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HEDNA thought leaders: Quick soundbites from Lisbon

Posted By HEDNA News team, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

This article is the third in a series of articles inspired by HEDNA Lisbon. Read more event coverage on the HEDNA blog. For more videos live from Lisbon, head over to the HEDNA YouTube channel.

One of our favorite parts about programming any conference is selecting the keynote speakers. The process is fairly involved but we're always pleased with the outcome. First, we define our theme, which is the result of many conversations among the executive board and key industry experts. We want to find something that is both current and helpful to structure the content.

Once that’s established, we research potential keynotes to identify speakers that align in some way with our theme. The goal is to expand our members’ perspectives while also anchoring some of the core concepts covered across the conference.

For our upcoming conference in Los Angeles, the theme is “connected like never before.” Our recently announced lineup of keynote speakers ranges from a deep dive into hospitality industry trends with Jan Freitag from STR to a helpful decoder for the emerging Gen Z consumer. We’ll be closing out the two-day conference with a look at loyalty and customer service in the age of AI with expert author Steven von BellenghemHere’s the agenda:

State of the Industry with Jan Freitag: Jan from STR will share industry insights, highlighting the biggest trends and data points for hospitality in 2019.

Cracking the Gen Z Consumer Code with Jason Dorsey: Gen Z consumers are unlike any other generation of consumer. They communicate, shop, buy and pay very differently from other generations. Jason shares what works to inspire and get Gen Z to trust and buy.

Customers the Day after Tomorrow with Steven van Bellenghem: Steven will share his insight into customer experience as it moves from mobile-first to AI-first. Get ready for hyper-personalization, faster than real-time customer service and even better user-friendly interfaces.

Looking back to our European conference in mid-2018 in Lisbon, we’ve been sharing content around our keynotes. If you're unable to watch the full keynotes, we’ve compiled short snackable videos for each of our keynote speakers from HEDNA Lisbon. We’ll be doing this in LA as well, so subscribe to the HEDNA blog for those updates in February 2019. Or better yet, join us in Los Angeles!

120 Seconds with Tali Sharot

As a cognitive neuroscientist, Tali Sharot took the mantle as the thought-provoking keynote of the conference, pushing into the psychology of happiness as applied to travel. There’s a connection between anticipation, rewards, and punishments. In order to encourage the action, travel brands should highlight the rewards; while highlighting the punishment can prevent an action from happening.

All of this ties into consumer behavior, as brands should seek to build anticipation for travelers -- and thus make the vacation experience more memorable, she says:

“We really need to give people an opportunity to anticipate. Not only when they get to their vacation, but it also matters what happens before. [We need] to enable their mind to create the anticipation.”

Watch the full clip:

120 seconds with Stephen Bartlett

In 2014, Stephen founded his digital marketing agency Social Chain on the premise that online communities were undervalued. As the engagement engines of the future, the agency unlocked the power of these communities by aggregating access through Social Chain.

Looking ahead to 2019, Bartlett advise brands to take a closer look at messaging apps in 2019. While CPC rates have risen across most social media channels, messaging maintains both its popularity and affordability. The open rates of Facebook’s Messenger, for example, reaches 90%, Stephen says, which overwhelmingly outpaces the single digit open rates for most email.

On these channels, he recommends using micro-incentives to encourage advocacy among a brand’s customers, saying that “these small incentives to turn your customers into advocates are extremely important.”

Watch the full clip:

120 seconds with Kate Ancketill

Kate Ancketill’s GDR Creative Intelligence consults brands on designing the types of next-gen retail experiences that define the modern brand. In the short thought leader video, Kate emphasizes how brands must develop relationships with their target consumers through the lens of demographic trends. This is especially important for hoteliers to understand when it comes to the shrinking middle class, which has shrunk from 60% to 48% in the West, she says:

“The problem for the travel industry, is that there’s no large middle group to sell to anymore. There are many different types of groups, entirely fragmented. There’s much more scope for a premium or a discount offer. There’s less scope for a pure mid-market offer."

Differentiation is the secret to thriving within this polarization, Kate concludes: “It’s the differentiation that counts. Do not be in the middle and be undifferentiated.”

Watch the full clip:





We’re convening next month in Los Angeles for our first distribution conference of the year. Join us!

Tags:  events  keynote  video 

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The remarkable power of micro-influence with Stephen Bartlett

Posted By HEDNA News team, Wednesday, December 12, 2018

This article is the second in a series of articles inspired by HEDNA Lisbon. Read more coverage on the HEDNA blog, and for more videos live from Lisbon, head over to the HEDNA YouTube channel.

The psychology of influence online

Within 35 minutes of posting a tweet about the trade of ‘legendary’ footballer Rex Secco, Stephen Bartlett saw success: thousands of people were discussing the trade, pushing the topic to the top of Twitter trends -- all without realizing they were being pranked. Indeed: the mysterious Rex Secco was not a real sports player. Bartlett was using this as an instructive example of the way information, true or not, spreads around social media rapidly.

