In Brief

Hotelier Content Marketing
The Client

Hospitality Design & Development Services
 Chicago, IL
Browse Trendline

My Role

Email & Social Media Marketing
Illustration & Motion Graphics
Digital Collateral & Content Design

The Challenge

Target Hospitality Developers with Original Content

Hospitality design and development firm The Gettys Group has been considered a thought leader in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years.

While the company’s leaders have been staples at conferences and quoted in trade publications for decades, there was a missed opportunity for the firm to leverage those forward-thinking ideas to reach a worldwide, digital audience.

The Approach

Global Trends Through the Lens of Hospitality

For each issue, our co-authors discussed the potential ways that a mega-trend could manifest to give hotels a competitive edge.

Forging a Partnership with the Experts

The Innovation Officer began co-authoring a recurring blog post with an expert in trend forecasting. This enabled us to source existing research in consumer mega-trends, then examine it through the lens of travel, tourism, dining, and hospitality.

While ghostwriting the content, I also sourced relevant links, insightful quotations, additional trend examples, and embeddable media that would provide thorough context and create a richer experience for our audience.

Read One of My Favorite Issues of Trendline


Defining the Series’ Style

Three main elements comprised our editorial illustration style guide:

1. Hybrid icons for each issue’s focal trend
Simple, common icons convey intangible concepts — like a fingerprint for identity, or a hand cursor for digital interaction.

Layering additional iconography subtly alters the meaning of each icon; that hand cursor — one we’re accustomed to seeing on-screen when there’s an area that invites interaction — is paired with the concentric, radiating lines that indicate cellular signals to form a hybrid icon that conveys digital interaction wherever our phones get service.

2. A palette inspired by highlighters for hand-drawn accents
Colors used subtly in The Gettys Group branding are played up to draw the eye to digital campaigns.

3. A repeating pattern of icons
The icon pattern provides additional opportunities for playful, hand-drawn illustrations that stand out in social platforms.

Digital Outreach

The marketing for each issue began with an email to the company’s distribution list of 5,000+ contacts. Each campaign included multiple calls-to-action — giving more than one chance to pique a reader’s interest with excerpts of content from the blog post.

We incentivized email list opt-in by granting our list early access — promoting Trendline via email a day ahead of its first social promotion.

Next, we promoted each issue on social media. During early issues, we conducted A/B-testing on headlines and images, and we compared platform features like Instagram posts versus stories. The results guided us away from Instagram — where our followers were overwhelmingly younger professionals, supplier reps, and interior design enthusiasts — and led us to focus on LinkedIn — where our follower demographic included more senior job titles and expanded to encompass roles in business development and hotel operations.

I developed a publishing strategy that started with our strongest platform, then staggered publication on Facebook and Twitter throughout the rest of the week. This strategy had two strengths; first, because users are more likely to interact with a post if it already has engagement, our large LinkedIn following presented the best opportunity for bandwagon engagement.

Second, gradually scheduling our posts over several days helped account for the whim’s of each platform’s algorithm by keeping the story fresh on a different platform throughout the week — helping ensure that it rose to the top of a user’s feed no matter which day they spent the most time browsing social media.

Extension at Real-Life Engagements

As our senior leadership continued to take part in panels and deliver presentations at industry events, we saw an opportunity to reinforce Trendline with in-person audiences.

Our hashtags encourage the audience to share throughout the event.

My favorite detail? A smiling worm emerging from an apple — inspired by the late, great, Richard Scarry.

I developed a series of motion graphics to enliven presentations; subtle animations loop endlessly throughout a panel’s discussion of a particular topic until the moderator progresses to the next slide.

A large-scale banner added a physical presence for our digital publication. Hidden in the illustrations are fun Easter eggs so that the repeated pattern elements are all still unique — like a piggy bank sporting angel wings and a halo, while a less fortunate piggy bank has a bandaged-up crack. The fun details invite audience members to come take a closer look after a presentation — providing an in for post-panel networking and introductions.

The Results

Grabbing & Holding Audience Attention

Our email campaigns earned high open and click rates; the email list accounted for 75% of Trendline’s readership, and for about 1/3 of our website’s total sessions during the week following each issue’s publication.

Of the readers who were referred from social media, I noticed that quite a few were returning users. Since they already appeared to be loyal followers, my goal became their opt-in to our email list — so that we could directly target them with project news, webinar invitations, and more. After adding a prominent Mailchimp sign-up form to our template for each issue, 8% of unique Trendline pageviews converted into new email subscribers during the week after each issue’s publication.

Most importantly, our visitors found our content valuable, spending a substantial amount of time consuming each issue. For users who began their session viewing Trendline, the average session duration exceeded 4 minutes — double the average duration for the rest of the website.

Great open and click rates showed that our Trendline emails successfully conveyed the quality of each blog post’s content.