On any given day, individual Meliá hotel locations were inundated with inbound influencer requests for potential collaborations and complimentary hotel stays. Initially, these requests were answered haphazardly, without a process for determining which influencers were most aligned to each brand, likely to reach Meliá Hotels International’s (MHI) target audiences and ultimately drive traffic to booking sites.
“While we prefer to engage with influencers through unpaid collaborations, offering complimentary experiences in our hotels comes at a considerable cost. In the past, we were unable to evaluate an influencer and make a business case to the general managers of hotels on which influencers were best suited for partnerships. We had great demand from the travel influencer community, but were ill equipped to seize the opportunity,” said Santiago Garcia Solimei, Global Director of Social Media at MHI.
Adding to the complexity, MHI operates in 6 brands across 43 countries on 4 continents; receiving attention from travel influencers around the world. In the old system, influencer information was being lost in emails and decisions on who to partner with were either made based on gut feel or forgone altogether. The company also lacked a record of historical influencer partnerships and the results stemming from the activations making it challenging to scale the benefits of influencer marketing.
Early on, MHI recognized that shifting consumer behaviors were changing the way people discovered destinations and turned towards selecting the right influencer relationship management technology. Santiago explains, “We knew exactly what we needed in an influencer marketing platform. First, we needed a platform that would serve as a centralized database for all influencer information across our business and provide the structure required to standardize processes across brands, countries and individual hotel locations.”
Secondly, MHI needed a way to rigorously evaluate influencers and select individuals who share values, speak to the right audiences and produce exceptional engagement with their travel content. “We needed a process, backed by data and insights, that would help us make the case to our General Managers, to invest in our recommended influencer collaborations.”
MHI also required an influencer relationship management platform capable of handling thousands of influencers and hundreds of activations per year. Lastly, MHI needed a framework for measuring the impact of influencer marketing activities and reporting results back to hotel managers who often face difficult choices between foregoing revenue in exchange for influencer coverage of their properties.
Traackr enables data led objectivity when reviewing potential influencers. Equally, creating a consistent and more efficient way of making these decisions globally has saved MHI considerable time and resulted in more accepted influencer collaborations.
“We chose Traackr to be the backbone of our influencer program because of its product completeness, unparalleled depth of data and global presence,” said Santiago.
Comparing 2018 to 2017, MHI was able to increase its number of activated influencers by 14%, which in turn drove significantly higher engagement and video views across its brand portfolio. These results were made possible by improved workflows and the use of Traackr insights for influencer selection, resulting in high performing activations.
One of MHI’s business objectives is to drive more demand for hotel experiences, drawing not only travelers, but local residents to book restaurant reservations, attend parties and otherwise enjoy the Melia experience. In 2018, activated influencers drove more than 43K engagements for Melia content mentioning experiences; a 8.2% increase over 2017.
Benchmarked among an independent panel of ~10,000 travel influencers, MHI increased mentions from influencers by 167% resulting in a 238% increase in reach during the first year with Traackr. During the same period, visits to Melia.com from social media grew from 9% in 2017 to 12% worldwide in 2018, while in Europe that figure increased to 16%. Meanwhile, mobile sales increased by an astonishing 491% from 2016 to 2017, generating €33.8 million.
With historical content, audience data and predictive influencer performance insights, MHI is able to quickly evaluate influencers and confidently select partners, saving considerable time across MHI’s markets. According to Santiago, "We have created a methodology called the MHI Influencer Best Practice Guide. Our internal teams and PR and social media agencies engage with influencers based on our methodology. Everyone uses Traackr as our influencer CRM, vetting platform and reporting framework.”
Traackr enables the Social Media Department to track influencer campaigns and communicate results by activation and across all programs. “Social success stems from having a KPI-driven approach and Traackr allows us to bring that rigor to influencer marketing," said Santiago.
MHI continues to grow its influencer program and bring more nuances to its influencer activations. There is an increasing focus on promoting destinations first, prior to hotel services, requiring new influencer discovery and vetting to identify the right partners for these activations. MHI is also expanding its program to include internal VIP customers and building ongoing relationships with them via Traackr’s listening capabilities. In Santiago's words,
“As a result of our collaboration with Traackr, we’ve been able to bring structure to our influencer program and connect the dots between influencer marketing and business results. The impact is now felt across our organizations."
To learn more about MHI’s approach to influencer marketing, including how the brand structures their marketing team for influencer marketing success, read our in-depth interview with Santiago Garcia Solimei, Global Director of Social Media at MHI, on the Traackr blog.
For reference, download a copy of Traackr's case study with Melia Hotels International.