March 29 2016: In a new guide “Hotel Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2016” , ReviewPro, the leading provider of guest intelligence solutions to independent hotel brands, discusses the most important trends in digital marketing for 2016 and what hoteliers need to do to adapt and thrive.
From new distribution channels like instant booking on TripAdvisor and Google, to new ways to connect with travelers and deliver guests service excellence, the guide shows you how to optimize your strategy and prioritize resources in 2016.
We bring you brief extracts on new trends like Assisted Booking, and how small and indeendent hotels can compete using technologies like Personalization and Digital customer service.
Link for hotel professionals to download your copy .
In 2015, TripAdvisor and Google introduced instant booking models, enabling travelers to book a room without leaving the company's website or mobile app. Both models operate on commissions rather than the traditional cost-per-click models offered by TripConnect and Google Hotel Ads. When travelers book a room, the reservation is forwarded to the hotel for completion. While neither model represents a direct booking channel, both offer a couple of distinct advantages. First, commissions are lower than those typically charged by OTAs, at between 12% and 15%. Second, the traveler’s contact information is forwarded to the hotel at time of booking, allowing the opportunity to develop direct relationships from the beginning. How to compete
Given these massive shifts among the biggest players in the industry, how can independent hotels and small- to midsize hotel groups compete? First, be sure to explore the new distribution opportunities offered by Google, TripAdvisor and Accor to see if they’re a good fit. Some hotels have even listed on Airbnb. At the same time, focus on areas where the huge conglomerates can't compete: customer service, personalization and reputation improvement. All three areas can help you achieve your top objectives: better reviews, more repeat business and more direct bookings. We'll start by looking at personalization.
We hear a lot about personalization in the hotel industry today, but what exactly does it mean? Personalization is about helping consumers cut through the clutter by delivering information and services customized to their needs and interests. At a time when less than half of business and leisure travelers consider themselves loyal to a particular hotel brand, personalization provides opportunities for hotels to differentiate their offerings and win traveler loyalty. For hotels, personalization starts with data collection. In order to customize offers, you must first know your guest's needs and interests. The more you know, the more personalized your messaging can be. Effective data management means collecting, maintaining, extracting and analyzing data using tools like your CRM database, PMS, revenue management systems, Google Analytics and ReviewPro. By segmenting guests into profiles based on commonalities like geographic origin, lifestyle, profession and other distinguishing factors, you can market to them directly. You can also use advertising vehicles like Google and Facebook to target travelers like them. Upon arrival, data can be used to enhance the guest's stay with amenities and services. Post-stay, you can use data to entice guests back with customized offers. Data can also help you determine how valuable your guests are to your hotel in terms of rate, frequency and total spend and how valuable they are likely to be in the future—also known as Customer Lifetime Value. This information will help you decide who to target and what kind of offers to send.
Digital Customer service
Closely related to personalization is the next trend, digital customer service. In the past, customer service in hotels was restricted to two main channels: in person and the telephone. In the 1990s, email emerged as another key channel. Today, social media and digital technology have created a plethora of new customer service channels like Facebook, Twitter, messaging apps and text messaging.
Facebook & Twitter
These days, people use Facebook and Twitter to share experiences, to ask for recommendations and to make inquiries with businesses. The public nature of these channels and the ease of sharing creates special challenges for hotels. To mitigate the risks and take advantage of the opportunities, hotels now actively monitor these channels as an extension of customer service efforts.
Online Reviews and Guest Surveys
Online reviews and guest satisfaction surveys are also important customer service channels, providing a fresh stream of feedback from guests to guide improvements.
Messaging applications like WhatsApp, Snapchat and WeChat are hugely popular with consumers and are often used among employees within a business. But they are only beginning to emerge as customer service channels for businesses.. The slow adoption is in part due to consumers' resistance to welcoming marketers into their social networks. At the same time, businesses have been slow to create a presence on these channels.
Texting is another popular mode of communication among consumers. Slowly but surely, companies are getting in on the action too. This is evident mobile check-in services offered by airlines. Hotels use text messaging to advise guests when their room is ready and when their car has been brought up by the valet. This is just the beginning, according to Anthony Zebrowski-Rubin, CEO and Co-founder of GuestDriven. “Mobile messaging is a powerful new trend and an exciting opportunity for hotels,” he says.