Welcome to “Insider Perspectives”, an interview series featuring travel industry insiders and veterans.
Hoteliers face the common challenge of retaining and growing their customer base while fending off competitors trying to lure guests away.
To help you drive customer loyalty and revenue, we will host a webinar on May 22 with experts from leading hospitality and hotel tech companies to share their insights and strategies.
One of our panelists will be Anthony L. Scotland, Director of Strategy & Special Projects at Hersha Hospitality Management. Over the past 9 years, Anthony has worked for leading organizations including Philadelphia 76ers, MaaS360 (acquired by IBM), Caesars Entertainment, and now leading key go-to-market initiatives at Hersha Hospitality Management.
As you’ll soon hear from his story, Anthony is a strategic leader who stays on top of industry trends and is constantly searching for the right technology to grow the bottom line.
What’s your professional background? How did you start your career in the hospitality industry?
As a classically trained marketer, my first “big break” role was with Caesars Entertainment. Even though the property did not include a hotel, its core revolves around the guest experience and focus on the consumer. Even earlier as an intern with the Philadelphia 76ers, I learned to appreciate the choice that fans make in attending a game. You’re competing against every other form of entertainment, and the memories around the game itself are what lead people to return. In many ways, the hospitality industry mirrors this. While the hotel product itself is vital, many times it’s all about the little touches (and conveniences) that bring people back.
What made you decide to make the career transition from gaming (Caesars Entertainment) to hospitality (Hersha) industry? What are the major differences between the two fields and career paths?
The allure of building a portfolio into something greater was what excited me about the role and Hersha. I was intrigued by the value proposition in the independent space, a chance to make a larger impact and an atmosphere to truly test my skills. The biggest difference I have felt is the difference in motivation and visitation habits. There are more competitors in the hospitality space, forcing us to find ways to further differentiate our product. In many ways, the skills I built at both organizations compliment each other and have made me a more well-rounded marketer and professional.
What’s your current role at Hersha/Independent Collection Hotels and what’s the most interesting, exciting, and enjoyable part of your job?
My current role revolves around managing hotel relaunches/repositioning initiatives as well as building scalable practices and platforms for our portfolio. From determining our target consumer to building out a guest recognition platform, I’ve been given the opportunity to touch many different aspects of the business and gain exposure to various disciplines. As a result, I have a good amount of flexibility to use different skill set each day. Most importantly, I’m given the chance to build something new, without clearly defined rules. There is no template to solve an objective. In many ways, we are developing solutions with an eye towards the future.
You were recognized as one of the “30 Under 30 – Hotel Industry’s Top Rising Stars” by Hotel Management Young Professionals. In your interview with the magazine, you mentioned, “hotel companies should continue to embrace the right technology.” So how would you define “the right technology”?
There are two components to this. First, the booking process should be simple, including recognizing a consumer if they’ve visited your website before and providing accurate recommendations on room types and offers (Netflix has perfected this). Secondly, through the guest experience, we must adopt technology that thrives in the residential space. This includes connective technology like cast-enabled guest rooms that enable guests to watch their favorite content without ever needing to log-in. The hotels can also offer SMS concierge services and grab-and-go dining that help to make the guest stay frictionless. We live in a smart-device driven society — as an industry, it’s our responsibility to leverage this technology to simplify rather than complicate the guest journey.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I was lucky enough to visit Yellowstone Park in Montana a few years ago. Naturally, I am not exactly an “outdoorsman” but I really fell in love with the wildlife soundscape and the serenity it brought me. It was quite an experience — the sights, sounds, smells weren’t created. They could not be duplicated. It was incredible to be a spectator to it all — to get away from the distractions of everyday life and see the world in its original form.
How do you plan and prepare for your leisure trips?
I’m a big believer in the spontaneity of the travel experience. While I try to do light research on the local offerings, I want to maintain a level of flexibility during the stay, leaving open the chance to discover a memorable experience along the journey.
More About Anthony:
Anthony L. Scotland is an aspiring marketing leader with over 8 years of advertising, brand marketing, and CRM experience within highly regulated, high volume industries — most notably gaming and hospitality.
He is currently responsible for managing key go-to-market initiatives at HHM by acting as a strategic project leader around hotel openings, renovations, and re-positioning. He leads CRM strategy and execution with a focus on connectivity, consumer insights, guest recognition, and retention. In addition, he pilots and builds key platform-wide initiatives including cast-enabled guest rooms and overarching promotional campaigns.