Hotel Marketing: Tackling Challenges, Crushing Goals in 2020

The following post, by Jennifer Andre, Senior Director of Business Development for North America and Latin America at Expedia Group Media Solutions, originally appeared on Hospitalitynet in February 2020.

Increasing customer engagement, acquisition, and sales leads. Shifting consumer landscape. We’ve hit a new year, and decade, though the challenges and pressures on digital marketers haven’t changed dramatically from the year we just left behind. But now, add the increasing demands from guests and unique challenges facing hotel owners and hotel marketers, and 2020 gets a bit more exciting.

Sustainability. One of the most important issues facing the world today, and a key factor in successful brand management for hotels, as consumers make it a shopping priority. Expect to see even more hotels pledging to eliminate small toiletry bottles, reducing single-use plastic water bottles and other related sustainability initiatives.

Influencer marketing, a popular go-to strategy, remains a valuable tool for hotels to showcase what guests can expect from the property. However, there are increasing questions around what constitutes an influencer, how hotels manage their requests and authenticity as perceived by the consumer. Aligning with influencers – whether individuals, groups or networks – warrants the same kind of scrutiny applied to other forms of digital marketing.

Increased competition from traditional lodging providers and the continued rise of alternative accommodations puts even more pressure on marketers to stand out and convert travelers. Advancements in technology are reinventing all phases of the travel journey, making the path to purchase even more complex. And, as travelers’ comfort with technology grows, so does their expectation for a ‘connected’ trip.

How will hotel marketers respond, reevaluate and reset their strategies to deliver on these expectations and conquer their goals? Let’s take a look.

Removing Travel Friction, Driving Personalization, Creating Loyalty

The common thread here? Data. Data as a predicted trend isn’t new, but how we should be using it is. It’s time to move beyond just observing and learning guest behavior to predicting guest needs and engaging in more personalized and valuable ways. This starts with their first touchpoints with a property, whether it’s a sponsored listing or other customized offers. This can also help drive loyalty, as people are generally loyal to brands that demonstrate a deep understanding of their priorities and preferences.

At the end of the day, travelers want a seamless and frictionless travel experience across their entire journey.

Reaching Highly Qualified Audiences in New, Engaging Ways

Through technology, hotel marketers can give travelers more unique and differentiated experiences across the platforms and resources they trust, allowing them to make their own decisions based on personal preferences, attitudes and more.

Social media remains an influential channel, especially for younger generations. And when it comes to social influencers, find individuals that will extend your campaign message in organic and authentic ways. And, unsurprisingly, mobile remains a dominant channel – by 2021, more than 70% of all retail e-commerce is expected to be generated via mobile-commerce. By creating a multi-platform strategy, you can reach and influence travelers with relevant, personalized content throughout their purchase journey, regardless of the device they’re using.

Emerging technologies provide exciting new ways for marketers to engage with and inspire travelers – virtual reality, augmented reality, 360-degree content, to name a few. One example is a digital marketing campaign from Palace Resorts, which used eye-tracking functionality to create personalized recommendations for a consumer, without them ever having to lift a finger. While these may not yet be staples in everyone’s marketing toolkit, we’ll start to see more implementation and engagement as consumers become more receptive to technology enhancing their experience with a hotel.

Extending Your Dollar, Extending your Reach

All of this shouldn’t be limited to those hotels or brands with their own big budgets. There are opportunities to strategically pool resources across different brands so marketers can collectively and efficiently reach travelers in new and creative ways. One way we do this with our marketing partners is through Co-Op Campaigns, which combine the purchasing power of multiple brands to create an even bigger impact. Think of the potential in combining marketing dollars with those of your local destination marketing organization, airlines, or activity partners to increase consideration for the market and elevate your exposure.

Collaborations such as these will increasingly become a critical piece of the marketing strategy this year and beyond. From insights to creative to distribution, having the right partnerships in place can help create the right mix of strategies to reach and convert the right travelers to drive business success.

So, back to crushing those goals in 2020.

There are many considerations when choosing the right channels and solutions to meet your specific marketing needs. Remember that data is your friend and should be helping you engage with travelers in more personalized ways, delivering unique and valuable experiences at every touchpoint along the journey.

Campaigns that use interactive technology can empower you to tell your story in a unique way, allowing guests to experience firsthand what your property has to offer. Before they even arrive.

And, lastly, in finding ways to extend your dollars, make sure that your current programs work harder. A new year is a good time to reevaluate some of your standard activities, such as your pay-per-click program, to ensure you are fully maximizing your marketing dollars and reaching your target travelers. If your current programs aren’t reaching your business goals, it’s time to make some changes.

Learn more about how hotels are achieving their marketing objectives with our sponsored listing solution.