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The most important hotel marketing trends to watch in 2015

http://www.leonardo.com/ A wonderful and intriguing characteristic of the hotel business is that you can find lodging in leading capital cities, small villages & towns and in some of the most remote areas of the globe. Now, accommodations aren’t necessarily corporately owned structures, thanks to the likes of Airbnb, HomeAway and Roomorama.

Whether the accommodations are the time-tested commercial real estate empires we instantly recognize, or my friend Steve’s urban walk up apartment, people are interested in where they’re sleeping and bathing, where to eat and what to do in and around their destination.

Though storytelling has always thrived on property, it really hasn’t been until recent years that our marketing tools and technologies have given us the ability to source, curate, publish and amplify these stories in today’s multi-screen, multi-channel universe. Now we’re seeing visual storytelling as a focal point of many website redesigns, including Yahoo Travel, trivago, Despegar.com, Intercontinental Hotel Group, your own property website along with thousands of other progressive hospitality websites.

We are also seeing a rise in the popularity of the online travel magazine format of Montage Hotels & Resorts or citizenM which features large, rich photos accompanied by interesting stories, easily accessed on mobile devices. This fresh approach grabs the attention of travel shoppers and keeps them hanging around as they cleverly convert them from potential guests to a loyal lodger.

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The most important hotel marketing trends to watch in 2015

  1. 1. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 1 leonardo.com
  2. 2. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 2 The New Digital Marketing Era Chapter One A Year In Review Visual-First Movement Modern Day Travel Shopping Mobile Here and Now Social Footprints Video, Video, Video Rise of Local Bleisure Content Marketing Community Marketplace Grows Chapter Two Content Marketing Content, But Not for the Sake of Content Raise Your Hand If You Would Like to Increase Prices? “Veni, Vidi, Vici” Practical Takeaways Chapter Three The Shopping Journey Could It Get More Complicated? Practical Takeaways Chapter Four The Power of Social Media and Mobile: SoMo The Social House that Mark Built Video = Super Glue Mobile Takeover Practical Takeaways Chapter Five Targeting Getting in Bed with Millennials After You Bleisures: They’re Smart, Not Trendy Love Thy Neighbors Practical Takeaways Chapter Six What The Experts Are Saying About Leonardo 04 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 12 13 16 17 18 the most important hotel marketing trends to watch in 2015 ///////////////////////////////////////////// Show, Share, Stand Out ///////////////////////////////////////////// Table of Contents ///////////////////////////////////////////// leonardo.com Share this eBook 31 32 34 35 50 36 41 44 49 52 53 54 56 57 58 71 25 28 30 leonardo.com
  3. 3. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 3 Thanks for downloading! As 2014 comes to a close and we begin to prepare for the next year, it’s the perfect time to look back at what made 2014 great and what will stand out in 2015. This eBook will recap the biggest trends of 2014 and what we expect to come in 2015 – including the continued importance of visual storytelling and effective content marketing to guide your hotel’s online strategy. We’ve also teamed up with a number of experts who have provided their predictions for 2015 – keep an eye out for their thoughts throughout the eBook. Enjoy the eBook and join the discussion on social media using #LeoeBook. Regards, Darlene Rondeau V.P. Best Practices, Online Merchandising Leonardo leonardo.com
  4. 4. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 4 A wonderful and intriguing characteristic of the hotel business is that you can find lodging in leading capital cities, small villages & towns and in some of the most remote areas of the globe. Now, accommodations aren’t necessarily corporately owned structures, thanks to the likes of Airbnb, HomeAway and Roomorama. Whether the accommodations are the time-tested commercial real estate empires we instantly recognize, or my friend Steve’s urban walk up apartment, people are interested in where they’re sleeping and bathing, where to eat and what to do in and around their destination. Though storytelling has always thrived on property, it really hasn’t been until recent years that our marketing tools and technologies have given us the ability to source, curate, publish and amplify these stories in today’s multi-screen, multi-channel universe. Now we’re seeing visual storytelling as a focal point of many website redesigns, including Yahoo Travel, trivago, Despegar.com, Intercontinental Hotel Group, your own property website along with thousands of other progressive hospitality websites. We are also seeing a rise in the popularity of the online travel magazine format of Montage Hotels & Resorts or citizenM which features large, rich photos accompanied by interesting stories, easily accessed on mobile devices. This fresh approach grabs the attention of travel shoppers and keeps them hanging around as they cleverly convert them from potential guests to a loyal lodger. The New Digital Marketing Era leonardo.com
  5. 5. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 5 Hoteliers continue to rationalize their digital marketing activities as the pressure to increase direct bookings, improve ROI, find new customers and balance media buys increases. After all, if you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. As H. James Harrington famously said, “If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” Hotels believe that the most profitable and important transactions are those that happen directly – between hotel and guest without the middleman. That said, today’s consumer shops easily across many channels, looking for the right experience at the right price. The savvy hotel marketer recognizes this behavior, and, as a result, ensures that their story is aligned with destination and review sites, social networks, OTAs, and, of course, their brand and property websites, to provide confidence in their hotel purchase decision. If you share our passion for excellence in digital hotel marketing, you’re probably already looking ahead to 2015 and anticipating what the year will bring. Before we spring ahead to next year, let’s take a look at some of the main themes of 2014. leonardo.com
  6. 6. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 6 Chapter One a year in review leonardo.com
  7. 7. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 7 Visual-First Movement Good hotel storytellers are moving away from blocks of boring, standard text towards big, beautiful images, compelling video and a captivating narrative. A recent TripAdvisor study shows that photos are so essential to driving engagement and bookings that just going from having no photos to photos results in 138% increase in engagement. Interestingly, YouTube reports that 88% of their travel searches focus on destinations, attractions/points of interest or general travel ideas, because video grabs the travelers’ attention and provides helpful insights and inspiration during the research phase of the journey. According to MIT, the human brain can process visual information in as little as 13 milliseconds, and takes three times as long to process a single word, so it’s no wonder that companies around the globe from major companies like Twitter, Coca-Cola, and Prada to small businesses like OpenView Labs and Premier Pools and Spas leonardo.com
  8. 8. have graphically dominated marketing campaigns. All sizes of companies have moved toward visuals as a fundamental component of their brand strategy. Then they take it a step further by matching them with informative and entertaining content which encourages sharing and improves customer engagement. The hospitality industry, as a whole, is slowly following suit. In a recent study by Webmarketing 123,1 we learned that more than 63% of hotel marketers plan to increase spending on content. This directionally positive action is good news for consumers because it will give them an experience that provides the motivation and insight to guide their travel planning, in the same way they have when buying their latest handbag or a shiny new car. Modern Day Travel Shopping Time is the new currency. Google cites that travelers spend an average of 55 minutes to book a hotel and flights, visit 17 websites and click four different search ads per travel search, with 90% of those travelers conducting the booking process over multiple screens. People shop for value, which is the combination of anticipated experience + price. Among the most popular meta-search channels for hotel rate shopping include Google Hotel Finder, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Expedia and trivago. What they have in common is that they all offer real time availability and pricing from multiple sources to consumers, facilitating practically effortless comparison shopping. Many of the leading third party travel channels also have the added benefit of integrated visual storytelling along with point of purchase reviews. Visitors will very often disappear from your website if pages take too long to load. Today’s consumer expects a visually rich experience with your property wherever they’re shopping and often images and videos are the culprit for long load times. This is particularly true for those on mobile devices and for Millennials, who readily admit that their biggest pet peeve is trying to navigate a non-mobile friendly site.2 Attention to quality and performance are essential. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 8 leonardo.com
  9. 9. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 9 Mobile Here And Now The multi-screen behavior has taken hold with hotel shoppers travelling across screens, like they cross the street, to uncover your hotel’s story and to gain insights into a potential stay. Handing off the digital experience among devices is becoming the norm, and is reinforced with new platforms that are making it easy to pick up one device and move to another, with virtually no interruption of the activity you were doing. The use of mobile in the travel shopping journey is growing faster than expected with 52% of consumers using smartphones to research trips and 25% to book accommodations.3 Interestingly, of the estimated 30 billion annual mobile searches, more than one-third are local. Hotel search, in destination, is considered a “local” search.4 This begs the question: considering the time and money spent driving consumers to your property, are your hotel stories mobile-optimized throughout the shopping journey? Your concierge, front desk staff and the “Where” magazine in the guest room may be overlooked by the immediacy of real-time citizen reporting made possible by the seamless integration of social media and the ubiquitous access to mobile technology. Guests are turning to their social networks while en route to your hotel or even while sitting in your lobby to learn about where to eat, shop, drink or just plain hang out. A Year In Review leonardo.com
