An Open Letter from DAE&Co President, Diana Evans

An Open Letter from DAE&Co President, Diana Evans

To our clients, partners, vendors, friends, and family,

South Lake Tahoe, where DAE&Co is headquartered, is a town in distress. I’m sure many of you have been watching the devastating wildfire news and our town is only one of many currently being affected by fire. Currently, the town has been evacuated and as I write this, the fire is moving into my neighborhood. We certainly could lose our home.

But what hits me is not the four walls we raised our children in, or the kitchen counter where we shared laughs and stories with friends and family while making dinner, or the area of respite where we sat outside in our “wine garden” to talk about future plans or challenges we faced.

What hits me is the incredible people: our neighbors who stayed in Meyers at their restaurant to cook and feed emergency workers; the firefighters that are risking their lives to protect our lands & homes; our friend whose husband works for Cal Fire and gave us regular updates to make sure we had good information; the city leaders that are staying in town to help those in need and provide news to others; the neighbor in Carson Valley that offered up her land for evacuated horses, dogs, cats, people and campers; the local & regional media that are providing thoughtful, sensitive and real coverage; the safety and law enforcement personnel from our area and from far away that are working to get people out safely, directing traffic and keeping people calm; the evacuees that are group texting words of encouragement, love, and prayers; my son’s friend’s dad who is a reporter on-site (I don’t even know his name) who drove past our house and sent us a photo letting us know it is still standing; and the outpouring of people, like our friends at E/Power Marketing in Wisconsin, asking where they can give money and/or support.

The trauma in our community was weighing heavy on me. To start the climb out of the COVID19 impacts only to be pushed down about by this fire was a sobering thought. But a strange thing started happening as I began writing this letter…my heart shifted and filled with hope and a passion for the place I call home. As I reflected on our community spirit and what makes South Lake Tahoe so wonderful, it hit me hard: South Lake Tahoe is going to be okay. Maybe not even just okay. South Lake Tahoe will actually thrive.

Why? Because the rising up of the human spirit makes all things possible and I see that in every little thing this community has done to band together during this difficult time. Buildings can be rebuilt, businesses can re-open, visitors will come back, the lake will still be beautiful, the trails and forests will heal. And the community will be even stronger.

We have a marketing saying that we use internally about South Lake Tahoe whenever we are writing creative briefs for our clients in Lake Tahoe: “it’s about the lake.” But I think I’m going to shift that for DAE&Co. From now on…It’s about the community that just happens to be alongside an incredible lake.

Thank you to all for your support.

Diana Evans

5 Big Reasons You Should Review and Revise Your PR Strategy This Year

5 Big Reasons You Should Review and Revise Your PR Strategy This Year

To say things have changed over the last year would be such an understatement. The way people shop, work, go to school, travel, and go about their everyday life has evolved dramatically. While we’re navigating the travel and hospitality industry’s ‘new normal’, it’s important to reflect on what we’ve learned and better understand what changes are here to stay when it comes to consumer behavior. As we focus on reopening and improving how we do things, now is the perfect time to review and revise your PR strategy! Here’s why…

  1. You need to have a Plan B (and a Plan C). Best-case scenarios are great, but as we’ve learned through 2020 and even into 2021, backup plans and knowing what to do when things don’t go as planned is imperative. Now is the time to update and improve your PR plan, including your communication plan and crisis management template, based on all that you’ve learned lately. Too many hotels and hospitality businesses were caught off guard when lockdowns were put in place or recommendations changed. You’ll want to be prepared to go into a business continuity plan or have contingency options ready and waiting.
  2. Rediscover your target audiences. As noted, consumer behavior has changed dramatically over the last year and a half, you can’t market to your target audiences the same way you were before COVID hit. Define who it is you want to attract, and learn more about how their marketing preferences and buying journey have changed so you can map out the best ways to reach them.
  3. You should tap into the collective emotions. We’ve been missing travel and the connections that come along with it for so long. Your PR plan should reflect the emotions your target audiences are going through, and speak to them. Some travelers are still nervous about getting out and about, how will your communication strategy help them overcome their stress? Some travelers have had their bags packed for months and can’t wait to visit you again. An updated PR plan can help you reach them and let them know you’re just as excited to see them!
  4. Embrace the positive changes. From your new cleaning protocols to grab-and-go dining to well-stocked sanitation stations, keep the positive changes happening at your place of business. Take a hard look at what’s working well, and embrace those changes. You’ll want to communicate to your guests that you are continuing to do what’s right when it comes to keeping them and your staff healthy, so these message points should be included in your updated PR plan.
  5. Let your brand image evolve. We’ve learned so much since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to let those lessons guide your branding and PR plan. Take the chance now to freshen things up, invest in your brand and come up with the next best steps for reaching your audiences and welcoming them to your business. People are looking to connect now more than ever before, make sure you’ve got an updated PR plan in place so you’re giving them all the best reasons to book with you!

