Amy Brown is Client Services Director at DHM and HMA Young Agency Marketer of the Year 2020

Amy Brown - HMA

Tell us a little about yourself and your current role

I work with a multitude of clients across the world to drive their digital strategy, execute marketing campaigns, and oversee digital projects such as new website builds. At DHM we operate with the client at the heart of everything which we do, and an important part of my role is ensuring our clients are receiving great ROI and value from working with us.

I had my first experience of hospitality working at Pennhyhill Park Hotel and Spa at the age of 16 and remained there for many years in between studying International Business Studies, which included a six month study placement in Canada, and a twelve month work placement. I undertook my placement in a serviced apartment group as a revenue manager and had the opportunity to learn a lot about distribution, revenue, and both agency and partnership relationships.

When I started my role at DHM as an account executive, I knew that the company combined many of my passions for hospitality, business growth, and people and I grew into various roles to my current role.

And outside of work?

Outside of work, I’m a socialite, I love travel and visiting new places with those important to me whether that be a brand new restaurant around the corner or a new country across the globe. I’m a huge animal person, and a serial hobby switcher between various creative hobbies such as painting, knitting, calligraphy and more!

Congratulations on winning Young Agency Marketer of the Year.  How have you benefited from the accolade?

Thank you!

Winning the award for Young Agency Marketer of the Year has been a real achievement for me.

Firstly, I benefited from a congratulations meal at a swish Italian restaurant! But, on a more serious note, it really boosted my confidence and opened up some great conversations and opportunities. In a time which was quite dark whilst we navigated our first lockdown, to be recognised for my work really lifted my mood and served as a reminder of why I love what I do, as well as providing an additional lift to want to keep delivering award winning campaigns and strategies which have a real impact on their business for everybody I work with.

As part of the prize (which I didn’t know when I entered!) was the chance to work with Andrea McKay on a coaching programme, which has been incredible in helping me grow more self-awareness and developing a toolkit for future success.

What advice would you give those thinking of entering the Hotel Marketing Awards this year?

Do it! Don’t wonder if you have done enough, or hesitate in putting your application together or reaching out for your recommendations.

It’s important to track and reflect upon successes and the journey it took to get there, and recognising this in your application alone is a great activity to undertake and a real boost for your confidence.

I didn’t expect to be shortlisted, let alone win the award in 2020, but I’m so pleased that I did take the time to enter and was recognised, in particular for my work on something I’m really passionate about – driving more direct bookings via clever use of digital marketing and achieving efficient use of budget for ROI.

Whilst it can be an out of comfort zone experience, I’d say to push yourself and make sure that every part of why you deserve to win the award goes into your submission. No great marketing campaign is executed without passion, drive, strategy and clear objectives so be sure to include each of these elements.

What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to marketing in 2021?

There are several challenges that we face as hospitality marketers. Entering the year in another national lockdown, with no clear end date, but knowing that a relaxation of rules in some capacity is never too far away means that we need to be organised and prepared without really knowing what lies ahead. In many cases this requires planning multiple strategies with contingencies in place to ensure that your brand delivers the right message, at the right time, to the right people.

Getting the tone right in your marketing is all part of this challenge, with such a variety of opinions and situations likely to be present within your audience. We won’t get it right all of the time, but to keep audiences engaged we need to be ready and quick to pivot when the message is wrong.

For the second year running ‘staycation’ is going to be a popular word on everybody’s lips, and employing the right strategies to keep loyal and existing audiences returning, whilst targeting new audiences with a new and renewed appetite for holidaying in the UK presents its own challenge.

As we move further through the pandemic, consumers expect a seamless and easy to use digital and virtual experience more than ever, inclusive of a smooth booking engine, easy to navigate website, virtual wedding venue viewings, and apps. Within an industry which excels in creating amazing in person experiences in stunning venues, we must all challenge ourselves to offer the same standard of experience digitally and virtually.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that all of this needs to be conquered in a time when revenues have been slashed through forced closures and reduced numbers. Any budget attributed to marketing must be carefully placed for maximum ROI.

What do you see being the biggest trend or new innovation in hotel marketing in the next 24 months?

In the next 24 months I think we will see some key trends in hotel marketing, namely a focus on brand strategy, better use of content marketing, virtual experiences and offerings, increased attention on digital marketing and PR, additional focus on personalisation and segmentation, and more focus being placed on local suppliers, positioning and sustainability.

The hospitality industry adapted amazingly in 2020, and met challenges with solutions and innovative ways of servicing their customers. I can’t wait to see how the industry continues to innovate and grow in 2021.

If I gave you £10,000 right now to spend on your marketing, what would you do with it?

If I was to spend £10,000 on a clients marketing budget, first and foremost I would portion a part of the budget towards conversion rate optimisation, or a new website if it was necessary.

Your website is your shopfront, people are purchasing online more than ever, and by investing in your website and improving your conversion rate, every pound you spend on marketing will work harder for you.

Combined with a well converting website, and easy to use booking experience, I’d portion part of the budget to Google search advertising, targeting brand keywords to show up in search results above popular OTA’s and maximise direct bookings. I’d combine this strategy with assigning budget to Remarketing ads. Remarketing ads on the Google display network are a no brainer with so many benefits for such a minimal cost.

I would also portion part of the budget towards wedding marketing. We have seen engagements and wedding enquiries continuing to come through at a better pace than previous years, and enquiry trends are following similar patterns to previous years despite all of the disruption. When channeled correctly, there’s a huge ROI potential on paid spend for weddings.

I would also add high quality videography and photography, but I think I might be starting to push the budget now! Video is such a powerful thing and it’s only set to grow. It’s going to be so important for providing high quality digital and virtual experiences. New and frequently refreshed photography is also crucial for marketing in 2021 and beyond.

Who has/does inspire you?

I can’t say that I have a marketing guru or can single out one person that has or continues to inspire me. I am constantly reading, listening, watching, speaking and experiencing and that’s how I’m inspired.

Marketing is constantly changing and there is no one size fits all approach. I think that strategies and campaigns are built from a wide range of experience, knowledge, and data.

I’ve crossed paths with so many people already in my life, whether through a book, online, or in person that have challenged the way I think or have taught me something new and it’s my favourite way to learn!