  10. 10. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 10 Social Footprints To understand how to engage hotel guests on your social channels, you first must understand why they’re there. At the heart of it, people want to belong to a community, that’s why they join civic groups, sports teams, churches, and so on. In today’s world, hugely successful social platforms take that human characteristic and create a platform that combines the need to belong with something of value. Like turning to LinkedIn to rub elbows with potential employers, or staying tuned into Twitter to get breaking news. Notable hotel brands have created social relationships by developing an “experience driven” strategy aligned with the aspirations of their target guests. Best Western, as an example, tells video stories that describe the legacy and heritage of their independent owners and operators within each of their communities on YouTube. This strategy smartly creates an emotional connection to the brand and to the people running the hotel; giving shoppers a familiar impression before ever stepping foot onsite. The consumer feels trust and therefore their decision to stay at a BW is an easy one. Creating these feelings is what excellence in social interaction is all about. The growing pervasiveness and surge of smartphones has made social networking just a tap away.5 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28% do so on a typical day. Social networking is the place to be casual and authentic, using engaging imagery to accent your hotel’s story and to promote your experiences in and around the property in an understated and entertaining way. A Year In Review Best Western Indie Films on YouTube leonardo.com
  11. 11. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 11 Video, Video, Video In a recent YouTube whitepaper, they reported a year-over-year increase in the consumption of branded travel videos, with views of video up 118%. Additionally, two out of three U.S. consumers watch online travel video when they’re thinking about taking a trip.6 Moving media can provoke emotions better than still images and text – it can make a connection and be memorable; no wonder we’re seeing consumers go crazy over it. Millennials (or Gen Y) have grown up in a digital world – and their biggest pet peeve is trying to navigate non-optimized mobile sites. They love, love, love video, particularly short snippets of food experiences, bar scenes and communal areas. Social opportunities at every turn are expected. And by 2018, just three short years from now, Millennials are predicted to surpass the spending power of Boomers.7 In the “now” economy, consumers want snackable chunks of visual content, particularly with video. Best practice examples include two to three 12 – 45 second vignettes of your property experiences presenting guest rooms & suites, restaurant and lounge facilities and location of hotel with area attractions. Production of an overall hotel video, particularly when narrated by your concierge or GM offers consumers an option to visit with your property and its surroundings from start to finish when the time is right. This type of video also has its place in your media collection. Most hotels know guests take home the bath amenities – but after researching their needs, Hyatt Hotels realized that the toiletries they offered weren’t satisfying their customers, especially female ones. To appeal to more female travelers, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts created a snackable video showing prospective guests that they can expect new high-quality “hotel swag” when they book their next stay, and it went viral, with over 420,000 views to date. A Year In Review Hyatt Hotels & Resorts leonardo.com
  12. 12. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 12 Rise of Local We’ve always known this – i.e. your guest doesn’t check into their room, lock the door and never leave until check out date. Today’s hotel consumer is actually telling us what they’re interested in by virtue of their clicking behavior. In Leonardo’s extensive analysis of over 500 million views of media, we uncovered a startling discovery. Consumers don’t care about the exterior of your hotel (unless your building is of historical or architectural significance). What they care about is where they’re going to sleep and shower and what they’re going to do in and around your property. Now that we know what consumers pay attention to when shopping for a place to stay, it makes sense to craft stories around these features and amenities to address their questions and secure their booking. Bleisure You might have to travel for business, but it doesn’t mean that your vacations should take a back seat. Nor should your re-entry back from the beach be more painful that the sunburn you earned. There’s a new wanderer in town and they’re known as the bleisure traveler. This new breed thinks nothing of using their mobile devices to stay in touch with work while on vacation and is likely to add days of leisure before or after their business trip due in large part of the rise of mobile. With the use of mobile significantly growing within the travel industry, it is easier than ever for vacationers to stay in-touch with their work while on their trip. As mobile grows even more, so too will this new trend, which presents fresh opportunities for hotels to modify their stories, appealing more succinctly to this type of traveler. Top 10 Viewed Images On Travel Websites 1. Guest Rooms 2. Restaurant 3. Recreation 4. Lobby 5. Map 6. Business Center 7. Pool 8. Amenity 9. Exterior 10. Bar/Lounge leonardo.com
  13. 13. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 13 Content Marketing Contemporary consumers record programs to skip TV advertising, rarely focus on magazine ads, and have become so skilled at “online surfing” that they can absorb information without even a glance at banner ads that were once a favored format. They are blind to the conventional world of marketing and as a result, we’ve seen a shift in hotel digital media spending as we watch PPC (pay per click) budgets overtake display advertising.8 There must be a better approach to engage and keep the hotel shoppers’ attention. Enter content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing?9 Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Or put another way, it’s the art of communicating with your customers without selling to them. If we pay attention, there are lots of examples of best practice content marketing focused on delivering appreciated and respected information that resonates with a target group, drawing them closer to the company and its products. These clever marketers use a variety of channels to syndicate their content to consumers using Twitter, YouTube, email, websites, TV, Pinterest, mobile apps and so on. What Type of Content Do Travelers Want To See? Our eBook, Get in the Know About SoMo, is filled with content ideas from former hotelier and digital marketing expert, Mark Hayward. Check it out here (we especially point out page 17 for a week’s worth of content ideas). A Year In Review leonardo.com
  14. 14. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 14 Procter and Gamble, naturally, found a very inventive way to integrate their myriad of home & personal goods into a content marketing strategy that is useful and practical without being promotional. They created P & G Everyday, a website that provides consumers with beneficial and relevant information while subtly embedding their product solutions into the story. Montage Hotels & Resorts produces themontagemagazine. com that informs and delights every step of the way using classic storytelling techniques combined with big, rich visuals, and purposeful and local content. Their marketing team takes readers on an artful journey of their luxury collection, giving tips about roadside attractions, nearby cultural events and shares gourmet recipes for dog biscuits, which is their creative way of telling hotel guests they’re pet friendly. Through inventive content marketing, Montage has developed an affinity with their audience through this elegant publication by speaking to the lifestyle and destinations that they have in common; and in return, their properties stay top of mind during the consumer’s search for a place to relax, a place to have a cocktail, or a place to call home after a busy day of client meetings. The magic of great content marketing isn’t the platform or the technology, it’s the manner in which it is combined that is helpful to a community of customers in an open and friendly way inviting instant conversation and feedback. A Year In Review leonardo.com
  15. 15. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 15 The web is becoming more and more visual as technology continues to evolve. How do you see this evolving in 2015 and what should hotel marketers be doing in order to stay ahead of the curve? Many hotel execs don’t appreciate the value of quality visuals updated consistently, and the definition of “quality” has changed. A great Instagram photo or video, for example, can drive more exposure than the best professional photography. Hotel execs should engage Millennials to discuss what make a highly shareable photo. Stock-type photography is boring. Visuals should be more editorial in style with a lifestyle flair, communicating the vibe and experience at the property. The goal is to create imagery that’s shareable. The best way a brand can build exposure in the digital arena is by other people doing it for them by sharing on their networks. “ Greg Oates Travel Industry Editor and Hotel Strategist leonardo.com
  16. 16. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 16 Community Marketplace Grows The genie is out of the bottle. The peer-to- peer marketplace is here to stay and many businesses from powerful taxi companies to global hotel corporations are trying to figure out how to either crush these newcomers or somehow learn to coexist. The facts are that our “world is now wired to share and this creates an economy of what’s mine is yours.”10 Who would have thought that there would be enough trust between strangers that people would actually rent an apartment from some random person rather than from a trusted established brand? Well, they are and to the tune of billions. At a recent ISHC (International Society of Hospitality Consultants) conference in Austin, hotel leaders got together to discuss this very topic and its implications on hospitality – namely, the impact of the sharing economy by relative newcomers like Airbnb or Wimdu.11 Intellectually, these heads of hospitality know they must do a better job at telling stories and creating content to retain and attract hotel shoppers. By now, I think we all know that Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. Whether it’s an apartment for a night or a villa for a week, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, using stunning imagery, matching descriptions, integrated reviews and an easy to use booking widget. Emphasis on experience! It’s never just been about the rate, and it still isn’t; otherwise, everyone would stay in the budget friendly $49 a night hotel. A Year In Review leonardo.com
  17. 17. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 17 Chapter Two 2015 Predictions: content marketing leonardo.com
  18. 18. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 18 In our daily diet of online news from the likes of HotelNewsNow. com, Tnooz and Skift, it wouldn’t be surprising to read the following headlines as we drink our first cup of joe at home, take the train to the city, or scan the news on our smartphone while we’re stopped at the red light enroute to the office (not that we condone texting while driving ☺). Our predictions are organized into the four main areas we believe will be top of mind for Hospitality Marketers next year. Additionally, we’ll share practical takeaways that will help you prepare for the next 12 months. Content, But Not For The Sake Of Content When visual storytelling works it conveys impressions and invokes memories; when it works well, it makes us feel. That’s what content marketing is: creating and telling your story online, to reach your prospective consumer, with an emphasis on helping (informing), rather than just selling. And it’s what smart marketers are turning to in 2015. In fact, more than half of B2C marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next year. There are a lot of bright hotel marketers out there who already have the recipe for the secret sauce and understand that people don’t want to be “sold to” any longer. This is particularly true of the Millennials, a generation solidly grounded in the workforce, and they are traveling a lot. This group can smell a spin from a mile away so authenticity is essential to a successful marketing program, but they’re in good company – this sentiment transcends all demographics in today’s society. Good content is the stimulus that leads enquiring consumers through the shopping journey on their road to purchase, not an afterthought that surrounds the booking engine. Content Marketing 1888 Hotel leonardo.com
  19. 19. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 19 Be authentic. Today’s on-the-go travelers use their smartphones to take pictures and post them on social media sites – use this User-Generated Content (UGC) to your advantage. Thanks to technology, taking and publishing high-quality photos and videos for your hotel has never been easier. Today’s mobile devices are as much cameras as they are communication devices. With advanced, built-in cameras, photo editing software and downloadable social media apps, anyone can now create, publish and amplify visually engaging content – all from handheld mobile devices. Compliment your professional photography with UGC. There’s plenty of it out there on the social mobile web just waiting to be discovered – and once you do, you’ll gain new insight on what people love about your hotel and gain ideas to help you tell your hotel story. Plus, you’ll be showing guests’ stories from many perspectives to give them a complete picture of the experience they’ll have at your hotel (keep in mind your photos should be royalty-free or must be accompanied by proper credit information posted in the photo caption). Recruit your staff. Most hotels have a budding photographer on staff seeking exposure and feedback. Find out who they are and work out a barter arrangement, or hold an employee contest for new photos, with prizes for the best entries. Look around. Connect with the local tourism board and nearby attractions, restaurants and other vendors and suppliers for photos that showcase the experience of staying in your area. Get social. Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest contests are very popular for a number of reasons. They help promote the hotel and engage potential guests, both local and out of town. They also provide exceptional imagery that hotels can use on their websites, and they encourage online sharing. Create a photography lesson package with a local professional photographer throughout the year then let guests know that the best photos of the hotel and destination will be used on the website. Source leonardo.com
  20. 20. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 20 Sort your media into stories by connecting all of the wonderful attributes of your property, but start by keeping it simple. An easy way to get going is to create a dedicated page with special upcoming events in your destination. Update it weekly with interesting content (perhaps from the local CVB) and photos. Apply Steve Job’s “Think Differently” campaign to your hotel marketing plan as you consider your features and amenities relative to your competition. Even if you have similar things to offer your guests, express them more creatively and interestingly than the hotel across the street using multi-media and entertaining copy. Once you have their attention, integrate your stories with special promotions and offers giving them a reason to choose you. Consider the season, local attractions or special events. If it’s summertime, show off your pool, outdoor or recreational activities, local parks, beach or zoo. Does your specialty include weddings and events, consider a natural flow of photos and videos: happy newlyweds, the ballroom – empty, decorated, and then filled with guests, a romantic nearby setting, etc. Staying current with destination information is extremely important when managing your content, and we all know things change very quickly. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Take advantage of up-to-date event calendars from local businesses and CVBs, city.com and community websites for a heads up on what’s going on in your community. Transportation is always a top traveler consideration. Be helpful by providing links to local maps, public carriage options including the nearest subway/train station, bus stops or limo service. The idea is to give hotel shoppers an opportunity to see themselves in your stories, giving them a feeling of what their experience will be like at your property. Compliment the rich visuals with engaging descriptive text and think of your image captions as headlines in a newspaper or magazine: World Class Golf, Lakefront Dining, Free Internet. Curate leonardo.com
  21. 21. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 21 Now it’s time to layout your curated content or stories. The most popular and effective way to do this is to put them into multi-media galleries divided into logical subsections. Your content can go even further, as you repurpose it for your hotel website, social media pages, mobile sites, third party sites or even blog posts – the tone and design of your content should match the publication for which it’s intended. Got a hot restaurant or lounge? Publish a gallery that features the entertainment amenities of your hotel with stories that show the bartender creating cocktails accompanied by the drink recipes, or perhaps a 15 second video of the hopping sports bar during a hometown game. San Juan Water Beach Club knows how to be unique online – and showcases its creative dining options, like its Truffle Butter Popcorn Soup, in its web gallery. Don’t be afraid to replace the standard “Rooms & Suites” with “Pillow- Talk” or another fun description, like this hotel does, or create dining options under a tab like “Zest.” Of course, you want consumers to be able to find your carefully created stories quickly and easily, which makes search engine optimization (SEO) an important consideration during this phase. SEO-Publish leonardo.com
  22. 22. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 22 enabled photos and videos will ensure that consumers can find you as they search through the pages of choices available to them across travel websites. SEO drives them to your website, but it’s equally important to present your guests with your visual story “above the fold.” This is the space of your web page that’s visible on the initial view without any scrolling. It’s your most valuable real estate. Begin telling your story the moment the guest walks through your “digital front door;” it’ll keep them engaged and interested in what you have to offer. The publishing stage should also consider platforms beyond your own website such as mobile optimization, social sites and online travel sites. 75% of leisure travelers switch between devices to conduct the same travel related planning or booking activity which means your content should be optimized for desktop, tablets and smartphones to win their business.12 Think about how one piece of content can be re-used and published across a variety of channels. Although creating content is so easy using your smartphone, you don’t need to constantly create and publish brand new content every time you need fresh content. For example, start by shooting a video using your smartphone camera and post it to YouTube and Facebook in its entirety. Then, take still shots of interesting parts within the video using the screen capture functionality on your smartphone. Post the photos to your hotel’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest pages – or even your hotel website. Once your original content becomes a few months old, you can post it to your social media channels again with a fresh caption to make it more timely and relevant. Content Marketing leonardo.com
  23. 23. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 23 Now that your content is assembled, organized and designed, it’s time to amplify it. There are many wonderful marketplace opportunities for you to take advantage in today’s digital world. Hotels have unique stories to tell different audiences, e.g. your story to a family with kids will be different than the picture you paint about hosting a girls’ getaway weekend. Hotel Giraffe tells a unique story online and targets its key demographics with compelling images and mentions local events their customers may be interested in. First, identify the websites and social channels your guests are using and ensure your content is appealing, up-to-date and tablet/smartphone accessible. Next, match your target demographics and your unique story to the appropriate travel channel. Do you cater to corporate travelers? Then your presence should dominate corporate channels like Concur, GetThere, Corporate Travel Management, etc. Want to target brides-to-be? OneWed. com, Apple Vacations, or Tourico Holidays are great sites to share your hotel story emphasizing features that brides are looking for. You don’t need to limit yourself to one key demographic, or target audience; however, the point is that your hotel story can be aimed at different types of guests, highlighting the experiences that are most relevant and interesting to them. Once that’s done, amplify your story on the channels being used by your ideal guest. Amplify leonardo.com
  24. 24. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 24 Content Marketing Consistency is the cornerstone of every successful company or product. One of the most valuable things you can do for your guests is to give them the assurance that the property experience will be the same each and every time, regardless of how the booking is made. This is only accomplished if you tell the same story from website to website, including your own. According to a recent study by Webtrends, leisure travelers use an average of 6.5 travel sites during the shopping phase alone. If your guest sees disjointed views of your hotel as they surf around, their confidence in your hotel’s ability to deliver on their expectation is reduced along with the opportunity that they’ll choose you when it comes time to make a reservation. Content marketing is part of The Epicurean Hotel’s digital marketing strategy online – and they do it well. Take a look at how they pick and choose various aspects of their unique hotel story, and feature them prominently on their website and social media channels. These personalized aspects make the hotel stand out and seem authentic and friendly. leonardo.com
  25. 25. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 25 Raise your hand if you would like to increase prices? Raise prices? Tell a better story. In a world where everything is rapidly being commoditized, it’s refreshing to know that an authentic story, wrapped with rich meaning and visuals can actually help you substantiate a higher price. In other words, consumers are willing to pay more for an anticipated experience and hotel shoppers are no different. So, if you’d like to get $10 more per night than your competition across the street, tell a better story. This equation holds true for all types of hotel properties, from budget accommodations up to the luxury category. The challenge for many hotel marketers is how to best communicate their value to the consumer. Successful companies are using tried and true storytelling techniques to capture the attention of their audiences and create an emotional connection with them. This approach subsequently leads to a selling environment where the consumer can “see and feel” the product and in turn will pay for the anticipated experience. Start by creating a framework to capture the value of your property. Have you ever done something extraordinary for a guest? Do you provide differentiated service that nobody else Content Marketing Did You Know? Hoteliers, want to raise prices? Travelers will pay more when you’re telling a compelling story online. leonardo.com
