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Tim Peter

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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

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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:

Tim Peter

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January 30, 2018

9 Posts Featuring Chatbots, AI and all the Hospitality Digital Marketing Trends of 2018: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

January 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

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Chatbots, AI and all the hospitality digital marketing trends: Man using tablet in hotel lobby

Howdy, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having an amazing week so far. Let’s make it even better with a look at 9 posts featuring chatbots, AI and all the hospitality digital marketing trends of 2018 for you. Enjoy:

  1. Tnooz has a wonderful piece that shares 11 thoughts on the future of technology in travel and hospitality from CES 2018. Given how much consumer tech shapes what our guests expect, you can’t afford to miss this one.
  2. The fine folks at Fuel Travel (hi, guys!) had an amazing podcast episode that outlined the hotel industry's New Year wish list for 2018. Be sure to give it a listen.
  3. Clare Hutchison of Triptease has a great article that looks at what's in store for hotels in 2018 that you’ll want to check out.
  4. Continuing the theme of 2018 hospitality digital marketing trends, Hotel News Now put together a fantastic Q&A with our own Tim Peter all about what hoteliers must know about digital marketing in 2018. Great stuff that’s well worth your time.
  5. And on a highly-related note, Hotel Management listed its view of the top 6 hotel tech trends for 2018. Their views on AI, voice, and blockchain seem very much in line with our’s here at Tim Peter & Associates, so give them a look when you get a moment.
  6. Speaking of AI, you’ll absolutely want to review Tim Peter’s thoughts on why AI will change hospitality marketing forever.
  7. Curious what AI, voice, and chatbots look like in action? Hotel Marketing highlighted a TTG Asia post that saysBooking.com’s service and support chatbot will become more sophisticated. No doubt. The question is how are you preparing to compete?
  8. Along those lines, Skift suggests (rightly, I might add) that brands must rethink engagement with the new digitally connected traveler . Or, put more simply by Tim in a guest editorial for Hotel Executive, it's not “mobile first” – it's “guest first.”
  9. Finally, let’s round out our list of 9 posts featuring chatbots, AI and all the hospitality digital marketing trends with a complementary set of 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018 and these 8 amazing posts that explore how AI will affect the travel industry from the the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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September 26, 2017

Why Airbnb Keeps Winning at Hospitality

September 26, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Why Airbnb Keeps Winning at Hospitality

Where does Airbnb get off? Seriously. Late last year, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky used Twitter to engage in a lengthy dialogue with customers about where Airbnb might be heading as a company. Why should you care? Well, because that conversation started with a simple question from Chesky: "If @Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?"

Wait a minute… Airbnb asks for feedback, listens to guests, and shapes its service around what its guests actually want? How dare they. After all, as hospitality operators and marketers, didn't that used to be our job?

This all came back to light recently when Hilton Hotels’ CMO Geraldine Caplin called Airbnb a “lodging company,” as compared with Hilton’s larger focus on hospitality. I’ve already made clear my position that Airbnb definitely meets the definition of a hospitality company, but I don’t want to dismiss Caplin’s statement out of hand. Hilton ought to be able to beat Airbnb in terms of delivering great hospitality. Any hotel company should. In fact, I’ve argued repeatedly that it’s critical for hotels to succeed in that effort.

I’m about to do it again.

Now, given this blog’s focus, it's fair to ask what any of this has to do with digital. Sure, it's Airbnb and yes, Chesky used Twitter to enable the conversation, but that's not why the exchange should be important to you. After all, it's no secret that digital has permanently changed the way your guests interact with brands and businesses.

What is important are the results of that change — and how you must respond.

What Chesky and his team recognize is that customer experience is the new marketing. Everything depends on the quality of the interactions your guests experience at every step of their journey. Why? Simple. Your guests carry a printing press in their pocket. Oh, and a full-HD video camera and a production studio and a broadcast network too. And they use these tools to share every element of their experience with their friends and family and fans and followers across social networks.

A 100-room hotel running at 60% occupancy with 1.4 guests per room hosts roughly 31,000 guests per year. And with an average of 200 connections on Facebook alone, those guests have the potential to reach an audience of over 6.1 million people. Even if these numbers wildly overstate your guests' social media activity and only 10% of those guests actually bother to say something about their stay — never mind what it says about their experience at your hotel if only 10% of your customers feel it's worth talking about — that's still over half a million opportunities for potential guests to hear about you each year. Imagine the stories they might hear.

This is equally true for "traditional" ratings and reviews seen on TripAdvisor and OTA's. I won't spend much time on this topic; you live with this reality every day. But it's worth noting that a recent TrustYou study found, "…guests are 3.9 times more likely to book the hotel with the highest average review score when price is equal" and, even better, that "76% of travelers said they were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores." My real-world experience with properties all around the globe suggests this is true in practice as well as in theory.

Increasingly, marketing is less about telling your brand's story and is instead about ensuring your guests have a great story to tell on your behalf. A study from Flip.to and Fuel Travel found word of mouth was the 2nd most influential factor in your guest's decision-making process. What do you suppose your guests say about you?

None of this happens without digital. Before the internet, your guests maybe could tell a few friends about their travels — or bore them to tears with slides from their trip. But now they're constantly connected with an engaged audience who want to listen. Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter work hard to ensure only the folks who want to see the messages your guests share actually do. And, yes, you have to make certain the rest of your digital platform reinforces those messages once your guests' friends and family are ready to hear more. That's crucial. But it all starts with how they're finding out about you in the first place.

Customer experience is the new marketing. Airbnb gets it, which is why their CEO spent his Christmas holiday talking — and, more importantly, listening — to customers. The question now is: How do you plan to spend your next holiday? Or, for that matter, every other day this year?

