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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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July 31, 2018

There Are Two Ways To Grow Hotel Direct Business. One Of Them Has A Future

July 31, 2018 | By | No Comments

Grow Hotel Direct Business: Guest searching for hotel reservations Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Here where are in mid-2018, gearing up for our 2019 budget season, and once again everyone’s talking about how important it is to grow hotel direct business and get guests to book direct. Brands are putting increased emphasis on loyalty — or at least on offering heavily discounted rates to guests willing to sign up for their loyalty program. Individual hotels are touting their best rate guarantees — or offering heavily discounted rates… Are you sensing a theme here?

In truth, all this is great. Seriously. I’m absolutely in favor of driving direct business. But too often it’s focused on the booking. And on discounting. We’re spending money to buy the booking. Why aren’t we willing to invest to buy interest earlier in the process? We’ve become so focused on the booking, we sometimes forget how to talk to guests before they’re ready to book.

It’s time to change that reality.

Why OTA’s are Winning

One study shows that guests who start their booking journey on an OTA reserve through OTA’s around 93% of the time. Meaning that guests who start on an OTA will choose to book direct only about 7 times out of 100. By contrast, guests who start on a branded website book direct about 60% of the time (though, admittedly, they may not always choose your property to book direct).

To put it more plainly, guests can’t book direct, ever, if they don’t come to your property or brand website at some point while shopping for travel. Period.

So where’s the investment in attracting guests to visit early in their decision-making process — the dream and plan phases, not just when they’re ready to book.

Think of it this way. A 150-room property selling for $130/night and running at 64% occupancy with an 18% OTA margin — all roughly average in the current market — typically surrenders about $100,000 in topline revenue to OTA’s. How many have demonstrated the willingness to invest a healthy share of that amount in content creation to attract guests early in their browsing, shopping, buying activity? We’ve said for years that content is king; shouldn’t we be more willing to invest in it?

By contrast, that same representative property will generate roughly $900,000 in revenue through its website (assuming industry-average 20% website revenue and giving no credit to web for voice or walk-in). If you include voice and property-direct, those numbers roughly double. How much are you willing to invest to drive that number higher? Would $50k sound too expensive? Remember, that’s still half what you’re already paying OTA’s.

Content Marketing Matters for Hotels

Does this sound crazy to you? Well, here’s a crazy idea for you: Google has announced a new program that brings a professional video director to your business to shoot a video advertisement. The price tag? $350 in YouTube advertising. That’s it. The search giant clearly understands what customers want; those customers literally tell Google what’s important to them millions of times every single day. Do you think Google might know something useful here about customer behavior?

Guests are starved for content about your property, your destination — the attractions, events, shops, festivals, concerts, entertainment and businesses near to you. And the first rule of selling travel to consumers remains “sell the destination first.” Research from Google shows that travelers tend to start their travel planning by searching destination-related terms. This is a huge opportunity to attract guests to you early in their planning, place your property at the center of their consideration set, and then turn them into reservations. But only if you’re willing to make the investment.

Growing Direct Business — Conclusion

Budget season is right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about where to put your money, where to invest to grow your business next year. This isn’t about building a new website or finding a new booking engine or — heaven help us — planning for a new “closed user group” you can sell your property to more cheaply. This is about investing in “the painting” — your property’s content — not just “the frame.” It’s about telling a story designed to attract and capture interest from potential guests. It’s about getting them to start their journey with your hotel in mind.

Or you could just continue to pay “loyalty” programs and OTA’s and intermediaries to do that for you — to you — again. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Hotel News Now, where Tim Peter writes a regular column for the magazine’s Digital Tech Impact Report.