  26. 26. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 26 offers? Is your location a hidden gem in the city? Align these attributes with rich multi-media (photos, videos and virtual tours), together with snackable descriptions that represent the reasons why you’re worth the extra money. Once you’ve created the interpretation that capitalizes on your hotel’s best features, prepare your story to be told everywhere consumers are searching for hotels. Is your hotel’s mobile website optimized? Are your business pages created for Facebook and Pinterest? Do you have a modern multi-media gallery on your hotel’s website? And finally, once all the preparation is complete, be sure you’re pushing or amplifying your stories on all the channels that matter – review sites, corporate and meeting planning sites, OTAs, and of course, your independent and brand websites. How can hotels stand out in 2015? Try to be visual and tell YOUR story, no matter on which platform. Every property has something specific like its location, “ history, people on your team, special treats, an amazing chef, etc. Elaborate around this and use it, so your potential guests get a glimpse on who you are and what to expect from a stay at your hotel. Stock-type photography is boring. Visuals should be more editorial in style with a lifestyle flair, communicating the vibe and experience at the property. The goal is to create imagery that’s shareable. The best way a brand can build exposure in the digital arena is by other people doing it for them by sharing on their networks. Daniel Zelling Founder, opensmile Content Marketing leonardo.com
  27. 27. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 27 What role will visual storytelling play in helping hotels increase bookings in 2015? The increased use of image-oriented social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram reflects the value guests place on visual content. Facebook “ users upload some 200,000 photos every single minute to the site. And plenty of research shows that improving image quality and quantity helps guests trust your hotel product, and works to increase conversion rate, as well. The efforts OTAs and Google Tim Peter Digital Marketing Expert Tim Peter & Associates have made in creating custom image content alone should underscore the importance they place on images. The more you can do to keep a fresh supply of high-quality images on your sites and on third-party distribution channels, the greater results you should expect to see. Visual storytelling is older than spoken and written language. Of the five bodily senses, sight informs the majority of our experience in the world. We are visual “ creatures. Entertaining, dynamic, humorous, uplifting and authentic stories always work to communicate a message, no matter the place or time. Tell an effective story and you have people hooked, this never fails. Joshua Johnson Freelance Digital Media Producer Content Marketing leonardo.com
  28. 28. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 28 Content Marketing “Veni, Vidi, Vici” This quote from Julius Caesar, I came, I saw, I conquered can be appropriately translated into today’s digital marketing vernacular. Your search engine marketing efforts lured the hotel shopper to your website, Facebook page or brand site – so they came. What was waiting for them when they arrived: a visually driven website that engages the senses while succinctly describing the experience? They saw. Finally, did this experience captivate them enough that your property stayed top of mind as they went down the shopping and decision path? Did you conquer or secure the sale? While the web clearly wasn’t around in 47 B.C., the battle for hotels to attract and retain customers may be just as challenging as Caesar’s conflict, oh so long ago, near the coast of Asia Minor. Look around the internet and it’s quite apparent that visually-driven websites are becoming the norm. More and more hotel websites, developed by both brands and properties are creating platforms to publish their visual stories, providing a compelling and engaging experience for its visitors. The text-heavy designs leonardo.com
  29. 29. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 29 of the early 2000’s are going by the wayside and image-driven web interfaces are emerging fast in large part due to quicker broadband speeds, cellular networks, and high resolution screens. Consumers want to be informed and entertained, and when the time comes, make their purchase decisions on whatever device they happen to be using at the time. Are you prepared? According to Deloitte, the most successful brands in 2015 will be those that are able to most efficiently engage with consumers and clearly differentiate what they offer.13 Delivering their brand experience consistently will be vital. uu Keep content snackable and as seen through the eyes of your guests. Having “bite-sized” stories doesn’t mean a series of photos that the consumer can zip through, but rather it’s the art and science of presenting short vignettes about the key elements of your property. This is accomplished through 12-45 second videos, bulleted or bolded text descriptions, and photos that conjure up emotions with insights into your environment. uu Include video in your visual story: One of three leisure travelers and 56% of business travelers engaged in travel-related YouTube activities within the last six months, according to the Google 2014 Traveler Study. As video becomes a larger consideration during the shopping journey, it’s increasingly important for hotel marketers to get ahead of the curve. A strong visual presence, particularly with short video snippets telling your story will hook your audience and endear you to them. uu Include reviews in your story. Reviews used to be just words now they’re often more than that, with images and video added. Take advantage of these guest stories because they provide you with rich insights into how the hotel guest sees you, which in turn you can use to fine tune your marketing messages. According to Cornell, consumers “believe” the review when there is more of it, so drive up interaction and contribution of photos and videos along with commentary.14 Reviews are the most powerful value indicator for consumers. Shoppers also use reviews to draw conclusions about value and quality, which is why competing solely on price is rarely a good idea. Content Marketing leonardo.com
  30. 30. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 30 Practical Takeaways: Content Marketing Today’s consumers don’t just want to hear about what your hotel offers - they want a story they can envision themselves being a part of. Use these practical tips to make the most of content marketing. 1 2 3 1. Create. Use. Reuse. Repeat. 2. Think about what makes your hotel unique: What are the key features and amenities that make a guest choose you over a competitor? These features should be a key part of the hotel story you’re creating and sharing. 3. The most successful hotels will be ones who can create a consistent story across all channels and devices – so the travel shopper understands your story and brand whether they’re researching on their smartphone, booking on their tablet or checking out your social media page. leonardo.com
  31. 31. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 31 Chapter Three 2015 predictions: the shopping journey leonardo.com
  32. 32. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 32 Could It Get More Complicated? Yes, and it probably will, but there is a light in this tunnel, and it’s called visual storytelling. In 2015, visual storytelling will become even more important for hoteliers who want to navigate the complex shopping journey and stand out online. Let’s review the stages of the shopping journey which by most travel marketing standards consists of five steps. What they’re labelled varies from company to company, but the approach is consistent: Inspiration & Awareness, Consideration, Intent, Decision, and Post-Purchase (reviews & sharing). Now, look at the growing list of options consumers have to wade through just to figure out the right choice for their travel needs. Property websites, hotel brands, corporate booking tools, GDSs, airlines, holiday and destination planning sites, review sites, meta-search, and mobile and social channels top the list. There are literally hundreds of thousands of travel channels. What’s most interesting about the combination of the shopping phases with the complex digital landscape is the important role visual storytelling plays. It wasn’t that long ago when a travel site (pick one, any one), had a listing of hotels, with a large price point and a thumbnail image of the property, usually the exterior. Increasingly, wise marketers have moved from the boring text-heavy presentations at the turn of the century to websites that are dominated with rich media, like big, bold images, short, snackable videos and descriptive text. This approach transports viewers to “their place” by showing what it’s really like and according to MDG Advertising, content with images gains 94% more total views than non-visual content.15 “The right picture can go further than just telling your story visually, it can make you feel emotions, evoke memories and even make you act differently,” which is an essential motivator to move people along the path to purchase.161 leonardo.com
  33. 33. How can hotels stand out from the competition on multiple travel channels in 2015? This is a fantastic question and the answer can be summed up by what I like to call “C Squared,” which represents consistency and caring! Hoteliers, of course, can have profiles on every single travel channel that’s available online. However, they must be willing to show up day in and day out over the long-term. It seems cliché to emphasize this but many, many properties are still using social media solely as advertising and distribution channels. Yet, in order to see real success it must become a conversation and communication channel akin to a digital concierge. “ Mark Hayward Former Hotelier & Digital Marketer How did the shopping journey change in 2014 and what changes do you expect for 2015? As opposed to identifying a market segment and focusing marketing efforts against it, Big Data has turned the process upside down. Organizations are now looking at the actual purchases and then looking for patterns to identify micro-segments of guests to target. To oversimplify, travel sellers will evaluate converted bookings and then trace paths and data points back up the funnel to identify the combination of signals that created the greatest probability for conversion. They may identify that the best time to advertise an all-inclusive beach destination is the weekend following a major snowstorm, but that the less expensive properties sell better on Friday night, while the luxury properties sell best on Sunday morning (a totally fictional example). “ Robert Cole Founder, RockCheetah SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 33 leonardo.com
