In our quest to bring you valuable advice from the hospitality industry’s digital marketing leaders, we reached out to Serdar Kutucu, the Vice President – Brand, Marketing & Communications at Design Hotels AG, responsible for the brand strategy, innovation, content and communication. Here’s what he shared with us.

Read this article to learn:

✔ Best practices for engaging consumers on digital channels
✔ Why you need to see consumers as partners
✔ How Design Hotels tells relevant and meaningful stories online

Serdar KutucuSerdar Kutucu | LinkedIn
Vice President
Brand, Marketing & Communications Design Hotels AG

John McAuliffe: You have extensive experience and success in hotel marketing. If I asked your advice on how to be successful in hotel digital marketing, what would you say?

Serdar: I think the most important thing today is that consumers become part of the business. We need to start seeing consumers as partners and look for ways to collaborate with them as opposed to market to them. We can see clearly that consumers have a very high influence on public perception of brands, products and services across the board. This is a signal that we as marketers need to engage consumers in different ways than we have in the past.

We need to start seeing consumers as partners and look for ways to collaborate with them as opposed to market to them.

John McAuliffe: How is Design Hotels applying this approach to digital marketing?

Serdar: It’s a process. There’s no button you click and change your entire digital strategy. As an example, we’re really focusing on engaging consumers through meaningful and relevant communication.

John McAuliffe: Can you elaborate on what you mean by meaningful and relevant communication?

Serdar: There’s so much information available to people today. Your message needs to be meaningful to peoples’ lives and relevant to them personally in order to capture their attention. This implies that you need to know who you’re talking to. We’re always working on creating more relevant content for the consumer and talking to them about what we believe will interest them. To do this, we invite them to participate actively in letting us know what’s important, interesting and helpful to them.

John McAuliffe: How does this translate to the Design Hotels website?

Serdar: We’ve built the website in a way that makes navigation easy for the visitor. People don’t want to lose time and you actually lose people if you don’t give them the right guidance. We cluster the hotels into motives for traveling or interests from our guests’ point of view, including city hotels, modern hotels, beach hotels, etcetera. This way, we can give them easy access to the experience they’re seeking.

You’ll see this on the homepage and the section called “Original Experiences” where we actually present the experience and not the product. When you click on “Community” you can see our culture blog where we provide information from the world of Design Hotels — it can be about a designer, it can be about an owner, it can be about an event that happened in one of our hotels.

What I am trying to say is that we’re not trying to punch people in the face with a discounted offer. We’re trying to sort the products by motive for travel and give them interesting stories about our hotels.

Design Hotels Original Experiences

John McAuliffe: What’s the next step for personalizing the consumer experience for Design Hotels?

Serdar: Our next step is to improve the relevance of the content in our email marketing. This is a very simple example I always use: It doesn’t make sense to send a newsletter offering weekend getaways in South America or Europe to someone living in Tokyo. Instead, offer a weekend getaway in their region. This is just one example that involves information about the consumer’s country or city of residence. The more information we can gather, the more relevant the message can be.

Going back to what I said in the beginning, as long as you receive meaningful and relevant information for your individual needs, you will engage with that channel. The more information we have about the people we’re talking to the sharper we can be in our content and communications. That’s how we earn their engagement with our brands, products and services.

John McAuliffe: How would I go about gathering the information I need to be more relevant to consumers?

Serdar: One way is by tracking user habits through the website and booking engine. At Design Hotels, we see the behavior through the customer journey on our direct channels. For example, we can see which hotels a person books, which rates they book, how often they book, how long they stay and which destinations they travel to. We’re currently considering data warehouse model where we can feed and actually enrich profile information from other data sources.

At Design Hotels, we see the behavior through the customer journey on our direct channels.

John McAuliffe: Any final words of advice?

Serdar: Digital marketing has become so complex with so many opportunities. It’s time for us to filter and focus. We don’t need to do everything, but we need to do something very well. We focus on what is key to us and the right way to position the brand. It’s quality over quantity. That’s our strategy.

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