on the artist’s first record in four years, the effervescent MDNA. Given her storied career, timeless staying power and well-received Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, it was with great anticipation to give MDNA a listen. After several spins, it is with even greater excitement that I share how cohesively satisfying this return-to-form album is, as MDNA proves that Madonna truly is a modern-day marvel who, once again, has remarkably found a way to amend her sound to the times for now the fourth consecutive decade. Continue reading

The Perfect NYC Weekend

So ubiquitous is the phrase “the perfect weekend” that the words have, to this point, possessed very little personal resonance. With my favorite NYC magazine Timeout New York sharing a round-up post bearing the same name each and every Friday morning, I’ve found that that one weekend – where everything just goes right and you truly feel like you’ve experienced everything that you want out of life – fleetingly elusive…until this weekend.

I’m not sure I can resolutely nail down one exacting reason why this weekend in New York City was so riveting, but rather identify an amalgamation of contributing happiness factors: the persistently sunny weather, the refreshing St. Patrick’s Day buzz in the Upper East Side, the glitz and glamour of The Mark Hotel, and the effervescence of a live Broadway show all conspired to whisk me away into another stratosphere of contentment that I quite frankly did not want to let go of come this Monday morning. Nevertheless, allow me to recap what I contend was “the perfect weekend” in New York.

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Friday, March 16

Upon leaving work on Friday evening, I was able to enjoy a pre-planned one-night “staycation” with my girlfriend at the super luxury Upper East Side hotel I professionally represent – The Mark.  As the Digital Marketing Specialist for the property, I was allowed this one-night complimentary stay as a way to get to intimately know the product and, in turn, was tasked with evaluating several of the hotel’s offerings – from cocktails at The Mark Bar to breakfast in-room dining service – as a fun learning exercise. After enjoying the tasty signature Mark Manhattan cocktail at the ever-so-classy watering hole, my girlfriend and I enjoyed some well-prepared thin crust Farinella pizza and an in-room viewing of the classic Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Saturday, March 17

Upon enjoying a morning workout in the spacious hotel Punch Fitness Center and a satiating in-room dining breakfast cooked-to-order, it was time to check-out and head up to my apartment seven minutes away to re-group for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration ahead. Once the green attire was adorned, Sammi and I headed over to nearby Fifth Avenue to enjoy the 251st St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City amongst a crowd of festively Irish-appreciative spectators. Soon after, we continued our migration downtown – strolling across sunny Central Park before heading south on Broadway straight for the Theatre District.

Sammi had decided at the day’s onset to secure us Broadway tickets for the evening, so we together went “theatre hopping” until we acquired student rush tickets that were to our liking. After forty-five minutes of Broadway bouncing, we settled on Memphis and migrated to a nearby bar for a Happy Hour celebration. Once some delicious anti-St. Patrick’s Day, Cuban Caipirinha cocktails were polished off, we headed for a pre-theatre feast at one of Sammi’s favorite spots, the Times Square-popular Brooklyn Diner. While normally the thought of frequenting any Times Square dining establishment makes me cringe (think nightmarish Red Lobster, Bubba Gump’s or Ruby Tuesday’s as options) the meal – while still overpriced – was very pleasant.

To cap off the evening, we headed to the Shubert Theatre for an electrifying performance of Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical. The show – which starred the vivacious Montego Glover as well as equally enthralling show newcomber (and personal acquaintance of Sammi by the way) Adam Pascal – was a raucously spirited affair full of show-stopping gospel, rock and soul numbers. An entire separate blog post could (and should) be devoted to how much I adored this show…a must see for certain.

Sunday, March 18

To close out the weekend, Sunday brought some much needed R&R from the relentless activity of the previous day. Of course, my interpretation of “rest and relaxation” might not be aligned with the commonly held definition, as the day began – after a hearty brunch with my girlfriend at her neighborhood hangout, Corner Cafe & Bakery – with a thirteen-mile jog in the spirit of the NYC Half Marathon that was run earlier in the day. The route – which took me from 79th Street and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East, around Central Park Loop and then directly downtown along the West Side Waterfront, eventuating by the South Street Seaport – was an arduous one, but was an imperative first hurdle to clear in my quest for marathon-readiness come November’s NYC 2012 Marathon Weekend.

After exhausting myself with the trot around Manhattan, I had a very productive meeting at Gregory’s Coffee – a great Gramercy coffee shop adored by Mashalble employees and techies alike – with the lovely ladies of Collective Media LLC, the social PR start-up that I Social Media Strategize for in my spare time. Following the caffeine boost, it was off to Happy Hour for some free brewskies at SideBAR and Village Pourhouse – courtesy of my Hotelie bar manager buddy Scott McKinney (cheers mate!) following by an impromptu farewell bite to eat with San Francisco-bound best friend Katrina Lee.

So there you have it folks – what a weekend it was!  Here’s to hoping history repeats itself very soon…have a great week everyone!

101 Days, 101 Nights, 101 Adventures in NYC

So the old cliched adage is true: time truly does fly when you’re having fun. As today marks my 101st day (but who’s counting…) as a full-time Manhattan resident, I thought it apropros to publish this self-explanatory “Best of NYC” list that promises liquid inspiration, cultural stimulation and hunger satiation. So here it is – a comprehensive alphabetical list of 101 favorite locales that I’ve frequented – or, more specifically, checked-into via my Foursquare addition – during my first 101 days as a New Yorker (the 101 is, of course, a nod to my all-time favorite Walt Disney animated film – 101 Dalmatians).

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20 Songs Spinning on My iPod

Happy March folks! Another month means another round of Top 40 records to watch out for. From Carrie Underwood’s sassy new country single to Estelle’s wicked hybrid of reggae hip-hop soul, there are songs for everyone’s sonic palate on this latest ‘spinning’ list. As always, click on the single’s header to listen to each track, and be sure to leave a comment in the section below.

Alexandra Burke featuring Erick Morillo – Elephant

The All-American Rejects – Beekeeper’s Daughter

B.o.B. – So Good

Carishma featuring Timbaland – Keep Hangin’ On

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