At the end of each year, we ask clients, partners and hotel marketing peers to tell us what’s on their wish lists for next year.
While the items have changed immensely since 1984 (nobody wants a dot matrix printer or box of floppies this year), the sentiment behind the list stays the same: Hotel marketers want things that make their guests happy, their jobs easier and their hotels prosper.
This year is no different. We asked around to see what’s on this year’s hotel marketing list, and this is what we found:
1. Acknowledgement for all the responsibilities of a hotel marketer: It’s not about ego. It’s about progress. Marketers aren’t looking for a pat on the back. What they need this year is for executives, owners and hotel asset managers to understand all that falls under the job of marketing. When management truly understands the resources required, the marketing department usually gets the team and the budget required to keep up with technology and move forward.
2. More direct bookings: Hotel marketers are tired of putting in the work and watching OTAs profit. Yes, OTAs bring in an important stream of business, but at a high price. Direct bookings bring in more revenue and are more likely the product of loyal fans. Marketers want all the guest information that comes with a direct booking. So, it’s easier to encourage them to book directly the next time.
3. The continued decline of gas prices: Not everyone can take a sleigh ride to your hotel. Whether your guests have a per diem set by the corporate accountant or by the family checkbook, the decline in gas prices is good news for hotel marketers! The drive-in trip to your hotel is less expensive than it’s been in years. Guests have more money to spend on your rooms and amenities. And they feel better doing it!
4. Global prosperity: Global economies continue to prosper… and hotel marketers hope it stays that way. Bullish consumers and prosperous businesses take more trips and owners feel confident in reinvesting in property and product improvements.
5. A spike in your TripAdvisor ranking: Whether you’re stuck on page six or hovering at number two, this year you want to see your TripAdvisor ranking go up. It’s time you were on page one. And if you’ve been on page one hoping to move up to that coveted number one spot, you’re asking yourself if this could be the year you make it to the top.
6. Automated everything: From automated revenue management systems to automated content promotion, hotel marketers want systematic help this year. There’s nothing like a trusted system to help get everything done.
7. Bigger data with a simpler management system: Big data wavers between exciting and daunting. You can now know more about your guests than ever before. You can target your marketing not only to their demographic, but also to individual guests. It feels foolproof, until you start to consider the immense possibilities. This year, hotel marketers want to pull in all of this information, so it is usable in a realistic way.
8. Accuracy and sanity on TripAdvisor and other review sites: Whether it’s another hotel in your comp set or a misunderstood guest drunk on internet power, inaccurate reviews are frustrating. Once something is on the internet, it’s difficult to combat. One upside of the increased popularity of these sites is guests are becoming savvier when reading reviews. This year several stories of overly critical customers went viral much to the embarrassment of the guest. While no hotel wants to see a negative of review of their hotel, this year marketers wish for even more public discernment when reading reviews.
9. To cash in on the authenticity trend: The authenticity trend often lures in unexpected business, because travelers seek an out of the ordinary experience. The authentic traveler can fill gaps during slow periods. A small hotel in Maine might typically see a drop in business in winter. It’s the authentic traveler who wants to get to know the locals instead of other tourists that boosts winter revenue.
10. The steady cash drip of more corporate accounts: Corporate accounts are like a safety net for many hotels. You may not make as much per sale, but once a corporate account is in place they practically market themselves. Plus, you never pay OTA fees and they bring in year-round business.