DEI Origins at GCommerce

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GCommerce has charted its own path of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  Equity was always a central building block of the famed company culture (recipient of Best Place to Work in 2019 by Outside Magazine).  However, a fateful series of conversations in 2022 started us down a path of deliberate intention and focus.  In the process, the company has become more introspective and more articulate about our beliefs.  We’ve developed a process that ensures Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are as much an aspiration as a practice, a process that insists we continue to make progress in pursuit of that goal never achieved.  

It started with a conversation.  The Founder of GCommerce, Scott van Hartesvelt, had just read the seminal and controversial Harvard Business Review (HBR) study titled “Why Diversity Programs Fail.”  In it, the authors make a compelling case that the ways in which corporate America has addressed DEI have not only failed to produce positive results they have actually reinforced negative behaviors.  He shared some of the findings with two colleagues, Alex Scharpf and Lindley Cotton, who were both better educated on the subject.  The ensuing discussion made it clear that there were both moral and business imperatives to be thoughtful about DEI and that GCommerce was well-positioned to break the mold highlighted in the HBR article.  A larger group of employees from across the company was quickly empaneled to jumpstart the initiative.

GCommerce DEI Charter

After lots of deliberation, a formal charter took shape with 4 key components.  The charter became the organizing document for both the company itself as well as the company’s “DEI Study Group”, a group of volunteers from across all departments interested in helping GCommerce further the DEI mission through new programming and education.

GCOMMERCE DEI TRUE NORTH

To ensure our compass is always pointed towards equity, we established four guiding principles:

  1. Leadership from GCommerce is required.  We chose to be thoughtful and progressive to achieve our moral and business goals.
  2. Forced participation and assimilation with DEI initiatives create animosity instead of growth and understanding.  Therefore, we aimed to avoid this whenever possible, instead favoring more integrated efforts.
  3. Recruiting, education, job training, and mentoring are the tops of the spear when it comes to making meaningful progress.  As such, they would help organize and instruct our overall DEI initiatives.
  4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion do not create just a moral imperative but also a business one.  Companies that embrace diversity and equity perform measurably better in all facets of their business.

GOLDEN RULES

Per the Harvard Business Review study, people with varying perspectives on DEI topics often feel alienated by the tenor of discussions, further entrenching their beliefs and robbing others of hearing their perspectives.  To combat this, Alex Scharpf authored our “Golden Rules” to maintain civil, effective conversations within the company moving forward.

  1. All Perspectives Deserve Respect - Inclusivity is not a set of hard-and-fast rules but rather an ongoing discussion.  Very few things are “right” and “wrong” in every single context, and everyone deserves a chance to be heard.
  2. No One Knows Everything - Everyone comes from different backgrounds, with a different level of exposure to various issues.  There’s no shame in not knowing something - inclusion is a constant state of learning and we’re all learning together. 
  3. Everyone Makes Mistakes - Inclusion is a continuous process, and it takes time for a person to adapt to changes.  No one is perfect, and mistakes are just that - mistakes.  Use them as an educational opportunity, but don’t dwell on them.

STUDY GROUP GOALS

The goals of the DEI Study Group, as established at its onset, guide the group to this day:

  1. Bring awareness and education internally for GCommerce, while providing a safe space for conversation.
  2. Widen individual knowledge and understanding of DEI.
  3. Make GCommerce an inclusive company that others will be drawn to.
  4. Support and encourage other colleagues to be their true selves.
  5. Assist clients with better representation in marketing.
  6. Become a model for other companies to eventually emulate.

DEI MISSION STATEMENT

Finally, the charter articulated a formal DEI mission statement.

GCommerce is dedicated to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion as both a moral and business imperative.

Our team members are the company’s most valuable asset.  The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities, and talent that our employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture but our reputation and the company’s achievement.  To that end, we not only embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, we seek it out to strengthen our company.

We embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, religion, sexual orientation, and other identity characteristics that make our employees unique.

DEI Study Group - Executing GCommerce’s DEI Charter

GCommerce is invested in making our DEI practices present and vibrant in the ongoing operations of the business.  The group is open to participation from all corners of the company, with meetings held every other week and frequently attended by executives, managers, and team members from every department.  The group’s work primarily focuses on the four areas of Recruiting, Education, Training, and Mentorship but remains largely self-determined while working in the spirit of the company mission and pillars.

Highlights - Two Years In

We are proud of the work the company has accomplished over the last two years.  We are equally proud of the system: the process that we’ve established to ensure the work continues in perpetuity.  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are no longer just things we promote but rather who we are and what we aspire to be.  

Highlights from the first two years include:

  • Invested over $200,00 in service hours to the development and management of our DEI initiative.
  • Researched and delivered eight robust all-company education sessions.
  • Provided resources for self-education on DEI topics.
  • Created spaces for company-wide discussions to take place.
  • Updated and improved recruiting and hiring practices, including consideration for better representation, social and neurodiversity sensitivity in interviews, and recruiting methodology.
  • Evaluated daily accessibility at GCommerce, from website navigation and branding to internal meeting policies and ADA options.
  • Conducted frequent sentiment surveys of the entire company for directional guidance.
  • Reviewed and modified client marketing recommendations to encourage better representation in the marketing we deploy.
  • Developed public-facing content related to DEI, to extend our education outside of the company.

What’s Next

GCommerce is not, nor will it ever be a finished product.  It’s a company of individuals, each of whom contributes to the GCommerce story in their own way during their time with the company.   Our consistency lies in our mission and our vision.  

Looking at the immediate future, we are excited to be rolling out a more formal mentorship program, giving team members from across the company exposure to those with whom they may not normally engage.  We are thinking hard about how to be more intentional with our recruiting practices because the most succinct way to ensure diversity and representation is by living these core values as a company.  We are doubling down on engagement and education for team members, especially those who have recently joined the organization and weren’t there for the genesis of this grand project.  We are learning. We are growing.  Most importantly, we are listening with humility. 

What Happened to Threads? (A 2024 Update)

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After becoming the fastest app ever to reach 100 million users last summer, Instagram's X (formerly Twitter) alternative, Threads, has fallen out of the news cycle and off many of our phone's homepages. At this point, you may be asking: what's going on with Threads, and should we still be paying attention to the app?

With Threads celebrating its half-birthday in January, it's a great time to dive into statistics on just how well (or poorly) the app is performing. According to SimilarWeb's statistics, Threads saw just 76 million visits in December, with an average session duration of about 3 minutes. Website visits are up from November by about 50% but don't hold a candle to X's 6.2 billion visits with an average session duration of over 11 minutes.

As mentioned, however, things are trending upward for Threads, with visits increasing by over 50% from November to December. Notably, December saw the release of Threads in Europe and the beginnings of testing with integration with the ActivityPub protocol, opening threads up to the entire federated universe – a topic we wrote about when Threads first launched

Late last year, Threads also launched tags and topics, allowing users to find new subjects to engage in and people to connect with, something that was sorely missing when the platform first launched. These tags don’t seem to have taken the same prevalence that hashtags on X do, so discoverability can still be difficult on the platform, especially with the drastically lower number of users of the platform. 


All in all, Threads has not become the hit that Mosseri and Zuck once hoped it would become, but there’s still a chance for growth with the continued updates the platform keeps pushing. For now, it doesn’t seem to be pushing the needle in one direction or the other for hospitality brands, but if we see any changes on that front, you can be the first to know by signing up for our newsletter.

A Marketer’s Case for Hotel Metasearch

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Hotel metasearch channels, like Google Hotel Ads, are great for distribution.  Like other third-party channels, they expand a hotel’s reach to new audiences.  That’s the predominant argument for metasearch in the industry.

And it’s wrong.  

Or, at a minimum, incomplete. Yes, metasearch channels can improve a hotel’s reach to new audiences.  However, they bear little resemblance to OTA’s or other third-party distribution channels.  In fact, when properly understood and managed, they become a marketer’s dream.

Direct reservations through metasearch

Always remember that hotel metasearch marketing drives direct reservations through the property website.  Equally important, the absence of that marketing all but guarantees that travelers looking to stay in your destination will book through OTAs or, worse yet, at one of your competitors.  

Marketers exist to win the battle for share in a competitive market, and Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels are ground zero for that combat.  The channels capture customers once they have passed the inspiration portion of their trip planning and are getting down to the selection of their preferred property and actual booking.  To be absent at that critical moment is to forfeit direct revenue.  We often hear from hoteliers who are resigned to letting OTA’s take a booking because it’s easier and still results in net bookings.  Metasearch marketing can be equally streamlined, more profitable, and result in an owned customer.  

Audience targeting techniques

Metasearch management provides marketers with audience tools that will be more familiar to them than to revenue managers. Geographic, demographic, and behavioral targeting are all available through the platforms.  They allow properties to be selective with their media deployment and maximize their return on investment.  

These characteristics are far more aligned with a marketing perspective than distribution.   

First-Party vs Third-Party data

GCommerce was the first lonely voice in the hospitality industry proclaiming the coming extinction of third-party data.  Most properties didn’t fully grasp the implications of the shift at the time.  Today, marketers across the industry are reckoning with the impact.  As cookies go the way of MySpace and AOL, the tools we all have come to rely on to find and attract new customers are vanishing.  You can read here about the impact, but suffice it to say that the results have been catastrophic to unprepared properties.  

In the absence of third-party data, first-party data becomes the lifeblood of marketing.  Every competent marketer is developing strategies around building first-party audiences and how to use those audiences to drive revenue.  

Hospitality metasearch belongs at the heart of those strategies

Customers who select a property through metasearch go on to book at incrementally higher rates - that’s first-party booking data.  Moreso, many enter the booking funnel before abandoning their reservation, also first-party data.  As you may expect, remarketing to that reservation abandonment audience is amongst the most productive campaigns a marketer can run.  

Some savvy marketers are using metasearch as a brilliant tool to increase participation in loyalty programs, one of the ultimate forms of first-party data.  Instead of promoting a property’s best available rate, these properties are leading with Member Rates through hotel metasearch channels.  Travelers see the lower price and often choose to join the program so as to qualify for the promotional rate.  Win/win.  The property receives the reservation and enrollment in the loyalty program, all because of effective marketing through hotel metasearch.

Lifecycle marketing

Marketers know that the depreciation of third-party audiences compels us to harvest the most value out of every interaction available to us.  In the past, our models were focused only on attracting new customers because, frankly, that acquisition was so inexpensive.  Now, we must focus on a full lifecycle approach as we shift our measurement from a single reservation to the lifetime value of a customer.  We know that when a customer is earned for the first time, we must develop strategies to keep them coming back, to upsell them to new room types and experiences, and to turn them into brand advocates.    

Still, we have to feed new audiences into our lifecycle marketing funnel.  As discussed in our article titled “Hacking your marketing budget”, hotel metasearch is the most effective way to target and acquire new audiences.  With Metadesk’s innovative pricing model, a property can run robust acquisition campaigns through metasearch without spending a nickel from the marketing budget.  


Hospitality marketers are starting to understand that metasearch is not a distribution channel but instead a powerful tool in their marketing arsenal.  With the tools and techniques available exclusively through Metadesk, metasearch can become the secret weapon to market dominance. 

Hacking Your Marketing Budget: How to Generate Direct Revenue Without Spending Marketing Dollars

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The dust has settled, and most hoteliers are staring at newly minted 2024 budgets. Those budgets likely feature big revenue goals with marginal increases in marketing dollars (if you're lucky). Property owners tend to require herculean feats of performance - meaningful growth in RevPar while starving any marketing channel that could help achieve the goal.  

What's a smart hotelier to do?  

Hack the budget - find ways to drive direct revenue without touching the "marketing expense" line. Win/Win

Budget Allocation

In your 2024 media budget, you've likely allocated money to channels like Paid Search, Display, and Paid Social, which you hope will generate returns of 8-1 or better. With outstanding management, you may be able to improve performance and efficiency, but not enough to make a dent in your new revenue goals.   

But what have you allocated to Metasearch marketing?  

If you're like most hotels, it's a fraction of the amount you are spending on the other channels. That is despite the fact that OTA's and others are spending almost twice as much on Metasearch as they are on Google Paid Search. TWICE

We can assume that these multi-billion dollar companies with bottomless advertising budgets know what they're doing. They know that dollars spent on Metasearch generate consistently high returns. Individual hotels with limited budgets should learn from them and put more weight on marketing on metasearch channels.

Let's break it down.

To extrapolate in simplistic terms - if you were to take all of the money you have allocated this year to Paid Search, Display Advertising, and Social Advertising and multiply the amount by 1.8, that would give you a baseline for the amount you should spend on Metasearch.  

Yes, it's too late to ask for more budget, and such a proposal would be dead on arrival for most owners. Time to break out the hack.

Increased Direct Revenue Without Increased Marketing Cost

With Metadesk, hotels can work on a performance-based model whereby Metadesk pays for all media expenses in exchange for a commission on revenue. Put another way, you can generate precious direct revenue without spending a nickel from your marketing budget. And unlike OTA's, you aren't paying a commission to find customers through a third party - these become your customers, in your database, that you can market to forever more. The commission paid to Metadesk is small and coded to the same line as travel agents.  

When was the last time your owner said you were spending too much money on travel agent commissions?  

Outcome

Simply put, the result is a big boost in direct revenue without an increase in marketing expenses.  

How much of a revenue boost?  

For some back-of-the-napkin math, let's go back to your total digital media budget. For the sake of argument, multiply your annual media budget by 1.5. That is the approximate amount Metadesk will spend marketing your property on your behalf. Now assume the platform can generate a 10 - 1 return on ad spend, so multiply the total projected marketing spend by 10..  

Chances are, that's a LOT of incremental direct revenue. Possible enough to exceed your 2024 revenue budget and cement you as a hero in the eyes of your peers and owners. Enough to impress even a Greek god of strength.

Why Metadesk

Metadesk was built by GCommerce, the prestige marketing agency in the hospitality industry. The platform offers improved metasearch performance through strategic targeting and professional campaign optimization. The advantages of Metadesk are numerous:

  • Managed by media experts
  • Continual campaign optimization
  • Easy collaboration
  • Custom 1st party audiences
  • Real-time parity monitoring
  • On-demand access to reports
  • Fair pricing model

Most importantly, this program was built by hoteliers with a long legacy of performance. As the above "hack" demonstrates, Metadesk was built to take advantage of hospitality industry nuances and supercharge the performance of a property. 

Mastering the Art of Crafting Revenue Generating Paid Search Ads for Hotels

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In today's digital era, paid search advertising has become an integral part of any successful hotel marketing campaign. With the right approach, paid search ads can effectively boost your hotel’s online visibility, attract highly targeted traffic, and drive conversions. However, to make the most of this advertising strategy, it's crucial to create compelling and captivating ads that entice users to click. In this blog, we'll uncover the key principles and techniques to write the best paid search ads that yield remarkable results.

Know Your Hotel’s Audience:

The foundation of any successful ad campaign lies in understanding your target audience. Take the time to research and analyze your ideal customers, including their demographics, preferences, and pain points. By knowing your audience, you can tailor your ad copy to resonate with their needs and desires, leading to higher engagement rates and conversions.

Craft a Strong Value Proposition:

Your hotel’s paid search ads should highlight the unique value your product or service offers. Clearly communicate the benefits and advantages that set you apart from your competitors. Consider the specific problems your audience faces and how your solution solves them. Incorporate strong and compelling language to convey the value proposition effectively within the limited character count.

Utilize Persuasive Language About Your Hotel:

Every word in your ad matters. To grab attention and elicit action, employ persuasive language that triggers emotional responses in your audience. Use power words, action verbs, and vivid adjectives to evoke curiosity, excitement, or a sense of urgency. However, ensure that your claims are truthful and realistic to maintain credibility.

Focus on Relevance and Keyword Optimization:

Relevance is crucial in hotel paid search ads. Align your ad copy with the keywords you are targeting to ensure the highest Quality Score and ad rank. Incorporate relevant keywords in your headlines and ad descriptions while maintaining a natural flow. A well-optimized ad will not only attract your target audience but also improve your ad's performance and cost-effectiveness.

Employ Compelling Calls to Action (CTAs):

Guide your potential guests with clear and captivating prompts that steer them toward the desired actions. Whether it's enticing them to "Book Now," "Reserve Your Stay Today," "Discover More," or "Request a Complimentary Quote," make sure your CTAs are compelling.

To create a sense of urgency and excitement, consider incorporating phrases such as "Limited Time Exclusive" or "Only a Few Suites Remaining." These tactics make your CTAs more compelling, urging visitors to take immediate action and thereby boosting click-through and conversion rates.

Test, Analyze, and Optimize:

The journey to crafting exceptional paid search ads for hotels doesn't end with their creation. Continuous testing, analysis, and optimization are vital for maximizing your results. Experiment with different variations of ad copy, headlines, CTAs, and landing pages to identify what resonates best with your audience. Leverage A/B testing and tracking tools to measure performance metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS).

Monitor Your Hotel’s Competitors’ Ads:

Keep an eye on your hotel’s competitors' paid search ads to gather insights and stay ahead of the curve. Analyze their ad copy, CTAs, and landing pages to understand their messaging and strategies. Identify gaps in their approach that you can leverage to differentiate yourself and gain a competitive edge. By staying informed about your competition, you can fine-tune your ads and maintain relevance in the market.

Crafting outstanding paid search ads for your hotel requires a combination of creativity, data analysis, and a deep understanding of your target audience. By implementing the principles outlined above and continuously refining your strategies, you can create high-performing ads that capture attention, engage users, and drive conversions. 


Remember, success in paid search advertising is an ongoing journey that requires constant optimization and adaptation to stay ahead in the dynamic digital landscape. Let the seasoned team at GCommerce help!

Year in Review: GCommerce Solutions

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We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for an exceptional 2023! The GCommerce Team experienced tremendous success throughout the year, as we launched dynamic marketing campaigns, crafted captivating websites, produced engaging educational content pieces, and enhanced our client's metasearch optimization and direct bookings. 🥳

Here Are Our Top Highlights From 2023:

  • Published 58 educational articles
  • Published 3 DE&I pieces
  • Welcomed 7 new GCommerce team members
  • Welcomed 54 new wonderful hotel clients to our portfolio
  • Hosted our annual company retreat in Park City, Utah

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Cheers to an amazing 2023, all thanks to our incredible clients and our fantastic team! Your support and enthusiasm made it a year to remember. As we jump into 2024 with excitement, we can't wait for more shared successes and memorable moments. A huge heartfelt thanks for being such a vital part of our journey!

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