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The Power of a Single Search: Offering the Right Deals to the Right People (by Cesar Tenorio)

How powerful can a single click on the internet be?  One click can search up endless opportunities on the internet, 'like' a video, or even just simply view a picture.  Now with companies such as MGM Resorts International, a click is all you need to be exposed to their services.  Does it work?  An increase of over 300 percent in revenues may make MGM think so. 

MGM introduced a new digital marketing strategy in 2010 that hones in on their most relevant customers.  By simply searching up prices on hotels or even 'liking' their photos, MGM can specifically advertise to these customers with tailored materials in addition to the "regular" ones of MGM.  What is interesting is how MGM states that they create individual profiles of their customers so that they can determine whether or not someone is more of a big spender or a penny pincher.  With the right data, MGM then targets past customers, as well as the potential with this personalized campaign.  For those who think they cannot afford Vegas, MGM has exclusive offers in their geographic areas.  It even goes as far as to offer nice incentives to lure those customers who are viewing multiple hotels into MGM's website.

This kind of marketing is fascinating to the point of downright scary.  More and more do we see corporations switching over to this approach as opposed to the traditional ways of television and mail.  Of course those mediums will always have their place but the future looks dim as the importance of social media grows.  It is not uncommon for a customer to receive email advertisements of a one night stay at a hotel just because s/he searches on the internet what weekend packages this hotel offers.  That really makes people think twice before entering a site or simply do anything on the internet.

But is it really working?  Personally, yes and no.  Many things I view are out of curiosity such as how much a single night at a luxury resort might be or what hotels fall under MGM in Las Vegas.  However, I still will get advertisements from these companies.  Although a two for one night special at the Luxor sounds appealing, my interest to stay was relatively low. However, there have been times where I viewed events occurring in New York City early last year and actually followed through by purchasing concert tickets when I visited for New Year's Day.

A major improvement to this strategy is to weed out those "careless" searches from those "serious" searches.  This can be accomplished by analyzing a wide range of data such as if a customer has previously stayed in a hotel, how long a customer is on the website, how often a customer stays in a hotel, and if they are looking up various hotels in the area in a particular period.  Another important thing to look at is the personalized trends that these customers are creating.  If a customer loves traveling to different places over time, why not offering new destinations where s/he has never searched before?  If a customer booked a room that has children involved, companies may then advertise local kid-friendly events. What boils down to is giving customers what they want in the most effective manner.

What are your opinions on this?  Have you purchased anything because of an e-mail marketing message your received?  Is there a better approach to target the right customers?  If yes, how?

About the Author
Cesar Tenorio is a full-time, senior undergraduate student at the Collins College of Hospitality Management in California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.  He has held several different positions on campus including Resident Advisor, Orientation Leader, Executive Director for the Up 'Til Dawn fundraising event, and more.  He also held an internship position this past summer in the selective Hilton Worldwide Program.  He has also received scholarships from both The Collins College and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Cesar currently aspires to receive a management program upon graduation and the opportunity to travel.
 
References:  
Dupre, Elyse. "Making Social Pay Off." Direct Marketing News. 27 Mar. 2014.
Hertzfeld, Esther. "MGM Grows Segmented Social Marketing." Hotel Management. 15 Apr. 2014. 
Kuchinskas, Susan. "Segmented Social Marketing Grows MGM Revenues by 300 Percent." ClickZ. 11 Apr. 2014.

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