  34. 34. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 34 Practical Takeaways: The Shopping Journey17 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1. Make an early impression in the consumer’s purchase path with video. 67% of leisure travelers watch videos when thinking about taking a trip and 61% tune in when they are choosing a destination 2. Consumers want to recognize a brand when they’re in the awareness and consideration stage, making it important for hotels to have a consistent story across all of the sites being used 3. 45% of travelers plan to research or use peer-to-peer sharing accommodations like Airbnb, so now is the time to step up your visual storytelling to help level the playing field 4. Value is indifferent to property type. Focus on the story to communicate the experience in a way that justifies spending 5. Mobile is important throughout the entire shopping journey with 75% of leisure travelers switching between devices to complete planning and booking. Being optimized for smartphones and tablets shouldn’t be a back burner initiative any longer 6. Be optimized for the multi-screen world. More than half of leisure hotel bookers who use their smartphone for inspiration, ultimately book another way 7. 80% of hotel bookers watch online videos to make a decision regarding their accommodations. Video production isn’t as expensive as it used to be and there is an option for every budget leonardo.com
  35. 35. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 35 Chapter Four 2015 Predictions: the power of social media and mobile (somo) leonardo.com
  36. 36. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 36 The Social House That Mark Built Sure, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t the first to build a social network, but he took it to an entirely new level 10 years ago when he initially developed Facebook to give fellow students a visual of their classmates and a way to connect with each other. Today, social marketing is used by hundreds of thousands of companies to build customer relationships in a nuanced and sophisticated way. Consumer behavior has dictated what, how, and when they want to interact with companies, and with each other. It’s pretty clear that people are looking for good storytelling on hotels’ social channels. Humans are curious creatures. We love conversation and comments. We want to be heard and understood. Our definition of social networking has expanded over the last several years, whereas it may have started with Facebook, now it includes platforms that support video or image only sharing, location based services, conversations with the “suits,” news aggregators, group buying and selling, along with micro-and blogging sites. And multi-media is the common denominator for the leading social marketing companies. It’s woven into the experience – whether it’s your bio picture or company graphic on LinkedIn or a video on how to carve a Halloween pumpkin on Pinterest, today’s social communication is dominated by visuals. And that’s a good thing because in our busy, busy world, where time is the new currency, visuals are processed much, much faster than words. In fact, people have drawn for 32,000 years, while we’ve only written for 5,000; and in today’s society, pictures help pull us out of our noisy surroundings to provide transparency and context. Though storytelling has always thrived on property, it really hasn’t been until recent years that our marketing tools and technologies have given us the ability to source, curate, publish and amplify these stories in today’s multi-screen, multi-channel universe. The Power Of Social Media and Mobile leonardo.com
  37. 37. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 37 It’s also hard to talk about social without including mobile in the same discussion, because people don’t distinguish between the two as perhaps marketers do. They just know that whatever and whomever they’re engaging with at the time needs to be authentic, amusing, helpful and visual. There is much (and growing) research that tells us about the critical role Social + Mobile, a.k.a. SoMo, plays in the daily lives of consumers. uu Social networking has passed gaming to become the #1 mobile app activity18 uu 60% of time spent on the mobile internet is devoted to social networking19 uu Approximately 400 million of Facebook users are “mobile only”20 uu Adding a photo to your tweet can boost retweets by 35%21 What opportunity will the rise of SoMo present to hoteliers? Probably the most interesting development for me to monitor closely is Twitter with their ‘Buy Button’ for e-commerce tested in the U.S. right now. Imagine to have the full booking process for your hotel´s promotions covered on Twitter including the payment for a small transaction fee! We also have Facebook on the path to become a “Social Search Engine.” You might want to try entries such as “Hotels visited by my friends” or more specifically “Hotels visited by my friends in Los Angeles.” Question is: what would we rather trust when looking for a hotel in Miami for our next trip? The results we get from Google, the results on TripAdvisor OR the comments and check-ins from our Facebook friends at hotels in Miami? I am really curious about how much effort Facebook will push into this functionality and when this will be available as well for additional languages, as the data they have in their hands is extremely powerful! “ Daniel Zelling Founder, opensmile Did You Know? In today’s society, pictures help pull us out of our noisy surroundings to provide transparency and context. leonardo.com
  38. 38. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 38 The Power Of Social Media and Mobile The 2014 summer marketing phenomenon can be summed up in 3 words: Ice. Bucket. Challenge. In a little less than 1 month, the ALS marketing team generated about $90 million compared with $2.6 million over the same period last summer. The “SoMo” of this is that ALS engaged people, encouraged them to tell their ice bucket story simply by taking a video with their smartphone or tablet and posting it to YouTube or Facebook. People went out of their way to script the story, film and share! leonardo.com
  39. 39. The four components of their well- orchestrated campaign were fairly simple. Here are some ways you can learn from this marketing campaign and incorporate the elements into your hotel’s visual story: 1. Create personalized content Not everyone will engage the same way, so they offered two ways to participate: Donate money directly or voluntarily dump ice water on your head. Hotels: Mimic a similar tactic by reaching out to guests in different ways depending on the content and platform. Create an instant chat about a featured menu your chef has prepared on your website to engage people onsite, celebrate a guest’s birthday on your Facebook page or Instagram with photos or a short video, or celebrate a sporting event with pictures and a corresponding hashtag on Twitter. “Let’s go #dallascowboys @ hiltongardeninntimessquare.” It’s not just one thing. 2. The Positive Power of Peer Pressure ALS used Facebook’s tagging feature to challenge a friend as the next target. Videos went wild – how else to best illustrate the emotional and physical shock of pouring ice water on yourself or allowing others to dunk you? And lastly, there was accountability because the posts & videos were tagged back to your wall. Hotels: Launch a referral programs using Facebook like “refer a friend” and win a chance to enter the drawing for two free cocktails at your trendy bar. Create a mutual sharing program with your local hotel partners e.g. florists, caterers, etc., inviting them to participate in your content creation and vice versa. The Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Surprise entices travelers on Facebook by letting them know they’re close to popular sporting events. 3. Celebs It’s an old trick, but it works – Kermit the Frog, Robert Downey Jr. and Martha Stewart all took the plunge. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 39 leonardo.com
  40. 40. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 40 The Power Of Social Media and Mobile Hotels: You may not need Taylor Swift or Emma Stone to make your campaign, but perhaps there are well known community personalities that you can snag. Think local chefs, and mixologists, or someone else who would hold some significance with your guests – even the newest furry arrival at the local zoo! 4. Fun ALS launched the marketing event in the hottest part of year, everyone wanted to cool off and we saw that people got really, really creative, both with the ice bucket activity and donation contributions. Hotels: Have a good time relative to your property and its surroundings. If the hotel is snowbound, have a snow people making contest. Give prizes, encourage sharing. Halloween? Have your employees do reverse trick or treating with guests and hand out sweets. Ask your staff for other ideas based on these examples. The Sol Wave House calls themselves the “First Tweet Experience Hotel,” and judging by the way they use this popular social media channel with unique hashtags, contests and more, they truly are! leonardo.com
  41. 41. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 41 Video = Super Glue If pictures are the glue, then online videos are the super glue of stickiness and long lasting effects, particularly as a growing consideration in the travel shopping journey. Here’s what the 2014 YouTube whitepaper and the 2014 Google Traveler Study revealed about online video activity: uu According to the 2014 Google Traveler study, search engines are used as their first step in trip planning, coming at the expense of apps, so your multi-media (photos, videos and virtual tours) should have the appropriate meta tags to maximize your presence in search results uu Travelers are engaging with brands and content creators more and more. So far this year, subscriptions to top travel channels increased 106% YOY. Check out what DoubleTree does with this storytelling opportunity!22 uu People view content across all of YouTube’s travel categories such as destination & attraction related videos which tells us that guests’ interest is not reserved for the inside of your property, but rather what’s in and around the hotel uu Travel shoppers are watching video in adjacent content areas like restaurants, spas/fitness, sports and cooking demonstrating that the travel category is lifestyle-oriented uu Travel vlogs (i.e. video blogs), receive 4x more social engagement than other types of travel content. People tend to find them more engaging on a per view basis and often more authentic, particularly with the younger audience (ages 18 – 24) uu The older audience (ages 25 – 64) tend to view a wider range of online video content further along the purchase path extending to brand information, reviews and tips. Creating short video snippets (12 – 45 seconds) is a smart way to cover your bases The Power Of Social Media and Mobile DoubleTree by Hilton on YouTube leonardo.com
  42. 42. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 42 Be discerning with your content on social channels, the mantra “less is more” should be applied to posts. A Facebook post on Instagram isn’t going to have the same cache as an image or video. Practice good writing techniques using bulleted or bolded text that describes your features and amenities in an amusing and subtle way. A solid social video strategy helps properties stimulate and influence hotel shopping decisions more than ever before. Create a plan and start simply by asking some basic questions. Who will be responsible? What stories will you tell? Where will you find them? How often will you post the video content? Learning how to repurpose content will be critical to a hotel marketer’s efficiency because it’s increasingly challenging to keep up with the demand for fresh content. And after all, social marketing should be fun for everyone involved, not a chore that always seems to take a back seat. Video is an important tool to reach and engage travel shoppers, yet it seems hoteliers are hesitant to adapt. How might this change in 2015 – and why? The cost associated with creating good video content is a challenge for hotels. The ROI potential is there if videos are engaging from a consumer standpoint, versus designed solely as push marketing vehicles. Too many videos feel like generic sales tools. Videos with hotel staff, local small “ Greg Oates Travel Industry Editor & Hotel Strategist businesses, behind-the-scenes vignettes at hotels, insider perspectives, etc. are popular and drive traffic. This is a huge trend and hotels should start experimenting. User-generated videos are potentially another option, depending on the property. The Power Of Social Media and Mobile leonardo.com
  43. 43. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 43 The Power Of Social Media and Mobile How can hotels stand out in 2015? Sights, sound and motion get attention and inspires. A product manager for a prominent OTA told me that despite all the conversion testing they run, the one “ universal truth is ‘pretty pictures sell hotels.’ Hoteliers with source imagery and websites that offer small, technically inferior and poorly composed content are doing themselves a disservice. Why would a guest have the slightest interest in seeing the hotel’s porte-cochere as the lead image on the website? Or a stylistically lit nighttime shot of an empty bar? True, it Robert Cole Founder, RockCheetah may be more complicated or expensive to get signed releases, use models, or hire a professional photographer for important shots, but when well executes, it makes a huge difference in the final product. leonardo.com
  44. 44. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 44 Mobile Takeover In 2010, Steve Jobs predicted that tablets would eventually takeover PCs. His prophecy will become true in 2015. Gartner predicts a total of 320 million tablet sales, versus just 316 million PC sales (desktops and laptops).23 However, this is small potatoes compared to mobile. Next year, Gartner predicts ~ 1.95 billion mobile phone sales — around 70% of which be smartphones. Now, imagine this scenario. Friends are sitting around, talking about where to take their next vacation. Everyone in the discussion pulls out their tablet or phone and someone grabs the laptop that is already on the table. Ideas are starting to flow and the group decides to head to San Francisco for a long weekend. The million dollar question: where to stay? Nob Hill, North Beach or the Mission District? So many choices, where do I start? 57% of leisure travelers and 64% of business travelers will start the shopping and booking process with search and then go from there. Eventually this crowd converges on the Mission District because of its nightlife, cuisine and coolness. Now they need a place to stay. Fingers are flying over the keyboards. Jennifer, on the laptop, is the first to come up with a great selection of options and directs the rest of the group to the website to continue shopping. Uh, oh. Of the three hotel choices she can clearly see on her device, two of them are not optimized for mobile and therefore Jessica and Rachel, who are using their tablet and smartphone, can’t see the entire picture the way Jennifer does. 61% of mobile users abandon non-mobile optimized websites. From here, The Power Of Social Media and Mobile leonardo.com
  45. 45. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 45 you can probably figure out the rest of the story. Consumers expect to see great visuals, even on the smaller screens of their smartphones and tablets because it helps them imagine the experience they could have at your property. The mobile market is booming as travelers are turning to their smartphones and tablets throughout the shopping journey. Mobile traffic has grown 125% in the last year,24 and this growth is expected to continue. This increase drives the need for your hotel to create an optimized mobile website that offers an easy-to-use shopping experience. Additionally, Google’s 2014 research shows that only 23% of those who have encountered a mobile site that wasn’t optimized actually pushed through. That’s a lot of money left sitting on the table. It’s time to ramp up your mobile marketing strategies. Savvy hotel marketer citizenM is totally mobile optimized for hotel shoppers, but what is also notably clever is that they accentuate the “I get the mobile message” in their marketing strategy by showing their guests in a variety of situations using their portable electronic devices; lying on the bed checking texts, sitting in the lounge updating presentations on their laptops, and watching movies on their tablets. This double-pronged solution for the mobile traveler provides a good shopping experience and gives their target audience an effective and impactful visual presentation of the anticipated experience. The Power Of Social Media and Mobile citizenM Hotels leonardo.com
  46. 46. Make sure your hotel story is told on all the devices travel shoppers use to search for travel by having smartphone and tablet optimized websites that automatically reformat to fit the user’s screen. Alternatively, you could create a single responsive website using the same CSS files. You can also develop an adaptive website using the same CSS, giving you the ability to choose which content goes where (this comes in handy if you want to create special offers unique to shoppers searching for travel via their mobile devices). To respond to the mobile trend, eCommerce marketers are adopting responsive design implementations which automatically render and function appropriately according to the device being used. This may be more time consuming in development, but ultimately gives the consumer the best experience as they travel across screens and increasingly shop, book and interact with your hotel throughout their day. The multi-device movement will increase in the coming years. According to a Hudson Crossing study, by 2018, 91% of travelers will own a smartphone and 89% will own a tablet.25 Consumers are “uber” mobile – pun intended. People on mobile devices have a much shorter attention span compared to desktop (or even tablet), so it’s important that videos be snackable and in mobile-friendly formats. According to HeBS, the majority of mobile bookings in 2014 are coming from the voice channel, so a key element of your mobile website design should be a clearly visible “call” button.26 Also, embed a map of your location with easy to access contact information. The Power Of Social Media and Mobile How has the cross-device, multi-screen behavior impacted hoteliers and what can they do to ensure that their hotel is telling a consistent story across all devices? We all know that customers are using multiple devices, at different times and stages of inspiration, shopping and booking. The trick is to 1. Be everywhere throughout the process and 2. Where possible, make the transition between screens easy for your shopper. “ Adam Anderson Director, Industry Relations Expedia SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 46 leonardo.com
  47. 47. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 47 The Power Of Social Media and Mobile What’s the most important thing hotel marketers need to know about mobile in 2015? No matter how much focus you’ve given mobile to this point, you can still do more. Data from Google suggests that 100% of all the growth in search volume now comes “ from mobile. More than half of all smartphone users sleep with their devices, for fear of missing out on emails, calls, texts, and Tweets. As a result, mobile often represents the first experience guests will have with your property. And for most hotels, that Tim Peter Digital Marketing Expert Tim Peter & Associates mobile experience — from discovery, research, and booking, through on-property and loyalty — has plenty of room for improvement to attract and retain guests. In 2014, mobile Internet usage for the first time exceeded desktop usage! For me, mobile is and will be all about the experience and conversion. Speed, easy navigation, intuitive handling - not available on your site? You just lost me and potentially the majority of all the other guys out there researching your information via mobile. “ Daniel Zelling Founder, opensmile Did You Know? Only 23% of those who have encountered a mobile site that wasn’t optimized actually pushed through. leonardo.com
  48. 48. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 48 Staybridge Suites Oakville’s mobile-optimized website provides the contact information travel shoppers need, making it easy for them to call with one click. Imagery creates messages & stories that are not lost in translation and instantly inspires a reaction which is why they’re such a natural fit on mobile devices. Since there is less room for “stuff” on the screen, and it has an immediate impact. Say hello to the “Silent Traveler.” These are consumers who don’t just use their mobile devices to research and book hotels, but they also turn to them first to solve any problems they encounter when they travel, instead of getting in touch with the hotel’s customer service staff. These travelers are predominately Millennials and we know they love technology; in fact, it practically defines them. These guests are not waiting for hotels to answer their questions or solve their dilemmas – they’re turning to mobile and reaching out to hotels on social media for information, possibly without even contacting your hotel directly. They’re looking for highly personalized experiences on-site and off – they want hotels to tell a unique story about the type of experience they’ll have when they book their stay. Highlight features that really appeal to this group like your free smartphone and tablet chargers (for both Android and iPhone). Of course, your complimentary Wi-Fi is easy to communicate with the right visuals and a short caption. This new Silent Mobile Traveler, as documented recently by Skift, can be summed up in just a few words: self-reliant but extremely mobile-dependent. An optimized mobile experience makes it super easy for travel shoppers to learn about your property and book when the time is right. Don’t be “swiped” off the consideration list because of a bad or non-existent experience. Good stories aren’t told once, they’re told over and over again, so enable sharing via email, texting and across your most popular social sites. Staybridge Suites Oakville leonardo.com
  49. 49. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 49 Practical Takeaways: SoMo (Social + Mobile) Making the most of SoMo can help you tell a better hotel story - and reach more travel shoppers, plus save you time and money by repurposing the content you already have! Follow these ten tips to add SoMo to your hotel digital marketing strategy. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1. Include engaging rich visual media created by you, your staff or your guests in your hotel story 2. Embed links to your social media channels prominently on your website 3. Make both your visual content and the supporting text descriptions “snackable” (short and sweet) 4. Encourage guests to share photos and videos during their stay 5. Actively monitor and engage on social media 6. Make sure your visual content is optimized for mobile (mobile-optimized visuals so travel shoppers don’t need to scroll through images on their mobile phones)46 7. Ask questions and include calls to action to boost interaction and exposure47 8. Select hashtags that are relevant to your brand and encourage guests to use them48 9. Make photos stand out by editing them using filters and enhancers within social apps49 10. Reuse and publish content to multiple social networks50 leonardo.com
  50. 50. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 50 Chapter Five 2015 Predictions: targeting leonardo.com
