An Interview with the Director of Marketing Communications at The Savoy London – Executive Interview Series

Meet Emma Allam, Director of Marketing Communications at The Savoy in London

Emma Allam has been the Director of Marketing Communications for The Savoy Hotel in London for the past six years. Before working at The Savoy London, Allam was the PR & Communications Manager at Bulgari Hotel & Residences London, and prior to that at Dorchester Collection in London. She has a distinguished history of working in the luxury hospitality industry and in contract publishing having been on the editorial teams for BA High Life and Business Life.

Meet our Interviewer – David Gabriele, CEO of Swayy

David is the CEO of Swayy, the hospitality industry’s influencer booking, campaign, and relationship management tool. Swayy streamlines the entire collaboration process of finding the right on-brand social media influencers, arranging campaigns and maintaining relationships to drive higher ROI. Swayy has been nominated for numerous awards and in 2018, Swayy won the Disrupt Awards at TTE, the largest travel technology event in Europe.

Interview Highlights

What is happening on the front line with influencers – what trends are you noticing?

“Influencers can be more powerful than celebrities nowadays”.

Allam said that more and more influencers are contacting the property and this comes as no surprise because social media successfully became one of the most powerful marketing tools and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The hotel usually receives between 8-10 emails daily from influencers contacting them directly and the one in charge of all their enquiries is Nicholas Sferrazza, Savoy’s Communication Executive. Dealing with around 3500 influencers per year may sound difficult, but Nicholas makes sure to reply to all influencers enquiries, even if the answer to a possible collaboration is negative. Likewise, he makes sure to give a clear guideline and the goals they expect as well as brand alignment.

When asked about what The Savoy wants to accomplish with influencer marketing campaigns and content creators, Allam highlights three goals:

1.  Increase brand awareness

Influencers can help hotels significantly increase brand awareness because of their engaged followers, but make sure that the individuals you choose to work with fit the image and the importantly the values of the brand.

2 . Build brand equity

Building brand equity might require you to start with a trial and error method as this will give you an idea of what might work and what not. Try and make the content creators partners and build long time relationships with them. Plaza Athénée in Paris does a great job at this with a couple of high profile influencers promoting their property on their blogs as well as their social media, to ensure that the property becomes their home from home whenever they’re in town.

3 . Change the perception people have of the hotel

The first thing to do in order to change the perception of the hotel is to get the new story out to the world about the future of The Savoy (rather than focusing on the past). Using influencers made The Savoy see significant uplifts in younger audiences and there are many influencers that can help hotels continuously target these audiences. Again, just make sure they are appropriate for the brand.

How do you measure ROI?

“The engagement received from the content generated by the influencers is one way we measure ROI”
explains Allam. With the help of influencer posts, the hotel managed to gain 18,000 new followers since July 2018.

The Savoy also had 5 top fashion bloggers staying there for London Fashion Week and that all of The Savoy’s team fully supported their efforts to increase brand awareness for the hotel.

With their help, Allam admits that “The Savoy is on the map again and people are talking about us”. When other senior executives at The Savoy report back to Allam that The Savoy really is on the map—that is a tangible ROI that speaks volumes.

Content generated from micro-influencers used to promote the food & beverage offerings at the hotel is also monitored.

What are the biggest challenges with influencers in your opinion?

“We never specifically know what we’ll get out of it” Allam notes. “We aren’t in a position to pay for influencers to collaborate with us, rather we offer the experiences …so it can be hard to control this”.

There are cases where influencers do not post what they say they will or they don’t post what the hotel wants and that has to be another challenge.

Being responsible and serious has to come from both parts otherwise the campaign is not going to succeed.

Also, dealing with influencer enquiries can be time-consuming as it takes up to 60% of the Savoy’s Communications Executive’s time along with other social media duties. That’s 4-5 hours per day.

The Savoy, London

What influencers would you say are the most successful?

Allam gives a few examples of successful influencer collaborations at brand level for The Savoy – one of them being with Leonie Hanne (@leoniehanne). She has 1.9 million followers with whom she chooses to share her life. Olivia Palermo (@oliviapalermo) is another, who has 5.9 million followers and they can follow her wherever she goes as she posts regularly about her travels.

These influencers are examples of those who address a target market for the property, in Leonie’s case, Germany, and who are perfectly aligned with the brand values of the Savoy.

For food, micro influencers are very important too. A selection of these can be seen on The Savoy’s social media feeds.

Are you reactive or proactive in finding influencers?

The best way to look at it is to be proactive based on the guidelines. The Savoy is 80% proactive and 20% reactive on inbound requests.

Mr Sferrazza, The Savoy’s Communication Executive spends a lot of time reaching out to and nurturing relationships with key Influencers who are on brand. So, when they next happen to be in London, the work is done.

What would you like to see improved in the process of collaborating with influencers?

The experience of collaborating with influencers depends on many factors. Everybody wants their collaboration to go smoothly and for their campaign to be successful.

“Creating more and more long term relationships with influencers” is what Allam said could be beneficial. This is also the key to solving the problem created by the amount of time spent on dealing with influencer enquiries and not being sure what you are going to get out of the collaboration.

How can Swayy help hotels build these long term relationships?

Swayy is the hotelier’s best friend when it comes to managing all aspects of influencer collaborations both at brand and property level. It helps brands and influencers build these long term relationships that Allam has identified as being paramount. The tool also saves time, hassle and effort for venues, agencies and influencers.

What are your thoughts on our solution to helping hoteliers?

“Sounds like you’ve covered everything in the tool!”

 The Savoy, London

To learn more from experts in the luxury hospitality industry, 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.



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