Commentary

Here They Come: More Tech Marketing Products

Marketing through technology has become key to revenue generation, and there is a multitude of new products promising to drive revenues by using new electronic tools driven by artificial intelligence, data analysis and other means. Quite a few of these products aim to act as non-human “concierges” for hotels and, while helping guests enjoy a better experience, offer a way for hotels to up-sell.

One of the more interesting of these is called Porter & Sail — intriguing name but supported by technology that promises to personalize guest stays and provide extensive content via mobile devices.

The Porter & Sail app claims to go above and beyond similar competitors. It relates the story of a hotel, via interviews with key tastemakers and the hotel’s creative associates; provides hotel tips and guest reviews and a lot more. For example, at the Miami Beach Edition hotel, the app gives guests a guided tour of the property hosted by the entertainment director and notifies guests of special perks based on the property’s location. Porter & Sail says the average guest spends 38 minutes on the app — plenty of opportunity to offer upgrades, restaurant reservations and more possibilities to drive revenue. 

Caitlin Zaino, CEO and co-founder, says the idea emerged from her own travels when concierges did not offer the “deep romanticized experiences” she craved. She came up with P&S, which connects with the guest after the booking and offers a connection before, during and after the stay — with extensive content on what’s in the hotel, what’s nearby and, in general, makes the guest feel part of the hotel’s family. While there is a licensing fee for hotels, the promise is that outlay will be paid back with up-selling and loyalty from guests who appreciate the connection. 

The focus is on luxury, says Zaino, because “our product is gorgeous with very curative content.” All of the photography is original and content is written by what Zaino calls “major influencers.” In fact, Zaino says her mission is “to partner with the world’s visionaries to extend the hotel beyond its doors. How can we be engaged with the guest at every step of that guest’s journey to redefine what it is to be a guest today and removing friction and pain points along the way.”

While there are other “concierge apps,” another company is moving in a different and what seems to be a unique direction with the promise of generating hotel revenues. It’s called Curacity and its business model involves gaining editorial content about hotels in travel publications — and then being able to prove to the hotel that the content generated bookings. With that proof, the hotel gets incremental business and pays a commission to Curacity while the publisher gets a commission as well.  

It works like this. Curacity signs partnerships with hotels and then goes to its publisher partners — which include the likes of Afar Media and Fathom — and offers story angles. If the publisher decides to use that content — and if in the next 12 months a consumer of that medium books that hotel, the revenues kick in.

Mike Keriakos, CEO and founder of Curacity, has no less an ambition than to supplant in many instances online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline who now take such a large percentage of hotel revenues as they have become the preferred consumer channel for booking hotels. Down the line, says Keriakos, Curacity would like to take its technology to social media — again with the business model of proving that social media content drives bookings.

For hotel marketers, on the one hand it’s nice to know that all these tech geniuses are working to drive revenues to them — without reliance on expensive human capital. On the other hand, they have to figure out who is really doing that in a meaningful way and who will quickly fall by the wayside.

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