Whether you act now or in the future, any technology you use to market your hotel comes back to content.
Your hotel could be in big trouble. Recent data suggests we’re heading for decline in occupancy in 2018—and potentially further declines to follow. Worse, online travel agencies and your hotel competi-tors are gunning for your guests, looking to make any decline in demand your problem, not theirs.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be all bad news. Changes in the way guests shop and book hotels create opportunities to outmaneuver your competitors, not only in the future, but also right now. The key is to focus on the trends that help you differentiate your property and also signal where growth will occur.
What are those trends? I thought you’d never ask.
You’ve undoubtedly heard pundits and prophets predicting the growth of new technologies like voice search, chatbots and AI. And, yeah, they’re cool. Anyone who’s used Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assis-tant can tell you how useful they for making their lives easier. Will these gadgets and gizmos drive more roomnights or greater NOI for your property next year? Probably not. However, even if they don’t, the same efforts that will make them valuable to your property in the future also drives benefits for your property today.
Emerging technology tends to unfold like a chess match, with individual pieces moving around the board, increasingly positioned to achieve checkmate. And right now, a few pieces have moved into very interesting positions.
For instance, mobile devices now account for over half of all searches by consumers across all industries. And half of all searches are four words or longer, at least in part because at least 20% to 25% of all searches on mobile are voice-based. Among millennials, these percentages are even higher. Millennials also represent the single largest demographic group in the U.S. today.
These trends complement one another and create a world where guests, both young and old, have started getting used to voice as a regular part of their search experience. Even more important, when they find what they want, they’re booking on mobile, too. According to research from eMarketer, 40% of all digital travel sales this year will occur on mobile devices.
You’re probably asking, “Sure, this is all fascinating. But how does this help me outsell the guy across the street?” And the answer is simple: Content.
You see, voice search, chatbots and AI depend on huge volumes of quality content to understand your property and answer guest questions. When a guest asks Alexa, Kayak’s chatbot or Google Assistant for a hotel recommendation, where do you think the answer comes from? Content. Each of these tools scan the web to craft the answer to the questions they’re asked. Without the right content for your property, they’re never going to find you.
The question is whether that content will come from you or from somebody else.
Even better, you don’t have to wait for the future to benefit from investing in content for your property. Because our old friends at Google and Facebook depend heavily on content to answer customer ques-tions, too.
Your guests share content about your property—yours and their own—with their friends, families, fans and followers. Without content, there is no search. Without content, there is no social. Without search and social today, there are no bookings on your website. And, in the future, without content, none of those fancy tools will ever suggest your property when asked where its owner should stay.
Forward-thinking companies across the hospitality industry including Marriott, Morgans Hotels, Airbnb and OTAs have invested heavily in their content initiatives to drive awareness, interest, desire and action among potential guests. And they’re seeing results from these efforts.
Investing in your property’s content is something you can do today to address any challenges in the marketplace. It also positions your brand for success as all the new tools and toys become more com-monplace, too—regardless of whether those trends appear next year or five years down the road.
So, yes, there’s probably some rough weather ahead. But if you play your cards right, focus on content to improve your presence in search, social and all the cool toys coming in the future, maybe that rough weather won’t be an issue. And maybe your hotel won’t be in big trouble after all.
Tim Peter helps hotels and resorts put digital to work to grow their business. Since 1995, he has developed innovative e-commerce and digi-tal marketing programs designed to increase sales and revenues. An expert in e-commerce, digital strategy, and marketing execution, Tim focuses on influencing customer behavior and delivering business results for companies worldwide. Prior to founding hospitality digital marketing strategy consulting firm Tim Peter & Associates in 2011, Tim led the world’s largest hotel franchisor and the world’s premier in-dependent luxury hotel representation firm in using digital to help hotels and resorts around the globe drive billions of dollars in revenue. He can be reached at timpeter.com/hotelmarketing or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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