Fiona, 26, is the senior brand manager for digital and social media at Thompson. In that role she oversees all aspects of digital marketing for the boutique hotel chain, both on the corporate brand level, and individual property level, which includes managing “Thompson’s website, social media, digital partnerships, digital PR outreach and digital branding.”
I recently caught up with Fiona to talk about avoiding burnout, juggling digital strategy across all of Thompson Hotels’ properties (she manages over 27 social media accounts!) and got some insight into how she keeps the Thompson Hotels brand fresh and relevant.
Hashtags + Stilettos: Given the nature of your role at Thompson, I’m sure no two days are the same. So, what’s a day in your life like?
Fiona Goldstein: Yes, every day is very different! I typically split my day into six parts, divided into projects pertaining to our social media, digital partnerships, website updates & troubleshooting, digital public relations outreach, and creative brainstorming.
H+S: How many people are on your team?
FG: At Thompson Hotels we have a small internal digital marketing team of three people, but work with many external agency partners on all our initiatives
H+S: What’s the most exciting thing about working in the hospitality space?
FG: I love the fact that you are working with different markets in a day that have totally different vibes from one another. I’ll be working on a project that’s very Los Angeles-centric, then switch to a project for our hotel in Belgravia, London, which is the polar opposite of Los Angeles! I love to travel, and being involved in all our cities makes me feel like I’m going somewhere, even if I’m working from my New York City office.
H+S: The Thompson Hotel group has a very distinct aesthetic and style across each of its properties. Do you have an internal name or definition for what Thompson Style is? Or, does it change over time?
FG: Thompson Style is chic and timeless. It’s about capturing the moment.
H+S: What is your favorite Thompson Hotel property?
FG: I love them all equally! They’re all unique and amazing in their own way, however currently I’m dying to go back to our new property in London (Belgraves), which opened early last year, and is so gorgeous.
H+S: I read that, about 50 percent of bookings for Thompson’s suite of hotels come from third-party sites, which command a hefty commission. What digital tactics do you employ to get people to book directly from your website?
FG: Through social media, digital content production, and our Room 100 blog we try to give potential guests a [reason] to visit our website and keep our brand top of mind when it comes time for them to book a hotel either for business or pleasure.
H+S: What has been the most successful digital campaign at the hotel since you’ve worked there? Was it something that you created?
FG: My favorite and most successful digital campaign was one that we ran during the summer of 2011 in a partnership with Flavorpill. The campaign was called “Show us your city” where we asked people to submit photos of what they love in the cities where we have Thompson Hotels. We picked 125 lucky winners to attend a private rooftop concert by the rapper Chiddy Bang at Thompson LES. We received over 700 images, and the concert was amazing. It was great to see the excellent user generated content submissions, as well as having a real-life event to celebrate the winners.
H+S: You mentioned Thompson’s lifestyle blog and quarterly in-house magazine Room 100 earlier. Are you the editor-in-chief by default, or do you have an editorial team in place? How many people are on the editorial team?
FG: Our Room 100 blog and in-house magazine (also called Room 100) is edited and written by Steve Garbarino, who is also on staff at The Wall Street Journal. I don’t work on the magazine, however I do copy-edit and find images for the blog. I also provide guidance on the types of stories for our blog, based on what our readers are reacting most positively to. The magazine is comprised of a team of 15 or so people.
H+S: How do you decide what type of content to publish?
FG: I look at our site and email analytics and see what our readers & subscribers respond best to. We also make sure to post about relevant cultural events (award shows, music & art festivals, etc.) that are occurring in the cities that we have hotels. Lastly, we use the blog as another way to share hotel news such as the opening of a new restaurant, or venue.
H+S: Since mobile falls under your domain, I have to ask, which smartphone do you prefer? Blackberry or iPhone? Or, both? Why?
FG: iPhone! Better web browsing abilities, superior apps, and most importantly a great camera.
H+S: What are some of your go-to apps for brand management?
FG: Hootsuite, Instagram, and Facebook for Page Admins app!
H+S: Many describe doing digital for a lifestyle brand as a 24/7 gig. How do you manage your time? Do you delegate? Schedule social media updates?
FG: Having team help is key, especially when running 27+ social media profiles (one for each hotel and a brand level account). Scheduling helps as well, but I always make sure to post things that are relevant and of the moment, you can’t schedule that!
H+S: A lot of people don’t talk about burnout, but it’s important especially since people are working around the clock. Have you ever experienced burnout from your job? If not, how do you prevent it from happening?
FG: It’s key in any job to have a work/life balance and knowing when to turn off your phone and take a breather!
H+S: If you weren’t heading up digital for Thompson, where would you be? What’s your dream job?
FG: I’m at my dream job! I’m so happy to be where I am, and extremely thankful to have my role.
H+S: Who or what inspires you?
FG: Oprah! She’s so amazing and has really built a brand around herself. She’s incredibly inspiring.
H+S: Do you have a mentor? Do you believe that this person has had a positive impact on your career?
FG: My mom. She works so hard, and is always pushing me to go beyond where I’m comfortable. She always pushes me to look to the future, and make sure I’m planning one step ahead.
H:S: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
FG: “Work to live, don’t live to work.”
FG: “Nice girls don’t get the corner office.”
H:S: What advice would you give to someone who was interested in branding?
FG: Read up and research companies you are interested in, and see what they’re doing in the branding space. Always reach out to someone at the company and request an informational interview, people are more than happy to talk about themselves!
H+S: And lastly, what is your personal definition of lifestyle branding?
FG: Lifestyle branding is extending the life of a brand beyond the actual physical product, for example our hotels are more than just a hotel, they are about the lifestyle that someone wants to [have], which includes all of our brand touch points (art, music, fashion, design).
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