Meet Thibaut Asso
Asso is the Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for the Americas at COMO Hotels and Resorts based in Miami. He has over eighteen years of experience in management positions, including sales, food and beverage consultancy, and many years across different luxury hotel brands.
Asso manages a team of 11 people, and is responsible for the sales, marketing and revenue strategies of COMO.
And our interviewer, David Gabriele, CEO of Swayy:
Swayy is the industry’s leading influencer booking, campaign and relationship management tool, and winner of the 2018 TTE Disrupt Awards. Swayy helps influencers find collaborations and create lasting relationships with brands and venues in the luxury hospitality industry.
COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach is a 74-room hotel in the heart of the Miami Beach district. They are an experimental, wellness focused property, providing holistic health treatments and fitness services.
What’s do you see going on in influencer marketing at the minute?
Influencer marketing is very important to the luxury hotel industry. “Social is a big component of any strategy,” Asso says, because influencers “have such power these days!” Social media alliances are increasingly being seen as a long term, sustainable business model for brands across the luxury hotel industry.
However, influencer marketing can be volatile: a large number of followers does not necessarily equate to bookings for the hotel.
How much does your venue currently work with influencers?
The hotel receives a large number of requests every week. In evaluating whether or not they want to work with an influencer, they have to look at the whole profile of the potential collaborator, and see if their engagement with their followers is authentic. They must also see how much of the influencer’s content is destination focused, and what the season is like when someone requests a partnership.
Asso says that it is very difficult to quantify the efficacy of collaboration with influencers. However, as a rule, COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach always offers a discounted rate to influencers. On average, each property in the COMO group will work with 2 influencers per month during the high season, and 4 per month in the low season.
What are the biggest challenges to influencer marketing?
Asso tells us that the biggest challenges he faces in working with influencers is finding the right fit for the brand, and ensuring the quality of the content. Ultimately, it’s not about the number of followers, it’s about the level of engagement and the efficacy of the content for reaching that market.
Additionally, Asso sees issues in agreeing on what content the influencer will post, and when it will be posted. Ideally, Asso would want to see 5 posts related to the venue within 30 days of check in. Actually agreeing on these timings and deliverables, however, is not always so straightforward.
COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach receives a huge number of waste of time requests. Asso states that 70% of requests are irrelevant, and of the 30% that are relevant, only 10% will be good, with the remaining 20% being average. The next step is to calculate the precise engagement rate of an influencer’s audience, and try and work out whether that engagement will convert to ROI, but is a challenge.
It is also harder to find influencers in the low season, at the time when hotels and venues arguably need them most. “Influencers should be humble when approaching hotels”, and be flexible when they are offered dates, so that the relationship is truly beneficial for both parties. Influencers should also avoid collaboration requests which have been sent to 20 hotels in the region and which show no research into the values and attributes of individual properties. A little extra work from the influencer goes a long way to beginning the foundations of a trusting, productive relationship.
What’s the key to a successful influencer marketing campaign?
The key to a successful campaign is finding an influencer with the right style, and ensuring that they are targeting the right audience. The style and aesthetic of their content should align with that of the hotel. So if, for example, your hotel (like Asso’s) has a strong focus on health and wellbeing, then the influencers you choose to work with should produce content centred on wellness, in order to attract the correct consumer audience.
Additionally, Asso argues that properties and venues in the luxury hotel industry should ensure that they don’t mix media outlet advertisements with influencer marketing campaigns because they have fundamentally different goals.
What do you think of Swayy’s management tool?
We showed Asso our influencer booking and campaign management tool, and asked what he thought about it: “I like the application of the system. It would be very interesting, he said, to see the effect of the platform for chains using it at brand level”.
To find out more top tips from industry experts at the top of their game, check out the rest of our Executive Interview Series!
Interested in working with full time, pre-vetted hotel influencers? Click here to find out how Swayy can help you. If you are an influencer interested in a collaboration, read up on what we can do for you.