The Official Gift Guide for hotel marketers
Here's what hotel marketers REALLY want this year:
By Dave Spector, Partner at Tambourine
Listen up, hotel owners and asset managers.
No holiday is complete without our annual Official Gift Guide for Hotel Marketersto keep the season bright.
Just one heads up: This wish list is unlike any other.
Don't expect to be asked for the latest tech gadget or an all-expenses paid vacation.
What hotel marketers reallywant are the necessary assets, funds, and tools to reach their 2019 goals.
So, pass the festive cocktails.
Bring on the cheer.
Here's what hotel marketers REALLY want this year:
1. They want a budget correlated to revenue goals
Let's be realistic.
If you're holding your marketing team accountable to loftier revenue goals, you'll need to support that with a loftier budget. Unfortunately, there are still many hotel owners who believe marketers are miracle workers who can achieve more revenue with less resources, less tools, less staff, and less funds.
Want to achieve more in 2019?
Calculate how much you spent in OTA commissions in 2018, you'll quickly realize that investing in DIRECT marketing is one of the smartest moves you can make to boost margins. Support your hotel marketing team's efforts with the appropriate budget needed to hit revenue goals and to make the desired impact on 2019 profits.
2. They want compensation for driving measurable revenue
The sales team isn't the only department accountable to revenue goals anymore.
Hotel owners and asset managers are now expecting hotel marketers to contribute to the bottom line in a tangible way, beyond pretty pictures, Instagram posts and squishy "branding projects." In return, hotel marketing teams are beginning to track direct ROI, such as marketing cost per booking (MCPB), return on ad spend (ROAS) and direct website conversions.
Armed with these figures, hotel marketers want to be rewarded and compensated for contributing to their piece of the hotel revenue pie.
3. They want better digital marketing talent
To outperform your compset, you need an army of top talent at every level of your marketing department. After all, someone is behind every digital touchpoint - from social media, to the hotel website design, to email. Not to mention all the expertise needed behind-the-scenes, such as search marketing, data analytics, and CRM systems. While talented digital marketing professionals are aplenty all over the country, they are being reeled in by other industries that offer higher pay and better benefits and perks (think Google, Facebook, and virtually any major corporation with a website).
The first step to building an unbeatable team is recruiting employees who have both digital prowess and hotel marketing instincts. This means hiring staff who understand the hotel experience. Rethinking your compensation packages. And, making sure they understand the stages of the travel purchase funnel, ROI of each, and how to usher a visitor onto the next phase.
4. They want property upgrades …Please!
Every week, a hotel is announcing a stunning redesign or renovation, or breaking ground on a new property entirely. With so much shiny and new inventory on the market, it's getting near impossible to compete with an aging, tired product. No amount of innovative and brilliant marketing (and trust us, your marketing team is trying) can mask a shoddy hotel experience.
The solution IS NOT leaning more on your marketing team.
It's to invest in the necessary property upgrades to remain competitive. Travelers are more sophisticated and vocal than ever. It's vital to keep up with modern amenities, aesthetics, and experiences. Without improving your hotel product, trying to win over the hearts and wallets of guests simply with more marketing will be a never-ending battle.
Read more: Are You Putting Lipstick On a Pig?
5. They want the time and tools to handle more data
The effects of Big Data are enormous.
Think deep insight into your guests' behavior and preferences - past, present and future. Knowing which customers have the highest lifetime value and how to reach them. Aptly leveraging peaks and dips in your hotel's business cycle to reap the best possible net profit.
Not to mention, the responsibility to protect your guests and their personal data. The hospitality industry has been a target of security breaches since 2010. No hotel is immune and the effects on customers' security have been far-reaching. From independent properties to Marriott to Sabre Hospitality Solutions' reservation system, hackers have been able to collect secure customer data, including credit card numbers, addresses, names, login credentials, dates of birth and passport information.
Collecting, managing, analyzing, and protecting all this data can be exciting but also overwhelming. Hotel marketers need the tools and the funds to pull this off.
6. They want better benchmarking
Almost every hotel marketer we have spoken to has the same question: "How am I performing compared to similar properties?"
While we can rely on common benchmarks like STR's indexes, other key performance indicators like direct vs 3rdparty revenue ratio and website conversion rates can vary by market and property type. Thankfully, smart analytics companies like Kalibri Labs and others are helping hotel marketers understand critical KPIs and provide actionable advice
7. They want better vetting and yield from social influencers
Hotel marketers are besieged by social media influencers.
Not all should be avoided, nor should all be showered with comp stays.
Hotels, especially luxury resorts, are a favorite of Instagram brand influencers. While it may be tempting to dismiss these seemingly ruthless freeloaders, there IS massive value in partnering with legitimate content creators who have sizeable followings and engagement.
The key is thorough vetting to find the content creators who are worth the investment and who will produce actual deliverables beyond a few selfie Instagram posts. The more worthwhile influencers produce additional content on the hotel's behalf that you can use for future marketing campaigns. Some even assist with the hotel's social media efforts ongoing. Either way, standardize the process by requiring an application covering demographics, engagement, following and a minimum amount of deliverables. This will make it easier to discern which influencers are worth a partnership.
8. They want continued investments in direct booking campaigns
What started as a big-bang movement by Marriott and Hilton with campaigns like "Stop Clicking Around," has now filtered down to hotel collections and individual properties of all sizes, locations, and brand affiliations. Battling massively funded OTAs not only takes time and gumption, but a steadfast investment and long-term outlook in getting the message across about direct booking.
There are plenty of good reasons for your guests to skip the OTAs and to book direct.
But, don't sit back and rely on AHLA, Marriott, Hilton and all the other major brands to raise awareness and get the point across. You will have the greatest impact on your own audience. Continue to fund best practice direct booking campaigns and the technology to guide visitors to your website and deliver an easy booking experience, instead of allowing them to drift back to OTAs.
Read more: We're Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs
9. They want better integration with local, authentic experiences
Modern travelers are a different breed from customers of the past.
For them, it's no longer just about what's inside the confines of your property. They're looking beyond the hotel walls for remarkable experiences they can't achieve at home. So, for the past several years, hotels have answered the call by redefining their guest experience... and attempting to become the epicenter of their destination.
From chef-led farmers market tours to lobby art shows featuring local upcoming artists, hoteliers are hoping their curated local experiences will prove to drive more bookings and boost their bottom line.
10. They want decreased dependence on OTAs
We get it.... no surprise here.
Sometimes you feel as if your hotel can't survive without OTAs.
They bring bookings seemingly out of nowhere and consistently fill your rooms with a minimal amount of effort. However, the fact remains that those rooms are booked at rock-bottom prices. On top of that, OTAs still pocket 15-30% on top of the already reduced room rate.
Yet, driving your own reservations and relying less on OTAs IS possible. ROI-obsessed hotel marketers like many of our hotel marketing clients have created tools and perfected marketing techniques to take back bookings, such as booking engines that decrease bounces, copywriting that drives conversions, and pricing psychology that convinces guests to purchase.
Partner: Tambourine Hotel Marketing
Tambourine is transforming hotel ecommerce. The Firm has become an instrumental partner for elite hoteliers, hotel management and asset management firms seeking to outperform their compset, improve bottom line profitability and decrease OTA-dependence.
We deliver an all-inclusive managed service program that ensures maximum traffic and conversions across all digital channels. Our team utilizes our own best-in-class technology to empower your property… giving you the confidence and ability to achieve your ownership's revenue goals.
The firm is celebrating its 33rd year in business. For more information about Tambourine, visit www.Tambourine.com