Recent posts
17 for 2017: Clutter-busting Content For The New Year
Next Hotel Revolution?
Up, Down and Across
The Outside World
In2 Consulting appointed to manage AHIC Communications.
CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting
In2 Consulting Partners with Sugar Beauty Lounge
There’s no such thing as internal communications
Communication from the inside out
Internal Communication
Public Relations
Corporate Communications
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17 for 2017: Clutter-busting Content For The New Year

The blurring lines between marketing, PR and social media, which have characterised the communications business over the past 12 months, look set to shape the outlook for 2017. Companies have a larger-than-ever mix of earned, paid and owned media channels at their disposal and our responsibility as communications professionals is to comprehensively advise clients and colleagues which channels suit their campaigns and why.

There may be many great channels to choose from, but it doesn’t mean that they will all work or that they should all be used. This can be challenging to demonstrate when it seems that “everyone else” is perceived to be using certain apps or investing in influencer relations, but decisions must be taken in line with your client or company’s business goals; no-one else’s.

Just as channels have evolved, so too have the tools we use to reach these. Press releases are no longer the primary tool to communicate ‘news’ when you have digital and social channels that rely on less text and more imagery. It also means that genuine influencers in your target market can have more power than the press release. As professionals, we know that the most effective opinion leaders are those with engagement among target audiences for our business’ and that this can mean a reach of 5,000 people is far more powerful than 500,000. However, it’s our duty to educate clients or senior management by taking the time to provide research for them to help make the right decisions.

Ultimately, whichever channels and tools you are using, the success of these will come down to the quality and suitability of your content – just as it always has. Content must be aligned with strategic business objectives and carefully planned to deliver value to the organisation. More importantly, we need to think audience first; our content development and channel selection should be driven by what the target audience needs and wants to know and the channels theyuse to consume news. In 2017, with the abundance of content and the need to cut through the clutter in today’s media space, this is more important than ever before.

By Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting

Next Hotel Revolution?

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of assisting the team at Bench Events on developing the programme for the upcoming Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, now in its 13th year. This has meant conversations with more than 100 hotel owners, investors, developers and operators over the past four months, not to mention experts from related professions, such as lawyers, bankers, architects and contractors.

Discussions of market economics, catalysts of change, the sharing economy, global influencers and regional dynamics were a given, but what fascinated me was the desire among these hotel industry professionals to find out what is new among hoteliers and even more importantly, what will be next. As an industry, it seems we are on tenterhooks, desperately awaiting bold new concepts, original ideas and an understanding of how our business and its brands can best diversify for maximum return.

This sentiment reminded me of a column I wrote for this very magazine back in 2011, entitled ‘Who will lead the next hotel revolution’. In this article, which now makes me feel rather old, I asked what would be ‘truly new — a hotel concept no-one has tried’ amid a flurry of pipeline announcements.

That was six years ago. Have we seen a ‘hotel revolution’ since? I’d argue that that answer to this question is ‘no’, although the industry has made significant steps forward. Let’s look at some examples.

The mid-market is finally emerging as a segment with exciting brands that appeal to both investor and customer, buoyed by the demand of the rising middle class. Rove by Emaar Hospitality Group has reportedly been a runaway success, while globally CitizenM is making waves with its traveller-centric approach.

Hotel ‘collections’, from Hilton Worldwide’s Curio to Marriott’s Autograph, offer the perception of an independent hotel with the backing of a global giant, with obvious benefits again to both owner and consumer.

Luxury hotels are offering more personalised services than ever; brands at all levels are focused on developing the easiest booking methods possible; and global and local companies alike are online, social and tech-savvy.

But, who stands out to you, right now, as doing something different? Who has a concept that stands apart, from design to product to service? What brands make an investor willing to part with capital and which would you, as a customer, pay more for than their competitors?

In a market where one of the only ways to compete with OTAs is via loyalty, this ‘brand premium’ is essential. It’s the only way to stop hotel rooms becoming commodities, bought from third-parties and compared only on price. Even more importantly, in what will still likely be challenging macroeconomic circumstances in 2017, brand premium will be sought after by investors more than ever.

Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place for the next hotel revolution? Maybe it won’t come from the concept creators, brand guys or operators, but from the investors, owners and developers seeking to drive higher returns in the toughest trading environment yet. Or maybe even from a passionate traveller via crowd funding and the power of social media?

Now, where’s my sketchpad?

By Louise Oakley for Hotelier Middle East Magazine, March 2017

Up, Down and Across

Defined as the function within an organization that is responsible for effective communications – the depth and breadth of the scope of the internal communications department varies greatly between organizations and practitioners, with one size fits all being a far cry from the reality of the day-to-day role of an internal communicator.

Understood by many as the function that improves employee engagement, a modern-day practitioner adds far greater value to management.  With capacity to act as a strategic advisor, business development manager, human resources influencer and overall sounding board, intelligent internal communications support is a necessity for any function within an organization that relies on communications to engage, inform and influence their stakeholders.

At the core of the role of internal communications is the ability to effectively strike a balance between supporting an organization in achieving its objectives, while protecting its reputation among internal, and to a large extent external, stakeholders.  And to do this effectively, communicators need to understand the intricacies of organizational decisions and the impact of these decisions up, down and across the organization.

So, in order to develop sound, strategic internal communications strategies, we look at two sides of the coin.  First, we understand what the organization is trying to achieve and their roadmap to achieving it – where possible anticipating roadblocks and looking for opportunities to steer towards a more positive outcome.  Second, we map out the communications response to the organizations strategy, and more specifically identifying audience, message and channel imperatives. 

While seemingly simplistic, this detailed exercise in stakeholder mapping and segmentation offers wonderful insights in to the needs and expectations of our audiences.  Armed with more information about our audience, only then can we commence the art of crafting messaging that is relevant and able to address different audience needs.  And it is only at the point where we truly understand who we are communicating to, and what we need to communicate, that we can determine the best channel to communicate.

Now more than ever, internal communicators have a huge spectrum of channels to rely on for message distribution – ranging from informal, tactical solutions such as word-of-mouth, to more formal, strategic communications such as company-wide webcasts. 

The challenge of course being in an organization’s ability to recognize the importance of internal communication and its power to influence the right response up, down and across the organization.


The Outside World

By Andy Abey

When we talk about organizational communication, there are two broad types – internal communication, which is focused on internal audiences, messaging and channels, and external communication, which is the rest of it.

Without simplifying it too much, external communication is focused on the communication that occurs between an organization and its external stakeholders, such as owners and investors, customers and clients, government and authorities, suppliers and consultants, opinion leaders and influencers, media and the broader community.

While many consider this form of communication as marketing and advertising, and in some sectors, business development, the reality is far more complex than that because of the integrated nature of communications.

When communicating with the outside world, communicators need to be proficient in investor relations, public relations, corporate social responsibility, government relations, channel communications, media relations and crisis communications. 

In large organizations, whilst you’d typically find that different communications specialists are performing various roles, this is not necessarily the case in small to medium organizations, where you find one person at the helm, responsible for the whole gamut of organizational communications requirements.

Increasingly however, specialist communications agencies have established themselves to provide sector-specific support to corporations – bolstering the in-house experience and expertise to address business and communications objectives.  It’s a collaboration that proves effective for a multitude of reasons. 

However, as is the case with internal communications, external communication is most effective when corporates have a detailed understanding of their stakeholders and what it is that they need from your organization.  This is why there are so many synergies to be shared between corporate communications teams and agencies.

No matter what your approach is to external communications, one thing is certain… whether your stakeholder needs and expectations demand revenue and profitability, provision of goods and services, public-private partnership arrangements, or leadership and accessibility, well thought-out stakeholder communications makes all the differences to a company’s reputation to the outside world.

In2 Consulting appointed to manage AHIC Communications.

Bench Events and MEED Events have appointed In2 Consulting to manage the PR and Communications for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2017.

