Upstate Business Journal spotlight:
An interview with Warren Griffith of Fuel
With this issue of Upstate Business Journal being dedicated to the food and beverage industry, we thought the perspective of a hospitality-marketing expert would be useful. Digital marketing, in particular, has become more and more critical, especially in light of the technological advances over the past few years.
We recently had a chance to talk with Warren Griffith, president and CEO of Fuel in downtown Greenville. Griffith has led marketing teams in the hospitality industry for more than two decades and has a unique perspective. In the interview, he shared his views on the importance of digital marketing in today’s world.
Question: Warren, let’s cut to the chase: How has digital marketing impacted the hospitality and food and beverage industries?
Answer: The real question is: How hasn’t it impacted the industry? Because of advances in technology, particularly mobile, and the explosion of social channels, customers have more options than ever before. The entire paradigm of how hotels and restaurants engage customers has changed. Potential customers and guests are doing their own research online through a barrage of search options. In order to “get found” — for people to find your restaurant or inn or event — you must have a strong online and social presence; otherwise you’ll get passed by.
Question: Give some examples.
Answer: Well, let’s look at hospitality and travel. Over half of all travel is booked online. Of that growing number, more and more bookings are conducted via mobile. And that’s only going to increase. It’s imperative for hoteliers to not only know who their target audiences are, but also where they live online. What social channels and platforms do they receive information on? What are their search habits? What factors do they consider when booking a room? Then you have to feed them the type of information they’re looking for so you’ll grab their attention. All of this requires a high degree of digital marketing acumen and skill to be successful.
Question: What types of digital-marketing tactics work best in the hospitality industry?
Answer: A couple of things come to mind immediately. Social media, of course. This is so important in hospitality. It gives people a sample of your brand experience, for better or for worse, so it’s an area that needs a lot of strategic attention. Video is also important. It has become the No. 1 preferred type of content for consumers. It’s engaging and clickable. And it’s especially appropriate for the hospitality industry to capture an experience or special event. Also, real-time marketing is very effective in this industry, to catch people in the moment while they are in the decision-making mindset. The key is to know how to reach these people when they are in the sweet spot. And it takes working with a seasoned digital partner to do that effectively.
Question: What advice would you give hoteliers and restaurant owners regarding marketing?
Answer: Know your audience first and foremost. Know who they are. Know what motivates them. What do they crave-want-desire? That is fundamental. Secondly, find a marketing partner who can help you find these targets and get the right messages to them in the right way. If you can do those two things successfully, then you have a big jump on the competition.