Dec. 7, 2022

Top 6 Tips to Recession Proof Your Marketing, with Pete Dimaio of TravelBoom


Pete Dimaio of TravelBoom Marketing is BACK for a three-Pete! This is Pete's 3rd appearance on the show, and today he joins us for a very timely and relevant topic. As we head into 2023 and an economic forecast that is anything but certain, it's more important than ever that business owners and marketers are ready to sharpen their pencils, and know when it's time to push the gas or pump the brakes.

We discuss the importance of auditing your tracking, re-negotiating contracts, adopting an "always-ON" marketing strategy, finding strategic partnerships and so much more!

No matter how good or bad the economy is, building a profitable business is key to sustainability. Recession proof your marketing plan with Pete's Top Tips - grab your notebook! This is a good one!  

You'll also hear a short story from Robin Craigen, President & Co-Founder of Moving Mountains in this episode, brought to you by Wheelhouse: The Ultimate Revenue Driving Machine. 

Wheelhouse
is a proud member of Alex & Annie's List, presented by Rev & Research 

CONTACT PETE DIMAIO
Travel Boom Marketing
Vice President - Director Client Services & Marketing
pete.dimaio@travelboommarketing.com
TravelBoomMarketing
LinkedIn

CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals. I'm Alex.

Annie Holcombe:

And I'm Annie.

Alex Husner:

And we're joined today by Pete DeMaio. of travel boom marketing. And this is actually a three Pete! This is a repeat the third time that Pete has joined us on the show, and I think on the second time, we said we couldn't believe we got him to come back after the first time. But no kidding Now, this isn't record now. Pete, welcome to the show.

Pete DiMaio:

Thank you so much. It's awesome to be on the show. I really enjoyed the first two episodes. And I was like, You know what, I bet we can even make one more work out of this.

Annie Holcombe:

I think we can get more than we can get more than one or one or three out of you. I'm sure. Yeah, yeah.

Pete DiMaio:

My favorite part of the day. I'm happy to be here.

Annie Holcombe:

Oh, thank you.

Alex Husner:

So if anybody is not familiar with the episodes that we've had the past, I would definitely recommend going back and listening to them because they were there's a lot of great content about direct bookings and marketing strategies and OTAs. And we'll include the links to those two episodes that Pete was on in the show notes. But, Pete before we get started, just in case somebody didn't, has not heard them. Can you give our audience just a little bit of background on who you are and what your background has been?

Pete DiMaio:

Absolutely. So my name is Pete Dimaio. Like you said, I'm the COO of Travel Boom. And we are a agency that specializes in helping independent hoteliers succeed online. So if it's web development, pay per click management, meta management, email, you name it, websites, we do pretty much everything under the digital sun to help those independent Hoteliers and small Property Groups really succeed and be able to drive more direct bookings.

Annie Holcombe:

Awesome. So you came back, we we love to pick your brain on marketing, we love to pick your brain and all the things you know. And one of the things that we have discussed throughout our careers, but then also through the podcast is the fact that there's a lot of things that hoteliers hotel operators can learn from vacation rentals and vice versa. And so what one of the things that we wanted to talk about was kind of front and center on everybody's mind as we went into, like show season this past fall. And I think moving into 2023 is the worry of recession, whether it's actually coming or it's not it's still kind of debatable depending on what part of the business you're in or what market you're in. But we wanted to talk about the I think it was we were gonna do the top five things that you could do to recession proof your property management marketing, for the coming year. So we thought you were the best expert to bring your on for that.

Pete DiMaio:

Well, thank you so much. I think it's an it's something that's definitely top of mind with everybody right now. You know, we're seeing inflation starting to really creep up, we're seeing you know, people are being a lot tighter with their wallets. And it's starting to change how people think about 2023 and their vacation plans. So there's a lot that hoteliers can do or should I say property managers can do to not necessarily I say recession proof because that's a better clickbait headline. But the reality is, is we're trying to do is batten down the hatches a little bit and make sure that we don't have waste, or marketing that's not falling on the right ears. And that's really what we're trying to trying to accomplish with our topic today.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, and it's kind of like a cleaning house, I feel like because in COVID, we did the same thing that when we all we didn't know, when our next reservation or dollar was going to be coming in, we all had to take an extreme, you know, pencil to the budget and look at what could be eliminated. And I think that's really something that people should do or businesses should do every year, you know, because if you don't look at it, you start things start creeping into, you know, your your tech stack or your budget that you might not even be using anymore. So just making sure that you're checking up on that on an annual basis is just good business going forward. But I think your first point on how to recession proof your marketing actually speaks into that pretty well.

