Kelsey Recht is the CEO and Founder of VenueBook.com, which she calls “a cross between OpenTable and Salesforce”. Before becoming a digital entrepreneur, she held positions at Fidelity Investments, Sears, and OneWed.com.
Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?
“I define digital strategy as the seamless integration of marketing, messaging, and branding across all digital and offline channels. A few years ago a ‘digital’ strategy was nice to have but now it is a necessity. Digital strategy is now the hallmark, or starting point, for most marketing and content strategies. For example, two years ago very few Super Bowl commercials included Twitter and Facebook icons, now they all do. You cannot create an offline campaign without a digital integration.”
Question 2: What are the three most significant digital trends that are affecting the industry and VenueBook?
1. “Online to Offline:
The explosive growth of online companies that facilitate offline interactions will continue. The movie ‘Her’ was a scary suggestion of a digital world gone too far. There is no substitute for offline, in-person interaction with like-minded people. The beauty of this digital trend is that it facilitates offline connections that have connected before.
2. Continued Movement of Traditional Industries into the Online World:
Every industry is digitizing. Restaurant reservations, car services, cleaning services, etc. The events world has been a later adopter of digital service solutions. Events are custom, often luxury services. Event planners, venue managers and event suppliers have resisted digital because they ‘fear’ it affects service levels. However, in the digital age, service starts long before an event planner picks up the phone or enters your venue. Service starts when a planner visits your website, when a planner wants to know real-time availability, when a planner wants to pay for a venue, etc. Technology is an extension and essential component of hospitable customer service. In short, digitization will also come to the events world via companies like VenueBook.
3. Changing Nature of Events in the Digital World:
The most successful online to offline companies and traditional media companies in the digital space are disrupting the definition of what constitutes an ‘event’. Meetup and Eventbrite have made it faster and easier for like-minded groups to create self- directed events. Five years ago, a group of moms in Brooklyn that met once a month via Meetup, would not have been considered an event or a possibility. Traditional media companies are also struggling to monetize print and online channels so they are moving to producing large scale, relevant events for target customers. The changing event industry demands new digital solutions to serve its changing set of needs.”
Question 3: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?
“I am an Apple native with an iPhone, iPad and Macbook Air.
- Waze: Waze has crowdsourced maps and traffic data. The traffic data and estimated time of arrival is eerily accurate. It even reroutes you based on traffic. If you have ever used Google Maps and arrived late because traffic estimates were off, you need to switch to Waze.
- Evernote: We are all busy and multi-tasking these days. Evernote allows you to write and categorize notes and to-do lists anywhere and then sync across all your devices. I am more productive with Evernote.
- Amazon: Once you move to Amazon Prime and two day shipping it is hard to go back to traditional retail experiences online or offline. I can order and receive something faster via Amazon’s mobile app than I can make it to the store.”
Question 4: What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?
“The Chief Digital Officer is a necessary and logical progression in the digital explosion. Again, digital is not an add-on strategy for it often serves as the basis for marketing and content strategy. Digital is a low cost channel with low barriers to entry which have driven the digital explosion. The downside of digital – it is easy and cost effective for companies to launch digital, but this means most companies do not execute on digital well. We all have a company in mind that releases irrelevant content too frequently via email or social media channels. The emergence of the CDO role ensures a company approaches digital in a responsible and valuable way to achieve the broad business goals of an organization.”
Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?
“Common sense about what content and digital strategy you enjoy as a consumer is a great place to start. How do you want companies to engage with you via digital? For example, do you prefer the company in your Twitter feed that only broadcasts self-serving information or the company that engages users and provides relevant, timely information and knowledge? In digital, you need the right mix of selling your ultimate product while also staying relevant and engaging to your core target market.”