Meet Shawn Lim – Marketing Manager at Marriott’s The Andaman resort in Langkawi
Shawn is highly experienced in the hospitality space, having worked in various roles for three different branded hotels including Shangri-La, Starwood and now Marriott. He specialises in digital marketing, where he has held roles at management and executive level at Starwood resorts and currently at the Langkawi Marriott.
Meet our Interviewer: David Gabriele, CEO of Swayy
Swayy is the leading influencer booking, campaign and relationship management tool for the hospitality industry. Swayy helps venues find, book and maintain relationships with the most influential people on social media, recently winning the Disrupt Awards 2018 at TTE Europe.
What’s happening in the influencer marketing scene in Langkawi?
Shawn says that Langkawi is seeing a great rise in the number of visiting influencers, although not yet as many as are being seen in Bali. He sees this as partially being thanks to the local tourism board, with which he works closely, who are “actively trying to promote” Langkawi.
In terms of influencer marketing in general, Shawn says “You have to get onto the bandwagon…but you have to choose the right ones. Hotels are slowly embracing this and we’re starting to see big growth“.
What’s the key to finding top influencers?
Influencers must be thoroughly assessed before taken on board. “What are they delivering? Are they compatible with our brand? What messaging are they delivering?”
Shawn adds that the focus should be on delivering experiences and disseminating this effectively. People must be reacting to what the influencers are sharing.
And of course the bottom line of all this is to “look at the numbers along with the content delivered” – this includes those metrics available before taking an influencer on board and those that will be available to you at the end of a campaign.
What are the biggest challenges regarding influencer marketing?
It’s clear that there are too many ‘wannabe influencers’ according to Shawn. His hotel receives 2-3 partnership requests from influencers per day, equating to around 1000 per year.
“It takes a lot of time to analyse influencers – you need to use your gut feeling and you need to justify hosting them”.
What challenges do you face in evaluating and finalising an influencer appointment?
Being fairly efficient compared to many hotels, Shawn spends 30 minutes on an initial consideration. But to lock in a collaboration “would take about a week when we include going through approval processes“.
Shawn then outlines the various stages of these approval processes.
1. Check occupancy with reservations
2. Check with revenue – to see if they can allocate a room.
Regarding convincing the revenue manager to go for an influencer, Shawn offers some advice. “Have your numbers ready, and put a value on the coverage – the PR Value. If they have a blog then look at their Unique Visitors Count. Stress to the revenue manager that the hotel won’t have 100% occupancy.
3. Approval from GM
How do you address the issue of fake followers?
“It’s difficult…look at the influencer’s following in detail and check the comments on their social media posts.”
What’s the biggest benefit of influencer marketing?
Shawn stresses that if done correctly, influencer marketing can prove a big force in driving business. He adds that “back in Panang, for example, we’ve seen a big increase in food and beverage enquiries – this simply being the effect of influencer blogs“.
What’s been your most successful campaign involving influencers?
“In Penang we had Sunday brunch booked 2 weeks in advance and a Ramadan buffet sold out every night as a result of working with two specific influencers. I could see the posts being shared constantly on Facebook as a result”.
What would you like to see improved collaborating with influencers?
Like many in the hotel and hospitality space, Shawn wants to see a tool that can handle all aspects of the influencer booking journey, with specific emphasis on “calculate ROI on social media” and “dealing with fake followers”. He adds that these could “really helpful” in terms of saving time and effort. Swayy therefore has a big opportunity to make a difference in the industry.
For more top tips from industry experts, check out our recent interview with Jérémie Lannoy – Director of Marketing & Communications at W Hotels.
Interested in working with full time, pre-vetted hotel influencers? Click here to find out what Swayy can do for you. If you are an influencer interested in a collaboration, click here to see how Swayy can help you find the best hotels.