Overall, it’s important that you are addressing the concerns and questions that people have as travel opens back up. Now is the time to really invest in what’s next by boosting the reputation of your brand and helping establish stronger connections and better brand awareness.

If you need help crafting the right PR plan for your business, contact us so that we can help you to set up a plan that will help you to move forward!

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6 simple tips to get more out of your digital marketing spend

6 simple tips to get more out of your digital marketing spend

Chances are you’re like the rest of us: You’re forced to stick to a digital marketing spend that’s not quite as large as you’d like. It’s just one of the realities of doing business. But there are a few tried and true things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of the spend you have. Check out the following six tips, and you’ll be well on your way to doing more with whatcha got.

Tip #1: Increase your presence on social media

Like most businesses, you’re probably pretty solid on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But have you considered other platforms? YouTube (especially in the age of video) and Google Plus can be great platforms to help you get your company name out there. You might also consider gaining a presence on some of the younger platforms like Snapchat and Mix. However, there is one caveat: To avoid wasting time and money, be sure you have the bandwidth it takes to keep up with all of your accounts. And if you discover that you don’t have that bandwidth, consider working with an agency, like DAE & Company, that offers digital marketing services.

Tip #2: Create better content

If content is king, then high quality content is the emperor of the world. As a result, creating content that is useful and relevant is one of the simplest ways to get the most out of your digital spend. High quality content is fact-based, on topic, and easy to digest. Also, in addition to blog posts, consider interesting pieces of content like high quality video and infographics.

Tip #3: Track your results

It takes a bit of practice, but Google Analytics offers a free and simple way to keep track of your content performance. By doing so, you can better leverage content that is top performing and optimize poorer performing pieces. Though not free, tools like Hootsuite, Hubspot, and Sprout Social are awesome for keeping track of where the majority of your traffic is originating, so you can focus on those platforms that serve you best. These tools can also help you keep up with posting and engagement.

Tip #4: Increase your content dissemination

Any time you create a solid piece of content, you want to make sure it appears on your blog as well as on all your social media platforms. Doing so ensures it reaches the widest audience. Again, tools like Hootsuite, Hubspot, and Sprout Social are a great help when it comes to content dissemination and can actually automate the process for you. Automation saves you time and money by allowing you to focus more on creating high quality content and less on getting that content in front of your audience.

Tip #5: Drill down to reach your target market

Speaking of audiences, are you sure you’re reaching your best one? If you can’t answer that question with a resounding yes, it’s time to do some research. Google Trends research and tools like social media surveys can help you get a better handle on who, exactly, might appreciate your content most. Also, bring up the topics of your content in conversation. It might sound simple, but you can learn a lot about your audience through everyday conversation. Find out what types of content your target audience enjoys consuming, and adjust your output accordingly.

Tip #6: Don’t forget the pics and vids

When it comes to attracting an online audience, it’s all about eye candy. Study after study has shown that posts with images (still or moving) garner significantly more engagement than do posts without imagery and video. According to Buffer, “more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day.” Taking advantage of these preferred media is one of the easiest ways to get more bang for your digital marketing buck.

Eager to learn more about how you can make the most of your digital spend? Get in touch with us, and let’s talk optimization!

The Art of Setting One’s Arse on Fire

The Art of Setting One’s Arse on Fire

Once upon a time, the typical Mad Avenue, big-box, high-ticket ad agency would have a component of the firm that was affectionately referred to as the “creative department.” It’s where you’d have found the free thinkers with nerf basketball courts on their doors, Talking Heads blaring from boom boxes, and zany games thriving at all corners of their conclave. Birkenstocks were hip, wingtips were banished, ties were unheard of. All in the name of instilling a creative environment.

There were, however, a few glaring problems with this kind of thinking: one, it relegated the notion of “creativity” to being the sole domain of writers, designers, and artists; and two, it short shrifted the distinct possibility that “creativity” was something that was born from within, rather than imported via miscellaneous gadgets.

At DAE & Company, creativity isn’t the realm of a few but rather something we all apply toward our respective roles in the agency. Finding ways to stimulate creativity has become especially critical in these times when agencies are more commonly operating on a virtual basis. As Albert Einstein observed, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” And his idea of creativity was often inspired by sitting down to the piano and freeing up his mind. But what about those at DAE & Company? What tricks do they turn to as kindling to stir thinking that goes above and beyond?

