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Incorporating Emerging Technologies in B2B Hospitality Marketing

In Conversation with Cory Falter

For this episode of E- Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Cory Falter, Partner and Visionary of Lure Agency.
Cory shares valuable insights into their customer-centric approach and constant quest for innovation. He emphasizes their deep-rooted commitment to sustainability and transparency, outlining their initiatives that aim to create a significant societal and environmental impact.
Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Sustainability should be integrated into every aspect of the business for long-term success.

Cory Falter
Partner and Visionary of Lure Agency

Hey. Hi everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show E-Coffee with Experts today. We have Cory Falter from Lure Agency. Welcome to our show Cory. How are you?

I’m doing great Ranmay. Appreciate you having me on. Happy Friday.

Great. Cory, before we move forward I would like you to introduce yourself to our audiences tonight and more about your agency, and then we can take it forward from there.

Yeah, it sounds great. No, thank you. As you had mentioned Cory Falter, I am a partner at Lure Agency. We’re based out of San Diego, California, and we also have another office in Boulder, Colorado. I am a 56-year-old native of San Diego. I began my career as an art director after graduating from San Diego State back in the good old nineties before the internet, pre-internet. I don’t want to date myself, but what good times back then. The print was still king. We had this before computers. We had a direct mail and newspaper were still huge. Magazine print was all the rage. So I was able to cut my teeth pre-internet. And then obviously we had the transition to online, which has been a huge transformation. So I’ve got the benefit of really building my career without that electronic, which I think helped carve out the fundamentals of design and marketing, which I think oftentimes, we gloss over because it’s the technology. It’s always a shiny new object. And I think oftentimes we miss those fundamentals.

So I feel very blessed and grateful to be able to have worked on both sides of that fence. 12 years ago after we had a tremendously horrible 80809 part of the economy fell out, I found myself going from a very lucrative career in print, graphic design, and branding to essentially overnight out of work.

So at that time, I decided to jump on the old digital bandwagon. And we opened the Lure agency back in 2012 exclusively on social media engagements for hotels. It was the perfect platform. It’s almost like Facebook was built for hotels in hospitality and travel. Travel in general. It’s visually driven and it’s just, the way that hospitality is geared to, engage its customers and clients it was a glorious time when there was no algorithm pullback. Everything that you posted, all of your followers saw you could drive revenue without running ads. It was an unbelievable time to have an agency and walk into a hotel that had never heard of Facebook and a general manager maybe had heard it from their kids. And you could show right up front, just incredible.

These dialogues that we had were going on with their guests in real time back there. Twitter was pretty engaged in hotels, so it was pretty cool to show a hotel general manager in real time and engagement with their guest. So that was an amazing time. Fast forward to today, Social media’s changed a lot. It’s now an ad platform for the most part, for brands. Still an important element of things, but we’ve transitioned a lot into what we’re calling relationship marketing. And in, in the good old days of HubSpot, it was inbound marketing. A lot of people don’t realize what inbound marketing is. So we’re running with relationship marketing because essentially we’re using content. High-level touch points to ultimately build trust with prospects before the decision process is made and thus drive demand back to, our clients in the form of inbound inquiries. So it’s the, it’s outbound cold versus inbound. We are bullish. On the concept of inbound, I’ve always been the type of person that I never want to thrust myself on somebody needlessly. I just love the concept of inspiring, educating, and building trust with somebody first so that at one point, When they need something and they remember our conversation, they go, oh my gosh, Cory, he was talking about this concept of Email marketing or relationship marketing, and I gotta give him a call and building.

Sales that way versus, Hey, let me try and convince you to buy something that you don’t want, you don’t need in creating that friction. And, ultimately as we know with the internet things have changed and it’s changed sales completely. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about a little bit today. So thank you.

Good. Thank you for that detailed introduction, Cory. And you have been ended into b2b. Hospitality industry for so long, so just wanted to understand from your perspective, how you incorporate emerging technologies. Because as you mentioned, it’s all about technology these days, such as AI, which is like the storm that we all are in right now, and machine learning in your marketing strategies for B2B companies in the hospitality space.

Yeah. Great. Great question because it is so easy to jump on that next shiny object, right? It’s been chat GPT and AI at nauseum for the last six weeks. It’s Coming at us like a fire hose. So getting back to what I was talking about earlier on the fundamentals of things, it’s so easy to get distracted from your main mission of results, driving results.