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

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

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March 21, 2017

Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?

March 21, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?

I had a discouraging discussion with an outstanding general manager recently who complained that her property’s struggles with rapidly shifting guest preferences, an evolving distribution landscape, and ever-rising distribution costs – particularly in the form of OTA margins and increased search spend – had made it almost impossible to compete. While running her hands through her hair – or possibly pulling it out by the roots – she pleaded, “Why do we even bother? How can we possibly be expected to keep up?”

While its hardly a welcoming thought, maybe it’s worth asking his question: Is it time to give up? Should we just outsource all our marketing activities to OTAs? After all, they are fantastic at marketing and merchandising hotels online, arguably better than many hotels will ever be. Should we simply hand over responsibility for filling our rooms and place our focus elsewhere?

Um… no. In fact, hell no.

Now, let’s be fair. OTA’s are undoubtedly very good at what they do. That’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean for a moment that you can’t drive profitable business on your own. What we need to do is stop behaving like OTAs are our only option. Direct channels and email and search and ratings and reviews and a host of other time-tested tactics and strategies play important roles in delivering strong business results. The key is focusing on those channels that do that most effectively.

First, though, hotels need to be clear about their distribution strategy. To paraphrase NYU professor Clay Shirky, distribution once was a career. Now it’s a button. Online, the distinction between marketing and distribution is essentially non-existent. Once you add a buy button to any marketing message – email, search, display, metasearch, etc. – you’re really just one click away from the sale. And at that point it’s not a marketing channel; it’s a distribution channel. There are certainly some in the industry who will try to confuse you with fancy marketing terms, but the simple fact remains that marketing and distribution are inextricably linked online. You can – and must – measure exactly which channels work best for your business.

The most effective way to ensure that you’re thinking about distribution correctly – and getting the greatest benefit for your property – is to ask three simple questions about your marketing and distribution channels:

  1. Where do your guests find you ?
  2. Where do guests choose to book you?
  3. How much profit do you make from each of those?

Notice I’m not talking about revenue from these channels. It’s time to look past revenue and instead focus on profit. Recent data shows that distribution costs have outpaced rate increases, putting heavy pressure on your properties’ profitability. If you focus solely on revenue, it’s easy to miss the underlying costs impacting your business – and give too much credit to channels that aren’t actually helping you grow.

You may find that for your property, OTAs play an incredibly valuable role in driving profitability particularly during shoulder or slow seasons. That’s OK. As I’ve said before, there’s no need to make OTAs the bad guys here. However, what we don’t want to do is become so dependent upon them – particularly during periods where we can drive more profitable revenue through other channels – that we neglect direct business completely. Understanding which channels work for your property represents the first step in creating a marketing and distribution strategy that actually increases your hotel’s overall profitability.

After spending time digging into the data with my GM friend, we discovered several underutilized tactics driving fantastic returns that simply required greater attention. We also found a few areas that consumed lots of her marketing team’s time for very little benefit. It’s much easier to keep up when you’re only focusing on the areas of greatest return.

Outsourcing your sales and marketing to an OTA is certainly one approach to fill your rooms. And they still will play a role. But realistically many other options exist that can help you grow. The key is focusing on profitable revenue. After looking at the data, I asked the GM, “Is it time to give up?” Her response: “Absolutely not. It’s time to get to work.”

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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September 12, 2016

8 Exceptional Hospitality Digital Marketing Posts: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

September 12, 2016 | By | No Comments

Want to drive more direct bookings to your hotel? Click here to learn more


8 Exceptional Hospitality Digital Marketing Posts: Hospitality Marketing Link DigestHowdy, Big Thinkers! Hope you don’t mind if we skip any fancy setup this week and instead just offer up this list of 8 exceptional hospitality digital marketing posts as this week’s Hospitality Marketing Link Digest. Enjoy:

  1. Leonardo offered up some great tips for “How to Make a Great Hotel Video on a Shoestring Budget” that are really worthwhile.
  2. While we’re on the topic of video for hotels, I really can’t recommend enough Flip.to’s recent post, “Behind the Screen: Finding Our Voice in Video” that offers outstanding tips if you’re getting started with video.
  3. This round-up of “6 Quick Hotel Distribution and Digital Marketing Insights” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series offers some great tips for improving your business next year.
  4. Tnooz revealed “A Few Stats on the State of Digital Travel Marketing” that you’ll want to check out. My personal favorite? That 65% of respondents in a recent poll now find social media as an effective tool for driving customer acquisition, which underscores the point I made when I asked, “Is Social a Waste of Time for Hotel Marketers?”
  5. On a somewhat related note, I was thrilled to speak with Duetto a few weeks back about “The Promise of Digital Marketing for Hotels” a few weeks back that’s especially worth reading as you head into budget season.
  6. Speaking of things you’ll want to know for budget season, HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council rounded-up a great set of “8 Essentials Every GM Needs to Know About Digital Marketing Today.” Great stuff.
  7. Continuing the budget season theme, you’ll definitely want to check out this look at “OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging” as you choose the channels you’ll use to drive revenue in the coming year.
  8. And, finally, let’s close out this week’s Hospitality Marketing Link Digest with this round-up of “10 Great Hotel Direct and OTA Distribution Posts” to keep the party rolling.

By the way, if you’re in the New York City area on September 13, Tim Peter of Tim Peter & Associates will be joining Cindy Estis Green of Kalibri Labs and Calvin Anderson of Duetto Research to discuss Using Your Own Data at HSMAI NYC’s September breakfast meeting. You can register here if you’re available to attend. You won’t want to miss this one.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including: