November 25, 2013 • By Dave Spector
As we gather together here in the US for our annual Thanksgiving holiday, we give thanks for the many blessings we have in our personal lives. This year, we're starting a new tradition, we're also giving thanks for all the amazing things we have that enrich our professional lives as hotel marketers. So we asked our staff, client GMs, revenue managers, hotel owners and partners to contribute and help us serve up our inaugural dish… dig in!
- OTAs: In an interesting twist, many hotel marketers gave thanks (privately!) for their ongoing success and traction with OTAs. Yes, those pesky OTAs that we all love to complain about drive a significant amount of business for many, forming a solid baseline of revenue and exposing our properties to new, previously unreachable audiences every day.
- TripAdvisor: No one believes companies or marketing people anymore, consumers only listen to each other! Which explains TripAdvisor's monumental success. Their agnostic, unbiased portal helps consumers validate hotels, while an increasingly friendly set of hotel marketing tools and programs allows hotel marketers to steer relevant consumers directly to the property website. Sure, negative reviews can hurt, but handled properly, they also demonstrate honesty and authenticity.
- Evangelical Customers: More than a few hotel marketers we surveyed gave high praise and thanks to their most evangelical customers, who spread their love of the property via social media and word of mouth. These repeat visitors Tweet, post, share and send photos of their favorite place to friends and relatives with absolutely no cost to the marketing budget.
- A great location: Easily forgotten in an age of high-tech marketing is the importance of location, location, location! More than a few hotel marketers are giving thanks this year for a competitively-advantageous location that puts them by the airport, near Times Square, next to the convention center or smack dab on a private Caribbean beach!
- Google's recent updates: Huh? Blasphemy you say?! Surprisingly, many hotel marketers see opportunity deep in the heart of the problems created by almighty Google changing the search engine game every few months. These enlightened marketers were able to quickly adapt... implementing new best-practices assets (i.e. perfecting local search tactics) and eliminating old, lazy, spammy techniques that end up penalizing less astute competitors.
- Active retirees: Grandma and Grandpa like to hit the road. Retirees are more mobile, more healthy and more wealthy than ever before. This translates to more bookings… direct bookings to be exact, because older folks prefer to book (or call) directly. According to Resonance Consultancy: "Unstoppable Elders" travel 25% more than the average leisure traveler and prefer off-peak travel, which bolsters properties affected by seasonality.
- Resurgent economies: Hotel marketers are giving thanks this year for resurgent economies at home and abroad. Key industry metrics have surpassed pre-recession levels, business travel is back and consumer confidence is improving. Better yet, strong economic growth in key US-feeder markets like China and South America has elevated ADRs from free-spending FITs.
- The Mobile explosion: Tech-savvy hotel marketers will remember 2013 as the year they truly figured out how to benefit from the proliferation of mobile devices. The adoption of smartphones enables us to target new guests, streamline booking confirms, offer express check-in, communicate in-stay offers, enhance the guest experience and empower social sharing.
- A loyalty program: Whether it's a flag/chain-related program, a credit card/airline partnership or third-party frequent guest club, many hotel marketers are giving thanks this year to their loyalty program and its captive audience of incentivized travelers.
- Digital Intelligence: The hotel marketer's toolbox gets sharper every day: smarter websites, personalized email offers, advanced yield-management systems, guest-preference data, ROI tracking… the amount of digital intelligence at our fingertips is staggering. For those who know which nuggets to mine, glory and bonuses await!