So we’ve been very cautious about just jumping on the latest technology. But, so I want to touch on just a couple of tried and true things that we couldn’t do, what we do without it. The first of which are we use a sales and marketing CRM for the simplicity of the argument. I’ll use HubSpot as the CRM. Yeah, we use an alternative, which is now, it was SharpSpring. It’s now it constant contact lead gen CRM, but for the most part, Every, for the most it, that’s a norm normal process and a tool that a lot of SaaS technology companies use. It’s relatively unknown in hospitality, b2b, which is a good thing for us because you can’t execute a high-level B2B marketing strategy without automation and without a tech stack like that. It’s just impossible. It’s so long. It requires so many touches at a very high-level personal level. It, you couldn’t do it manually, but Hospitality is still doing it manually. If you can believe that they don’t, their traditional legacy system doesn’t give you the ability to put together sophisticated workflows or automation that can move somebody down a particularly long sales cycle, a long funnel, and touch them a long way at a very high personal level. They don’t do that right now. So we use these Sharp Spring in particular, the constant contact lead gen CRM to create these workflows so that our hotel salespeople can execute and nurture that high-level prospect down the funnel and spend that personalized time one-on-one with that bottom of the funnel, 3% person.

Where traditionally they haven’t been able to put together a sophisticated long sales cycle like that so the automations in particular are very helpful. But what also is very helpful is lead scoring. And traditionally, hotel salespeople have used time and just sheer luck to pick up the phone and check in with their prospects.

They haven’t talked to this person in a while, which has nothing to do with what you would consider insights from a traditional CRM. So you know, a CRM like HubSpot, Salesforce, and Constant Contacts lead Gen CRM. You can use what’s called the life of the Lead. You can see your prospect engaging with your website in terms of duration, how long they’ve been on the website, and lead scoring so that they may just reach back out to them and say, Hey, you know how you’ve been, we haven’t talked in a long time, been thinking about you. So using these tools to amplify their prospecting proactive prospecting efforts.

And so it did, like I mentioned before, the legacy systems that they’re using or they have been using They don’t integrate with anything else. There’s, it’s closed end, it’s boxed in. So what we like about the constant contact CRM and HubSpot is the integrations with like with Zapier. And so Zapier is now giving us the ability to connect with a new solution. One of which is only that we know of right now, that is transforming the industry event temple is the only sales and catering solution that now integrates with this sales and marketing CRM to create a complete closed-loop ecosystem from start to closed one or closed, lost. That is so that sales and marketing CRM would be one tool. The other one that I just found out about this weekend, I spend all weekend researching new video editing tools because I spend a lot of time doing exactly what we’re doing here. I spend I create a lot of content producing in interviews, exactly what we’re doing right now.

I spent so much time using it in video and then have to go to Premier to create subtitles, and it’s been a long process. So after much research & reaching out to my trusted community because that’s where I’m getting my recommendations these days. Not from digital ads. I’m reaching out to my community and people that I trust, one in particular, gave me, Hey, you gotta check out Descript.

And I checked it out. I kicked the tires on this and, it blew me away how amazing this video editor is because literally, when you drop a video into the panel, it transcribes it automatically for you and then it, with the click of a button, you can remove filler words like long pauses by simply taking it out of Descript. It takes that outta the video. I’d spent hours reducing long pauses and removing words like that in, in the good old days. So not only has it helped just from the editing, but it’s super fast and it produces the most incredible high-quality video, amazingly exporting it out. So Descript has just saved me a tremendous amount of time.

And this is all AI-driven, so that is one of the tools. That we have that we recently jumped on in terms of the AI being just being very selective because there’s just an overwhelming plethora of AI this AI that out there. Two rock-solid tools that I can vouch for right now.

that’s quite a lot of experience speaking there, I must say. And then, B2B hospitality is such a crowded marketplace, so how do you ensure that your clients stand out versus their competition in such a space?

It’s funny, it is crowded, but what’s much like a lot of other industries, they’re almost all of them are chasing that elusive 3% of prospects that are in the market. Okay. They’re, which is lead gen versus demand gen and missing out on the 97% left of potential prospects that to create that demand over, over the amount of time. It is relatively unexplored on the demand gen side.

So using, again, relationship marketing, which many hotels are not doing on the events and meeting side and even the supplier side, they’re still trying to spam prospects, and I’m talking about the supplier side with, cold email, buy our product. They’re missing out on that long game of educating and inspiring their prospects. So when they have a problem that comes around their top of mind, immediately build that trust with their prospect, and people are still doing that b2b. I’d say that’s the that’s still the norm. They not taking the time and patience to run a long game.

And so in that sense, I didn’t say it’s that hard, but there are so few hotels and suppliers doing that. That’s where we shine for some of our clients because this relationship marketing is all about building trust. And as I mentioned before, we got onto this, especially on the meetings, in the hotel side, there’s a lot more.

Prospects entering the market that are planning meetings that aren’t necessarily professional meeting planners, they’re administrative assistants and their CEO has come to them and said, we need to plan a corporate event. We used to have a meeting planner, but we didn’t bring them back from the pandemic.

You are now tasked with planning a meeting for this. Please find us a place, a hotel, or a resort venue where we can have our corporate event. In the six months coming up I want, maybe a place where we can have some team-building events and we need a place where we can have outdoor activities.

So these people are now tasked with planning an event and they’ve never planned an event before, and they’re just going, oh my gosh, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know. I’m stressed because I’ve never planned an event. It is one of the most stressful things ever. Oh my gosh. I can’t imagine. Especially imagine somebody’s CEO said, Sally Soup, Plan an event. I know you haven’t done it before, but we trust you.

We got it, I know you got this. So we’re seeing instead of the traditional tools and protocols that a meeting planner would use to find a venue, these people are going to Google and going, Meeting venue near me not knowing where to start. So many hotels and resorts are still playing in that 3% demand gen or a lead gen program.

They’re missing out on all these new opportunities. So we are creating more of an eco ecosystem for our hotels and resorts that are, it’s built to drive more direct business to the hotel website versus through the traditional third-party platforms like ours that have been used for ages. So getting back to that relationship marketing, building that trust, Sally Sue’s been asked to create a meeting. She doesn’t know where to turn.

See, she’s naturally gonna find somebody that has shown to have done this in the past that has got testimonials, that has shown Kate, maybe some case studies have shown some results that put trust in her, that this person can make her look great.

Or at least, at the very least not put her job on the line because she’s going to mess this up. So what a great opportunity for hotels, especially if they’ve got a sales team that is seasoned, that is experienced, that are rock stars, to position themselves as thought leaders that are trusted advisors in their space. And what better way to do that than with relationship marketing?

And so that’s how we use content to help build that trust and that authority with somebody that they’ve never met, because that’s, remember as I mentioned before, people don’t impulse buy large ticket items. They don’t trust advertising anymore. They’re going to reviews, they’re going to testimonials, they’re going to friends, they’re going to the family. They’re going for word of mouth. You simply can’t build that out of Paying for an ad, you need to create that. And that process takes thoughtfulness and time. And that can only be done through a process like a relationship or inbound marketing.

Absolutely. And then, content plays such an important role, be it in any industry, but specific to, B2B hospitality, how do you work with your clients closely to effect to develop an effective content marketing strategy? And then how do you ensure that the content resonates with the target audience at the same time? Cause it’s the B2B segment that we are talking about here?

Great question. Back in my former art director days, I hated strategy. I didn’t want to, I didn’t wanna draw within the lines, right? Don’t gimme rules to work by. I wanna a blank canvas to work. Now being on this digital marketing side, it’s all about strategy. It’s all about the why and back in years, remember in the good old days of content marketing just churn out blogs. Just fill it with keywords. It’s it was just a, it was a wild west of content marketing. Now it’s a very methodical, thoughtful process. As you mentioned in our prior conversation, SemRush, and we use Uber Suggest that’s our go-to. I like Neil Patel. He’s yeah, he’s the godfather of Seo, right? His tools gotta be great. So we use those tools as well as the pulse of our clients to find out what the pain points are because that is the crust of your content.

How you find out it resonates is if you’re addressing specific pain points. And how do you know that people are searching for words, they’re doing keyword searches on questions that they have? Now it’s Chat GPT, it’s like give me five video editors that, and now I use Chat GPT just to do that exact thing this last weekend.

Okay. So you are solving problems that your content should be delivering solutions for those problems. It’s it, like I said, back in the Wild West, it was more about, Hey, what do you think’s gonna, people are gonna be reading about this week? Now we have the tools that tell us really what people are searching for.

So first and foremost, Strategy, finding out what those, that pain point is for your desired audience. And then getting feedback and getting tests, the pulse of what that of what your prospects are talking about. Again, it’s that long game. We’ve been doing this for so long, it’s optimizing, doing a lot of really what works.

Doing more at what’s work doing less of what’s not. But also it’s that balance too of giving it time. And as an SEO expert, yet you are, SEO is a long game. It’s 90 days plus timeframe. It’s that balance of knowing when to pivot because it’s not working, but given enough time that it, at least bets itself out to know that this isn’t working.

So that’s another important part of no, of trying to figure out exactly if your content, is resonating with your particular audience. Ultimately it boils down to driving revenue and the bottom line. Ultimately we’ve been fortunate to be able to connect those dots and understand our efforts.

