Two prominent consulting firms are sharing their best practices to help clients drive significant short-term revenues and “future- proof” their long-term competitive advantages.
The Innovation Group of Companies, a globally recognized consulting, management, finance, development and marketing firm, recently announced a strategic partnership with internet marketing company gCommerce Solutions. The two entities have committed to sharing their resources and practices to penetrate strategic target segments, increase online-driven revenues and improve overall marketing ROI for clients.
“Internet-based marketing is a critical component for any destination property these days, but a truly effective and comprehensive plan is much more than a strong website and well-placed internet ads,” says Mark van Hartesvelt, a 30-year veteran of hospitality, casino and internet marketing and the managing partner of gCommerce. “Beyond bookings, an effective online presence will incorporate such tools as social and search marketing, CRM and other media services to help to build the brand and improve overall revenues.”
Among the collective services provided by the Innovation/gCommerce association are market analysis; consumer research; marketing and business plan development; revenue forecasting; competitive analysis; channel distribution launch plans; search marketing; social marketing; interactive strategy; online media services; website development; electronic merchandising and distribution; database marketing; CRM; and other state-of-the-art eMarketing and ePR solutions.
“Our clients in the gaming industry are only beginning to understand the extended opportunities and inherent benefits of a comprehensive internet-based marketing program,” says Steve Szapor, president of the Innovation Group. “Through our association with the gCommerce team, we are simplifying access to the complex applications our clients need to seamlessly blend their long-term strategic initiatives with immediate, frequent, cost-effective and targeted messaging to their guests.”
Online marketing programs are gaining interest from gaming executives. While the performance of the gaming industry as a whole is notably down this year, some properties and brands that embraced a comprehensive online marketing program have been able to sidestep the negative trends that have impacted competitors.
gCommerce and the Innovation Group apply a proprietary “surround sound” program that helps management teams listen to the voice of the customer from multiple channels. These include such tools as focus groups, guest comment cards and the monitoring of online chatter-all collected, analyzed and responded to with pinpoint target messaging back to guests.
gCommerce executives say this approach has been particularly beneficial for the company’s hospitality and gaming clients, who have recently witnessed an overall average 56 percent increase in online revenues this year compared to 2008, including in such impacted markets as Phoenix (one of the country’s worst for overall tourism declines), where the company’s clientele actually witnessed a 21 percent increase in room nights through August 2009 versus 2008. Specific to their gaming clients, gCommerce tracked a 62 percent increase in room nights in 2009 versus the same periods of 2008.
With results like these supporting their efforts, the fusion of best-practice hotel and casino management with state-of-the-art online marketing techniques is proving to be a wise strategic move for the Innovation and gCommerce team. The service is proving to be popular with Native American clients in highly competitive gaming jurisdictions (Southern California, Arizona, etc.).
“gCommerce has long been recognized as one of the most respected hospitality operators in the industry, and we have been particularly impressed with their ability to improve results for their clients in the current environment,” says Joe Witterschein, vice president of marketing services for the Innovation Group. “We were extremely eager to support and broaden the strategic and gaming-specific research aspects that are so critical to their work, and to introduce their proven techniques as a way for our clients to implement the financial, marketing and operational guidance we provide.”
gCommerce’s van Hartesvelt said he is equally appreciative of the opportunity to work alongside the Innovation staff.
“gCommerce’s services incorporate multiple interactive marketing disciplines, with each service designed to drive revenue and work in symphony with the cohesive global marketing strategies and consumer preferences data that the Innovation Group generates,” says van Hartesvelt. “Our efforts are proving complementary because of our firms’ shared appreciation for the larger operational picture.”