With that case study, Bartlett’s nascent social media marketing firm Social Chain had arrived. Sharing this story on stage in Lisbon during HEDNA’s annual conference, Bartlett captivated the audience with his tenacity and enviable mastery of social channels. Often, marketers approach social media with trepidation, as if it’s something different than the physical world. It's not, Bartlett says as a reminder that influence is influence:

“People act in the same way the crowd acts. They follow the crowd. It’s a survival technique.”

Understanding human psychology is part of what it means to be a marketer; the psychology is emphasized by how much time users spend on digital platforms. The driving forces behind much of the engagement on digital channels are cultural relevance and emotional resonance.


Cultural relevance and emotional resonance

With U.S. President Donald Trump as a leading example,  cultural relevance creates emotional resonance. The Social Chain team actually made a bold prediction that Donald Trump was going to win the election, chiefly due to his ability to reach 22 times further with his “super inflammatory message at a time when culture cared about certain issues,” in contrast to Hilary Clinton’s more “vanilla” approach, Bartlett said.

“Emotion, making people feel, is fundamentally why things travel online.”

Some of this emotional resonance stems from the ego, which is a fundamental driving force for much of social media. Active contributors online are looking for content to post regularly; by offering a “hint of personalization...that plays to their ego,” there’s far greater emotional resonance that triggers the desired behavior: sharing the experience online for that organic marketing lift.

Social Chain saw 7x lift from simple personalization of a box sent to influencers for French Montana.

The power of distribution

For those of us in distribution, we certainly get the power of distribution. What's the point in having all the great inventory if there's nowhere to place it? The same applies to content: No matter how great your content is, it's meaningless without distribution.

Most marketers focus heavily on one or the other: Either there's a big budget for content, and none for distribution, or the campaign leapfrogs the content creation stage and goes straight to distribution.

  • Owned channels. A company blog and website are powerful tools for marketers. Pushing users to owned channels allow brands to capture the attention without having to pay a fee to a platform.

  • Paid amplification. Organic reach is difficult. When the content is strong and well-crafted, often paid amplification can push it over the top.

  • Human influencers. Individual influencers are now global tastemakers. Distribution through these key cohorts can be efficient and affordable when done with care (see micro-influencers, below).

  • Social communities. There are thousands of online communities dedicated to a variety of niches, offering both behavioral insight and potential engagement for travel brands.

Investing in distribution is really about prioritizing where to spend money, and which channels have the right blend of cost and reach. One benefit of the dizzying proliferation of channels online is that brands can now micro-target down to the individual, and avoid wasting money on “spray and pray” mainstream campaigns with expensive media outlets or global influencers.

The rise of micro-scale

Friends are the most influential force in most peoples’ lives. Now that technology has developed to the point where micro-targeting is both simple and measurable, it’s easier and more useful to leverage micro-influencers rather than major celebrities.

Bartlett used the example of his company’s campaign to get students to download the new Apple Music app. The goal was to make existing customers influencers for the brand, or to become Apple ambassadors.

How Social Chain identified potential ambassadors, offered a gift and then enticed them to share with their social networks.

The steps were simple: the social media campaign pointed to a landing page which asked three music-focused questions, which built goodwill and put the person in a musical mindset.


Following the questions was a button offering three free months of Apple Music in exchange for one post on the person’s social media -- all automated, and at the time of Social Chain’s choosing. The results? A staggering 97% of students clicked yes, exchanging three months of Apple Music for one relevant social post to their network. The keyword here is relevant, says Bartlett:

“We have that custom information that they’ve just filled in to make sure that the post is completely relevant and specific to them. And then all at once, you have 1,700 students all posting that they love Apple Music, they listen to it in the gym while they’re listening to Drake, Adele, Kanye, which makes them feel XYZ.”

According to Bartlett, it’s the single most signups Apple Music has had since launch.

Like music, many hotel brands benefit from an emotional connection with guests. There’s a strong attachment to hotels among many guests, so the key question is: how do you make your existing customers influencers for the brand?

The opportunity is there, it’s about engaging at the micro-level to not only encourage word-of-mouth ambassadors but also make customers feel ownership and emotional attachment to the brand itself. Nurturing this type of relationship with customers transforms the narrative and expands a brand’s organic sphere of influence without heavy marketing spend.

How to do this? By focusing on parts of the experience that might resonate more deeply and give guests a reason to become a natural ambassador for the brand.

“Make an awesome experience that’s unlike any other. In the hotel industry, it’s just all the same. The experience is the same. It’s like you’ve all read the same book. I think a little more naïveté and a little less reading about what convention says you’re supposed to do. I’d love to create a whole new experience of a hotel, using what we know about people today.”

Watch Stephen Bartlett’s full keynote

Our next global conference is in Los Angeles. Register here.

Tags:  events  keyno  social media  video 

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How to engage with tomorrow's customer with Kate Ancketill

Posted By HEDNA News team, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

During her keynote at HEDNA Lisbon, GDR Creative Intelligence’s Kate Ancketill set the scene for the fundamental contradiction facing hospitality today: reconciling guests’ dueling desires to stay connected with their lives and escape from those very same lives.