  51. 51. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 51 The web is moving to a very personalized medium. More and more, you’re going to see content tailored to your interests – it’s already happening on social sites and across the web (notice that ad for a shoe sale pops up, just after you’ve visited the shoe store’s website), but we predict it will continue to evolve further as companies learn to better personalize their content to the right consumer – and this is especially true for hotels. To stand out in 2015, hoteliers need to deliver the message appropriately for your market. To tell a story that impacts your ideal travel shoppers, first you must understand what stories resonate with them. Millennials, business travelers, leisure travelers and event planners are all searching for the right hotel property, but their requirements are very different. This type of targeting gets more complicated as you expand this definition to include the variety of growing travel markets around the globe like Asia. Understanding the characteristics, preferences and behaviors of your ideal audience, backed by reputable data, will help you efficiently expand your reach. Targeting Did You Know? The web will continue to evolve further as companies learn to better personalize their content to the right consumer. The Four Seasons and Resort leonardo.com
  52. 52. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 52 Getting In Bed With Millennials The Millennial Generation (Gen Y) has grown up. Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, this generation is one of the largest since the Baby Boom. According to ComScore, there are 79 million Millennials in the US. This generation has now established itself in the workforce, and they are traveling a lot for work. Worldwide, business travelers age 30 and under are going on trips 4.7 times per year and 30-45 year olds are only going 3.6 times per year. There is a huge potential market to be tapped, but the Millennials have a set of expectations that are vastly different than previous generations and understanding them is crucial to telling visual stories that resonate with them. For starters, Millennials thrive on authenticity, so giving them a clear path to guest reviews goes a long way with this crowd. Of the top purchases Millennials won’t complete without user generated content, hotels rank #3 at 39%.27 The Gen Y-ers also love to compare prices across different sites before purchasing online; in fact, on average they will check 10.2 sources before making a reservation.28 What this behavior is telling us is that hotels should emphasize offering a unique experience for a good price, if these are your guests. How much do Millennials love their phones? Well, 80% of them sleep next to these devices29 and they really, really dislike a non-mobile friendly site, so you won’t be developing any relationships here unless you’re aligned with their digital habits. Targeting leonardo.com
  53. 53. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 53 After You Pinterest is worth more than $5,000,000,000 because its 70 million users are rich, female and like to spend. This is the headline from Business Insider summing up what today’s well-informed marketer already knows: one of the most sought after consumer targets, women, account for more than 85% of all household purchases and in particular, 92% of vacation decisions.30 Consider this as well: 47% of all women who travel do so for business! In fact, the Clute Institute, a business journal publication, found that females represent around 40% of all business travel worldwide! It’s time to take notice and focus these powerful spenders in a more concentrated and effective way. Women don’t buy with the objective of collecting more things: they want the experience to go along with it, which is why, as we look to hospitality, combining the appropriate visual media along with rich descriptive text to create a compelling story, makes all the sense in the world. Modern day marketing begins with the seller’s story, i.e. your hotel’s story, accomplished by using a blend of pictures and narration, and, of course, the audience. In this case, we’re after the female traveler, a.k.a., the travel decision maker, and they want to be informed, entertained and inspired. Consumers of both genders scan for information online so use visual writing techniques like bolding, italics, bullets and short paragraphs, making it easy for them to select your hotel based on their requirements. Here are a couple of examples: Caption: Peace & Quiet Short Description: Dad’s got the kiddos, now its Mommy time! Onsite spas, pools and more Caption: In the Hood Short Description: Exit lobby. Turn right, drugstore and coffee. Turn left, quick lunch & adorable boutiques When you deliver on these essentials the ladies will choose you and your brand, and importantly, be loyal. Interestingly, women are more likely to join loyalty programs and stick with the brands that they most like, according to a new Skift report called The Rise of Female Business Travelers. leonardo.com
  54. 54. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 54 Bleisures: They’re Smart, Not Trendy A bleisure traveler is someone who is carrying out both business and leisure activities while on their trip. Who wants to come back from vacation with an overflowing email box, when for 15 minutes a day, I can swift through the messages and quickly address the most pressing or keep them moving along the food chain. Re-entry is a whole lot easier. Conversely, I’m meeting important clients on the coast on Friday, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to extend a day or two, and visit friends or family or just chill for the weekend. This is the Bleisure traveler. As the lines between business and leisure travelers blur, it presents an opportunity for hoteliers to ensure their hotel story is appealing to these new types of travelers, who are becoming a bigger player in the travel industry. With mobile, it’s easier than ever for vacationers to stay in-touch with their work while on their trip. In fact, 37% of managers expect their employees to check email while on vacation and 43% of international travelers have also admitted to taking their mobile professional devices with them on holidays or on weekend trips.31 As the number of travelers mixing business and leisure continue to rise, it presents fresh opportunities for hotels to incorporate bleisure travelers in your hotel’s visual story. Highlight features and amenities that would resonate with them most, and in turn expand your reach to a broader audience. Targeting Somerset Inn leonardo.com
  55. 55. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 55 Let’s not forget about the lucrative Convention Business. According to a recent report by Hotwire and Egencia, just under half (49%) of convention go-ers (ages 35-44) will tack on leisure time onto their work trip. This number increases to 56% when we look at younger business travelers (ages 18-34). Keep them at your property and in your city with can’t refuse promotions bookending the convention dates. Pullman Hotels & Resorts, which has over 80 four and five star properties around the world, targets the Bleisure traveler with their “Time for Pleasure by Pullman” promotion, designed to encourage business travelers to extend trips for leisure. This year, we saw the blurring lines between business and leisure travelers. How will these blurring lines affect the way hotels market to specific target demographics? It gets harder and harder to target some demographics because they are so blurred, but in general the business and leisure guests still want the same thing – a great experience. We will continue to focus on the experiences that we offer as even a guest coming for a leisure trip can see the benefits of a great experience from a corporate perspective. “ Lyn Kienholz Director of Sales Country Inn & Suites - Chanhassen Targeting Pullman Hotels & Resorts leonardo.com
  56. 56. Love Thy Neighbors Creating your local marketing storytelling strategy is vital to attracting more customers by being a helpful and trusted resource before, during and after their visit. Start by expanding your definition of local. Yes, your out-of-towners want information about neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, shopping and attractions, but don’t stop there. Extend your reach to your community – those that walk or drive by your property each day. What story are you telling them? Where do you start? As the lodging industry grapples with Airbnb, TripAdvisor and other locally oriented services, major hotel brands are increasingly taking a back seat to the surrounding neighborhoods. “Our facility is no longer the destination,” said one hotel executive. “Now we are a portal to the community around us.”32 About half of travelers want to explore the local area while on a business trip, according to a 2013 survey released by Millward Brown. For business travelers, “discovery” now ranks higher than “escape” or “indulgence,” per the survey. Is there a lovely place for afternoon tea, or a mellow “after work” piano bar in the area? Share these activity ideas with your guests; they’ll thank you for it by telling others about your recommendations. Partner on promotions with local businesses and stand out from your competition. It pays to be first in your comp set to be a unique and helpful host. We see brands like Red Lion Hotels offering distinctive settings and stimulating local experiences, which cater to middle-America travelers. Think about the activities going around your hotel for inspiration, the Hotel Galvez showcases local events on their hotel’s Facebook page. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 56 leonardo.com
  57. 57. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 57 Practical Takeaways: Targeting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. Identify the local demographics and map the details to your ideal potential customer base: families, singles, old, young, professional or tradesperson 2. Prepare a list of local businesses whose clients have the same profile; target them for online cross-promotional opportunities 3. Research your competitors. What are they doing to attract locals? One-up them with more interesting posts and offers and by making a deeper emotional connection using visuals and captivating headlines 4. Develop a property website that emphasizes the value and experiences you offer 5. Take advantage of destination sites and social sites like Facebook and Instagram to target travelers. 6. Link to area business websites and blogs with photos and anecdotes of a sporting event or celebration you hosted. 7. Promote special offers like half-price wine night in your lounge along with weekend specials to attract the “staycation crowd” 8. Double duty syndication with local CVB’s + third party channels. Locals also search across the web while planning their staycation 9. Prepare for 2015’s convention season by offering promotions to keep visitors in your town and importantly at your property before/after events leonardo.com
  58. 58. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 58 Chapter Six what the experts are saying leonardo.com
  59. 59. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 59 In 1938, Aldo Gucci said, “The story and experience is remembered long after price is forgotten,” and 76 years later, that adage still holds true. Each day, as hotel staff walk through the lobby & hallways, and back-of-the-house alcoves and hideouts, they come across anecdotes told by guests and fellow teammates. Take these stories and stitch them together with the hard-wired elements of your property like your clean and comfortable breakfast area, lively sports bar or proximity to the theatre district. Use the Lopez family reunion last fall as the backdrop to describe the hotel’s ability to host and cater special occasions for large groups. Perhaps you have the ideal location to mix business with pleasure. Walk through the neighborhood, pretend you’re your own guest, and notice the little things like the park across the street, a nearby subway station or dinner theatre. All of the content ideas you need are right at your doorstep and inside your building. Most hotel marketers will readily say that things are changing so rapidly, it’s hard to stay on top of it all. Keeping current will help you focus on the actions that are right for you to make things more manageable. Attend a 45 minute educational webinar that promises practical tips you can put into action, download an eBook and read a section each morning with your coffee, take 60 seconds to read that infographic that just arrived in your inbox. Of course, you also have the support of your brand, management companies, technology partners and industry associations at your disposal. Today’s travel consumer is in charge. They choose how and when they will shop for hotels. They decide what device is most convenient to conduct their research. They often prefer to solicit input from strangers on social channels rather than taking the brand’s word for it. The booking decision rests squarely on their shoulders and their selection is based on how well we can engage, inspire, and inform. Let’s prepare for a terrific 2015 together. leonardo.com
