Great to be sitting down with you! Start by telling us about yourself, what your background in the hospitality business is, and where you are now professionally?
BRIAN SAAB / BUUTEEQ: Most recently I worked as CEO for a multi-national digital design agency specializing in helping global brands produce breakout mobile and web apps. Prior to that, I was at Microsoft in the Server & Tools division, serving as the Business Manager for Silverlight as well as the Lead Product Marketer for the Expression family of designer tools.
You know, the truth is that for the most part we’re not hospitality insiders, but rather outsiders who had a vision on how to help guests connect to places.
“The most successful videos focus on telling the story of a hotel’s personality, as opposed to just being a virtual tour of the property.”
– Brian Saab, Buuteeq Founder & CMO
We recognized the challenges guests face when trying to visit a new locale, especially if there’s great distance involved, and most often the major issues arise around securing lodging. We started out looking to help guests, but quickly found that in order to do that, we really need to help the hotels.
Specifically, help hotels with digital marketing – and as it turns out the outsiders were right!
With our software experience and focus on continuous innovation, Buuteeq is quickly defining itself as the SaaS marketing (Software as a service) leader in hospitality – right in line with the broader trend of major digital marketing systems across a host of industries.
In a nutshell, how does Buuteeq offer marketing solutions to the hospitality industry?
BUUTEEQ: Buuteeq offers the complete digital marketing package for lodging operators of all sizes – from website creation to business analytics.
What separates buuteeq from other online marketing and digital design firms is that we use software to help hotels stay relevant in a face of relentless technology change, as well as provide a digital marketing approach that provides the biggest bang for their buck.
By using our publishing system, each property can define their brand identity into a fully customized site that automatically inherits the very latest principles in user centric design.
Also, we recognize that great hospitality marketing culminates in a booked reservation, which is why our software supports a host of booking scenarios including turn-key integration to third party systems, as well as our own easy-to-use online booking engine that supports desktop, tablet and mobile devices – so, it’s really a complete package, far beyond just the marketing aspects.
As a hospitality marketing firm, what specific services does Buuteeq offer its client base?
Brian Saab: Again, we’re believers in power software and how the right software can help hotels connect with guests.
Our CloudDMS software will automatically handle tons of the complicated stuff that gets in the way of a hotel marketing itself. It automatically creates sites for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
Online booking scenarios are covered.
There are amazing branding tools at your fingertips. And all your online customer engagement is tracked in a comprehensive analytics system. If you think about it, our CloudDMS system is a bit like a huge, far reaching canvas and provides the hospitality professionals the paintbrush to create their digital marketing masterpiece.
How does the hospitality industry use these services, or combination of these services?
Brian Saab: It’s clear we put our customers in control of their digital marketing efforts.
But I think what’s really interesting is how it frees up our customers.
Suddenly they’re able to consider how they’re going to showcase their property, what steps they’ll take to really highlight their rooms, their amenities and the local points of interest. And often times this is the type of work hospitality professionals excel at and partner with other service professionals to really shine.
We find that once a hotel masters the CloudDMS, they realize the potential, and the next thing you know they’ve got professional photographers and videographers coming to the property because they want to start to highlight their hotel’s unique personality right now.
What are some other brands/properties that your company has worked with?
Brian Saab: In the last two years we have built a client base of over 4,000 properties across nearly 40 countries spanning the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Our most recent partnership was with MGM’s Ho Tram resort in Vietnam, which has seen huge success in the months leading up to its opening. The Ho Tram has been an amazing success story because the MGM and hotel management team did everything right when it comes to a hotel that’s still being readied for the public ahead of their grand opening.
They’re already closing in on two million unique visitors to their site and they’ve been able to convert that traffic into pre-bookings on a hotel that isn’t even open yet.
Check it here: http://www.mgmgrandhotrambeach.com/rooms.htm
Consumers are demanding more and expecting more from hotels, large and small. What are the top communication features that consumers expect to see from a hotel they are considering?
Brian Saab: Potential guests want easy access to a hotel’s website and reservation system, no matter what type of device they’re on.
“…You may want to consider creating a series of short, topical videos as opposed to investing in a single comprehensive video, particularly for your guests on the go.”
– Brian Saab, Buuteeq Founder & CMO
Naturally, this includes mobile.
And managing your digital marketing to various device form factors goes beyond technical challenges; it also requires you to think about the scenarios where a particular device will be used. For instance, smartphone travel searches are typically much more last minute, versus desktop or tablet searches that a guest will use when just starting their travel inquiry, or when they’re ready to conduct an expansive search.
Regardless of device, lodging operators need a compelling, eye catching site experience with pertinent information right upfront – location, rooms, amenities and price.
Consumers are savvy and expectations are high, so beautiful photos and video are key.
Equally important is the ability to book a room, quickly and securely.
Consumers don’t want to spend the time finding the right hotel, just to be redirected somewhere else when it comes time to book. It’s very important to have both an online booking engine that also scales to various devices as well as a click-to-call feature so potential guests can easily access reservations or the front desk.
Naturally, reservations are just like any other online transaction, which means a hotel must provide timely communications, such as an instant email confirmation with all pertinent details and contact information.
Marketing is important for hospitality brands; often something that professionals rather than sales directors should handle. How does a strategic investment in online marketing through a proven third-party (such as yourself) lead to a return on investment for a property?
Brian Saab: We’re constantly thinking about the marketing funnel of hotels, including how a hotel gets discovered, how they delight prospective guests, how they convert interest into demand through bookings, and how they evaluate their performance to improve future efforts.
“In truth, great photography is table stakes when it comes to hotel marketing. Having video content can help separate a hotel from the competition in the eyes of potential guests.”
– Brian Saab, Buuteeq Founder & CMO
The Buuteeq CloudDMS impacts all aspects of the funnel and those positive improvements all lead to more revenue for the hotels. The bottom line is we’re manically focused on real return on investment (ROI) for our customers, and have confidence our customers will see real value in our software in a matter of days.
It’s why we look to amaze our customers with a quick turnaround time of launching their website, and the ease of using our back-end system which enables each hotel to customize their site as often as they like. We know that the sooner a Buuteeq customer is live on our system they’re going to start to improve their marketing funnel performance, and in turn that’s going to drive their business.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for our customers to achieve break-even on their annual subscription in under 30 days through new business achieved with our platform.
The ROI becomes immediately apparent.
What are a few pains that your clients experience are alleviated by your company’s services?
Brian Saab: One thing we consistently hear from our customers is first the relief of having a fully optimized marketing system in place so quickly, then the peace of mind that comes with knowing full control and key analysis is always right at their fingertips. Buuteeq not only provides the back-end set up and support, but also incredibly easy tools for self-management.
Hospitality video marketing is steadily becoming a more important part of a solid online-marketing formula; why is video gaining importance?
Brian Saab: It’s no secret that so much of a hotel’s brand identity and value are told through imagery.
In truth, great photography is table stakes when it comes to hotel marketing. Having video content can help separate a hotel from the competition in the eyes of potential guests.
It’s about providing the most impactful opportunity to experience the look and feel, value the amenities, and virtually step through the local points of interest.
It just reinforces the old saying, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a well-produced marketing video can be priceless.
What is it about quality video that naturally entices viewers, and ultimately gets interest?
Brian Saab: The most successful videos focus on telling the story of a hotel’s personality, as opposed to just being a virtual tour of the property.
The more a video can capture the guest experience of staying at the property beyond just the rooms and amenities, but rather the vibe of the guests and staff and the nature of the surrounding points of interest, the more prospective guests will identify with the hotel – which is naturally going to lead to booking a room.
In your eyes, what are the most important must-haves for an effective promotional video for a hotel?
Brian Saab: Always make it personal regardless of whether your hotel caters to business or leisure travelers.
This is a chance to tell the hotel’s story, so don’t miss that opportunity.
Of course you’ll want to showcase your property, but remember a guest is visiting a place as much as your hotel, so be sure to weave in what’s outside your walls as much as what’s inside. And when thinking about how online video is consumed, it’s important to remember the challenges of different devices and travel search scenarios guests will be in.
You may want to consider creating a series of short, topical videos as opposed to investing in a single comprehensive video, particularly for your guests on the go.
Is mobile important for the future of hospitality marketing?
Brian Saab: You bet it is.
Mobile is more important than ever in the hospitality marketing space, and there is no sign that it will slow down. What gives Buuteeq, and more importantly the hotels, a distinct advantage is that we understand the importance of mobile optimization.
In fact, today at least 40 percent of mobile bookings are last minute customers and the trend of discovering and booking rooms from a mobile device is only accelerating.
Buuteeq built websites are optimized to work across all platforms, and today, mobile is one of the most important.
Why might you believe that a property that invests in a comprehensive video marketing strategy will likely experience positive return on investment (ROI)?
Brian Saab: We actually have an interactive ROI calculator that we use to help customers understand the economic value of working with Buuteeq, and it always comes down to making improvements to a hotel’s marketing funnel.
“…It just reinforces the old saying, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a well-produced marketing video can be priceless.”
– Brian Saab, Buuteeq Founder & CMO
When we can reduce bounce rates, more visitors stay and experience a hotel’s site. When we can increase page views, there’s a greater likelihood to convert a “look” in a hotel’s booking engine. And when you have more looks in your booking engine, the trend is clear – you get more booked rooms.
Our calculator helps customers to see how each incremental improvement on its own helps to drive more revenue, and when those improvements happen in unison, the results are nothing short of transformational.
What changes will we see in the hospitality market in the next decade – how will properties have to adapt?
Brian Saab: There are two interesting trends that we’re seeing in the hospitality market that have actually been gaining steam for some time, and are now becoming immensely apparent.
First, there’s a major shift toward “boutique,” to the point where even the traditional definition of a boutique hotel is evolving. Bottom line, guests are looking for less standardization and more unique personality in their lodging experiences; which only reinforces the need to be able to express that personality in your marketing efforts.
Second, it’s clear that guests personally own more sophisticated technology than what they’ll experience inside a hotel, things like tablets and smartphones as an example. It’s creating an opportunity for forward thinking hoteliers to take advantage of that trend in both engaging guests before, during and after their stay at a property.
“…the more a video can capture the guest experience of staying at the property beyond just the rooms and amenities, but rather the vibe of the guests and staff and the nature of the surrounding points of interest, the more prospective guests will identify with the hotel – which is naturally going to lead to booking a room.”
– Brian Saab, Buuteeq Founder & CMO
Bottom line: attracting guests requires understanding great digital marketing techniques, and remaining relevant to guests and how they interact with technology.
And that doesn’t end with a booking.
It’s important to be able to interact with guests digitally during their stay as well as after their trip when they’re back at home considering their next travel destination, or sharing their experiences with family, friends and colleagues.
Please share a success story with us; how has a client notably benefited from Buuteeq’s services?
Brian Saab: I already mentioned the outstanding marketing the MGM Ho Tram is doing ahead of their opening. Another great example of transformational marketing is the Adrift Hotel in Washington State.
The Adrift is a complete turnaround hotel experience, from a very low occupancy economy hotel to a stylish, boutique hotel run by some very innovative owners, Tiffany and Brady Turner.
Brady started out by trying to create and deliver their digital marketing himself as he was looking to ensure the website experience was as uniquely defined as the real guest experience at the hotel. It took a little convincing, but Tiffany and Brady decided to give the CloudDMS a shot and the results speak for themselves.
Our software provides an incredible digital experience for the Adrift Hotel and frees the staff up to manage the hotel and serve their guests.
Plus, with Buuteeq the Adrift Hotel has become more discoverable online which in turn is driving more bookings and revenue. [editor: Prairie Side Suites also has some very nicely done, well implemented video as well – worth checking out!]
Thank you for taking the time to inform our audiences to what your company stands for, and what you do! How can someone learn more about you and/or Buuteeq?
Brian Saab: My pleasure, thanks for having me Reel Designer on to share our story!