Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

April 24, 2018

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

April 24, 2018 | By | No Comments

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 28, 2018

How Will Facebook’s Data Scandal Impact Hotel Marketers?

March 28, 2018 | By | No Comments

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


What Facebook's Data Scandal Means for Hotel Marketers

I’ve long been an advocate of the hotel marketers using social media to benefit their properties. In a post that asked, “Is Social a Waste of Time for Hotel Marketers?” I wrote:

“…booking provider eviivo… offers independent hotels and B&B’s pretty terrible advice. Their claim? Quoting Travolution here, “social media has negligible impact on hotel bookings.” And someone’s done the research, so it must be true, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong in fact…

Social media marketing is not a waste of time for hotel marketers when you do it correctly. Neither are OTA’s. Or search. Or email. Or… well, you get the point. They each play a role to help your guest choose your property when they’re ready to book. When you choose your channels appropriately and manage your resources effectively you’ll find that you rarely waste time. And that your business performs well, too.

I doubled down on that sentiment when making the case for social as your hotel’s “secret sales force,” noting the powerful role that social plays when guests tell a positive story about your brand to their friends, family, fans, and followers on social. As that column noted,

According to Nielsen, most people trust the recommendations they receive from their friends and family on social. And on average each of your guests connects with roughly 200 friends and family on Facebook and other social media. Your existing guests offer you a trusted connection with these potential customers.

Just consider the math for a moment. Let’s say you’re responsible for a 100 room hotel, that runs at 60% occupancy and hosts 1.4 guests per room each night. That’s almost 31,000 guests per year that you can put to work telling your brand story. Which, y’know, is a lot of people. And, even using conservative numbers about how many friends each has on social media, those 31,000 guests can reach millions of other potential guests on your behalf …”

Of course, all that was before Facebook’s disastrous week. Two separate scandals in the last week — so far — about the consumer data that the social media giant captured, used, and shared with marketing partners have suddenly led to campaigns encouraging users to #DeleteFacebook.

Folks like Elon Musk took this message to heart, deleting his company’s Facebook pages between the announcement of the first and second Facebook scandals. And that’s in addition to the 2.8 million young users who beat #DeleteFacebook to the punch by abandoning the platform last year.

So, what does this mean for hotel marketers? Should you #DeleteFacebook too?

Will Facebook’s problems change how hotels use social media?

As much fun as it might be to join the chorus calling for Facebook’s demise, the question isn’t “Will Facebook’s problems change how hotels use social media?” The bigger, more important question is, “Will Facebook’s problems change how guests use social media?”

If the answer to that is “yes,” then the decision of what you should do as a marketer is straightforward.

Except for exceedingly rare cases, you probably didn’t start using Facebook while it was restricted to college campuses — not just because because you couldn’t, but because there was no good reason why you would. Your customers simply weren’t there then.

And, as ever, you must watch where your customers go on this one, too. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a principled stand. If you genuinely believe Facebook hurts society — that they’re the only bad actor here — then I certainly won’t criticize you for following your conscience and deleting your hotel’s Facebook presence.

I suspect the reality is a trifle more complicated though. Yes, Facebook definitely used consumer data in ways that customers didn’t understand, sometimes because Facebook made it difficult to understand — and sometimes because they made it difficult to choose a better option to protect your data if you did understand it. That’s… not good. They should be held to account for these actions and offer — ideally on their own, but by regulatory oversight if necessary — better controls and protections for consumers.

They’ve also executed — and, frankly, continue to execute — one of the worst public relations responses to a crisis of this magnitude I’ve seen in a while. For a company that facilitates communication, they’re remarkably bad at communicating. They keep trying to frame the problem as one where a few bad guys broke the rules instead of acknowledging the fundamental breach of trust between the company and its customers. Plenty of lessons there worth learning.

It’s also true that Facebook is hardly the only guilty party here. Their practice of collecting call data on Android phones worked because Android’s parent Google allowed it to work. Do we know who else captured similar data and for what purposes? Has Google acknowledged how many consumers have had their data exposed? Or what happened to all the data after Google changed its policy? I’m not aware of any public answers to those questions. And yet I haven’t run across a #DeleteGoogle campaign so far. And, if I had, would you be willing to dump the search giant from your hotel marketing plan? Could you if you wanted to?

Worse, these scandals are likely far from over. I’d expect at least a few more shoes to drop before we find our way to a “new normal” — at this point I’ll be more surprised if another scandal doesn’t emerge.

So, what should you do in the meantime?

How should hotel marketers respond to Facebook’s troubles?

Best practices suggest taking a measured response that minimizes risk to you, and more importantly your guests, while not giving up on what’s working today. Review the following points as you plan your response to the situation:

  • Avoid collecting any data on Facebook that you’re not already gathering. It’s possible this drags on for months or years, complete with congressional committees subjecting Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandburg, and other Facebook functionaries to public confessions and the floggings that follow. It’s also entirely possible this blows over in a couple months as some new, more juicy scandal attracts media and mainstream attention. I mean, it’s not like there’s some crazy story coming out every day that distracts people from the crazy story that happened the day before. But when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. Facebook is in a hole; there’s no need to grab a shovel and jump in with them. More plainly, don’t give their critics a reason to come looking for you too. We’ll have a much better sense of where things stand soon. This is a time for patience.
  • Don’t automatically stop what you’re doing today. All that said, unless you have reason to believe you’re doing something customers will hate, you’re likely fine with keeping your current activities in place. Again, this is a time for patience.
  • Keep an eye on your Facebook presence’s performance. Let’s assume the #DeleteFacebook campaign steamrolls towards success and consumers start abandoning the social network en masse. Should you immediately cut your losses and jump ship too? Probably… not. It doesn’t matter how many users Facebook has. It matters who those users are. If your guests continue to use Facebook, you probably need to continue to engage with them there. By the same token, keep a close eye on what’s happening with the reach and engagement your hotel’s posts receive. Look for signs that show how your customers are reacting — or not — to Facebook’s struggles. And, just like you should do with any channel, react accordingly to the reality, not the rumor.
  • While you’re at it, examine your own data practices. Facebook’s day of reckoning offers a warning to all marketers about the dangers of data collection. Consumers clearly care more about the risks in “free” services like Facebook than they did just a few weeks ago. Yes, this could blow over. But the more likely outcome is that they approach all marketers with a greater degree of skepticism about what data gets collected, by whom, and how it gets used. So be upfront with your customers about the data you collect and how you use it. The coming GDPR regulations require this, by the way, so you may as well get on board before regulators everywhere require it. Conduct a serious data audit and ask yourself whether you even need all the data you collect. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate to your guests you’re a trusted partner looking out for their best interests, ideally by being a trusted partner looking out for their best interests.

Conclusion

Clearly, Facebook is taking its lumps right now, both for its actions and for its woeful response to the situation. But despite the best efforts of the #DeleteFacebook campaign, nothing suggests that guests are abandoning the platform in large numbers. That could change at any time.

Your best bet is to ensure you’re doing right by your customers and their data. Ensure you’re acting in an ethical manner and, as is often the case for hoteliers, acting in the best interests of your guests. Make it easy for customers to understand the data you use and what you use it for. Keep track of how your customers are responding to the Facebook scandal to see if the social platform continues to provide value for your hotels — or if it’s time to find a better option.

And, as ever, continue to dig past the headlines of these stories. We’re undoubtedly going to see more of these issues in the weeks and months ahead. Knowing how to respond today is useful; knowing how to respond in the future is vital.

Social media likely will continue in a key role for hotel marketers, Facebook’s missteps notwithstanding. The key for you is how continue you make it work as you — and your customers — move into a new normal. Because failing to listen to customer concerns and respond to those appropriately — regardless of whether Facebook is involved or not — would be the real scandal.

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:

Tim Peter

By

March 6, 2018

9 Airbnb, AI, and Additional Insights into Travel Marketing Trends This Week: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

March 6, 2018 | By | No Comments

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


9 Airbnb, AI, and Additional Insights into Travel Marketing Trends This Week: Traveler booking on his mobile phone

Hey, Big Thinkers! Welcome to another edition of the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest. We’ve got an amazing round-up of 9 Airbnb, AI, and additional insights into travel marketing trends this week for you in this edition. Enjoy:

  1. Skift has a great article about Airbnb Plus in their look at Airbnb Plus and everything CEO Brian Chesky announced the other day.
  2. Derek Thompson at The Atlantic also offers up a thought-provoking article that explores Airbnb and the unintended consequences of disruption that’s really worth reading. Thompson’s piece goes deeper than just a look at Airbnb and instead questions, well, everything related to startup culture and how businesses often disrupt in ways we may never be able to foresee.
  3. Mario Gavira wrote a great piece over on Linked about Airbnb vs. Booking.com: who will win the online accomodation battle the next decade? and, though I can’t believe he misspelled “accommodation,” it’s still a very worthwhile read. (Just kidding, Mario. Great stuff!)
  4. Of course, we’ve put together our share of Airbnb coverage over the years, including this post that asks, ”What Business is Airbnb In? Hotels? Or Hospitality?” and its follow up that look at ”Why Airbnb Keeps Winning at Hospitality.” Both are well-worth your time as you seek to market your hotel more effectively.
  5. Shifting gears a bit, Marisa Garcia wrote a great breakdown of how the rise of “bleisure” among Millennials is shaping travel technology for Tnooz. While we’re no fans of the term “bleisure,” it’s clearly a trend worth watching as we go forward – and as Millennials begin to play a larger role in travel sales overall.
  6. Speaking of “trends worth watching,” you won’t want to miss these 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018 from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series.
  7. Another great post, this one from Hotel Online, also looked at marketing trends in hospitality, from technology to niches that’s worth your time.
  8. Ever since our founder and president Tim Peter was named among HSMAI’s 2017 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds, he’s been making the rounds. First there was this amazing Q&A about what hoteliers must know about digital marketing from Hotel News Now. And he followed it up with a great guest editorial for Hotel Executive that explained why it's not mobile first, it's guest first. All good stuff that you won’t want to miss.
  9. And let’s round-out our look at Airbnb, AI, and additional insights into travel marketing trends with a collection of 8 amazing posts that explore how AI will affect the travel industry and these 9 posts featuring chatbots, AI and all the hospitality digital marketing trends of 2018 for you.

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: