« Like well-designed tech products, hotels possess the potential to create magical experiences for their guests. »
Bonjour! My name is Sébastien Felix and I am the CEO and Founder of Influence Society, which I started 6 years ago in Lyon, France. As someone with a background in both computer science and marketing, I am particularly intrigued by the intersection of technology and hospitality. I believe that, much like well-designed tech products, hotels possess the potential to create magical experiences for their guests. This shared element of magic has inspired me to explore ways in which technology can enhance the guest experience and elevate the hospitality industry as a whole.
My passion for hospitality can be traced back to my early experiences working for a luxury boutique hotel group in the French Alps. It was there that I fell in love with the unique blend of exceptional service, beautiful aesthetics, and the ability to create memorable experiences for guests. This initial exposure to the world of hospitality fueled my desire to make a meaningful impact in the industry. This experience, coupled with stints running a startup and working at an agency inspired me to create Influence Society, a unique agency that balances top-notch design and the latest technology with ROI and the ability to fill rooms. Our team has worked with hundreds of hotels, restaurants, and groups throughout the world, helping with openings, creating websites, running acquisition campaigns, and more.
I take great pleasure in finding innovative ways to reach audiences and inspire them to choose the extraordinary hotels I work with. My passion for understanding and engaging audiences through digital channels is yet another driving force behind my commitment to the hospitality industry, as it allows me to merge my love for technology, marketing, and hospitality to create a lasting impact on guests' experiences.
What were you doing before IS? What is your background?
I completed my undergraduate studies in computer science before obtaining a master's degree in marketing. My career began as a digital project manager for a prestigious luxury boutique hotel group in the French Alps, where I discovered my passion for the hospitality industry. Subsequently, I gained valuable experience working at a digital marketing agency in Paris, collaborating with hundreds of clients.
During this time, I founded my first startup, which revolutionized the way influencers and hotels interacted. Similar to an "Uber for PR," it allowed influencers to book hotel stays in exchange for content creation and increased visibility for the hotel. This venture was a pioneer in influencer marketing in Europe, taking off around 2012-2013.
After four successful years, I sold the startup and established Influence Society six years ago. This new venture allowed me to return to my digital roots and focus on my primary goal: collaborating exclusively with extraordinary hotels.
When did you start IS?
I started Influence Society in November, 2016.
Why did you start it? What problem were you trying to solve?
Throughout my experience working in the hotel group, an agency and a startup, I observed various challenges that I sought to address:
- Flexibility: Many agencies require 12 to 24-month contracts, hindering swift changes. I aimed to introduce agile methodologies from the startup world to the hospitality industry for greater adaptability. And this paid off during COVID period of course.
- Focus: I envisioned a unique positioning that catered exclusively to lifestyle and luxury hotels. While there are agencies for hotels, few target the niche market of high-end and premium brands.
- Hybridization: The industry seemed unnecessarily divided between branding agencies that excel at storytelling but lack revenue generation expertise, and those solely focused on ROI with little appreciation for aesthetics. My goal was to engage hotel audiences with captivating content while creating powerful ads to fill rooms.
- Remote Work: My previous startup experience convinced me of the benefits of a remote work model, advantageous for both employees and clients. This approach has enabled us to develop regional expertise in various locations where our team members reside.