Last year we just did a case study on one of our resorts. We were able to attribute over $850,000 to our efforts based on our relationship marketing strategy. And that was through we’ve and that had to be done entirely manually because as I mentioned before, their systems are not connected. So it’s so important to start with that why, and that strategy so that you’re not spinning your wheels. And the best place to start is solving your prospect’s pain points.

Before we let you go Cory I wanted to understand, and I’m sure our audiences also would love to hear it from you.

You’ve been there, done that, seen that. Where do you see the B2B hospitality landscape going on from here in the next, let’s say another three, or five years? Where do you see it moving?

Great Last question. As I mentioned before, that trend is to smaller meetings and people that are planning meetings and other things being smaller and because of what we’re doing right now, the remote, and I’m sure at your agency you can imagine you got an entirely, a lot of remote workers, right? Lots of companies have foregone, their quote-unquote headquarters, they’ve got teams all over the world and so they know that.

They still know that they need to meet face-to-face because the magic happens when this is great, but when we meet face-to-face if we ever get an opportunity to meet face-to-face, our conversations are gonna be much more meaningful, much more deeper. Yeah. Businesses that realize that.

So we’ve got this whole new business segments coming out of the work culture that is now corporations that are saying, look, we’ve gotta meet four times, at least four times a year. Let’s find a hotel that we can have, each quarter we can have a corporate leadership check-in. And these are gonna be smaller meetings, more productive, different types. And it’s just gonna be a different type of meeting versus maybe an annual sales conference, that type of thing. So that trend to smaller, more intimate, but more frequent meetings and more direct business for hotels, because direct is where it’s at. You’ve got more control. You’ve got better opportunities to control that retain that business because you’re in your constant communication with them, the possibility of closing that business because more about your prospect and that retention you’re able to build that relationship for the long haul.

And we all know having Reoccurring revenue reoccurring business that you can trust and you can count on is so incredibly important than trying to create new opportunities every single month. So building that long-term relationship is critical.

Thank you so much for all those important insights, and I’m sure our audiences would’ve benefited a lot from it.

And then before we finally let you go, I would wanna play a quick rapid fire with you. I hope you are game for it. Yeah, absolutely. So what was your last Google search?

You can check your system. That’s an open-book one, so don’t worry.

No. Where is the Montserrat Hotel in Point Loma?

Because I went there yesterday for an event.

Okay. Super. Your favorite book?

Gap Selling. I’m looking at it right now by Keenan. No problem. Are any salespeople out there? It’s a must-read. It’s an incredible read.

I’ll take the link from you then. Yeah, absolutely.

What is the best thing that you love about your job or your work for that matter?

I love being, it’s twofold. I love being an entrepreneur. I know it’s not, and it’s not cut out for everybody. But there’s something I’ve been inherently the majority of my professional career, I’ve been an entrepreneur. I like working for myself, not being reliant on someone else for my paycheck.

My heart is a, it’s just a little bit I’ve had a short stand of being a solid employee. It’s just a different feeling for me. I get up every morning knowing it’s an extra motivation that it’s, that’s me on the line. There’s no one else that’s gonna do it.

And I love hospitality. I love the people. I love the buzz. It’s such a cool industry to work in. And then I love b2b.

B2B is my passion because it’s a, I get to work with salespeople. It’s a longer cycle. Yeah. I love the human element and I’m especially passionate about working with hotel salespeople because it’s been the same reactionary sales process for so long.

And now I see these changes coming along and it’s perfectly set up for relationship marketing and inbound. They realize it. It’s like I see the light bulbs coming on. I finally see them going, wow I get this. I understand building trust with new people makes a lot of sense. And that’s what real, so it’s, I’d say it’s a trifecta thing.

So I’m very fortunate, very blessed to be, a marketing professional in this space.

Okay, great. The last one, Yeah. Are you a night person or a morning person?

In my old age, and it’s not just me, Yeah. Yeah. I’m an early riser now, and it’s the older you get, the earlier you get.

I can’t tell you, I can’t tell you the last time I was up as late as you are right now. Okay. So I’m a 5:00 AM guy. I love it. It’s nice and quiet and, that’s my go-to time. Got my coffee rolling here, and yeah.

Yeah. Lovely then. Thank you. I am not grilling you any further.
Yeah. Thank you once again, Cory, for taking out time for this podcast, and appreciate it, man. Have a great day.

Hey, thank you Ranmay. I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much for having me on and I can’t wait to chat with you again soon. Appreciate the invitation.

Sure. Thank you, man. Cheers.

Thanks, man. Take care.

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