Back by popular demand… for Halloween, we once again asked hotel marketers from coast to coast, representing properties of all sizes, what they’re most spooked about right now. Here is what they said: 1. Unrealistic Goals on Tight Budgets (This one tops the list two years in a row!) Hotel marketers’ plates aren’t just full – they’re stacked sky-high with multiple marketing priorities to oversee, manage and implement. This upcoming year, the number of channels, campaigns, audiences, assets and tools will only get bigger and wider. This obviously calls for more marketing dollars, more staff and more assistance, right? Not exactly. More and more hotel owners are holding their managers and marketers accountable for driving measurable conversions… and demand they somehow top last year’s results. Yet, those same owners are not opening their wallets any wider to fund the needed resources to reach those higher revenue targets. This leaves hotel marketers under an avalanche of pressure to produce more with less. 2. Product Deterioration vs The Compset What really scares hotel marketers we spoke to… are things that are out of their control. Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral. (Our advice: scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set.) 3. The Cost of Guest Acquisition Hotel owners are feeling the squeeze from debt service, brand fees, management fees, credit card fees, intermediary fees and capital improvement programs. And many are squeezing their marketing and management teams to step up. Owners can’t control many of their rising costs, particularly debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast. According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset. And one of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity, instead. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become redundant, overdone and difficult to distinguish from one another, prompting travelers to book solely based on price. 4. The Pace of Change Keeping up with all the changes in the digital world continues to challenge the hotel marketers we spoke to… The hotel industry has long been a fertile market for new whiz-bang technologies and amenities, all purporting to revolutionize the guest experience and become the must-have asset you need to attract more guests. The constant barrage of hyperbole from tech vendors, media reps and industry press about the latest and greatest stuff has caused tremendous stress and anxiety in hotel marketers who increasingly suffer from “FOMO” (fear of missing out). (Our advice: be sure any time and/or money invested is truly in line with your marketing goals and guest profile. Sure, travel-related virtual reality content generally sparks high-interest levels in the media. And yes, Snapchat is tops among 12- to 24-year-olds. But if it’s not specifically bringing sales to your door, devote your attention elsewhere.) 5. Lack of Integration The ever-growing array of hotel tech/vendors continues to frustrate hotel marketers. Most have a legacy hodge-podge of different providers for each critical marketing technology need (ie: CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM). This jumbled mix of disparate systems prevents seamless integration and simplified reporting. Worse, it often causes stress, job dissatisfaction and premature job departures. 6. Shaky Job Security Hotel marketers are once again expected to know more, do more and react faster than ever before. Hotel owners are mounting more pressure on hotel marketers to contribute their share of the revenue pie. This continued stress on marketers has resulted in an all-time high turnover rate averaging 23 months. Owners now expect bigger payoffs, with a shorter amount of time and funding. Meanwhile, hotel marketers have to fight to stay relevant by mastering rapidly evolving marketing technology, leaving them struggling to keep up, flustered and overwhelmed with an avalanche of marketing channels and tools.