It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Time for our annual hotel marketing holiday wish list! Each year we ask hotel marketers to give us the list of things they’re wishing for in the new year… And no surprise… Hotel marketers want things that make their guests happy, their jobs easier and their hotels prosper. So, here it is… Do the answers surprise you? 1. A Farewell to Rate Parity Lawmakers and hoteliers in France became every American hotelier’s heroes when they worked to strike down rate parity. By cutting down this contractual bondage that US hotels are all too familiar with, hoteliers in France basically took back the power to market their hotels the way they want to. They can put together campaigns that lessen the allure of OTA rates, not to mention charge how much they’d like to for direct bookings without anything holding them back. Hotel marketers are hoping Santa will bring the same across the Atlantic. 2. Lingering Low Prices at the Gas Pumps and Flights When gas and flight prices go down, travel planning and booking shoots up. More and more people are willing to indulge in a getaway, knowing their travel funds will have more leverage and reach. By saving at the gas pumps and on flights, travelers are more comfortable with splurging in other places – dinner at your restaurant, a spa treatment, valet, etc. This past year has proven just that and we’re all crossing our fingers that the low prices continue through 2016. 3. Property Upgrades to Draw Modern Travelers There’s nothing worse than being the ugliest kid on the block. With so many noteworthy new properties and hotel brands being unleashed onto the market – many directly vying for attention and business from the millennial generation – older properties are tasked with keeping up in aesthetics, amenities and experiences. No matter how modern and responsive your marketing campaigns are, it all comes down to your hotel product experience. Unless your ownership invests in required renovations, redesigns and overall improvements, marketing your aging property will only continue to be an uphill battle that will be more difficult to win in 2016. Read: Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig? Hotel Marketing Begins With a Great Product 4. A Bigger Marketing Budget! If only our GM’s would hand us a credit card and tell us, “Sky’s the limit on marketing this year!” As you all know, marketing campaigns with year-round impact require talent and money. But all too often, owners and general managers mistakenly believe that their marketing teams can simply turn to the cheapest – or even free – marketing tools and still reap sizable profits. This year, hotel marketers want their hotel executives to recognize the revenue they bring in and to correlate the marketing budget to lofty revenue goals! 5. A Sympathetic Ear Many of the hotel marketers we surveyed continue to ask for something very simple: they asked to be heard. Too often, decisions are made by owners or more senior execs without asking the opinion of the sales and marketing team actually responsible for revenue goals. The most common complaint? Budget mandates being passed down with no say in the resources required to achieve the budget. 6. Better photography Seems that more and more hotel marketers are unhappy with their current photo libraries! Images prepare potential guests for what’s to come. Along with your hotel website design, they convey your experience with a single glance. Better yet, a recent TripAdvisor study found that hotel properties with over 20 photos received 150 percent more engagement! Read: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Bookings 7. Simple Tech Tools To Bring Us Closer to Customers Hoteliers love tech, or at least they should. If you’re shaking your head in disagreement, listen up. New marketing technology will only bring you closer and closer to your customers. With new technology, you’ll know who your future guests are, what they want, what previous guests already did, and what they’re going to do. Plus, hotels want technology that automates implementation and the tedious marketing tasks, allowing them more time for strategizing and creative marketing functions. 8. More direct bookings Owners and asset managers are already looking more carefully at their properties’ RevPar and net margins. And they’re squeezing their hotel marketing staff to find ways to reduce the ever-increasing cost of revenue. More and more hoteliers are realizing that long-term investment in building direct business is the only way to safeguard margins when ADRs and occupancy come down… These are the same savvy hoteliers who will be ramping up their direct traffic generation and direct website efforts in 2016. 9. Better TripAdvisor Results This connects directly to # 3 above… And travelers trust other travelers, period. Smart hotel marketers understand the power and impact behind user reviews and realize that positive TripAdvisor rankings and reviews are vital. Even if a gorgeously designed marketing campaign attracts a customer, the moment they see consistently bad reviews with no response from management, it’s all over. 10. Easier Ways to Collect Data That Drives Bookings Like Old Saint Nick, you want to deliver exactly what your guests want. That takes data. You now have numerous tools at your disposable that allow you to know more about your customers than ever before. They even give you the prowess to go after similar people with the same demographics and purchasing patterns. But, data-collecting and monitoring technology can get complicated and time-consuming. This year, hotel marketers are wishing for simplicity in gathering data on guests, so they can use it to effectively customize campaigns for specific guests, personalize offers and monitor ROI. Tell us what’s on your holiday wish list and we’ll send you our favorite Egg Nog recipe (think 151 Rum)!