Hotel Marketing Rockstar Q&A: Hugo Corrales – Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Trust HospitalityAugust 12, 2014 • By Joe Haydn
For over 14 years, Hugo Corrales has been helping hotels get the most out of their marketing. He has worked with the Four Seasons Miami, the Ritz-Carlton in Miami, Starwood Hotels, and a host of others. He serves as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Trust Hospitality. Recently, we talked to him about what advice he has for hotel marketers and where he sees the future of hotel marketing. Tambourine: What is the most underused marketing tool or technique every hotel should be using?
Every hotel employee should be trained to be aware of our goals.Hugo Corrales: One of the most underused tools is the harvesting of guest data. You can make your job easier by understanding the landscape of who your guests currently are. We see this as part of our service culture. We train our staff to be obsessed with engaging and recording guest preferences. While the front desk is integral in recording guest preferences, every hotel employee should be trained to be aware of our goals—from the front desk to valet to the bell stand. Tambourine: Many hotels are fighting to gain more direct bookings and steer guests away from OTAs. What’s your best advice for hotels seeking more direct bookings? Hugo Corrales: We have successfully fused the relationships with our vendors to deliver us data. We work hard to have our booking engine vendor communicate with Tambourine so they can see the relationship between the guest click-throughs as they relate to the website. Unless you have one vendor that handles it all, you really don’t know what the relationship is between the CRS and your website. This, in conjunction with a strategic SEO/PPC spend, social media spend has been a huge push. Tambourine: What changes do you see coming in hotel marketing? Do you have any advice on how hotels can be prepared for these changes? Hugo Corrales: We are constantly getting more and more data from various channels (social media, website, mobile). We have reports about reports. To dissect and use all your data effectively, you need to be able to put it all together on one dashboard or platform.
You need to be able to put [all of your data] on one dashboard or platform.Tambourine: What is the most common marketing mistake you see? Hugo Corrales: The omission of search engine data for future marketing and lack of a proper hotel SEO/PPC plan. SEO is a mystery to a lot of people. Most people don’t understand it, so they dismiss it. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should dismiss it. It is still an important part of your marketing plan. Q: With so many online channels out there, many hoteliers either lose focus or become apathetic and overwhelmed. If you were to give them one piece of advice to get them back on track, what would it be? Hugo Corrales: Take an inside out approach. First, understand and agree upon the hotel DNA with stakeholders. From there, it’s critical to create an action plan around key initiatives while applying sufficient funds to target new direct bookings. Thank you, Hugo Corrales! We appreciate Hugo taking the time to share his insights. It’s always beneficial to hear from other marketers. We invite you to join the conversation. Let us know your best advice for other hotel marketers in the comments!