For Diana Evans, she often puts her feet to the ground or her skis to the slopes for inspiration. She’s a jogger, a skier, and someone who takes her tasks with her to whatever paths are before her. As she explains, “endorphins equal creativity for me.” It’s a personal rhythm that she applies often, a habit that has helped her visualize whole campaigns, ideas she relegates to the notepad on her cell phone. As she confesses, “not all of those ideas are brilliant, in fact some of them are pretty far-fetched.” Nonetheless, her wheels are in motion and the odds of having a creative day are greatly increased.

Hanna Bernard is another one of the employees at DAE & Company who has a couple of means for kicking her creative brain in gear. An adrenaline junkie who was once deemed “Sweden’s fastest female on two wheels”, her two most frequent habits both involve horsepower – literally and figuratively. She’ll go horseback riding into the nearby hills as well as hopping onto a snowmobile and shredding mountains of freshie. If that either fails or isn’t available at the time, she can always count on digging into a home improvement project to stir the creative juices.

Searching for buried treasure in the jazz section of a local record shop or turning vintage newspapers into type-themed collages is what gets Dennis Millette’s motor going, an exercise that runs the course of the day and is often translated into award winning work. For Scott Mortimore, it’s tossing in a camera and “Field Notes” scratchpad into his backpack and pointing his chin toward those eastern Sierra mountains that scratch the sky. When confronting a monitor rather than a mountain, he makes a habit of challenging himself at the New Yorker Caption Contest on a weekly basis, a foolproof procedure for jump-starting the noodle.

If you’re looking for a team of thinkers who put a premium on creativity, we’d love to talk to you. Give us a call (530.545.9079), an email or whatever. Better yet, let us treat you to that time-tested brain lubricant – a nice cup of coffee!

Use These Key Metrics To Make Data-Driven Business Decisions For Your Hotel

Use These Key Metrics To Make Data-Driven Business Decisions For Your Hotel

We love data here at DAE. We especially love using it to craft really targeted and optimized marketing strategies. Thanks to Google and a plethora of other online tools, there’s so much data out there that can help travel and hospitality businesses up their game. If you’re looking for some targeted ways to pivot your marketing strategy and boost reservations this year, there’s tons of data to help. We wanted to dive in a little bit today and show you just a few of the key metrics we look at for our hotel and resort clients and why they should matter to you! 

1. Total Revenue from Reservations

Obviously, one of the key metrics to track is revenue from reservations. Revenue impacts a lot of your decisions, including your overall marketing budget, staffing, and more. Tools like Google Analytics offer e-commerce tracking that makes it incredibly easy to see and understand your online reservations. Once you understand the numbers and  trends, you can make better marketing decisions and more actionable goals.

For example, if you know winter is your slow season, use your marketing resources to focus on some holiday promotions and the magic of a winter getaway. Showcase winter-specific upsells like spa packages or extended stay rates to boost your reservation values. Understanding seasonality trends also allows you to better allocate your marketing budgets so that you’re reaching the right travelers at the right time of the year.

2. Average Transaction Value

Along the same lines, you’ll also want to track the average value of each reservation you’re getting. Again, Google Analytics makes this very easy to do within their ecommerce dashboard! Comparing that value against total reservations and revenue lets you see if people are booking longer stays, upgrading to higher priced rooms, and taking advantage of your upsell opportunities. 

Understanding this number can help you make smarter marketing decisions in the long term. You can use that number to decide when it’s best to invest more advertising dollars to promote upsell opportunities, higher-priced rooms, and amenities. You can also use the data to adjust your messaging and content strategy to help encourage people to book longer stays and take advantage of higher-priced offerings at your hotel. 

3. Traffic sources

A strong marketing strategy means not putting all your eggs in one basket, offline or online! Online, combining paid efforts, like digital advertising, and organic efforts, like content marketing, social media, email, and search engine optimization, gives you a much more well-rounded approach. Tying your offline efforts to your online strategy is also important, and measurable! Adding UTM codes when sharing a link online or when using shortened links and QR codes in your print materials allows you to easily track where traffic is coming from — both online and offline — in Google Analytics. 

Diversifying your traffic sources means you won’t be overly reliant on any particular channel or strategy — which is bound to have changes and fluctuations.  By tracking where exactly your traffic is coming from, you can get a good idea of how the efforts are working together, what’s working and what’s not, and decide where to invest more time or resources. Tracking traffic trends across channels can also help you troubleshoot problems quickly (such as sharp declines in organic traffic indicating a website issue). 

