Online marketing is becoming more complex than ever, in particular for hoteliers who need to understand not only all the available tactics out there, but must also contend with various digital players in the competitive travel sphere, from meta-search engines to review sites to online travel agencies (OTA) like Expedia, Booking or Travelocity.
The folks at NetAffinity produced this pertinent infographic showcasing 15 online marketing trends we can expect to shake the hospitality world in the coming year. Here are some of my favorites:
Mobile Bookings: Indeed, mobile should no longer be considered a trend, but rather a reality hotels need to embrace. Not just hotels, mind you, as I evoked in my previous post Why Travel Brands Must Connect With Mobile Travelers. We no longer just search with our smartphones and tablets, but also book: 1 in 4 hotel bookings will come from a mobile device in 2015, and this percentage is even higher with Millenials for example (38% according to PhoCusWright).
Booking Abandonment: Did you know 98% of visitors to a hotel website abandon the sales funnel before completion? That’s just insane! So what can hoteliers do to prevent this catastrophic rate? Using booking abandonment tools is one way, through automated emails and remarketing initiatives. Some competitive analysis would not hurt either, along with an up-to-date, responsive-design website featuring rates at par or even below what can be found elsewhere…
Also read: Why people abandon a booking online
Owning Your Real Estate: Travelers search for hotels on various sites and touch points, so it’s more than ever crucial to own your own space in the digital world: website, blog, etc. Social media is NOT your real estate, but rather shared media. Investing on your own solid website, with ongoing search engine optimization (SEO) is paramount to a successful digital marketing approach.
Pay To Play Social Media: We all know how Facebook Pages are no longer seeing publications getting the organic reach of yesterday, forcing them to pay in order to reach their audiences. With the always-increasing volume of content shared across social media and the internet in general, brands will need to invest more and more to get their message across on social media where the free ride is definitely over. In fact, social media advertising was one of my 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2015.
Audio-Visual Content: Visual storytelling is a hot trend, with brands sharing photos across social networks as it gets good engagement with their community. Videos are also living a resurgence, with YouTube reaching record-levels of viewership with travel content, while Facebook is investing massively in making video its next runaway success with users. Vine and Instagram play on this field, which should see some interesting developments in 2015. Read also: Why Visuals are Key in Travel Marketing
Experience Driven Strategies: This is a trend non specific to 2015, as I believe hotels have been embracing this recently. But it will certainly grow this year. In a nutshell: consumers want to stay with hotels that acknowledge their preferences, needs and wants. An example? Free wifi, or rather, quality wifi across the board. Or access to exclusive events, in partnership with the hotel and aligned with its brand and client base: fashion shows, VIP access, behind the scenes, contest, etc.
For more on this, read this Skift interview with Relais & Chateaux and their experiential standards.
Boomers: While I agree with NetAffinity that Baby Boomers must be on the radar for hotels when designing their digital marketing strategies, I am surprised Millenials did not get a specific mention, as they are equally becoming a key demographic to target. Perhaps next year, with the 16 trends of 2016?
Check out the complete infographic below, with all 15 hotel marketing trends for 2015.