By: Maria Lynch, Corporate eCommerce Manager

Only days before hitting my two-year mark with Twenty Four Seven Hotels, I had finally visited each of our 18 properties. This is a unicorn achievement for your typical eCommerce Manager – often remote and overloaded – but I’m lucky in that our portfolio is small, we operate exclusively in the Western U.S., and I drive a Toyota Corolla.

What does a Corolla have to do with anything? Well, it grants me 32 miles per gallon, and it was going to take 2,179 of them to visit each of our hotels.

My inaugural eCommerce Roadshow was multipurpose. Primarily, I wanted to gain a better understanding of our hotels, to find details outside of their fact sheets and professional photos. You see, the questions I pose while performing eCommerce tasks are very surface-level. Does this hotel have a pool? Yes. Is it heated? No. Are there connected rooms? Some. Rinse and repeat.

Upon arrival I would unpack then set out. At first, my mission wasn’t clear. By my last property visit I had an extensive checklist: Is there a side entrance? Where’s the coldest, cleanest water? Is there a walkable convenience store? Is eating at Applebee’s avoidable? Can I jog after dark?

These are not items found on a rack card.

I also sought a better understanding of our local markets, a raw and experiential one beyond the local CVB’s list of “Top 10 Places You Need To Visit”.

To accomplish that, I brought my bike.

Riding on two wheels gave me an exploratory lens that Ubers and shuttles simply don’t lend. Though every city has its flagship neighborhood (often a historical district), there are often charming and undiscovered boroughs in closer proximity to our hotels, with distinct markets, restaurants, and architecture.

This convinced me to quit piggybacking on the publicity surrounding those flagship city districts. It felt deceitful. Would you rather stay at a hotel three miles away from the Neighborhood of International Fame and Foot Traffic, or a hotel tucked into an authentic though not-yet-hip locale where restaurants don’t require reservations? And, what if I told you they were the same hotel?

More actionably, I translated my findings into convincing website copy, aligned our hotels with more “long tail” attractions as it relates to search keywords, and discovered some obvious and relevant backlinks to drive local SEO.

Finally, I walked away with a better understanding of our people. I didn’t plan to travel for as much pleasure as I did business, but the conversations you stumble upon in a hotel are irresistibly enriching. Whether it’s discovering your most spunky GM reads law books for fun, an AGM developed her own makeup line, or a Night Auditor frequents Amoeba Music at ungodly hours, there’s always something to learn about your staff, often hidden behind a generic email address, that renders them human again.

Another unknown benefit was how far a little facetime took me. Upon reflection, I spent too long in a maintenance mode of sorts with eCommerce. Once I witnessed the unique brands of grit, character, and humility that permeate our staff, I was catapulted into proactivity – I sought out ways to do things better and with more urgency. I took an investment in their success.

FINAL NOTE…
My case is unique in that my management portfolio is modest and geographically concentrated, but I still urge every Hotel eCommerce Manager carve out time to visit even a fraction of their portfolio. The difference it makes in expanding your perspective and triangulating ideas is akin to a spiritual retreat, with the potency to transform not only your hotel marketing strategy but, possibly, your career, forever.

About Maria Lynch:

Maria Lynch - Corp eCommerce Manager - Twenty Four Seven HotelsMaria joined the Twenty Four Seven Hotels team in early 2016 to manage the digital presence of each property as the Corporate eCommerce Manager.

Prior to Twenty Four Seven Hotels she was the Marketing Coordinator for The Grove Hotel in Boise, ID after graduating from The College of Idaho in 2014. She majored in Political Economy and triple-minored in Business, Mathematics, and Asian Studies.

Maria leverages her analytical and creative background to augment hotel visibility in the digital realm while keeping abreast of the ever-changing industry.

About Twenty Four Seven Hotels:

Twenty Four Seven Hotels specializes in providing hotel management, investment and development for premium brand select-service and lifestyle hotels segments in the Western U.S. We offer a full spectrum of services in Hospitality Management, Hotel Investment, Hotel Design & Construction and Hotel Asset Management.

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