Tim Peter

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July 24, 2018

6 Insights Into How Technology is Changing the Hotel Industry: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

July 24, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


How is technology changing the hotel industry? Abstract view of hotel and tech

Late last year, we took a look at 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018. An overarching theme of the piece was the critical role that technology plays in driving changes in guest behaviors and hotel revenues, especially revenues of the direct booking kind. I suspect that’s a topic still near and dear to your heart and especially important as you start gearing up for next year. Given that, it seems fair to ask, how is technology changing the hotel industry? And how can you use those changes to benefit your hotel?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at these questions in detail. But here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  1. Key Hotel Technology Stats Worth Watching. Obviously, there’s lots of change going on. How much change? Well, this set of 15 mind-blowing stats about digital trends in travel and hospitality from CMO.com offers critical insights. Among the most interesting?
    • Some 43% of guests use smartphones to research their hotel/accommodations — underscoring why it’s time to stop calling mobile a trend. To be fair, only 25% use their smartphone to book, which signals that the guest experience during booking still needs help. But let’s not forget: With most guests carrying one or more smartphones, tablets, and laptops during their journey, you host more devices each night than guests — and that’s shaping the way they plan, book and experience travel every single day
    • J.D. Power says that hotel mobile apps don’t get downloaded very often, and get used even less for check-ins/checkouts; but guests that use those apps are more satisfied — and more loyal
    • Data from Adobe suggests that half “…of travel and hospitality companies today are gathering and using real-time data”
    • Another Adobe stat says that fewer than one in five “…executives at travel and hospitality brands said they believe their company is a digitally mature organization.” That’s a huge benefit, because it suggests you’ve got plenty of runway to improve relative to your competition — at least if you choose to take advantage of it.
  2. It Ain’t Just About Technology. Sure, technology is important. But it’s secondary. It shouldn’t be a secret that great marketing technology won’t save you from a bad hotel marketing strategy. Your success depends not only on having the right tech, but on having an excellent strategy and effectively executing that strategy. It’s fair to ask, “how important is technology to hospitality marketing?” but if you’re focused solely on the tech, you’ve got your carts and horses the wrong way ’round.
  3. Guests Continue to Take Ownership of their Experience. PhocusWire put together a must-read piece that explains why hotel rooms belong to guests, not hoteliers . As you might imagine, guests have clear expectations of the experience they’re looking for each time they step into “their” room. The technology that they encounter — whether hands-on or through a front-desk agent or concierge — influences their overall guest experience. Guest will remember waiting to check-in, order room service, or schedule a spa treatment because your system is too slow. Similarly, Amazon launched a version of its Alexa system for hotels at HITEC this year, which is particularly interesting given that Booking.com says business travelers are ‘warming’ to chatbots. Your guests are getting accustomed to technology serving their needs. Is your service growing along with them?
  4. Want to Get There Fast? Plenty of Potential Partners Exist. Does all this talk of tech leave you terrified? Well, you don’t have to go it alone. For starters, Skift put together a great round-up of its top travel startups to watch, which can help you figure out the tools and tech to help you excel. While some aren’t yet ready for prime-time, entrants like the (somewhat) more mature Fornova, Journera, and MisterFly might fit nicely into your overall strategy and help your properties get ahead of the curve next year. And, of course, there are plenty of exceptional hotel marketing/distribution consultants and agencies out there who can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together to grow your business.
  5. Troubling Trend: Too Many Hotels Continue to Sit on the Sidelines. You’d think given the facts outlined above that hotel marketers would be racing to assemble that puzzle for themselves. But SiteMinder offers a very thoughtful report showing many hoteliers remain in a ‘holding stage’ assessing the best tech trends. That’s a shame, given how important technology is to your overall hotel marketing and distribution strategy. What are you waiting for? Don’t forget, the OTA’s surely aren’t in a holding pattern. Booking.com went shopping for more metasearch capabilities and landed HotelsCombined to go along with its earlier pickup of Momondo, Cheapflights, and Mundi last year, as well as FareHarbor this April. And Expedia has made a huge move into packages in just the past few weeks with its Add-On Advantage offering. This isn’t about the future. This is about what your guests experience — and expect — right now.
  6. Even More Change is Coming. Finally, don’t forget that the changes in hotel technology we’re all dealing with are just the beginning. Whether it’s virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, AI or something else altogether, the next major disruption is right around the corner. For instance, there are all kinds of reasons why AI will change hospitality marketing forever and why voice, VR, and AR might be more hope than hype in the next few years. Keeping on top of these trends matters. What’s most important is for hoteliers to stay focused on the benefits of digital marketing for their property, and to stay in touch with how digital changes guest expectations and behaviors. Because no matter how much technology changes the hotel industry, your guests will continue to expect a great experience. And that will never change.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

