Food for thought: A look at what made the headlines of 2018
By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates
Wow another year, so as promised in the last newsletter, here's the What was Hot of 2018. Looking at the subjects that caught our attention and which brands grabbed got the most attention. So while a lot of the analysis is included in this email, I recommend you check out the article online so you can play around with the interactive chart :-) PLAY WITH THE CHARTS. I also wanted to thank everyone who pre-ordered their copies of Tell Trends! So while the incredible pre-order price is over. I'm still giving all subscribers a special discount voucher of 25% off! Use the code VIPFRIENDS on checkout. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW →
Food for thought: Looking back at 2018
OTAs Are Winning the Marketing Game
Over the last two years, the "Direct vs OTAs" debate has lost a lot of steam. It is still a topic that people want to know about, but it isn't the most important topic at all. Last year was the first time general news about OTA activities was more important than Direct Revenue. This year confirmed it and news about what OTAs are doing to innovate and change got the most views again. I don't think this is because hotels are ignoring Direct Revenue, but probably most have understood by now that there would be no winner on a war against OTAs. Optimizing one's distribution mix is probably a lot more productive than fighting OTAs.
Disruption is Coming to Hotel Marketing
While the past years have seen mainly Airbnb as the disruptor, this year Amazon began to make ripples as well. But of course this has been a banner year for Airbnb in the hotel sector, so much so that it is also the most mentioned brand of the year. Google's increasing presence in the industry is concerning more than just hotel groups now, it's worrying the OTAs. With Booking even admitting that their Google-dependency is similar to hotel's OTA-dependency and they're trying to drive more direct traffic (there's always a bigger fish). On the advertising front, Amazon's return to the travel industry has been interesting for many hoteliers, much more so than the last time they made an appearance (according to the headlines).
Innovations, Technology and Trends
Though less prevalent than previous years, trends and innovation remain interesting to hotel marketers. In fact is one combines these into one category they are the most interesting topic. This is slightly skewed by the fact that this year includes news from Hospitality.net and as mentioned above most of it is vendor-written to promote their products. But like all media, we like news and new things so it makes sense that this category is growing. The startup scene in hotel technology is growing quite rapidly at the moment and the news is grabbing hoteliers attention. This is healthy for the industry, and maybe it can grow further (a few years ago this was the number one category in hotel trends). We need more innovation, now is not a time to settle on following what the OTAs do.
Airbnb, Expedia, Booking and Amazon are top brands
This year Airbnb became the number one brand in hotel marketing which is quite a feat. Dethroning both Expedia and Booking who have been competing for the spot every year since 2013. Amazon coming in at 4th place is quite interesting and shows that hotel marketing people really are looking at the disruptors and watching what is happening there.
Google has steadily been declining in hotel marketing interest. Probably because Google wants to ensure they are very far from the limelight while they slowly take more market share with their various products. However, they moved from 6th place in 2017 to 5th place in 2018 so they're not fully being ignored.
TripAdvisor peaked at 3rd place in 2017 but vent back down to 6th place in 2018, and unlike Google they need more visibility as they need the revenue. Will they manage to get that back with their social stream product? It would be awesome if they could. As I've said before, the product seems great, but a little late.
Hotel Chains have not managed to get much attention this year, outside of Marriott and for all the wrong reasons.