A Week in the life of a Digital Marketing Manager

It is hard to define what a Digital Marketing Manager does on a weekly basis. They are all different, with different roles and working in different industries that bring their own ways of doing things. In this blogpost I will try and run through what I did last week. My own role is in the youth tourism industry but the organisation I work for is a Not-For-Profit. My role is also unusual because I am only one half of the marketing team. I take care of Digital and Social while the Deputy Marketing Manager (the fabulous Kate) takes care of partnerships, rates and contracts. I also double as Office Manager. This currently means that I am organising the Christmas party.
What an amazing contraption!


On Monday I sent off the booking processes to a web developer for a new online booking system. This is a huge project for us. Once upon a time I thought that booking a room in a hostel was pretty straightforward. Not a chance. Hostel rooms need to be able to change their layout depending on the types of groups that use it. There is a huge difference between booking a private family room with a cot for an infant and rocking up to a six bed dorm with your rucksack. Yet they are often both the same room. Instead of rooms, beds are the product and most booking systems struggle with them. Booking engines usually take information from Property Management Systems. They in turn talk to channel managers because customers often find beds first through searching the global platforms such as Hostelworld and Booking.com. It can get pretty complex and each part of the technological puzzle has to plug into the next in order to work properly. Multiply that by 24 hostels and your hair will turn grey instantly.
Image from page 202 of "Locomotive engineering : a practical journal of railway motive power and rolling stock" (1892)
I had to order flags for the hostels because the Wild Atlantic Way wind is doing what it does best and has ripped all our 2016 flags to shreds already. Part of being a charity is that we are a membership based organisation. Every week we get membership requests and they have to be processed. I share this with others in the office. At some stage throughout the day I will get many queries from the Reservations department. Today we had some scam emails that were coming through that they needed guidance with. We also discovered  that one of our email addresses was not forwarding on properly so we were losing possible enquiries. I got onto our email provider to see if they could sort it. They did, pretty instantly. At some stage I considered taking some time during the day to join a webinar but decided not to this time. Most weeks I will plug into a webinar to keep up to speed with changes.

Image from page 116 of "Bell telephone magazine" (1922)

Tuesday I have to update the council members onto our website. I make a note to interview some of these people about their hostelling experiences. Find out who they are, what they do and how I can use their stories to promote the concept of hostelling in Ireland.

One of the hostel manager gets in touch with me and tells me that Facebook is suggesting they add an old Google Blogger site from 2011 that nobody knew existed to their page for booking purposes. 2011! Cop on Facebook. I skim some forums and try to access the blog. No joy. I suggest they just ignore Facebook for now. Facebook, you great big fool.

Every Tuesday I update all my social media stats so that I can report to the board on what we are doing, what effect it is having and what that all means in plain English. This takes me a while as it is a deep dive. I have my own system but it is still like potholing. Along the way I meet some interesting folk and follow them. Some of them are hostel related. Some of them are digital marketing related. I also search for new hashtags that will be useful for discovering adventure related content. New travel bloggers appear in my feed and I skim them to see if there is anything I like.
Miners in the Kirunavaara mine, Kiruna, Lappland, Sweden

I get another note from Reservations about a website request that disappeared. It could have been a customer error or it could have been a glitch in the matrix. I log it with the website developers. I have a love-hate relationship with our developers. They speak a strange logical language that no person in their right mind would use. I have a web project manager who acts as a translator for me. Her job is to keep me calm and stop me exploding when simple things should happen but they don’t.  Reservations notice another issue with the way bookings are recorded in the hostels which is going to skew my monthly stats. This is probably due to new staff coming in and not being aware of the way I want it recorded. I have to figure out how to get that sorted tactfully without annoying staff and without the hostel managers feeling like I am trying to control them.
Andrew Stefanik, a bobbin boy, works as spare boy, November 1911

I meet with our CEO and he updates me on recent changes and anything that is concerning him. He gives me a few deadlines to put into the diary. I flag a few concerns of my own. After that I catch up on the Hostelling International presentations from two weeks ago. I jot down a few ideas about projects we could be doing that are working for other National Associations. I join the Hostelling International forum and ask for some help for a few things. This reminds me that I posted something on Boards.ie and sure I might aswell check the independent Hostel Management Forum. I phone the web developer and he goes through the booking processes with me from his perspective. He leaves me with more questions that I have to find answers to.

Good Times

On Wednesday I catch up with Kate. Wednesdays we try to make time to communicate what we are working on and what we need help with. I have to edit images for social media that came in from the hostels for the global Peace project we are part of. I also get some nice new ones of Lady Gogo, our three-legged goat in Connemara. Then we have an issue with a booking which seems to be breaking our contract. That necessitates a few emails and discussions before we get it sorted. In the meantime I post a few images up on Instagram. One of the extra things I have to get onto today is to create a record of the staff days off for the CEO. Then I receive a job application for an old position which is still appearing on one of our pages and which we have not taken down yet. After that I chase accounts for an invoice for the web hosting which is due for renewal soon and needs to be taken care of.
Chasing a pig at Gatton College

Thursday myself and Kate have put aside for our new strategy. This year we are taking a  hostel specific approach. The final result will be an overall network strategy but it will be developed from the 24 different hostels. It is more time consuming to this but it makes sense to us and we want to be able to go to the hostel managers with something that means something to them. We shut our door and spend all day at this. It goes well. We have spent the last two years making sure that systems were in place to gather data about each of the hostels so now it is just a case of plugging that all in. We pull in last years revenue, bed nights, bookings, web traffic, social media data, reviews and various demographic reports for each of the hostels. We can compare it to the previous year so we can begin to see the trends. Then we can start to do some analysis, look at what needs doing and start coming up with a plan. We will be at this for the next two months to create a report and a budget for the board.

U.S. Troops Surrounded by Holiday Mail During WWII

Friday I have to take care of the welcome and departure emails that get sent from our live hostels. I have this down to a fine art and can do it in 45 minutes if I get no interruptions. Once the emails are done in Mailchimp I start work on the monthly board statistics as they are needed for next week. After that I have a sit down with the Reservations Manager to go through the possible booking steps for the new system and get her input on them. Finally, I pull out our 2020 strategy as we are in on Saturday with all the board and volunteers and council members having a workshop about where we are with our ten year plan.
Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

I have not included the countless emails that are replied to instantly or those that go no nowhere. I have not gone into the constant strategising and taking into consideration of every department before most actions are taken . Nor have I included the parts of the job that are of no interest such as daily routines like having breakfast with customers, top secret projects and blazing rows with people due to miscommunication. What I have outlined above are only the broad strokes of the job. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what this Digital Marketing Manager gets up to on a weekly basis.


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