‘Tis the season to create your holiday wish list.
However, a hotel marketer’s wish list is unlike any other. Instead of asking for a new car or the latest tech toy, what you secretly hope Santa brings are all the assets you need to hit budget in 2017.
So… deck the halls with these top wishes from every hotel marketer’s holiday wish list:
1. Presidential Policies That Maintain Current Demand and Today’s Steady Economy
After two years of presidential election anxiety and uncertainty, hotel marketers are crossing their fingers that President Elect Trump and his policies will work in the hotel industry’s favor. Despite the controversial rhetoric during campaign season, we hope Trump’s long-standing and famed career in real estate will serve us well during his time in office, with issues like immigration reforms that positively impact our employees, foreign trade agreements that benefit our supply chain, or promised tax relief.
2. More Legal Injunctions Against Airbnb
Earlier this month, Airbnb officially backed off a lawsuit they had against New York City and the city’s new strict regulations targeting certain Airbnb hosts. The new rules impose fines up to $7,500 for hosts illegally renting out multiple units. This settlement comes after Airbnb walked away from another lawsuit earlier this year, attempting to block San Francisco’s law that required hosts to register with the city. Other cities had kept a close eye on these cases, since the outcome would potentially shape their own battles against Airbnb. Plus, AHLA created model legislation for local governments to use in their own short-term rental measurements. These events leave us with renewed hope for more rulings against Airbnb in the future.
3. More Awareness of the Benefits of Booking Direct
We all have Marriott and Hilton to thank for setting up a strong foundation for the rest of the hotel industry in our battle to regain bookings from OTAs. Their high-profile marketing campaigns, like Hilton’s “Stop Clicking Around,” intrigued audiences and raised awareness about the benefits of booking direct. Now that the stage has been set, our hope is more and more hotels will follow in their footsteps and start their own clever campaigns (no matter how small) to regain market share, plus offer more creative perks to entice guests to book direct.
4. Simpler Data Collection and Personalization
Just like Santa, you want to deliver exactly what guests want when they want it. And, there’s just one way to achieve that – data. Luckily, 2016 was a big year for data, giving us more tools to amass more timely information about guests than ever before. However, gathering and analyzing data can be time-consuming and complicated. So this year, hotel marketers are hoping for simpler methods and tools to collect that data and actually put it to good use.
5. To See Authentic Travel Marketing Pay Off
Today’s hotel guests are all about extraordinary experiences and remarkable moments they can’t achieve at home. So, for the past several years, hotels have been reimagining what defines their typical guest experience and giving guests front-row access to the local flavor and culture. From chef-led farmers market tours to lobby art shows featuring local upcoming artists, hoteliers are hoping their curated local experiences will prove to drive more bookings and boost their bottom line.
6. A Bigger Marketing Budget
You know all too well that successful hotel marketing campaigns take talent and money. And, nothing would make you happier this holiday season than a larger 2017 marketing budget to pay for the resources you know you’ll need. Unfortunately, there are still many hotel owners who believe you can hit your revenue targets with less money and cheap marketing methods. This year, hotel marketers are hoping to convince hotel execs that their lofty revenue goals need to be supported with loftier budgets (and maybe even more staff). Let’s hope hotel owners realize that investing in marketing is one of the smartest moves they can make to boost revenue.
7. Property Upgrades to Remain Competitive
Major hotel brands have invested millions in creating new hotel collections or revamping current properties to align with the tastes and expectations of modern travelers. With so many new and noteworthy properties vying for guests’ attention, it’s more important than ever to keep up with contemporary amenities, experiences and aesthetics. No amount of brilliant marketing can hide an aging and outdated hotel property. Unless your hotel owners invest in the necessary upgrades, renovations and redesigns, marketing your behind-the-times hotel will be a fruitless endeavor.
8. Less Reliance on OTAs
We get it.
Sometimes you feel as if your hotel can’t survive without OTAs. They bring bookings seemingly out of nowhere and consistently fill your rooms with a minimal amount of effort. However, the fact remains that those rooms are booked at rock-bottom prices. On top of that, OTAs still pocket 15-30% on top of the already reduced room rate. Driving your own reservations and relying less on OTAs IS possible. ROI-obsessed hotel marketers like many of our clients have created tools and perfected marketing techniques to take back bookings, such as booking engines that decrease bounces, copywriting that drives conversions, and pricing psychology that convinces guests to purchase. All of these smart tools and tactics already exist and are here for the taking, so consider this holiday wish ‘granted.’
9. Consistent Glowing Guest Reviews
From TripAdvisor reviews to Instagram images to Facebook photos, today’s travelers rely on each other’s experiences to help drive and validate their own booking decisions. No matter how brilliant your marketing campaigns are, guest reviews will always have the upper hand. So, it’s important to deliver an outstanding guest experience each and every time. The more positive opinions guests share about your hotel, the more others will trust you with their travel funds as well.
10. Better benchmarking
Virtually every hotel marketer we speak to asks the same question: “how am I doing compared to other properties ,like mine?” While many common benchmarks (like STR’s indexes) exist, KPIs like website conversion rate and direct vs 3rd party revenue ratio vary by property-type and market. Help apparently is on the way, as smart analytics companies like Snapshot Analytics in Europe and others are trying to help hotel marketers evaluate their performance vs relevant peers worldwide.