In this viewpoint, we asked 5 leading solution providers to share their views and thoughts on how distribution & digital marketing will change in the post-COVID era.
As hotel professionals, we owe it to ourselves and our guests to not be wasteful. Over the last 3-5 years, our digital strategies have become bloated, diluted, and boring. Through attempts to be “everything to everyone,” we've settled into consensus mediocrity. Even worse, we force our guests to wade through an oversaturated pool of irrelevant information when their needs are actually quite simple. So, what if we got out of their way? What if we curated and consolidated their experience? What if we focus on quality and value and intent in more extreme ways? The way forward to AI-driven dynamic personalization in hotel marketing starts with acknowledging our complexity as human beings and finding better ways to listen to the guest.
In the fight to survive, hoteliers must throw everything they have at capturing demand in the months ahead. Combining their expertise with leading-edge technology that provides actionable business insights will allow them to gain a competitive edge. Armed with actionable, intelligent data that tracks their distribution, revenue, and competitor activity they can optimize their pricing, positioning, and visibility to secure heads on beds. Fornova's entire suite of tools, all based on extensive business intelligence, is here to help hotels use the right channel, at the right time, to the right audience.
The coronavirus has swept through the travel industry like a tidal wave and scarred our sector for years, perhaps even decades to come. In this context, hotel distribution has to reinvent itself by learning lessons from the past and envisioning what travelers' behavior is going to look like in an uncertain future. Moving forward, hotels have a unique opportunity to reclaim control over their distribution strategy by adopting the right tactics and tools to improve their direct sales channels.
In an altered marketplace, stop-gap distribution measures aren't enough. A wholesale revamp of strategy should be considered, including: connecting most-valuable OTA and Booking Engine channels directly to PMS, and amplifying direct booking with customized content that differentiates your property.
Throughout the past 20 years, hoteliers learned a great deal about how to distribute their inventory in the most cost-effective manner. Then COVID hit, and it seems like we're starting over from scratch. Hotels are courting whatever demand they can find, however, they can find it, and the temptation to lean on high-margin channels is there again. It's imperative we rely on the best practices we've developed over the past two decades and stay true to the distribution strategies we've spent countless hours building.
Here's a checklist of best practices we've learned, plus a few new tricks we've found up our sleeves:
- Remember the valuable lesson that discounting doesn't spur demand.
- Remember how to best execute your direct-business strategy.
- Remember to measure and track the performance of each channel.
- Ensure your revenue-generating technologies are in sync and sharing data in real-time.
- Consider new sets of data to help you target travelers earlier in the booking window.
- In the short term, build promotions to focus on local, leisure guests.