Food for thought: on corporate travel, elite loyalty status
By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates
Food for thought.
Can corporate travel become available to all?
The most lucrative segment of hotel bookings is undoubtedly corporate travel. The guests who have money to spend, who come late, leave early and are more likely to come back. But reaching that market hasn't been very easy for non-chain hotels who can't negotiate tens of thousands of rooms a year. On theory, marketing to this segment shouldn't be that hard. The selection of hotels is almost binary, it fits the requirements or it doesn't. The emotional aspect (pre-booking) is much smaller than for leisure travel. Yet it remains quite elusive for hotels to build strong direct relations at scale. It could be that attribute-based distribution (ABS) that I covered last week will help that. But at this stage, that's just speculation.
A smaller percent of a small percent
Changing loyalty systems to make it harder to achieve the higher status doesn't seem to bother the loyalty member elites. And it makes sense, those who spend more want that elite status. But that's not loyalty, that's exclusivity. The majority of the world's population is loyal to Google's search engine. Maybe that's where the whole loyalty scheme breaks down. It might be much more effectively managed as membership than a loyalty. The way EasyJet set-up their rewards system was with a membership, it doesn't discriminate on complex status and points systems. One pays, and one is a member. But how could hotels do something similar, that really works?
Big names make bigger waves
PhocusWire's list of newsmakers is interesting. I'm curious if it will hold up in the same sequence for the What Was Hot in Hotel Marketing review I'll be doing before the end of the year. But what is clear is that the bigger names make bigger waves. It is common media knowledge that the minute you include a big name in a title you're going to get more clicks (sorry, readers). That Google and Airbnb are way above Booking and Expedia is telling though. They've been adding new products and features more publicly and more daringly than the OTAs who are defending their turf. While Airbnb is growing to become an interesting third option in the OTA space (and hopefully more than a mere copy of the others), Google's ads are discretely at multiple points of almost every single hotel booking, direct or indirect.
A look at Search Optimizing in 2019
Talking about SEO as a marketing strategy feels really old. In reality, I think (and hope) that most people have gotten off that crazy trend of trying to capture long-tail keywords through ridiculous "optimization" of websites. Build a brand! The rest is worse than sugar-rush marketing, it's like a drug addiction. And the minute search engine's change things one is running around looking for a new dealer. But some of the changes are of interest. Ensuring the basics are covered on non-Google search engines, for example, is a valid (and welcome) change. Another interesting problem to solve is ensuring one's brand appears through voice search which is a whole different style of searching. So even though I'm all about building a brand and not getting carried away with the over-optimizing - it doesn't mean one should ignore upcoming changes.
Tell Trends: Pre-orders are open!
In case you missed the intro at the start of the email. Here's to announce that pre-orders are open and you don't want to miss this.
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With a background in marketing, Martin turned to the hotel industry, having become a GM for boutique hotels he then went on to become a founding staff and later VP Marketing of one of the leading hotel marketing agencies in Europe. He then joined the team of SnapShot as the CMO and helped define how hotel technology companies market themselves in the 21st century.More from Martin Soler