Walter van der Scheer

CopernicaTV - LAW Creative - Partner interview

Written by Walter van der Scheer on

In the Copernica partner interviews we highlight a partner from the Copernica network. For this interview we are joined by Brett Sammels, client services director of LAW Creative. Read and view all about the unique proposition of this leading European hospitality and leisure agency and the opportunities of Ibeacons, direct bookings and collecting customer data for hospitality and leisure businesses.

Who are Law Creative?

We are one of Europe's leading hotel and leisure marketing agencies. We work with a number of great blue chip clients and have been recognized by the industry with a series of awards which we are very pleased with.

If you'd ask us for the raison d'etre of Law Creative it is really to make brands famous and of course profitable. We can do this in a number of ways, from strategic planning and brand identity through to promotions and CRM and a lot of digital services as well. So web, social, content and of course email.

What made you decide to specialise in hospitality and leisure?

The founding partners of Law Creative have a vast amount of leisure experience and although we do specialise in leisure, we also work in a number of other industries, such as automotive and financial services. Really, a lot of the skills we have as an agency, are transferable to really any industry.

Are there things that hospitality can learn from other industries?

I actually think it is the other way around. Hospitality is really the forefront of a customer-centric business.

The things that hospitality businesses do extremely well are collecting data from their customers. So, if you take a hotel for instance, they collect a lot of data at check-in, they have fantastic loyalty schemes. They know if you've watched a movie in the room and they know if you've had F&B. They really gain an excellent picture of their customers. And because of that, they are able to offer a fantastic service and of course be relevant in the types of communication and offers that they give.

A lot of other industries are probably behind the curve in that respect and really need to get up to speed in understanding their customer. And the reality is, it is actually not too hard to do this. There are a great number of ways in which you can collect customer data by competitions, forms, whether it is some kind of questionnaire about the brand. You can really gain some really good insights in the customer and I think a lot of other industries can really benefit from doing this.

Could you give an example of how a company from another industry could benefit from practices that are common in hospitality?

I think it's just about understanding who your customer is and what their needs are. If I am a member of a health club, and they keep sending me emails about going to the gym when actually all I am really interested in is playing tennis, then I am very quickly going to become disengaged with the brand, and either unsubscribe at best or probably at worst stop being a member.

So I think whatever industry you look at, whether it is financial services or automotive, I really think that by understanding customer preferences you can increase your sales and also brand loyalty, which is so important today with the number of options that are out there. For instance if I am interested in sports cars, don't send me communications about the four wheel drives. The more you can understand about the customer the more relevant and timely you can be in your communications.

And do you think, looking at hospitality businesses, that generally they have their marketing lined up well?

It depends, I think some companies do it fantastically. I might be biased by saying this, but Intercontinental Hotels Group for instance, who are one of our clients, do it so well. They look at every single customer touch point and have the appropriate messaging and communications.

They have a fantastic loyalty scheme that is collecting all the data and really their customer service is fantastic from the initial web site visit through to booking through to reception and the greeting through to your experiences, through to check out. And I think companies like them do it fantastically.

Now, there are other companies that don't do it so well providing a really poor experience. From the moment I check-in or try to find information, if that is not possible in a quick way, you can quickly turn off to the brand. What your stay and the experience is that you have with the brand can obviously either make or break the engagement. I think post-sales and retention is so important to get right.

People always say it's much easier to retain customers than to get new ones. I think a lot of companies are suffering from that leaky bucket, where customers are just dropping out the bottom and they are constantly having to top it up. Some companies are doing it fantastically and other companies have work to do.

As an agency you invest quite a lot of time and resources in researching future developments. What should hospitality businesses do to get ready for the future?

First of all: There is so much movement in the market at the moment, it's fiercely competitive and everyone is fighting for that customer edge. There are loads of technologies coming into the market, Ibeacons for instance are a really interesting technology. You can place those around a hotel or health club and they can serve you up with different offers and information to an app that you might have on your mobile.

I think one of the other big things obviously is trying to get away from third parties and move to more direct bookings, because that has a lot more value for a company in terms of sales.

But I think that if you go back to the heart of the matter, which is understanding the customer, that is pretty timeless.

Technologies come and go, but if you can understand your customer, that is 90% of the battle won. And then it is just about which channel you decide to market to.

Understanding your customer comes with a good control and management of your CRM. I know that as an agency you have an offering called LAW AMP. What is the role of this for your agency?

We have always been able to offer the strategic side and also the creative side. If there is such a thing like a silver bullet when it comes to communications, you really have to wrap the strategic thinking and the creative with the data, which is obviously essential, and also the technology. In order to have that kind of full circle piece, we had to look for a fantastic partner to help us with that.

We looked far and wide and then we ended up in Holland. We found that Copernica is an excellent partner, not just from the technology but also from the service as well. We are very pleased with that. The partnership has been able to offer us the opportunity to go back out to our existing clients, and give them another great service that we can offer. Which is obviously good for us, but also kind of good for them in getting that full service. And also to approach new customers as well with the great case studies that we built up with our existing clients.

We have been really pleased to be able to create that service, and we really couldn't have done that without you guys.

Many agencies are trying to move to the front of the line, where they can offer strategic advice. You obviously were there already and saw opportunities further down the line

Absolutely, we are no longer living in a world where great creative is the be all and end all. There is such a move now towards the technological side and we as an agency would never be able to offer such a high-tech piece of software, just because of the amount of work and cost it takes to do that.

What we always look for are great partners to work with who can offer that, whilst we can really play to our strengths, which is the strategic, the data analysis, the creative. I think nowadays, post-recession, it's all about return on investment. That is so essential for everyone. The technology really enabled us to offer that and show a great return on investment for our clients, and the ability to really measure that.

Now, let's say that I am a hospitality organisation, I saw this video and I am very interested in Law's service so I give you a call. The first thing that I ask you is could you give me a tip, of something that I should do in order to improve my marketing operations. And it should be a very quick pitch to get me in.

OK. Any business has to go on a journey, and that doesn't have to be a particular long journey. First and foremost it's about having a great data source and engaged customers. And there are lots of ways that you can do that to build that very quickly, whether that is via competitions, or via surveys and questionnaires. So that's great.

You really then have to have a fantastic strategy, of how to engage and to communicate to those customers. Certainly we can help with that and help shape that. You then have to have fantastic creative that really delivers, and I think we understand all of the great kind of best in class tips when it comes to email marketing or any other communication. And then you really have to drive that and measure it. I think Copernica gives people the ability to see all of that data. And I think if you can put the right strategy in place, you use the right technology, have great creative and the ability then to measure what is happening and analyze it.

If you do all of this, you can't really go too far wrong.

That is a very good advice here. Just don't jump in without any prior thoughts, have a good strategy in place and then get started as quickly as possible!

Thanks to Brett Sammels for the interview and the insights.

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