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DIGITAL MARKETING IN HOSPITALITY

2017’S MOST IMPORTANT TRENDS IMPACTING THE HOSPITALITY, TRAVEL & TOURISM INDUSTRY

2016 was always set to be a year of shiny-new toys to play with from a hospitality marketing perspective. From video conferencing to remote training opportunities to the most simplified centralised management systems to date, the IT takeover really has taken over the sector. But what’s at the forefront of the minds of most industry leaders right now is exactly how to capitalize on cutting edge technology, in order to further sales and marketing efforts.
The answer? Well, those with the biggest budgets are already exploring the following, but sooner or later we’ll be looking at a picture where these emerging 2017 marketing trends are nothing less than the new industry standard:

Video Marketing

Hardly a new concept for the hospitality industry, but video marketing is nonetheless set to continue exploding in power and prowess going forward. As the influence and value of TV, print and other marketing platforms waver, the online video is becoming a powerhouse like nothing else. Strategic use of video on a business website translates to lower bounce rates, longer visit times, improved engagement and considerable better conversion rates. And that’s all at the same time as painting the prettiest picture possible of your business/establishment. Web video marketing is and will continue to be a real game-changer.

We see digital leaders thinking expansively about partnerships to deliver new value-added experiences and services. This can mean alliances that span industry sectors, such as the Energy@home partnership among Electrolux, Enel, Indesit, and Telecom Italia to create a communications platform for smart devices and domestic appliances.

 

Social Marketing

Consumer studies have shown time and time again that the thoughts, opinions and pointers of both fellow consumers and influential figures mean more to them than all the marketing spiel in the world. Just five words and a solid star-rating from a person they don’t know from Adam could do you brand’s reputation more good than all the self-promotion in the world. The web has transformed the way the consumer public decides what it will buy, where it will buy it and how much it will buy. Content, community, commerce – the 3Cs strategy (again, one Marriott swears by) – focuses on social influence first, traditional marketing second.

 

Social Media Advertising.

Similar to video, social media marketing is an established, explored and exceptionally powerful concept that’s only just beginning to hit its stride. What’s really significant about social media advertising from a 2016 perspective is its incredible potential for targeted, localised marketing. If you were considering a deal targeting mid-30s females within a 30-mile radius of any given hotel branch for example, social media offers unrivalled scope for doing exactly that.

 

Wearable Technology.

While it’s true to say that the wearable technology market has gotten off to a slow (understatement) start, it will eventually take over. It’s just that the devices on the market right now like the Apple Watch and so many imitators haven’t quite nailed the magic formula. But they will. And when they do, this will represent a spectacularly powerful new marketing platform for the hospitality sector. Take the Disney MagicBand, which guests can use in place of papers tickets, as a key to gain access to their hotel rooms and basically to plan their Disney World holidays from start to finish. We’ve really only just begun scratching the surface with wearable technology, but one way or another, it is the future.

 

Deeper Analysis

Last but not least, the results of a recent CMO survey suggest that the hospitality will up its collective marketing analytics spending by an eye-watering 60% this year. Which isn’t entirely surprising, given the way in which there’s a ridiculous amount of consumer data ready and waiting to be tapped into, which can effectively allow for the creation of fool-proof blueprints for stellar performance. From website and social media engagement to demographic behaviour to competitor performance, the more than happens online, the more we know about every customer we target.
As we just read about the concept, let’s read about what strategies can we implement to get more leads and ease down the sakes conversions via digital.

 

10 key takeaways and digital marketing trends in travel and hospitality

1. Don’t sell rooms. Sell experiences.

Accommodations alone aren’t enough to sway the modern day traveler. Ingrained in the decision making process is a desire to experience not only what your hotel has to offer but also the restaurants, bars and shops within the vicinity of your hotel property. Digitally, this means sharing not only images of your beds, beaches and ballrooms, but also of the local excursions traveler may aspire to go on while there.

 

2. The microsite is maturing.

So, it’s clear that hospitality brands need to inspire consumers in order to drive bookings. One of the biggest challenges, however, is actually creating unique, immersive experiences at each leg of the journey. In an incredibly competitive space, content-rich microsite are making it easier to connect with consumers on a human level.