Pete DiMaio:

Right? So my very first point is to actually look at your invoices and your tech stack, to see what you're not using. And I equate it to the 10 streaming services that we all have, you know, we're all have Facebook, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, you name it. And the reality is, if we're not using those, we're burning our personal budgets with no return whatsoever. And from a property managers perspective, it's the exact situation it's really easy to sign up for. Back in the beginning of COVID days, we had paid zoom accounts, paid WebEx accounts paid go to meet accounts, and it was easy to forget that you're spending money there. But now that money is getting tighter. I think he's really smart to look at that say, can I be just as effective with fewer fewer tools that I'm not using? Yeah,

Annie Holcombe:

yeah, absolutely. So are there are there any like just off the top of your mind that you run into? You think that people could maybe say cut corners but eliminate that maybe they don't need going into the new year that they can do you know, they maybe they've learned enough from the software that they can be doing it themselves?

Pete DiMaio:

You know, I think that's going to be definitely on a case by case basis with things that I've, because I think coming out of COVID, we all did a pretty good job cutting those services that we weren't using at all. But then we became more reliant on the platforms that we did decide to keep. And as technology improves, it gives us an opportunity to go back to our vendors and say, Hey, are there opportunities for me to reduce my budget, you know, look at those invoices that you're paying, and make sure that the partners that you're using, you're fully utilizing their services. Yep, perfect example is a lot of the email platforms that are out there now, you might be able to find a comparable platform that cost less, or you may realize that you may be paying for an AI component, let's say to your email marketing, that you're actually not employing on a day to day basis. Doesn't make sense to you go ahead and start using that. If it doesn't get with your vendor and see if you can reduce some costs there.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's a great point. And even just making sure that the things that you have signed up for that you're utilizing them to the to the fullest, because it might not be that you want to necessarily eliminate that service. But if it's something like you just mentioned, an AI component that is not being fully used. Okay, well, now's the time, you've got a little bit of time before booking season starts to figure out how you can get that in motion and you know, get the most out of it in the new year.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah. And one specific example that I can think of, not from a property management perspective, but from an agency perspective, is going through and looking at our Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, all the things that Adobe offers. And what we realized is that we had a couple people who were power users, and we had a couple of people who didn't realize that they even had to log in, and you're paying a lot of money. Guess who's not getting power?

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's a great point. That's appropriate. Yeah. Licenses and seats on any subscription type thing? For sure.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. I think it's a good it's a good opportunity to all the way around to renegotiate contracts, like any years, you know, again, there may be parts of the contract that you had that were, you needed a lot of training upfront that you don't necessarily need that training, and you don't need the support that you needed when you initially onboard with them. So go through those contracts and see what what pieces of it might not be, you know, part of your operations currently, are you needed moving forward?

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah, great. Well, what is tip number two Pete?

Pete DiMaio:

So the next thing I would say is, after you've made sure that you are efficient, in terms of your invoices, and tech stack, is to make sure that your analytic systems are truly optimized. And this goes beyond making sure that you have your login to GA for or whatever platforms that you might be using. But really make sure that they work. I think this is one thing that I see happen time and time again, even with us is you know, analytics is not a set it and forget it thing. It's something that you set. And then you go back and test and retest and test again, on an ongoing basis to make sure that you're able to see the performance of the marketing that you're putting in place. So if you have a paid campaign, you want to go through test that pay per click campaign, make sure that you go through the entire process from the web, from the browser to the booking. And you can say, okay, look, Pete DeMaio, went on, did a search made a booking, and I can see that my analytics, that's a tie back to my pay per click campaign. Those kind of things are just fundamental,

Alex Husner:

it's fine, because that's actually in my new role at Costco. That is my number one initiative that I've said is that we need to figure out first, we need to go through all the tracking on all the different sources that we have and make sure everything is implemented correctly. Because to get a baseline of where we're at now and where we want to go, you have to make sure that that's correct. And it's really easy for things to get changed over the years that you were using certain variables or certain components. And that's how the tracking was tied. But as code has changed, or programs are changed, that it just disconnects. So definitely believe in that for sure.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah. And it's interesting, I would say track this all the way through. Because a lot of times, like for instance, I have a client who has a legacy website, very old platform, and their hosting company, upgraded the version of PHP that was on the server. Yeah, as a result, it broke one of the forms, what didn't break when the forms in the website, it stopped one of the forms that our website from feeding to their CRM, it was still sending confirmation or thank you emails out and it was still storing the data locally in the database. But that connection to their CRM was broken. And they didn't know this for months, until you go through and do the whole audit process. And then what you realize is like you've collected it's kind of that old Seinfeld episode, you can take all the reservations you want but if you don't fulfill them, what's not quite had the exact same problem where they were getting these requests. They're getting sort of database, and they're adding to an email database, but they were never going to CRM where an agent could respond to them.

Alex Husner:

Wow, do you how do you suggest that companies handle something like that? So do you suggest that you have kind of like a playbook of all the different forms on your site, all the different places that things are supposed to connect, because what also happens is if somebody in business leaves if your IT person or marketing person leaves, and they're the only one that knows what was supposed to be happening with that functionality, that's where things fall really gets drops. So how do you suggest somebody would organize that?

Pete DiMaio:

But Alex, that's a tough one. So in a perfect world, you'd have a posted? I suggest post it notes. Everywhere, yeah. Write everything down. Housing,

Alex Husner:

Dont opent the window. There goes the Marketing budget.

Pete DiMaio:

Alright, we have to start over again, that really, honestly, I think one of the best things that you can do is, you know, right now we're talking about going through an auditing that process, let's audit actually documented and have a flowchart somewhere that says, user enters, they do a quote, request for a vacation rental, it's going to go to my CRM, it's going to go to an email database, it's going to notify this person that's gonna do this. And that way, you can come back, say, three months down the road, and check again, and make sure it's all working properly. But there's really no easy way other than say, okay, it is the first of the month, I'm gonna go in here. And I'm going to test this form as if I'm a consumer incognito browser and go through the whole process.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, that's, that's a, that's a really good practice, and probably one I wouldn't have thought of just because I never play in that side. But it makes me think of the conversation we had when we were talking about disaster preparation and marketing and how you need to make sure like you turn campaigns off versus turning them back on. And I think a lot of times people get get so busy and in for, you know, vacation rentals as a whole this last year, in the last two years, the seasonality has just extended because the demand has just continued to be there. So I think that people maybe while they had a plan going into it that was implemented, they may not have gone back and checked, like, did we turn this campaign off, they still might be doing stuff to buy word keywords for summer that they don't need to be buying in the winter, and forgotten to turn some of that off so that the whole audit process for your marketing is pretty important.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah. And the other thing I would say as well is look at your analytics stack, and figure out where you can make things easier. So you know, one thing that I think a lot of people don't use enough is Google's Data Studio, which is a kind of a visual reporting platform that can pull in Google Analytics data can pull in your website, data, CRM data, all kinds of good stuff, and create some simple dashboards that will help you audit that process. And that's updates real time. So anytime you're you feel like checking us pull up your dashboard, you might see that there's no vacation, quote, requests coming in. That tells you Oh, there probably should be. So let me roll up my sleeves or start my testing process to figure out why.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, and you don't ever want to rely on your vendors that help you whether it's the service or an agency, you can't rely on them to be checking this for you. You really have to check it yourself. I mean, that's, I think that's that's what ends up happening. A lot of times people just assume, well, they're still charging my credit card, it must still be ordered, right? That doesn't mean that they're making sure it's working on you're

Pete DiMaio:

getting the money. Yeah. And their part might be working. So in that example, yeah, the lead form that wasn't getting set to the CRM, you have a lot of different Excuse me. I apologize. No, you have a lot of different vendors who are all working together, theoretically. But if they're portions working, they're not going to know that something's broken. So if the CRM system in that one example, they see leads are coming in, their systems not broken, they just see that they're not getting leads, so they're not going to necessarily raise a red flag that's gonna be on us to the vacation rental manager to to handle that part.

Alex Husner:

Yep, absolutely. What do you think I just want to ask you real quick on Google Analytics and GA four. Are you having your clients use both at this point? I mean, I'm sure you've switched most of them to GA four got that installed? But are they running both the Old and the New until Ga Ga four takes over?