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April 24, 2018

Great Marketing Technology Won’t Save You From a Bad Hotel Marketing Strategy

April 24, 2018 | By | One Comment

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Great hotel marketing tech won't save you from a bad hotel marketing strategy: Team planning hotel marketing strategy

I don’t know about you, but I’m so done hearing about the tech that will save the day for hoteliers. Another topic enters our lexicon of trending terms that will undoubtedly “…break the backs of intermediaries and upstarts” virtually every single day. You could call them the ABC’s of disappointment: AI, blockchain, chatbots and a host of other technological marvels that claim they’ll completely upend the status quo and return hotel marketers to their rightful place at the top of the mountain. Just recently, Airbnb announced it will now accept — for a modest fee — hotel listings alongside your nephew’s spare air mattress and those undersold condos down the block.

Whoop-dee-doo.

Now, don’t let my snark suggest that these are all bad ideas. I believe most of these platforms and technologies offer opportunities to improve how we connect with guests. AI already plays an enormous role in shaping how we find, attract, and convert customers not just in the future, but today. Blockchain represents an exciting foundational technology that may disrupt business every bit as much as the internet has. Chatbots offer the potential for guests to access information they need in simple spoken language while reducing the heavy overhead associated with contact centers (though, admittedly, not without introducing some substantial overhead of its own). Even the Airbnb announcement likely represents an effective, low-cost distribution channel for your unused hotel inventory.

Those all are positive developments, ones you should put to work for your property. But only when and where appropriate.

The reality is that we’ve got to stop pretending that some mythical, magical event exists — can exist — that will disrupt OTA’s, restore sanity to inventory and yield management, and return hotel owners and operators to their rightful place atop the distribution landscape. There’s no silver bullet here. As stated so eloquently in a recent television commercial, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”

The only way you regain control of your distribution and marketing is to, y’know, take control of your distribution and marketing. It’s to take the time to understand the changing needs and behaviors of guests, to uncover the best sources of revenue and profitability for your property, to focus on providing guests differentiated service, and to develop a comprehensive hotel marketing strategy that connects those with effective processes for finding, attracting and converting customers to loyal, repeat business for your hotel.

You’ll see any number of sources out there selling FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt — around whatever the sexy tech du jour happens to be. “You’re not using [insert their propriety platform or process]?!?” they’ll say, aghast at your lack of knowledge (or, more likely, aghast at the fact you’ve yet to cut them a check). “Oh, no. Well, I guess you can survive in this environment without it, but, I’d hate to see where you end up if not.”

That’s not helpful. It increases confusion, decreases understanding, and only really helps those selling services that way. More importantly, it diverts you from building and following an effective plan. Don’t listen to that. Instead, listen to your guests. Learn what matters to them throughout their journey. Then use only the technologies that help you improve their overall experience.

Yes, it can be fun to play with new tech. And your plan should accommodate testing new ideas, new channels, and new opportunities. But if you’re constantly chasing the, quote-unquote, latest and greatest, without integrating those into a thoughtful, holistic hotel marketing strategy, you’re really just chasing your own tail.

So, sure, listen to what’s happening with technology. Understand how it affects guests throughout their journey and how it can help you create a positive experience for your guests. But keep your carts and horses in the right order; use technology to support your overall strategy, not in place of that strategy. After all, when you take care of your guests, helping them throughout their journey, meeting their needs, that’s where the real magic happens.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Hotel News Now, where Tim Peter writes a regular column for the magazine’s Digital Tech Impact Report.