4. Pages per visit

If visitors aren’t engaging with your site and moving on to other pages to learn more, that could indicate a problem. There’s a lot of competition in the travel and hospitality industry, so you want to do everything you can to provide relevant information that guides people to book their stay, rather than getting distracted or jumping ship to a competitor’s site. In general, the longer you can keep them engaged, the more likely it is they’ll make a reservation or keep your hotel top of mind when they actually are ready to book.

Google Analytics allows you to see not only how many pages per visit a user is looking at, but also the flow of that visit through Behavior Flow reports! You’ll be able to see bottlenecks in traffic, which pages you’re losing people on throughout their journey, and more!

While this number is important, be sure to compare it against other data, like reservations and recurring visits. You likely will have people that visit your site multiple times to learn more about your hotel, amenities, and services. You’re also getting site visits from those that are familiar with your business already and ready to book. In those cases, customers probably won’t need to engage with multiple pages, especially if your site is well optimized for your audience’s path to purchase! 

If your organic search results for “book a hotel room near me” point directly to your reservation page, those visitors should have very few pages per visit and great conversion rates! If those searches are instead landing on your home page, they’ll have to click through the site, and you risk losing them along the way. Once you get the reservation, how can you provide even more value to that audience and keep them engaged before their stay? They may find hotel updates and local itineraries helpful as they plan their trip, so those could be possible content opportunities that keep them engaged.   

5. Search engine real estate

Overall, if you’re not ranking in top Google results for relevant phrases, it’s almost like you don’t exist. You want to keep an eye on how much real estate you take up on the search engines for relevant searches. This goes beyond organic search rankings to include Google My Business listings, ads, how well your social media profiles rank, etc. If you don’t have great search visibility, it’s probably time to invest in aggressive digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to improve your real estate on those coveted search results pages. This will have a huge impact on revenue and bookings as well as brand awareness and authority. You’ll also want to keep an eye on trends and what competitors are ranking for to make sure you’re keeping up and meeting the needs of your customers with great content. 

You can spot-check your current search visibility or use tools like Google Search Console or Moz to get regular reports. Understanding what search terms you should be ranking for is really important, and tools like Google Trends and the Google Keyword Tools help marketers discover the most highly searched, relevant keywords to target and optimize for!

6. Locations where your revenue & traffic are coming from

This is another key metric we’ve been looking at especially closely during the pandemic. Through tools like Google Analytics, you can see the geographic areas of people who’ve actually converted on your site and booked a reservation, as well as where the majority of your traffic is coming from. While this may not seem all that important, it’s actually really valuable information. For example, if the majority of people are converting from the nearby drive market, you may focus your ads and content on weekend getaways and road trip opportunities that a local audience might be interested in for some quick wins and revenue boosts. On the flip side, if you’re getting a lot of traffic from further away but they’re not actually booking, that audience could just be more in the daydreaming phase or require more information about things to do in the area and why it’s a great place to visit. You can also overlay the Transactional Value with the geographic location to determine where your higher spend visitors are coming from, allowing you to target that market with upscale offers to increase your bottom line. 

How do I know what I should be tracking for my hotel?

With so many digital marketing metrics available to you, understanding how and what to pay attention to is no small feat! Don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers, think holistically about what you’re doing, what your marketing goals are, and then use the right data to guide your decisions. Just because you can track all the data, doesn’t mean you’ll be using it all at the same time.

For example, your revenue numbers are not going to guide your decisions on whether or not a brand awareness campaign is working well. Increases in social media reach, brand mentions, or branded searches are going to be the numbers that illustrate your wins. If you’ve got a marketing campaign focused on a seasonal promo, on the other hand, your revenue numbers and transaction values are going to be much more important than your specific search positions on Google. As you’re setting goals for each of your campaigns, think through the entire strategy so it’s clear to you and your team what success actually looks like, then select the most meaningful data points to track along the way.

If you’re struggling to understand how to tie your campaigns or marketing initiatives into your bigger picture goals and mapping them to the right data points, we can help! To figure out what metrics to pay attention to, we talk to our clients about their overall goals — whether that be more reservations, increased brand awareness, or even a specific event promotion — and craft and implement a marketing strategy that’s in line with those goals. As noted, there’s a wide variety of data available to help us make decisions and track our progress toward specific benchmarks. .

Like we said, we love talking data, so if you ever want to chat about what data you can use to craft a killer marketing strategy for your hotel, we’re the team for you!