Every day it is clearer: we are in a brave new world when it comes to marketing hotels. What worked, no longer does. Who we think our competition is, no longer is. And we need to accelerate our embrace of these changes to prosper in 2016.

Big trend 1: Airbnb and Homeaway are real. And getting realer.

I cringe when I hear independent hoteliers in particular solemnly pronounce, we are not seeing any impacts from Airbnb. What rubbish!

In science there is what is called "confirmation bias." Look it up. What it says, in essence, is that we err when we search for and favor information that supports our biases and we ignore information that challenges our biases.

The hoteliers who say there is no Airbnb effect do not have mastery of the full data set. They know only about themselves, maybe a few competitors, period. They are refusing to look at all the data.

Open up to the full range of data. The impacts of the sharing economy cannot be ignored, especially not in resort communities where there are innumerable second homes that often are empty. The sharing economy is the path to monetizing that asset.

Airbnb says it will top one million guests on New Year's Eve. Are we to believe - assuming there is in fact no impact from Airbnb on hotels - that all those people otherwise would have slept on plastic benches at Port Authority?

Homeaway, meantime, was just bought by Expedia - a company known to be good with the eyeshades and the red pencil - for $3.9 billion. Are we to assume Expedia's executives had a mental breakdown? Or just felt really generous?

Just stop saying there is no Airbnb effect. There is, whether you see it or not.

Big trend 2: Fully disclose relationships when tweeting and blogging and putting up social media about your property - and make sure all employees and contractors do likewise.

Many now expect the Federal Trade Commission to take some kind of action, probably against a hotel company or travel operator, for blogs and social media posts that do not reveal relations, especially compensation.

The FTC spells out what you need to do. Do it.

The FTC is not saying bloggers can't blog or that Facebook posters can't post. It is simply saying that if compensation is involved, disclose it.

Just do it.

Big trend 3: Revenue management gets real.

At least at independent hotels, revenue management generally is the 101 version, the early first draft. That just is not good enough anymore, especially because the big chains and management groups have been investing in second generation revenue management that will produce much better yield.

What's wrong with revenue management 101 is that it is all self-centered, that is, it is based on a deep dive into one's own data. Nothing more. Oh, maybe, a smattering of informal data from prime competitors. But nothing more sophisticated.

Real yield management requires a lot more data, especially comprehensive data on competitors and also macro economic data. You need to be asking, how will the Fed's interest rate hike impact travel? If you get a lot of Chinese guests, you need to factor in forecasts on that economy. You also need to use much more automated data gathering and analysis.

All this matters because the domestic air carriers - and their recent profits - show that real yield management really works. Hobby yield management is just the 101 version. Do better in 2016 because your smart competitors will.

Big trend 4: Reputation management is where the marketing buck stops in 2016.

The TripAdvisor impact only grows and grows.

Start taking TripAdvisor seriously, at the highest levels of your organization.

I remain unpersuaded about the necessity of third party reputation management companies for independents and small groups. Much of this can be done with firsthand energy and involvement. I never know what I will discover as I click into TripAdvisor in the morning and begin reading the pages of the hotels and restaurants for whom I work.

Facebook is a must, in my opinion, and I see ever more value in Instagram.

Just do it.

Master the trends and you will ride into the winner's circle. Ignore them and you can guess what will happen.

Babs Harrison
Babs Harrison + Partners
Babs Harrison + Partners