Industry Update
Opinion Article21 January 2020

Overview of media in Hotel Marketing of 2019

By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates

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The annual review of hotel marketing topics that got the most attention has finally completed. This edition is again upgraded from last year in terms of graphics which you can find here. The methodology is similar to last year in that it takes the top articles of Hotelmarketing, Phocuswire, and HospitalityNet and each headline is categorized in terms of main topics and brand representation.

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THE BATTLE FOR DIRECT REVENUE IS OVER

Traditionally Direct Revenue has been a hot topic every year. The war against OTAs for more Direct has been the rallying cry for most hotel marketing agencies, tech companies and more. It even permitted one tech company to raise millions of dollars from investors. In 2017 it clocked in over 13% of the mentions, declining to 7% in 2018 and is now at an all time low of 2%. The fact is, while hotels should always seek a healthy balance of distribution - the war for direct is over and sadly it seems Direct has lost.

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BETTER DISTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT IS ON THE RISE

Interestingly the topic of Distribution is becoming a topic of interest, and it should be. Managing one's distribution intelligently and seeking to balance the weight of the various channels more evenly has been what the smarter guys in the room were doing, while others were fighting the bigger players. This year Distribution arrived on the scene as a topic with almost 4% mentions.

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RATE AND REVENUE MANAGEMENT ARE IMPORTANT AGAIN

Between stopping rate leakage and the arrival of new revenue management tools, it seems that hotel marketers are getting more interested in the science of hotel marketing again, the topic received 9% mentions which is a good increase from the mere 4% it got in 2018.

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DISRUPTORS ARE TOP OF MIND NOW

While OTAs are the news when it comes to hotel marketing, Disruption in the space has been a side story for many years, but that side story wasn't very interesting. This year 18% of the topics were about the "long tail" companies who are coming to for the OTA space. Between Amazon, Airbnb, OYO and Google's many travel products, it seems they are getting the attention from the hotel marketers. As a reference it was 10% in 2018 and 2% in 2017.

One can't help but think that since the Direct Booking battle is over, are hoteliers and marketing people turning to the Disruptors to do the job?

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OTAS ARE THE NEWS

From being a necessary evil of hotel marketing it seems OTAs are now the accepted norm. Most of the news has been about OTAs in 2019 and while that's similar to previous years, in 2019 it was over over 30% of the news whereas in 2018 it was only 17%. The second most talked about subject was the Disruptors in the industry with 18%.

Expedia got quite some attention but for mostly the wrong reasons (bad Wall-Street performance followed by firing of the CEO) still they were in the news.

It just confirms the story that the Direct Booking vs OTA battle is over and hoteliers have learned to accept that a better distribution management is smarter than fighting the big players in the industry.

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INNOVATION, NEW TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS

Two topics that continue to be important are Innovation & New Technology which came in third with 14% of the news being about new technology and innovation. This lost some traction but has been fairly consistent with the previous years (20% in 2018 and 18% in 2017). Is that because there has been less innovation in 2019? There hasn't been any breakthrough new technology launched and the main tech startup hype has been for existing players that raised bigger rounds, not new players entering the market (at least they didn't make it to the list).

Following trends was slightly less interesting in 2019 than the year before (10% of the news in 2019 vs 16% in 2018). But looking at the articles in the category we're seeing mostly the buzzfeed type lists a-la "10 things" and it's also possible that these types of articles have saturated our news and they're just not as interesting.

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