Insights from a Travel Marketing Pro: A Q&A with Bob Adams


Insights from a Travel Marketing Pro[80]

Bob Adams joined the NaviStone team in late 2022 as Vice President of Business Development, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality. His role includes introducing travel and hospitality marketers to the Digitally Powered Direct Mail solution and improving the performance of their marketing programs. This week's blog, includes a candid Q&A discussion on the opportunities and challenges Bob has overcome in his journey through travel and hospitality marketing over the years that many in marketing can relate to! 

Q1: As an expert in the Travel and Hospitality Marketing space, in a few words, can you sum up your experience prior to NaviStone?

I love and have a passion for the Travel & Hospitality industry, and I bring more than 35 years of experience in and around it. From direct to consumer marketing, SaaS, technology, senior marketing leadership (including CMO for a publicly traded company), I hold a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) certification, so I understand the travel agency and wholesaler side to the travel supply and distribution chain. 

Q2: How did you get started in the Travel & Hospitality industry?

I got a job while a freshman in college to earn extra money to pay for my snow skiing addiction in SW Colorado as a Motel Front Desk clerk. The MOTEL had 60 rooms and we had to change sheets and clean rooms upon occasion due to staffing issues. The catalyst that really piqued my interest in the travel & hospitality business was making contact with the guest. I will never forget a statement I heard from the CEO of a Chicago based company, Lettuce Entertain You, who said always treat the guest as if they are a guest in your home. That statement is in my blood, my DNA, to this day!

Q3: You have witnessed a lot in the Travel & Hospitality industry during your 35+ years of experience, including the impact of the pandemic. Tell us about this.

The Travel & Hospitality industry has always put hospitality first to not only their guests, but also to their associates and colleagues. The industry has always been a laggard to adopt new tech, SaaS, and direct marketing practices, leverage mobile technology.

The pandemic has been a catalyst to change that and has forced Travel & Hospitality to become more aggressive, more adaptive to new tech, and leverage such things as mobile in a customer experience manner. All driven by the need to practice social distancing – the outcome being- an improved guest experience across an omnichannel world.

Q4: How have you seen marketing in the industry shift because of the impact of the pandemic? Are these shifts here to stay?

YES, and thank goodness. Specifically the pandemic has caused the Travel & Hospitality industry to make good on their statement about the importance of personalization and how it can impact the success or failure of campaigns. NaviStone’s retargeting solutions allow the Travel & Hospitality digital and direct marketer to engage more deeply (i.e.; personalized content) with net new and existing customers while they are on one of our clients’ websites and are now online, and on more digital devices, than pre-pandemic days. This ultimately drives the mailing of a beautiful 4-color, bespoke postcard, within 24 hours of that individual browsing our clients’ site, and into their mailbox via first class mail to their home for sharing with friends and family, or sticking to the fridge.

Q5: Why NaviStone?

NaviStone’s People & Culture – one where each company associate has a voice and a personal stake in our company’s success.

Innovation - today & for the future--SaaS technology solutions to leverage digital signals to power closed loop direct marketing to consumer mailboxes; yes, “what is old is new again”. Our product team’s deep experience in innovation comes from Silicon Valley to the best educational institution in the Cincinnati and mid-west region at large. It’s a sprit and level of confidence I think is largely driven by the mantra of failure is good if you’re trying new things and one learns from that failure, with the charge of "let’s try something else". It’s a spirit also built out of our leadership experience creating new companies and entrepreneurial spirit that started in a basement in Cincy.

Customer success focused to be a partner for life. We’re helping our clients become successful and advance personally and professionally in a measurable manner.

Q6: What do you think the greatest opportunity for Travel & Hospitality marketers is in 2023?

I think overall it will be a good year for the Travel & Hospitality industry. I agree with Deloitte that 2023 will be a year of recalibration.

“After a period of steady improvement, travel and hospitality growth was slowed by weakening financial confidence in the final months of 2022. However, under-tapped opportunities and pent-up demand still exist.” – Deloitte, Jan. 2023

CMOs need to focus on customer retention, acquiring net new customers, personalization, and measurement in 2023 and beyond. CEOs and CFOs are saying,“Show me the money and the ROI, CMO!”. And they want it to be clear to the CMO and marketing team that “We rent rooms, cabins, seats, cars, vacation homes/condo’s, etc. – what did we sell today?”.

The days of drinking the digital Kool-Aid and getting excited over things like, “We had 10.5MM impressions on our digital ads yesterday", are over! When I was in the casino industry, as the head of sales & marketing, my boss, the VP/GM would call me every morning on his drive into the office to ask me the question, “What was our take yesterday?”, in other words, what were our winnings (revenue) from slots and table games from the day before. If travel marketers and CMOs want to survive more than today’s average tenure for a CMO, of approximately 40 months on the job (Spencer Stuart) they must show tangible results. I’m proud to say that we are seeing a ROAS of 5-20x with our solutions for our Travel & Hospitality clients. We’re doing our job of making our clients’ brand successful, and marketing leadership personally successful. My belief is that we may single handedly be extending those 40 months for our marketing partners. That, I love! 

The 2023 Marketing Playbook