Best Western, Holiday Inn Trump Hotel Digital Media Use
Best Western and Holiday Inn top a new ranking of 48 hotel chains based on their use of digital media and advertising.
The hospitality brands were the only two to receive “genius” ratings in the study conducted by digital think tank L2 that ranks businesses according to digital “IQ” scores from under 70 (“feeble”) to over 140 (genius) based on their Web site, social media, mobile, and digital marketing efforts.
The study included hotels classified across a range of categories including economy, midscale, upper midscale and upscale. A prior L2 analysis focused on luxury hotels.
Best Western won high marks for things like offering travel planning resources on its site, a redesigned mobile app integrating services like TripAdvisor and Tripit and for testing geo-fenced mobile ads. Holiday Inn was cited for having the most Twitter followers and using the InterConteninental Hotel Group’s verified user reviews.
Other hotel chains among the top 10 included Crowne Plaza, DoubleTree by Hilton, Holiday Inn Express, Courtyard by Marriott, and Hampton Inn
At the other extreme, brands deemed “feeble” include America’s Best Inns & Suites, Budget Host Inn, Country Hearth, and Budgetel. They were variously faulted for shortcomings including “crippling load times and poor site navigation,” broken links and outdated site design.
The L2 report noted that the hotel brands analyzed overall fared well, with three-fifths earning a “gifted” ranking (score of 110-139) and “establishing a new normal where enterprise site, mobile platforms, and digital marketing strategies shared between sister brands provide operational efficiency and consistent, if not differentiated, experiences.”
Facing less pressure to sell rooms to online travel agencies, L2 said hotels are reasserting control over inventory and pricing, with their sites becoming the most popular online venue for bookings. By next year, direct bookings through hotel sites will account for 59% of the online total, up from 55% in 2010, according to PhoCusWright.
But with mobile’s share of digital travel bookings expected to reach 30% by 2017, hotels are still playing catch-up. Only one in five brands in the L2 ranking (those owned by the LaQuinta Inns & Suites and Wyndham Hotel Group companies) offer same-day booking through their mobile sites. Only DoubleTree by Hilton has an app optimized for the iPad, although bookings from tablets have increased 70% in the last 16 months.
The study also pointed out that only 38% of hotels feature user reviews or ratings on their sites, sending users to online travel agencies or review sites like TripAdvisor for that information.
While hotels spend three-quarters of their digital dollars on direct-response marketing tactics, like search and email, L2 founder Scott Galloway warned that approach is a losing game against deeper-pocketed competitors, such as Priceline.com.
“To compete, brands must combine proprietary customer data with brand advertising, site content investments, and loyalty initiatives to increase yield on direct marketing and differentiate the direct booking experience,” wrote Galloway, who also serves as professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business.