Now in its 13th year, AHIC is the leading hospitality industry conference in the Middle East –  renowned for its excellent programme, speakers, sponsors and networking opportunities.

As one of the region’s most experienced boutique PR consultancies, with expertise across the hospitality sector, In2 Consulting is excited to engage with the hotel owners, investors, operators and consultants, and sharing AHIC’s fantastic content programme with key editors.


CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting

CitiSpi appoints In2 Consulting

In2 Consulting has been appointed to represent CitiSpi – Dubai’s first ‘Active Social Engagement Company’.

With a vision to evolve the way people get together and discover the city of Dubai, CitiSpi is a new social platform for Dubai expatriates looking to socialise smarter, via weekly social events, online social platforms and an easy-to-use app that seamlessly presents the best five star-hotel, quality restaurant, luxury leisure and children’s activity promotions in Dubai, as well as exclusive CitiSpi offers.

In2 Consulting is always excited to work with entrepreneurs like Hannah MacDonald, CitiSpi Founder and Chief Spi, and we are looking forward to spreading the word about CitiSpi, which we believe is an essential download for Dubai dwellers looking to make their most of their time in the UAE’s most dynamic city.

In2 Consulting Partners with Sugar Beauty Lounge

We have partnered with Sugar Beauty Lounge – a full service beauty salon, offering ladies sweet indulgences for the skin, hair and nails.

In2 will establish Sugar Beauty Lounge’s messaging, distribute promotions and manage their press office.

Sugar Beauty Lounge Managing Partner, Eliane Alpha, said: “In2 Consulting has an excellent track record in the Middle East and we are very excited to work with them and further develop awareness of the Sugar Beauty Lounge brand.”

Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner of In2 Consulting, added: “We are thrilled to be working with Sugar Beauty Lounge and are looking forward to supporting the team with the growth of their business in the UAE.”

There’s no such thing as internal communications

It amazes me how few organizations see the immense benefit that internal communications and strong employee engagement can bring to the table, and the bottom line. There are far too many organizations out there that still see internal communications as they used to see public relations: as a fluffy, soft-skill, nice to have department that sits anywhere but around the boardroom table.

In my view, there’s no such thing as internal communications: it’s communications from the inside out. Not using your most credible colleagues, your most passionate people and your most active advocates to reach out to your audiences seems ludicrous. It’s a lost opportunity, and a costly one.

Companies spend millions of dollars on sales, marketing and public relations to reach new clients and engage existing ones. The one marketing tool they don’t seem to spend enough on is their own employees, who collectively, may well have the widest marketing reach of all.

Let me paint you a picture. I love eating out; it’s one of my passions in life.  A few weeks ago I visited one of my favorite restaurants in Dubai, my hometown. I had a great meal and great service, but that wasn’t the most memorable part of my dining experience. The waiter, passionate and excited, proudly told me about a new sister restaurant that opened in the city. He eagerly told me about the restaurant’s décor, the menu, food and atmosphere and with such knowledge and fervor, that I decided to book the restaurant the next day for our next evening out. Had the waiter just ‘done his job’ and followed the standard operating procedures of the restaurant, he would have never shared this information with me. Instead, he had the knowledge, affinity and confidence only truly engaged employees have, and as a result he sold me a second 150-dollar meal on the spot. An expensive evening for me, but he generated incremental revenue on the spot. Now that’s adding value.

This waiter is a walking sales person, a marketing mastermind and all he does is infuse his customers with his passion and engagement. How wonderful and cost effective is that? How many employees do you have on your payroll? Exactly.

There’s plenty of research out there that proves that a highly engaged workforce easily adds another ten percent to an organization’s bottom line. You’re hard pressed to find such ROI on any of your other communications channels, so why not use it more?

It’s time for organizations to realize that it’s not just about communicating internally, but about communicating from the inside out. Give your employees the information, empowerment, tools and channels to transform themselves into genuine marketing geniuses. They love what they do – that’s why they work for you – so let them spread the word. Guess what, your communications team has just grown exponentially.