  60. 60. What are your top three hotel marketing predictions for 2015? Expect to see more and better hotel blogs. Hotels are understanding the value of quality content to drive consumers to their websites, build SEO and increase direct bookings. Websites should have an editorial space that can be updated consistently. User generated content continues to increase exponentially every year and hotels should incorporate that as much as possible in all brand communication platforms. Event/experiential marketing is growing in usage, and it’s a great way to engage consumers. Hotels should create on-property experiences or partner with local events to create storytelling marketing that’s shareable. We’re looking at trends like the importance of mobile for shopping and booking. In terms of functionality and UI, at Expedia we are firm believers in the A/B test. We try something out, compare it to the status quo and consumer behavior then dictates our decision. Social media analytics & campaigns will play a bigger role in 2015. So far, most hospitality businesses focus on Facebook media campaigns and statistics (if any), but now with the new reporting and campaigns provided by Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (partly in the U.S. only) there are new ways to test what works for your business specifically. In 2015, we should see a bigger split on where different businesses concentrate their marketing efforts depending on their customer base, location, property type and story. What The Experts Have To Say “ “ Greg Oates Travel Industry Editor & Hotel Strategist Adam Anderson Director, Industry Relations Expedia “ Daniel Zelling Founder, opensmjle SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 60 leonardo.com
  61. 61. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 61 What are your top three hotel marketing predictions for 2015? Multi-screen booking – Proactive hoteliers must place emphasis on the seamless integration of the multi-screen booking trend that is currently taking place. I predict an increased integration of user generated content across all touch points. Finally, hoteliers should pay close attention to Google over the next couple of months. Meta-search will of course continue to play a pivotal role in how potential guests search out and book their accommodations. Mobile-first Is Mandatory – Responsive Design and mobile-optimized websites are now a necessity for most hoteliers. Of particular focus will be providing a rich, branded experience, complete with quality imagery and multimedia. Travelers now expect the same experience on a phone as they do on a desktop – and they are currently disappointed – that will change. Rate Parity Gets Undermined – Hoteliers have relied on rate parity as a foundational element, not only in their customer value proposition but in their revenue management strategies and in simplifying their distribution processes. The ability to provide discounted rates on password protected sites has been around for years, but was the exception, now it will become the norm. With every major entity online possessing profiles of its users (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.) a practice that allowed tactical rates to target small, well-defined constituencies may become an expectation of the mainstream traveler. Customization & Personalization – Enable unique online and in-destination experiences. What The Experts Have To Say Mark Hayward Former Hotelier & Digital Marketer Robert Cole Founder, RockCheetah “ “ leonardo.com
  62. 62. What are your top three hotel marketing predictions for 2015? We’ll see an increased focus on the profitability of marketing activities. Now that RevPAR is growing, it’s time to focus not just on filling rooms, but on whether you’re filling those rooms profitably. Google, Facebook, and at least some OTAs will introduce new products to capitalize on this profit-focused approach. Google is rumored to be working on a “captive demand” platform to funnel more hotel activity within paid search, and away from OTAs and meta search. Priceline’s acquisitions of Buuteeq, Hotel Ninjas, and OpenTable show a desire to get deeper in the hotel value chain, and its success will depend entirely on how profitably hotels can adopt its platforms. Finally, hotel companies that help their guests manage discovery, research, booking, and loyalty across all channels – web, mobile, social, voice – stand to win in what looks to be a seller’s market for the coming year. In 2015 I anticipate brands embracing user-generated content on larger scales and incorporating UGC more significantly into their corporate image. The brands that empower their marketing departments as mini digital media production houses and engage professional content creators, influencers and tastemakers will create the biggest buzz, get the most eyeballs and position themselves on the cutting edge of online marketing. The web is about to get a whole lot more visual. 4K capable screens have arrived and will be the norm as time passes. I anticipate VR technology, such as Oculus, to graduate from video games and begin to play a major role in how we consume media and navigate the web. The future is very, very visual. More so than you or I can imagine. The time for thinking creatively about communication and boldly crafting compelling visual stories is now so that when the tech of the near future comes roaring into the room, you are ready to embrace the possibilities and innovate your message. What The Experts Have To Say “ “ Tim Peter Digital Marketing Expert Tim Peter & Associates Joshua Johnson Freelance Digital Media Producer SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 62 leonardo.com
  63. 63. What is the biggest opportunity you see for hoteliers at the property level in 2015? The biggest opportunities I would say are maximizing rates – limited the faded rate that all hotels tend to do. Furthermore, for hotel renovating, a big opportunity is to create more usable public space so that guests are not “locked in their guest rooms.” Lastly, mobile advertising and rich media. Making sure that your presence on the mobile platform is efficient will also help capture more business from both corporate and leisure travelers. What are your top three hotel marketing predictions for 2015? Reality Marketing. The era of fairytale descriptions and fantasy photography is giving way to reality marketing. Travelers want to know exactly what to expect, and if they’re misled, they’ll share their disappointment on social networks, damaging the hotel’s reputation. When hotels manage the guest experience with precision by setting realistic expectations through sales and marketing imagery and messaging and training and empowering staff to meet and exceed expectations, their guests will do the marketing for them. Integration of user-generated content with brand marketing content. Increasingly, we’ve been seeing user-generated content integrated on brand websites in the form of social feeds, review widgets and share buttons. The next wave is the integration of visual user-generated content, as Starwood and 1888 Hotel Sydney have done with Instagram integration. Lots more video. As video technology evolves, we’ll see even more of it on social networks and brand websites. More than any other medium, video tells the real story. Stay tuned for video that can be fast-forwarded and searched by keyword, video view counts on Facebook, and the next big craze: video selfies. What The Experts Have To Say “ “ Rupesh Patel President & COO Zenique Hotels Daniel E. Craig Founder, Reknown SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 63 leonardo.com
  64. 64. What are your top three digital marketing goals for 2015? In general, to have more of a presence on social media, Facebook specifically (plan out my schedule better & utilize Revinate to plan out the social media). 2. To update photos & look for ways to be creative in our photography. 3. Research brands from all over the world and find photographs that speak to me as different, engaging, etc. and look for ways to incorporate those types of photos on our site. Our three goals in a broad sense are mobile presence, social media, and online reviews. We are looking to enhance each of our hotel’s mobile presence with mobile sites and other mobile features that will make the guest’s experience more tech-friendly. For social media, we are running in-house campaigns to encourage guests to follow/ like our social pages. With a growing follower base, we will start offering discounts exclusively to each social site. For online reviews, we again will be continuing to encourage guests to write reviews. We have also been responding to all reviews on a few sites (positive and negative). Our digital marketing goals for 2015 are: 1. Multi-channel communications: linking messages to make the booking process easy, consistency in look and feel of all channel communications. 2. Increase reach: piggyback destination #hashtag promotions 3. Continue to improve e-newsletters and ensure they’re mobile and tablet optimized. What The Experts Have To Say “ “ Lyn Kienholz Director of Sales Country Inn & Suites, Chanhassen Rupesh Patel President & COO Zenique Hotels “ Elizabeth Vance Director of Sales & Marketing Stella Maris Resort Club SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 64 leonardo.com
  65. 65. SHOW, SHARE, STAND OUT: THE MOST IMPORTANT HOTEL MARKETING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2015 / 65 What are your top three digital marketing goals for 2015? 2015 is about relevant content and one-to-one marketing. In 2015 we should try to find out who this customer really is and how he/she behaves at that moment (intent). Knowing this we can help make the next step easier and make it a joyful journey. Our target for 2015 is: 1. Have a fully integrated/automated system in the entire customer journey. 2. Make better use of the social power/value of each customer 3. Be able to predict a website users next step and automate content/visuals based on that and learn from it. What should hoteliers focus on as they move into 2015? With all the OTAs, meta-search engines and social media sites, hoteliers tend to forget their main online business asset: their own website! We see huge efforts to keep up with all those other networks and platforms, but at the same time their own website still is not mobile optimized, has old content or not even a booking engine in place. Consistent and more varied content delivery across all channels. Understanding the Millennial traveler. Creating deeper connections among the hotel, consumers and local community. What The Experts Have To Say Lennert de Jong Commercial Director CitizenM Hotels “ Daniel Zelling Founder, opensmjle “ Greg Oates Travel Industry Editor & Hotel Strategist “ leonardo.com

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