Pete DiMaio:

We are so we have everybody's pretty much switched over to GA four. There's a few that we're still working on that GA four processes a little bit more complex than I think any marketer expected out of the gate. Yeah. Yeah, but I don't see Google shutting off Universal Analytics. Oh, at the end of July, like they say I don't

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I think it's more of a they had to put a deadline to get people going that direction, but it seems hard to believe But, yeah, interesting. Okay, great. What is tip number three? All right.

Pete DiMaio:

So number three, I think is the most important one that you should be doing if we're in a recession or not. But that's making sure that you're maximizing your owned assets. And what I mean by owned assets are things like your guest history database, your marketing database, your current guests. And even though it's not technically your own assets, your social media presence and your social media profiles, make sure you're doing everything you can to have a direct line of communication with your guests, and that your guests regard you very highly in terms of communications that they receive. Yeah, yeah, you know, we always talk about how in recessions, everything gets more expensive, and including your marketing. And if you have a very limited budget, or we have to start making cuts, you want to say, Okay, I need to go out to my email database, or my SMS, database, whatever it might be, and I need that thing, running at 110%. If I send an email, I want to make sure my click through rate my conversion rates are through the roof. Because if that doesn't work, now, I gotta go to the My paid media, such as pay per click, meta search, wherever it might be to help augment my traffic.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah, it's about owning your own audiences, right, and just making sure you have an always on presence with them. And that's really how, you know, I've always approached marketing, both in previous roles. And we'll be doing so with casaco, that you always have to have something out there. And even if it's not necessarily marketing's sales, special related, you just you want to stay top of mind, and just making sure you're doing that across the different verticals of those audiences, not just doing emails, not just doing essentially, you have to do at all, and it has to be kind of working in harmony there.

Pete DiMaio:

Yep. No. And I would say kind of I mentioned social assets as well, you have to be very careful there, because you'll while you have a presence on the a multitude of different social platforms, those are the social platforms get customers, you are getting to have access to them. But it's very limited access, and you may have to pay to reach a wider share of that audience. So make sure that that is the thing. That's the icing on the cake versus the platform that you're relying on.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. And I would say to anybody, you know, a large majority of our listenership, they rely very heavily on VRBO and Airbnb in particular. But other OTAs as well, now is the time to be developing strategies to retarget those guests with specific messaging on why they want to book direct with you so that they're not paying traveler fees so that it's easier for them to communicate. And really, that can be a whole ongoing campaign. But if you have not set it up in that manner, just starting off the year that way, because, believe me, come January 1, verbo, Airbnb and big destination markets, they're going to be spending a lot of money on their own marketing and PPC campaigns of your costs. So go ahead, get to those guests segment, Segment them out of your database so that you can get in touch with them, and remind them that you're there in the local experts for them to book with.

Pete DiMaio:

That is so true. It's same thing in the hotel world where you can't rely on Expedia and booking.com and all the other OTAs it's the same thing with Airbnb and everybody else's. It's not your guest. It is not their email address that's coming through it is someone else's guests that you're fulfilling their their booking.

Annie Holcombe:

Yep, that's right. Channel should be used to build your database. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

yeah. And I think sometimes we take it for granted that, you know, in our market here in Myrtle Beach, and where Annie is in Panama City Beach, where markets that have been strong destinations for a long time that have really played the long game in terms of building direct booking strategies. And we all kind of operate with or have operated a little bit more like hotels, as far as how we structure our marketing plans. But a lot of the companies that we talk to you and we go to the vacation rental events, they've a lot of them have never done this stuff. They've never had a book direct strategy, they really have just relied on the OTAs. So the more you can lean into taking this time in the offseason to planning for for the next year and just really building out that long term strategy, the better off you'll be.

Annie Holcombe:

Absolutely. All right, well, let's go to the next one, Pete number four.

Pete DiMaio:

So number four, is you've already had to make some cuts. We've cleaned up our wasted budgets, but we really need to keep planning for future cuts. And, you know, there's a saying you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. And the thing is, before you do that, you want to check to make sure that there's you know, you check the water first. You don't want to just dump everything out and lose something important. So what I would say is when when time comes to actually cut budget, it's say three months into 2023. And you see that I expected to have extra budget and I need to now cut 30% off of it wargame that scenario and figure out where would I cut that Now, so when that time comes, you don't have to stress and think about how you would remove 30%. From your budget, you have that in your back pocket, you can say, oh, when I'm told to cut budget, this is the places where I think I need to cut it, where it's the least impactful to putting heads in beds.

Annie Holcombe:

Right. I think that's something that people don't plan for is they especially coming off the last two years. And I will say, one thing that I experienced with partners that I worked with is they came off a really great 2021. And I said to them, you know, we have to be cautious as we go into 22, because it's not going to be the same. And we saw the numbers of like rentals growing in markets, and some markets were 100% more inventory. So while the demand was still really elevated, it seemed that demand was down because there was more inventory. But they didn't take that into account that the they needed to take the rates down, they needed to budget across the board and be prepared for when, again, it wasn't that the market went flat, it was just that there wasn't enough demand to fill all the inventory that was there. And then once they realized it was a problem, they were like, Oh, my gosh, I've got to stop doing all of these things, or I've got to let staff go or I've got to cut back. And to your point, if you can kind of foresee you know, read the tea leaves ahead of time and be prepared for it. It's not as painful. And you know, it like it goes to the point of you know, how do you insulate yourself from things to come down the road, you just, it's all about planning.

Pete DiMaio:

Yep. In the sooner that you realize that you're going to have to make adjustments. The sooner you make those adjustments, the better, better. You know, if if you know that you're gonna have to cut budget, and you put in a strategy to to make that happen. If it takes you two or three months to actually do that you spent two or three months worth of budget, on things that you really may not have had the budget to spend it on. Yes, you have that plan. So the moment you know, you need to make a change, you can make it right away, you're not spending time and marketing budget planning when you're

Annie Holcombe:

not digging a hole that you can't get out of.

Alex Husner:

Exactly. Yeah. And I think I mean, even, I don't think there's gonna be a massive decrease in demand in 2023, do you, I mean, as I think rates are gonna go, rates are gonna go down, we're gonna lose some of that edge and increase in

Annie Holcombe:

demand is gonna stay, I think demand will go down. But I think what we're gonna see is we're gonna see a lot of this inventory that popped on for the year, that was one off like the nm and you look at some of the more urban markets, but Scottsdale and Houston and some of these markets and had like, 100, you know, 50% growth, Panama City Beach had an enormous growth. Some of it was a new hotel product, but there was a lot of people that just were like, I'm gonna put my unit on rental, they've never done it before. And they probably won't do it again. And I think so we're, I think we'll see a decline where so the demand will seem to be down. But it'll it'll just I think it's just leveling off of what the market getting back to a more normal, say, normal subset of what the industry was before.

Alex Husner:

And I think that's, that's where I agree with you on that. And I think that from a rate perspective to maybe that's what people need to be thinking about is that, you know, our margins were all so good these last couple years that knowing that, you know, demands gonna go down, we definitely we do not recommend cutting your rates significantly. But I mean, you've got to look at what the markets doing. And just knowing that your your margins on some bookings that you were making way more these last couple of years, it's you should probably expect to be closer to 2019. But that just as far as marketing spend, you have to keep that in consideration.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah, and also factor in that, it seems like 2023 could be a pretty good year in terms of, you know, people wanting to travel and get out. But from an inflation perspective, if you are management costs are increasing, and the customer is not willing to pay more, how is that different than a decline in people come to set your property? At the end of the day? You know, from a to RevPAR perspective, you have a problem? It doesn't matter if it's on the expense side, or if on the the occupancy side, either way, you have to have a plan to to address what is the root issue?

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. And that goes where some one of the things that Alex and I have talked about is that, you know, a lot of people have a lot of analytic tools that they're using a lot of data and it's great, but you really have to be understand your market and be in tune with your market and engage with your DMOS and engage with other your competitive set within the market. So you know, once you really know what's going on, because again, what's happening to you might not be happening the guy next door, and you can try to figure out why that is. And I think that some people like to operate in silos, sometimes in our markets, if it's a very hyper competitive market and not understanding that you want to keep your friends close and your enemies just as close or closer. And for that reason alone, so you really have a good pulse on what's going on.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, creating strategic partnerships there. That would be number one tip that could be applied to so many different topics. Absolutely. There's so much benefit to that. But it is our drumbeat. It's yeah, I mean, I'm working with your local CVB DMO that's huge and It's interesting to also hear too, I mean, the more that we talked to vacation rental operators and other markets, that in a lot of markets, the CVB is not as big of a thing as beach or Panama City Beach or Destin, or, you know, some of these historically, very, you know, foundational vacation markets. But there still are opportunities through them, maybe you don't know about and I try and compare it to even in our market, if you're not connect, if you don't know what your CVB is doing, if you're not in communication, you're automatically going to think that they're not really doing anything. And I've seen that happen with so many of our members that once they get into the mix, they're like, oh, my gosh, I can't believe I've been missing all these opportunities for last three years that I just, you know, we had one person that manage the account, and now we just never know what's going on. So just keep in touch with them and just see, because even if it's not massive opportunities, there will be some, some things you can find there that you probably haven't uncovered.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah, that's a really good point. Because really all a chamber or CVB is is a pre made strategic partnership that you can participate in. Yeah, right.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, it's conduit to find other like minded companies. Yeah.

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah, you don't have to start from scratch, go out and start knocking on doors of your, your competitors, which you probably should be doing regardless. But you'll get involved with your chambers, get involved with your CVBS and see what they have to offer. Again, a lot of times, it's at almost no cost to you just participate in so many phenomenal opportunities,

Alex Husner:

especially when it comes to advocacy, too. So that's another point that we talked about, which is not related to this topic, but for sure. Yeah, kinda Yeah. If regulations shut you down, then you don't need a marketing budget, because all together, but yeah, creating those relationships so that when regulation issues do hit your community, you've got a strong alliance there to be able to fight together and you know, the people and it's not awkward having to figure out relationships when you're also dealing with pretty tough legislation issues at the same time.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, and that point, I think one of the things obviously just kind of on all this just talking with and working with the DMO is is that, you know, coming off of two really good years specifically to vacation, rental, not so much to the hotel sector, because the hotel sector has always had a voice within the DMOs/CVBs vacation rentals, not so much. And you know, part of it was part of it was just not knowing each other or not engaging with each other. But now there's a spotlight on it. And we're doing some stuff with Jennifer Barbee at Destination Innovate in January. And it's really one of the reason we got involved in it was we had had her on the show. And she started to recognize with some of the demos that she was working with that there was a lot of vacation rentals, short term rental inventory and markets that these DMO CVB didn't really know it was there. And they realized that they were very integral for them to survive through COVID. And so that they want to bring them into the fold. So again, Alex and I tried to push to everybody like now is your time to be part of the conversation and get your voice heard and be part of the marketing. And again, be part of that planning and see where you can utilize their services. So you don't have to spend the money to do some of the things that you would typically be doing by listing on their website or being part of the campaigns that they're paying for that your bed tax dollars are going to offset. So again, there's a lot of ways to kind of shore up what you're doing by being involved and being active.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Well said.

Annie Holcombe:

Thank you Okay, so I think the next thing we want to go oh, sorry, I'm whipping past you. Hmm.

Pete DiMaio:

I think I was gonna say the exact same thing you are, which is the number five thing you should be doing. And that, and that is make your guests crazy happy. Yeah, at the end of the day, our job is to be hospitable, and make our guests love us. Yeah, there's a Seth Godin quote that I love. And it says people rarely buy what they need, they buy what they want. And people don't always cut their their needs, or I'm sorry, they always cut their wants, they cut their needs. As as a property manager, you need to make sure that your property is exactly what they want. You want to invest in your infrastructure, you want to really instill the importance with your, your staff, you're in everybody that you have to create a legendary experience. You don't want that guests leaving saying, Oh, it was a nice day. You want them going back to the old telling

Alex Husner:

their friends, I'd say yeah, yeah,

Pete DiMaio:

yeah. Amplification tools that are out there. And yeah, you'll make sure that you know, the old saying of surprise and delight. It's somewhat cliche now, but it's so true. Make sure that your guests are just blown away by what you had to offer that they have to tell everybody and they have to make sure they come back next year.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But building your own audience and your own brand advocates. I mean, that is so beneficial to you and that literally helps you cut down on having to spend on marketing when you have your guests that are loyal that they're yeah They're out there, spreading, spreading the love to their family and friends and saying I've had the best time here and, of course, flipped to always comes up in any marketing conversation that we have. But that's one of our favorite tools to be able to really, really amplify the reach of your, your current guests to get in front of their audiences. And just that builds out almost a viral effect. So that's Flip.to.

Pete DiMaio:

But, and I think if it's Flip.to, or if it's even if it's just making sure that when your guests are on property, you really instill that value, everybody spent so much money driving leads to their website, driving conversions. Once you've invested all that money, you'll plan some of that investment to be making sure that you retain that guests for the next year. Absolutely. That too, like we kind of go back up the list of the things that we want to do like to shore up our own assets to make sure we're not wasting money. It all goes back to one thing is making your guests crazy happy. If they're banging on your door to come back. Marketing becomes a lot less important when you already have 90% occupancy because everyone be crazy not to come back next year.

Alex Husner:

Right. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, if you're churning and burning guests every year, and you're having to continuously continuously spend, that's that's not a good sign. You know, I mean, you should have a pretty good healthy repeat guests. Guest right. If you're if you don't, maybe marketing isn't your main problem might be operational problems. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. And I think to that point, two they want and I would counter, I would counter that, you know, what we're seeing in the industry is is not as much repeat as used to be like, it used to be that people only went to one market. And that's what they did. They went to one mountain market, one beach market. And now, there's just so much, there's so much out there for everybody to see, I think it goes to building up that guest experience so that people are always talking about that experience so that when your destination does come up in conversation, oh, this is where you need to go. So again, yeah, I think it's just it's building kind of that reach through through your guest experience. And I love the surprise and delight like that is just such an easy way. Easy way to put it. Because there's so many times that the surprise and delight is reversed. You're delighted upfront, and you get that surprised when you get there is not as not what you wanted it to be. So really investing in that that part of the journey is part of your marketing. And it needs to be something that right now you're retooling and saying like how can we again, take the time in the offseason to go stay in your properties experience from from the guest, the guest eyes and understand like, what are the things that I could do to make it better for them to stay with us and talk about us?

Pete DiMaio:

Yeah, it's funny Annie that you say that because the part about not always going to the same destination over and over again. Last year, me and the family went to Gatlinburg, we got a nice, nice vacation rental property, we had a phenomenal time, we're probably not going back this year, only because we're going to try to do like a lake house or something a bit different. But we had a phenomenal time. And I've told at least three other people, two of which I know are going to the area this year or in 2023. So even though I'm not going there now, the experience that I had, that drove me to drive basically think of that as me being a repeat guest two more times. Because the reason this people are gonna say, hey, P had a phenomenal time. I know Pete and his family, I trust them, there is no higher credibility factor than than that.

Annie Holcombe:

Well, you need to make sure that you sign yourself up for points and give them your points number. So you really want because I think that I think that people don't pay attention to the fact that you came and then they're asking, How did you hear about it? Like, I think people don't do enough of that, to understand that. Yes, it may not be Pete coming back. But Pete recommended two people that came. And so you know, and I don't know what the right answer is to do. Because I know that that's a lot of extra work. But I think it has to be something that's in your playbook of are you asking these questions? How did you hear about us? Did someone recommend you choose us so that you can look back at your database and go, Oh, Pete came last year probably isn't going to come this year, because again, you don't want to go to SAME DESTINATION every year, likely anymore. But is he going to come back next year, you know, maybe send Pete a note and thanks for recommending us we got two bookings off of you. We'd like to offer you a discount to come back in the future. You know, something along those lines, but that's a

Pete DiMaio:

lot of why I like Alex's idea of Pete points.

Annie Holcombe:

Three Pete with Point How to dry deodorant? Yeah.

Pete DiMaio:

Raise your hand.

Alex Husner:

When you're sweating, because the book is

Pete DiMaio:

coming? Yeah, you're gonna listen to gold? Buy Gold Bond? Yeah, no, yeah. So in times like this, where we're headed into a recession, there's it's a time of flux. So things don't change, which means opportunities aren't going to necessarily present themselves to you. Make sure even though we talked about cutting budget or play having planned for cutting it, make sure you also have a plan if things start going really well. And you have an opportunity to jump in. Alex, perfect example, from the chamber perspective, a lot of times, you might have remnant space, you know, going back to the old print days, or an opportunity for partnership, and you need to throw a couple $1,000 to it. If you're the person in the market that has the wherewithal to do so it becomes a multiplier in your marketing efforts. Because your competitors are not able to take advantage of it, you have a limit of your budget that's still ready to go, you can throw it at opportunity real fast, take advantage of something and capitalize before other people in the market can do so.

Alex Husner:

Absolutely. I guess this is a little bit counterintuitive to some of the points that we've made about cutting your budget. But really, you know, when you look back to COVID, the companies that did keep their marketing going, and that that was certainly the companies in the destinations that were able to keep their marketing going saw massive gains and market share. So yeah, this Mother's times are bad, or if they are good, you know, it's really it's, it's an opportunity to move the needle for your company. But yeah, having those, having those plans of what you actually would put that budget to if you had a little bit more, but also being mindful of even if things aren't as great next year, you know, keeping yourself top of mind awareness?

Pete DiMaio:

Yep. Well, here's the thing to to consider as well is just because you have budget allocated for opportunities, if no opportunities come, you still have that budget available. So if I have to cut, and I go through q1, and there are new opportunities, I have budget that I can say, well, this last month opportunity budget that I didn't use, that's part of what gets cut. So you actually can be much more effective, because you're planning for both opportunity to show up. But worst case scenario, if it doesn't, you have unspent money that you can then put toward things that might really be nice to have some investment thrown toward them.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, Pete, thank you so much for all of this stuff. Alex, good job. I'm sorry. Did you have one last question? Oh, no. I think that what I would love to do is when we get on the other side, maybe into the into the quarter, the first quarter, kind of see where we are like going into in the spring and summer, I'd love to have you back and kind of revisit this and see like where we're at, and maybe, you know, maybe everything's going gangbusters and we just give people more of the Pete. Points.

Alex Husner:

We're definitely on a roll now. Yeah, I repeat.

Pete DiMaio:

I mean, the reality is, there's no way to recession proof your hotel marketing. But the goal is, is that you're better prepared to take care of your guests needs, and you're better prepared to handle whatever comes your way. And if you're the most prepared and your competition is not, it's going to put you in a better position.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And now's the time to do it. So it's just early December you've got depending on the month that you're in, I guess if you're in a ski season, you're already in your heavy booking runs right now. But if you're in beach destinations or on the East Coast, you've got a little bit of time before things start getting real busy. But Thank you Pete again for coming on and we will definitely have you back in 2023. I think we're gonna have several more opportunities to have you on the show because you're just such a great voice for Tourism hotels vacation rental all of the parts of hospitality you're very well versed and we always enjoy talking to you and it's always a good good laugh and fun

Pete DiMaio:

I appreciate you making all those lines up for me for your oh it's

Alex Husner:

got you to sing your jingle yet but we'll let you

Pete DiMaio:

get to have a news item I will sing on the next one

Alex Husner:

for sure New Year's resolution

Pete DiMaio:

sing about a New Year's

Annie Holcombe:

Well next time we're recorded happy hour so we can get you motivated.

Pete DiMaio:

A little glass of bourbon always gets

Alex Husner:

Awesome. Well if anybody wants to get in touch with up where where can they reach out to you and travel boom? Yeah,

Pete DiMaio:

so the best thing if you want to get in touch with us here at travel boom is go to travel Boom marketing.com where you can also find us on LinkedIn at traveled and marketing. Me personally, you can find me at Pete dot DeMaio at TRUBLUE marketing.com. Or on LinkedIn. It's simple. It's just Pete dot tomato as well.

Alex Husner:

Awesome. If anybody wants to contact Annie and I you can go to Alex and Annie podcast.com And thank you again thank you to TravelBoom you guys have been wonderful supporters of the podcast, which really appreciate that and we appreciate everybody listening. So until next time, thank you, everyone. Thanks, Pete.

Pete DimaioProfile Photo

Pete Dimaio

Vice President- Director Client Services & Marketing TravelBoom

Pete DiMaio is the vice president and director of marketing at TravelBoom. With TravelBoom, Pete takes an analytics approach to hotel marketing and works tirelessly to ensure his clients are able to drive occupancy, increase RevPAR, and improve direct bookings; all while providing a granular level of reporting that proves the return on investment. Pete has over two decades of experience in hospitality marketing from both the traditional and digital sides of the business. Pete is active in the hospitality community both with HSMAI and as the host of the Hotel Marketing Podcast.