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that the credibility of ‘regular employees’ in an organization has seen a dramatic rise of 16% over the last year, representing the highest increase of this stakeholder group since 2004. They are now in the top four of the most trusted sources people go to for credible company information, well above company CEOs who saw the biggest drop since Edelman started the Trust Barometer.

So why not put that credibility to work? Actively engage your employees in the development of your vision or ask them to help drive innovation for the business, and you will be amazed by the outcome. We recently experienced some very powerful results when we worked with an organization that engaged not only their employees but also their customers and partners in shaping the organization’s direction for the next decade.

Employees were asked to give five percent of their time to this project over a given period and we were astonished to find that most of them gave double that. Why? Because they cared. They were given the opportunity to be part of the company’s future and to shape its direction. Work doesn’t really get more inspiring than that. And they did a great job; they came up with amazing insights, perspectives and solutions that will undoubtedly help the organization succeed. Your employees are the ones that work on the frontline, they are in many ways your company’s business card and they speak to your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders all the time. That feedback is priceless and should be used more. Want to improve or innovate? Start with those that are truly in the know: your employees.

I ask you to imagine the amount of time your front line employees are spending with current and potential customers, today and every day. If you start using these moments of truth as marketing moments, you’ll know what I mean about doing more with less. Turn on the internal flame and expect fireworks. Doing more with less has never been so easy.

Communication from the inside out

Is silence really golden? Certainly not in internal communication. Sadly, many organizations still believe it is best not to tell employees what’s going on or to share important information. But guess what? You communicate whether you like it or not - through formal communications, policies and procedures, systems and the behavior of management. And more importantly, you can communicate through silence. There is no ‘opt out’, so if we are communicating anyway, we may as well think about it and do it well!

It’s surprising that not more organizations see the immense benefit that internal communication and strong employee engagement can bring to the table, and the bottom line. There are far too many organizations out there that still see internal communication as they used to see public relations: as a fluffy, soft-skill, nice to have department that sits anywhere but around the boardroom table.

We see internal communication as communication ‘from the inside out’. Not using your most credible colleagues, your most passionate people and your most active advocates to reach out to your audiences seems ludicrous. It’s a lost opportunity, and a costly one.

According to the UAE Executive Summary of Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, “23% of UAE employees are investing energy to overcome ‘substantial obstacles’ to get their work done, but less than half (49%) feel they have their supervisor’s support in doing so. Only 57% believe they have the necessary tools and resources to achieve exceptional performance and even fewer feel they have access to the training they need to be productive.” What about the other roughly 50% of employees? How are they getting through the day? A scary thought.

Employees want to be informed, and in order to do their jobs well they need to understand how they contribute individually to the overall success of the organization. Communication around strategy therefore needs to be clear, transparent, regular and honest, and that’s exactly what a strong internal communications capacity provides.

Strong internal communication gets everybody ‘on the same page’ so they can work effectively towards common goals; it helps create a workplace that motivates people – and one they don’t want to leave; it enables everybody to do a better job, so you have happier customers and a more successful business.

We group the business benefits of internal communication into five core areas:

  1. Line of Sight: “I know where the company is headed and the part I am expected to play.”
  2. Reputation: “I say good things about my company and am a good ambassador.”
  3. Change Management: “I understand what changes are happening and why, and how I should respond.”
  4. Regulation & Compliance: “I follow all the rules and regulations associated with my role.”
  5. Engagement: “I am motivated to perform well at work.”

And here is how it impacts your bottom line: the Towers Watson 2013–2014 Change and Communication ROI Study Report states that its sixth study shows “a continued strong relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication, and change management. Companies with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas.”

Internal communication is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must-have’. It’s a true business enabler that optimizes the flow of information within the organization and helps improve individual and organizational performance.

Communication matters.

" Eid Mubarak from all of us at In2 Consulting "
- 24th Jun -
Iftar Preview
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
Guest Lecture at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 25-27 April, 2017
Madinat Jumeirah Dubai
Arabian Travel Market
Dubai World Trade Centre
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