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An Interview with Dorchester Collection’s Global Communications Manager – Executive Interview Series

Meet Annalisa Maestri, Global Communications Manager at Dorchester Collection

Annalisa has extensive experience in PR & Marketing, working in a number of luxury hotels over the past decade, including Rosewood London and Hotel Café Royal. Thereafter, she joined Dorchester Collection in 2016, where, as a global communications manager, she has contributed to the communications strategy for the company and all Dorchester Collection hotels worldwide. As an avid communications and marketing expert, Annalisa shares some of her most valuable industry insights.

Meet our Interviewer – David Gabriele, CEO of Swayy

David is the CEO of Swayy: the world’s leading influencer booking, campaign, and relationship management tool in the hospitality industry. 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?

Taking into account the impact that digital media has had on marketing methods in the hospitality industry, Annalisa points out that “new media” has transformed the means of communicating with hotel guests. Aside from offering a better understanding of guests’ tastes and preferences, it also simplifies targeting relevant audiences in search of new, potential guests.

As for the significance of influencer marketing and content creators in today’s media ecosystem, Annalisa explains just how important working with the right influencers is: “As much as 50% of all our communication efforts are dedicated to working with content creators”.

What do you want to accomplish with influencer marketing campaigns and content creators?

Annalisa highlights her three main objectives:

1. “Enhancing the guest experience’’
Creating content that is representative of the brand and sharable across a wide range of social media channels will add more value to the guest experience.

2. “Create a desire to stay with us’’
By carefully selecting the right content creator, i.e. those that master photography and artistry, the team is ensuring that they are getting high-quality content which can be used to visually attract potential guests.

3. “Engage our guests into the conversation’’
Apart from liking or commenting, guests can also contribute to a hotel’s social media content. Annalisa points out how a lot of user-generated content is being repurposed on hotel platforms.

With the rapidly increasing number of influencers across social media, how do you find the right ones for the Dorchester Collection brand?

Dorchester Collection is contacted by a large amount of influencers per day. Even though the volume of messages does depend on seasonality, the average number of requests is still very high and will only increase. While the communications team at Dorchester Collection works on arranging collaborations daily, there is still a lot of time and energy that is inevitably invested in efficiently identifying the high-quality influencers.

These are the core features required to help evaluate who the appropriate content creators are:

•  “The quality of the content (photography, composition, copywriting, messaging)’’
It is essential for influencers to be consistent with the artistry and quality of their posts. They must also be aligned with the Dorchester Collection brand.

•  “The engagement and quality of the followers’’
Annalisa explains how assessing the engagement rate is essential. However, “it’s not just scrolling through followers, but considering why these followers are following this person, and also researching how engaged they are’’.

What are the major challenges in influencer marketing?

Considering the astonishing number of daily influencer requests, Annalisa points out that it is “challenging to find content creators whose brand image and content are on brand with us”. She goes on to explain how numbers are not the most important factor – finding and leveraging both local and foreign micro-influencers that produce high-quality content is of much higher value.

Annalisa emphasises that finding the right community of likeminded followers is crucial, even though it’s a challenge: “it’s the conversation one influencer has with their community that matters most’’. This echoes the concept of the Global Village introduced by Marshall McLuhan.

Influencers selected to work with Dorchester Collection are followed by people that would think, interact, and consume in a similar way. As she explains, we live in the Global Village “where every social channel is the square where we all meet and chat’’. Utilising these digital communities to maximise marketing opportunities and thus learn how to profit from digital marketing is key in today’s business environments.

On the flip side, what are the biggest benefits of influencer marketing?

“A hotel’s number one business focus is always on the guest’’

Naturally, one of the greatest benefits of influencer marketing is the ability to reach relevant audiences when choosing the right influencer for your brand: “because of the natural creation of communities, followers tend to consume, or to aspire to consume, the same way the influencer does”, Annalisa states. However, when it comes to the influencer content presented on social media, she also accentuates its positive impact on the guest experience.

While influencer content visually attracts potential guests during the planning stage, it also instigates “aspiration, desire and excitement of the experience of staying at our hotels”, which then can “inspire a consumer to book a room’’. However once guests leave the hotel, it is crucial to keep reminding them of the possibility to relive those experiences once again. As she says, “the content on social media helps customers remember their experiences and want to come or come back’’.

She also points out the role and benefits of technological advances in influencer marketing. A large amount of high-quality content is now easily being produced by influencers at a relatively low cost. It can certainly be a less expensive alternative to some of the traditional marketing techniques, whilst also reaching more relevant audiences.

Social networks allow for an escalation of creative abilities regarding content creation; making the most out of their content and enjoying these “fresh visions’’ of the brand can be very rewarding. Annalisa mentions there is a deeper understanding of how people would perceive the brand itself. This is with specific reference to “what it is about a brand that matters to the consumer and what the brand stands for in the eyes of the public’’.

How do you maintain the relationship with the influencers?

As much as influencers contribute to Dorchester Collection’s social media platforms, Annalisa says the team also engages with the influencer’s digital community. Aside from interacting with the influencers online, the hotel’s communications team often becomes friends with influencers they frequently collaborate with. As Annalisa explains, “we keep them close and connect with them on a personal level. It is very organic…it is also natural and beneficial to establish reciprocal, long-lasting relationships with content creators who bring desirable results.”

Annalisa gives an example of five content creators who had worked with Dorchester Collection in the last year to create the #DCmoments City Guides, available for guests to download from the hotel’s website and also posted across their social media platforms. This demonstrates an innovative marketing technique through a valuable utilisation of well-established relationships with trusted high-quality influencers.

Alexandra Lhermite-Schwass (@whatalexloves on Instagram) created the #DCMoments London guide, available on Dorchester Collection’s website.

How do you go about finding the ROI?

Annalisa says the communications team constantly keeps track of the hashtag mentions and engagement rates (including number of followers), across their social network accounts. The content gets disseminated across Dorchester Collection’s channels, which then generates a high volume of engagement. Brands now have more valuable data related to the performance of marketing campaigns, as well as the journey and behavioural patterns of potential guests.

Still, Annalisa points out that: ‘’it is not just a game of numbers and it is not just about money (i.e. revenue), it is mostly about how much value we are bringing to the guest experience’’.

This is merely the reason why the engagement and hashtag performance is so crucial. While it remains a fairly complex concept, Annalisa believes the solution lies in keeping track of the consumption of content and explaining the results. Engagement and reactions to conversations across social platforms ultimately portray the impact of influencer content. As Annalisa claims, “It is very contradictory in a way. The quality of the content is not quantifiable, but the results of great content are. That’s how you see it works’’.

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

Annalisa points out the hospitality industry would benefit the most from influencer marketing once it becomes “less a game of numbers and more a game of content. This would help reduce fake followers and fake engagement.’’

And what are your thoughts on our solution?

Any tool that simplifies the process of finding the right influencers is greatly welcome and Annalisa thinks the industry would benefit from a company that offers such a solution: “It would really help our job’’. She adds that Swayy seems like a “good tool to find on-brand content creators and target their communities”.

The Promenade – an elegant lounge at The Dorchester Hotel in London

 

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 professional, 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. 

 

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