Where's Hotel Marketing Going? Tips and Tricks for 2017
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Super interesting report on new trends by Martin Soler and Sebastien Felix.
Go to to Martin’s blog here martinsoler.com and download the whole report!
The biggest change in the hotel marketing industry happened last decade.
It was when the OTAs went from a bunch of guys in basements and garages to becoming the dominant force in hotel bookings.
But things are going to be changing. The next decade will possibly be as big a shift as the last one. With virtual reality, artificial intelligence assistants and chatbots the way we book is about to get a pretty big makeover. That's not just true for hotel marketing, it is going to change travel marketing and sales quite fundamentally.
After 18 months of beta, the service was just launched early october. The familiar Facebook interface but now for work. Can it help distributed teams, internal communications or reduce lengthy meetings? The jury is out on that. But it certainly could assist, not needing to teach teams to use other tools.
Pinterest Pin Collective:
A platform to reach out with influencers on Pinterest and have them create your publicity campaign for you. A novel way to give publicity a much more authentic feel and without the grey-zone of “sponsored influencers” that forgot to say they got paid a hefty check to post that picture. Honest publicity is the best publicity there it.
The facility with which guests can communicate has never been greater. Not just to each other, to hotels as well. They can log-on to a hotel’s Facebook page and instant message to the hotel, they can use WhatsApp to send a message instantly to a hotel and they can message through Twitter buttons on a hotel’s website. Even Google recently launched a similar service. The question remains, are hotels listening? With tools like these, hotels have a unique opportunity to service guests and eventually remedy anything that isn’t going right, before, during and after the stay. So, no more excuses for bad reviews?
New Retargeting Channels:
Pinterest recently launched a retargeting program and it is good news for hotel groups, boutique and luxury hotels. Retargeting isn’t the new news but the fact that Pinterest offers it is. Pinterest is a great platform for travel inspiration and inspiration is the one part of travel advertising that still needs work.
Trip Planning & AI:
Google Trips has the possibility of becoming the most intelligent online travel planner, with deep access to email for reservation data, pictures for all the moments that matter most (and this could be a huge factor in travel suggestions), location and history, coupled with some smart predictive algorithms.
Direct vs OTAs:
The important point with direct bookings is what is in it for the guest. That OTAs take a commission isn’t much concern for guests and the facility to have a single place to check all hotels is a convenience that direct booking doesn’t have. It is no secret that OTAs aren’t too happy and some reports of penalized rankings are cropping up. Someone said rather than bickering over rate parity issues, if hotels really want to make a statement to OTAs all they’d had to do was end availability for a single day. Guests would book, but not through OTAs...
Post CPC Era:
Meta-search platforms are continuing their shift from clicks based advertising to commission based models, blurring the lines between meta-search and OTAs. Two of the largest platforms have pretty much completed their shift (Google and TripAdvisor), Several others are bound to follow. Commission based models would be good for the industry once every platform has shifted. Travelers go through multiple sites before booking and hotels are liable to pay for clicks on each step for the way, whereas if they were all commission based - hotels would only pay for the one that brought the reservation.
Brands to Tech Co:
Hotel companies, the big brands, are turning into hotel tech companies. Recently The Standard launched it’s own “last minute” booking app and opened it to boutique hotels. AccorHotels launched their booking platform and Marriott Hotels started their travel incubator/accelerator. Is this the future of hotel brands?
Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are the big ones. Lola, Facebook M and many others are being created through Chatbot platforms. The future of travel search is going to shift into a more narrative and artificially intelligent model. Fewer choices but more relevant choices. The platforms will shift, of course those who have availability, rates and inventory data (ARI) will be pushing through those platforms, but there will only be one spot available. Which is both good and bad for the consumer - faster reservations but the risk of less competition on commissions and distribution.
Virtual Reality is booming and will be one of the key topics in 2017 and the years to come. With Samsung and now Google launching their mobile VR headset we can expect to see an explosion of new travel apps. Ascape.com aims to become the number one travel website dedicated to VR. You can already download the app on both Android and Apple appstore to start the experience.
Beacon technology will most definitely help hotels - the larger ones at least - understand guest movement, assist operations to provide services and people in locations that need it. But what about communicating to guests things that are most relevant to them. It is nice when a hotel’s TV system knows one’s name. But that’s about all they know, how about showing the minibar prices when a guest moves there, or the room-service menu when going to the desk?