Tim Peter

By

April 20, 2018

9 Necessary Insights for Hotel Marketers and Revenue Managers from the Past Week: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

April 20, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


9 Necessary Insights for Hotel Marketers and Revenue Managers from the Past Week

Howdy, Big Thinkers! It’s a crazy, crazy week here at Thinks Central, so hope you don’t mind if we skip any setup and just jump straight into this amazing list of 9 necessary insights for hotel marketers and revenue managers from the past week. Enjoy:

  1. Let’s lead off with these 7 social media marketing tips to promote your hotel from the fine folks at Revfine.com, which makes an outstanding companion piece to this look at whether social media is a waste of time for hotel marketers.
  2. Speaking of some fine folks in travel marketing, don’t miss these top 10 ways to drive direct bookings in 2018 from the equally fine folks — and friends of Thinks — over at Fuel Travel.
  3. Google offers a look at how the travel industry is shifting to assistance as part of its “Think With Google” series. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we’re fairly flattered by the name of that Google series.
  4. Sabre released its annual “Emerging Tech in Travel” report for 2018, which you definitely will want to download and digest.
  5. Artificial intelligence is one big trend Sabre calls out and that we’re watching closely here at Thinks Central. In fact, it’s well worth your time to take a long at why AI will change hospitality marketing forever.
  6. Another major hotel marketing trend you’ll want to watch is the increasing integration of digital marketing and revenue management. That’s just one reason why Duetto says revenue management requires a team, not a hierarchy. Great stuff, not to be missed.
  7. This is from a few weeks ago, but you absolutely want to check out this Hotel News NowQ&A on what hoteliers must know about digital marketing with our own Tim Peter.
  8. You’ll also want to spend some time with these 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018 from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series here on Thinks.
  9. Obviously, it can be overwhelming for hoteliers to keep up with all these trends and changes in the industry. And it’s fair for marketers, revenue managers and distribution folks to ask“is it time to give up?” Clearly, we’re confident the answer is “no.” But take a look at the full post to see just why that is — and how you can make digital marketing work for you in 2018 and beyond.

Have a great weekend, Big Thinkers. See you next time!

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

March 13, 2018

8 Excellent Answers to the Question, How Important is Technology to Hospitality Marketing? Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

March 13, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


8 Excellent Answers to the Question, How Important is Technology to Hospitality Marketing? Hospitality Marketing Link Digest: Couple entering roomHey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having an amazing week so far. People ask us all the time, “How important is technology to hospitality marketing?” While it’s abundantly clear that we think the answer is “very important,” you’ve also got to balance your dependence on technology with the right strategy and a clear focus on execution. And to help you do that, we’ve rounded up this great list of 8 excellent insights that can help you understand exactly how important a role technology plays in your hospitality marketing strategy so you can develop the right strategy, reach the right guests, and execute on your vision. Enjoy:

  1. A recent Hotel News Now column from our own Tim Peter explains why digital isn’t about technology. And it really isn’t.
  2. Mitul Makadia, the founder of Maruti Techlabs, has a thought-provoking piece on MediaPost about how the adoption of AI in hotels will affect operational dynamics that you won’t want to miss. While it’s tough to agree with all of Mitul’s assessments, he likely gets more right than wrong.
  3. On a highly-related note, we took a look at why AI will change hospitality marketing forever. Believe me, you’re not going to want to miss this one.
  4. We also rounded up a set of 9 Airbnb, AI, and additional insights into travel marketing trends this week for a recent edition of the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest that you’ll want to review.
  5. Ed Watkins wrote a great recap for Duetto’s blog all about how Marriott leads the battle to reign in acquisition costs, which is a might important topic.
  6. Hotel News Now talked with Tim Peter in a detailed Q&A about what hoteliers must know about digital marketing. Truly great stuff there.
  7. And in a recent guest editorial for Hotel Executive, Tim argues it's not “mobile first,” it's guest first. Be sure to check out the whole column to see why.
  8. Finally, you’ll absolutely want to round out your review of these |???| with this collection of 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018, also from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series. Great stuff.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success: