In-house or Outsourced – Where Will Your Growth Come from in 2021? – By Denise Powers, Founder and CEO of Fountainhead

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In-house or outsourced – Where will your growth come from in 2021?

For all the challenges that Covid has created in the travel industry, it has also taught us some important lessons. First among these is that survival and growth depend on pivots, innovation, evolution – new approaches and new ways of thinking. We’re reaching a point when it’s time to start thinking about marketing again and that raises an important question. Where do you turn for the expert marketing that’s going to help deliver your recovery and growth in 2021?

For all the challenges that Covid has created in the travel industry, it has also taught us some important lessons. First among these is that survival and growth depend on pivots, innovation, evolution – new approaches and new ways of thinking.

We’re reaching a point when it’s time to start thinking about marketing again and that raises an important question. Where do you turn for the expert marketing that’s going to help deliver your recovery and growth in 2021?

Maybe you already have marketing personnel in-house – but is this a dedicated team, or is it an additional function given to people who have other responsibilities? You need 100% attention on this. Are your people marketing industry experts with decades of experience in multiple skillsets?

You can also hire great talent if you have the time to sift through resumes, do interviews, onboard and train a new person who may (or may not) be a good fit with your team.

Outsource your travel marketing?

Expensive, right? Not so fast. Let’s look at the economies of engaging a pro marketing and growth agency.

1. A team for the price of an individual

Powerful marketing that drives and sustains new business requires a combination of skills. These include growth strategy, copywriting, reputation management, graphic design, video production, social media management, search engine optimization, ad campaign targeting and public relations – each of which is a career in itself.

Bringing one person in-house means trying to find a generalist who knows a little about of all these specialist areas. Hiring a marketing firm means hiring a whole team of specialists for what could be the same as a single salary. Or to put it another way: who would you go to with a broken leg – a qualified doctor, or your manicurist who also does a little medicine?

A full-time in-house specialist – even a generalist – will come at a premium. They will also need to learn a lot on the job and stay up to date with the latest tech trends. With an agency, the skills and experience are ready to go and honed over years.

One warning: there are also generalist agencies that market anything to everyone. They have talent, but what they lack is an in-depth knowledge of how your business and your audience works. An industry-specific agency will be up to speed with your requirements from the outset (and will have case studies to prove it.)

2.  Additional specialist skills

A recent study from Expedia noted that people are more likely look for positive stories about a destination or property when researching options. Sustainable tourism and environmental protection are also increasingly important to consumers.

This means the role of public relations has increased significantly. Would a single in-house team member have the time and technical resources to manage your online reputation? This discipline requires constant monitoring with expert-level writing, marketing, sales and knowledge. It is monumentally important because it influences thousands of potential guests per month. 

In crisis situations (that do happen), the demands on a marketer to keep on top of the communications can be extreme. An agency can more easily reallocate resources to provide additional coverage.

3. The digitization you need

Your guests’ decision to visit is just one step in a long journey from pre-awareness through to brand advocacy – a journey that must be carefully managed by a team of digital experts. Using a few tools and systems, these specialists can positively impact the guest experience and build your brand.

Digital management is a full-time job in a sphere where tech and parameters are always changing. It’s unlikely that a single marketer would have the required experience to manage the task. Even if they did, the workload of handling campaigns and communications would make other tasks difficult.

Let’s also not forget that guests are also increasingly focused on digital experiences, with expectations to match.

4. Simpler, better contracts

Outsourced contracts are easier to terminate than an FTE. When researching different agencies, ask to see their master services agreements and discuss the termination clauses. It’s important that you understand and can negotiate these. 

Most agencies want to work with those clients where the relationships are good, where they are getting great results, and they will account for this in the termination clauses.

With this in mind, take the marketer’s salary line on your financial statement and move it from the fixed cost of a permanent, full-time employee and the additional burden of that employee (health insurance, holiday and sick pay, and all the other benefits required by law in your country) to a variable cost line item that is less painful to get out of.

Making outsourcing work for your business

Signing a contract is not the end of the process. It’s all about a healthy and productive working relationship. In short, your chosen marketing and growth agency is not just a supplier but a partner in your success. Your ideal agency will:

  • Be in it to win it for you, as your marketing team.
  • Participate in strategy discussions.
  • Review work in a timely manner.
  • Be available and willing to communicate regularly (as specified in the interview phase). 
  • Have a good cultural alignment with your property or destination. 
  • Be able to show you past examples of how they got results for similar companies. 
  • Provide a reasonable timeline for how they are going to get you the results you need. 
  • Get the promised results, quickly and consistently.

The time to start marketing your hotel, destination, attraction, airline or boutique cruise line is now.

People are dreaming of what they will do when it is safe to travel again.  The properties that ramp up now will be the ones that reap the benefits first. 

Your leadership team needs to focus on the guest experience, revenue management and the profit line.  Let them focus on that and outsource your marketing to those who know how to grow your travel business.

Want to know more about how Fountainhead has helped other hospitality companies thrive? 

Get the case study here

Denise Powers
Founder & CEO
Fountainhead