 

3. Content Is The King.

While “the experience” is what drives consumers throughout the booking journey, many hospitality brands are still struggling to adopt experience-driven content. The bottom line? Traditional hotel photography—think: crisp white sheets, overwrought room service, sterile lobby shots—simply doesn’t have the same digital impact as editorial-style content. To inspire consumers, your content needs to transport them to a desirable moment.
How can you source inspiring images to share with consumers? Here are a few different avenues to explore:
* Hire an in-house content guru.
* Hotel guests.
* Social and creative agencies.
* Marketing managers at individual properties.
* Influencers.

 

4. Influencer marketing is massive

Influencer marketing is essential to hospitality brands. The benefit is clear. Influencers enable teams that are light on content to acquire photos and videos at scale – and at the property level. This content can be shared on social channels like Instagram and Pinterest to create top of the funnel awareness, in ads to accelerate the journey, as well as on-site to drive bookings. At the same time, influencers who deploy content on their owned social channels help brands improve their audience reach and grow their visual presence.

 

5….. AND Size doesn’t always matter

Unsurprisingly, follower count is one of the first things marketers look for when vetting an influencer opportunity. It makes sense. Hospitality brands can receive dozens of influencer requests daily. The more followers an influencer has, the greater reach they can guarantee.
However, while audience size weighs heavily on the decision, it’s not the only thing brands look for. As an extension of your team, it’s important that the influencers you choose to work with represent your brand well. To achieve this, ask yourself the following when analysing the opportunity:
* Are the influencer’s images on-brand?
* Does their style and voice mirror our aesthetic?
* Is their audience active and engaged? What types of comments do their followers leave?
* Are they working with any competitors or brands that depart from our business values?
* What are their interests?
* Are they reliable?
* Will we get the rights to the content?

 

6. Video content is heating up.

One of the biggest benefits of working with influencers? It’s a great way to build out your video inventory. And video is huge. As a matter of fact, in the last eight months, video watch time on Facebook is up by 74% & on Instagram is up 40%.
The challenge here is that video content can require a lot more time, money and manpower to create than a simple static image. In this regard, influencers can add a ton of value. Here are a couple of best practices when working with influencers to create video content:
Don’t be overly critical of an influencer’s follower count. With video content in particular, audience size is less important than their style and skill. Focus on quality. Incorporate a few revisions into your contract to ensure that, from start to finish, the video content is on point. You want to make sure that you get this right!

 

7. Tag. You’re it!.

Another major digital trend in travel: Instagram users tagging their friends and family within the comments section of an image to share in a moment of inspiration. Tagging within comments on Instagram is essentially the equivalent of a Facebook share – a qualified engagement that increases earned reach, gets more eyes on content, and can even drive an uptick in followers. Travel marketers can nurture this behaviour by adding a basic call-toaction (“tag a friend!”) to Instagram captions.

 

8. Instagram as a traffic driver

Another call-to-action you might see popping up across travel accounts on Instagram is to “click link in bio”; that’s because without paying to sponsor content, Instagram images aren’t clickable. If the goal for travel marketers is to move consumers through from discovery to departure, Curalate Like2Buy and other interactive solutions make this journey possible. Using Curalate, consumers can take action on Instagram content and click out to booking pages, microsites and even your other social channels.

 

9. All hail the #Triplegram.

As users become loyal to brands on Instagram, they’re much more likely to go directly to their favourite feeds. The #triplegram—a series of three photos published consecutively that use the same aesthetic or filter—lends to a mesmerising, panorama-like experience. Definitely something to consider if you’re looking to experiment with different content formats that provide a breathtaking, holistic overview of your properties.

 

10. Property level-guest engagements.

As you can probably guess, user-generated content is fairly prolific for hospitality brands – whether for work or play, people love taking photos while away. Rather than simply interacting with or re-gramming a guest’s photo, brands can go above and beyond by providing a delightful guest experience. For instance, if a guest posts a photo from one of your hotel properties, why not connect with that property manager and have them share a special gift? Don’t just focus on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries either. Sometimes, the most unexpected surprises are the most effective.
wish to know more, how can you get the max from Digital for your business? get in touch today.

 

Sonal Sehgal, Global Honey Bee, About Us, Digital Marketing

Sonal Sehgal

CEO

As the strategic force behind GlobalHoneyBee, I create the marketing stories that define Brands & Businesses- helping my clients and their story – why ‘They’ matter. I love to work with my clients as a ‘partner in crime’. As the thought leader, I believe in making the business work, whatever it takes to achieve business goals through Marketing and we often brainstorm ideas that might even fall out of the ‘scope’ of marketing.

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