New Year's Predictions? No Time For Them!

            If anybody is looking for New Year’s predictions, forget it. Things are changing too quickly and unpredictably. However, it’s a good time to think about how some of this year’s trends might have an impact on 2012.

            1) Social media wags the tail of the marketing dog

            I went to an event at a trendy New York hotel recently and met the two managers (one fresh out of college) in charge of the property’s social media – that’s right, two people whose full time job is social media at a hotel of barely 250 rooms.

            Talking to them, I realized they were heavily responsible for planning the New Year’s events at the hotel and in promoting them. On top of that, they were deeply involved in all the advertising and marketing at the hotel.

            And maybe I’m the last one to see it this way, but rather than social media being an arm of marketing or a tool of marketing or an extension of marketing – it’s all turning around. Increasingly, social media is where it all starts – marketing, advertising, image-building – and yes, even booking the right act for a New Year’s party.

            As someone who has worked by and for himself for many years, I’m not sure how this would work in an organizational structure. I don’t know if the social media person (stereotypically younger and less experienced) would suddenly assume higher status than the veteran vice president of sales and marketing.

            This situation is not without precedent. Sales and marketing departments used to be separate and autonomous – with marketing the new kid on the block. Eventually, marketing came to be seen as central to the sales role and for a very long time, the vice president of sales and marketing has overseen a combined effort.

            2) Consolidation: Anyone who has written about travel for many years is aware that the travel industry public relations and marketing field has been dominated by smaller boutique companies. The recent announcement that MMG Worldwide had merged with Ypartnership – creating a powerful combined force called MMGY Global – is an indication that more resources might be needed than in the past. And the use of the word global recognizes that it’s necessary to have a strong presence in more than one place – ideally in more than one country.

            It’s simply become a challenge for a smaller agency to keep up with rapid-fire changes in the marketplace.

            Whether there’s more of this to come remains to be seen but there’s no question that traditional public relations skills might call for additional resources – and that may mean accelerated consolidation in the future.

            3) Think presidentially. Holiday Inns got huge exposure for a fun and substantive promotion in 2008 by displaying a running account of how much each presidential candidate could have saved if they’d stayed in a Holiday Inn rather than in the more expensive hotels where they were staying. Since 2008 now seems primitive as far as using the Internet to get a message across, it will be interesting to see if any brand can make similar hay out of the 2012 election.

             4) Good Travels and Great Marketing in the New Year.

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