August 2021 Editors’ Letter

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

By: Leora Halpern Lanz, ISHC, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs; Faculty Chair, MMH; and Associate Professor of the Practice, Boston University – School of Hospitality Administration, and Mackenzie Miers, SHA ’21, MMH ’22

The year of the pandemic proved to be a monumental one for the discipline of digital marketing. With businesses and services unable to physically connect with customers directly, digital connection was the way forward. And with the entire world at home and on computers trying to remain relevant and productive, brands utilized social media, emails, and other electronic media for communication, storytelling, and engagement. What brands also realized is that digital methods became critical for transactions and retail purposes. Businesses large and small quickly learned that social media was also useful for online ordering, sales, and immediate “conversions” regardless of product or service.

Yet internet users remain wary and suspicious. Anyone who has watched Netflix’s original “The Social Dilemma,” may find themselves embarking on new habits – shutting down cell phones after certain hours or even eliminating social media accounts altogether. Skeptics of algorithms that rapidly showcase products on social sites as soon as the user demonstrates interest, or individuals who cannot emotionally and mental healthfully respond to the lack of “likes” for an image or post, those who scroll continuously resulting in hours of unnecessary screen time because of the addictive nature of the “smartphone scroll,” and nearly all of us who protest the lack of privacy and demand protection of personal information – may vocally share a disdain for the practice of digital marketing. And of course, the issues of late also involve debating the practices of private social sites from banning users or policing posts. 

Yet it is the ability to specifically target and connect that digital marketers appreciate. And while the concerns above are still very valid, marketers have enjoyed the productive, efficient, and effective nature of digital tools for powerful cost of impressions, cost of acquisition, and ability to reach new “look-alike” audiences and potential customers. But the game is changing for digital marketing in 2021, and with increased scrutiny for privacy guidelines as well as the imminent dissolution of “the trackable cookie,” marketers will need to up the game going forward. Any company that does not have a Customer Data Platform (CDP), or at least a CRM platform with customer data, is already significantly behind. 

The articles included in this publication share the concerns for the public as well as the concerns for the marketer. They reveal the controversy of the social sites, while highlighting the practicality of the tools for hospitality businesses. And they share best practices for hoteliers and restaurateurs to use social tools in particular as we emerge out of the pandemic and into a new world of digital for 2021 and beyond.


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  2. Dear Leora Halpern Lanz and Mackenzie Miers,

    I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for your August 2021 Editors’ Letter on digital marketing. I found it to be incredibly informative and insightful, and I was particularly impressed by your balanced and nuanced discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing marketers today.

    I am particularly interested in the use of digital marketing in the hospitality and travel industry, and I found your insights on this topic to be particularly valuable. I especially appreciated your discussion of the importance of using social media in a responsible and ethical way to connect with customers and promote businesses.

    Your letter has given me a lot to think about, and I am sure that it will influence my own work in this area. Thank you again for sharing your expertise with the world.


  3. Your Editors’ Letter helped me to understand the importance of customer data platforms (CDPs) in the digital marketing landscape. I am now working on developing a CDP for my business, and I am confident that it will help me to better serve my customers and achieve my marketing goals. Your best practices for hoteliers and restaurateurs to use social tools are inspiring me to develop a more comprehensive social media strategy for my business. I am confident that this will help me to reach more customers and drive sales.

    Best Regards,
    Prateek Karnadhar

  4. The text emphasizes the significance of digital marketing during the pandemic and the challenges it poses to internet users. It acknowledges the skepticism and concerns surrounding practices such as targeted advertising, addiction to social media scrolling, and the lack of privacy. However, it also recognizes the value that digital marketers find in the ability to connect with specific audiences and the effectiveness of digital tools. As we navigate the changing landscape of digital marketing in 2021, it’s crucial for businesses to adapt and prioritize privacy guidelines while leveraging customer data platforms. The articles included in the publication shed light on these concerns and offer best practices for utilizing social media tools in the hospitality industry.
    Best regards,
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