Below are some highlights and key takeaways from Kate’s presentation, which was rich with examples of how brands from inside and outside of travel address this modern conundrum. We’ve embedded the relevant clip in each section below; the full keynote can be found at the end of the article and on YouTube.

The continuity/escape conundrum

One of the most revealing topics was the impact of 24/7 connectivity on how workers vacation. There’s actually a correlation between internet adoption and the drop in vacation usage. As the internet expanded, says Ancketill, “your availability was a measure of your employability, and you needed to be on all the time.”


The shift to always-on work blurred the lines between work and play, creating a new work/life permeability that changed how people vacation -- and thus how hospitality brands engage with their guests.

When polled during the live session in Lisbon, there was a similar divide: 51% of the audience checked into the office daily, 35% connected only a few times, and 14% did not check in at all.

The permeability between work and play continues to have implications for hospitality. Hotels must consider how to best serve these different ways of working, offering both a space to get work done and a haven away from the pressures of work. This is an inherent contradiction that challenges hospitality to provide products that address this fundamental tension in guests’ lives.


Continuity: Understanding “contextual desires and needs”

Successful navigation of modern guest preferences requires understanding of contextual desires. A brand requires a thorough understanding of its customers lives to truly solve their problems. Brands reach this understanding through a firm grasp on contextual desires, needs and problems, says Ancketill:

“For us, owning the customer problem means considering the full context of the rest of their lives when we’re delivering our service or product.”

The following examples highlight how other brands have used contextual understanding of customer interests, desires and needs to solve customer problems:

  • IKEA. Using augmented reality (AR) to help customers visualize furniture placement in their home. Rather than force inaccurate measurements, the app simplifies the process of measuring and placing furniture.

  • Martine Jalgaard. The fashion brand logs each step in its manufacturing process on a blockchain, so customers can see a garment’s complete provenance -- down to the individual animal a wool garment came from, for example.

  • Buzzfeed’s Tasty. The recipe arm of the global publisher created an induction cooker that ties into a recipe library to streamline food preparation. Solves a key problem for the outlet’s main demographic: those learning to cook.

  • Virgin America app. Transitions from informational and fun in the weeks leading up to the trip to purely trip-focused in the 24 hours prior to the trip. Adjusts to the changing needs of the traveler as they prepare to travel.

  • Alibaba Supermarket. Massive food operation targets a variety of customers needs with seven different purchase paths, each targeting a specific type of food need.

Escape: Making it immersive

Next-gen retail appeals to a sense of immersivity that’s been magnified by social media. The popularity of crafting personas online, from Instagram to Snapchat, leaves many users searching for media fodder to populate their profiles.

“Instagram ready” and “Instagram bait” have become qualities of the retail experience, which itself has morphed into less of a functional industry that sells things and more of a destination-based industry that sells experiences (alongside things).

“We are seeing [retail-as-destination] filter through to all kinds of retail and hospitality spaces: the need to have extraordinary backdrop for the taking of selfies. These are fully facilitated and highly sophisticated with perfect lighting.”

Hotels are joining the retail revolution, curating pop-up experiences to attract locals and give guests a unique experience that they can’t get at other hotels. These exclusive and/or temporary events drive interest and engagement in ways far beyond what a traditional hotel space could accomplish. To be immersive, these experiences stand apart by helping participants escape from the sameness of day-to-day life.

Some examples of contextual escape to provide extraordinary experiences:

  • Castorama Magic Wallpaper. The DIY chain created wallpaper that has an interactive AR app that creates stories for children. It’s an example of a home improvement company leaning on its core -- helping people build spaces to create memories in -- and then creating media to expand this further into consumers’ lives. Not to mention building a new potential recurring revenue stream by releasing new stories and new wallpapers.

  • Mr. Simon. Secret bar that requires guests to find the entrance -- and only after being invited through a PIN code. The bar has its own fictitious founder, Mr. Simon, who has traveled the world to find the best cocktail tinctures.

  • Zhongshuge Bookstore. A whimsical approach to experiential retail. The bookstore chain takes consumers on a journey through multiple spaces. Each space has its own atmosphere, and the recommended books are placed according to the themed areas. Each store is unique with a singular standalone design.

  • Corinthia Hotel. A neuroscientist on staff optimizes both the hotel staff’s performance and VIP guests that purchase a wellness-focused package. Read more here.

  • Zanadu Travel Agency. The Shanghai-based agency receives 10,000 visitors per month, who explore potential destinations through virtual reality.

The welcome desk at Zanadu, where visitors use QR codes to try out destinations in VR.


How to resolve the continuity/escape conundrum

In her session wrap-up, Ancketill shared a final slide that outlines concrete steps for hoteliers to resolve the tension between guest desires for continuity and escape. It really comes down to understanding the target demographics and delivering the experience they seek.

Watch Kate Ancketill’s full keynote:

Tags:  emerging tech  events  keynote  video 

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