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How to Attract Generation Z to Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Most hoteliers don’t use Snapchat or know what TikTok is. Generation Z’s, however, are flocking to the platform in record numbers – making it the world’s second most downloaded app of 2019. TikTok is the epitome of what it means to be a Gen Zer. It’s also a perfect symbol for how few hotel marketing managers really understand this demographic. Few hotels are making any effort to capture the attention of this younger generation – and this attitude is catching up.  Those who understand this new generation of post-millennials leverage marketing influencers and tap into passion points like climate change to drive business. Generation Z is already one of the largest consumer groups, despite the fact that some members of this demographic are younger than age 10. They “control $200 billion in direct spending. In the meantime, they influence more than $600 billion in spending by their parents,” according to one research report. Members of generation Z are expected to account for 40% of all consumer purchases by the end of this year. It’s tempting to apply the same approach you take marketing to millennials to Gen Zers, but this strategy won’t win you any younger guests. Don’t underestimate this group: yes, they’re tech savvy, but they’re also budget-conscious, globally-minded guests who wish to be taken seriously. It’s not all about the next hottest social network. These travelers require an additional level of personalization, authentic messaging, and plenty of digital touchpoints to streamline the journey.   Generation Z: Who are They?  Generation Z is generally regarded as those with birth years between 1995 and 2015. They are the youngest generation and many of these young people are still in high school and below.  It would be a mistake to conflate Gen Z with Gen Y, also known as Millennials. While these groups may share some characteristics, they have very different perspectives, habits, and attitudes that impact their purchase decisions. Generation Z is the first generation of “digital natives,” a buzz phrase that means this group has grown up completely immersed in the internet through platforms like Google at a very young age. Smartphones, touch screens, and apps have been the norm since birth, unlike Gen Y, who can remember a time before wireless internet. Gen Z has strong tech skills, the ability to multitask, and the desire for personalized, custom-built experiences. At a high-level, here’s what this generation is all about:  They’re discerning. Cynics say that Gen Z members have “an eight-second attention span.” More to the point, having grown up in the age of the internet, this group is able to quickly sort through and assess huge amounts of information. They can quickly tell when they’re being sold to and what’s worthy of their attention.  They define personal interaction differently. Despite their reputation for constantly spending too much time on their phones, Gen Z takes face time seriously. “74% of Gen Z would rather connect with colleagues face-to-face than via other formats. But here’s the catch: Gen Z doesn’t equate face-to-face with in-person,” one CEO told Fast Company. For Gen Z, conversations happening on social media or over text are just as real as in-person conversations.  They’re the “sober generation”. Gen Z has grown up in the post-9/11, post-recession world. They’re pragmatic savers who seek value, rather than luxury. They look to be defined differently than Millennials and work hard to avoid the “lazy” stereotype. This is a group that believes strongly in “diversity, equality, nondiscrimination and the alleviation of poverty.”  When it comes to travel, Gen Z may share similar values to Gen Y – but how this group goes about booking a hotel, engaging with a property, and enjoying their stay differs dramatically.    Generation Z vs. Generation Y and Baby Boomers Older generations like Gen Y and the Baby Boomers are the two other largest consumer groups hoteliers need to know. Gen Y, known as Millennials, were born between 1980 - 1994; Boomers were born between 1944 - 1964. Boomers came of age during a time of post-WWII optimism. This generation turns to traditional media like Facebook and TV advertising, and seek travel experiences by deciding on the destination first. Millennials, Gen Y, are much closer to Gen Z in their spending habits. They rely on social media platforms more than traditional media to get information about brands: Gen Y uses their mobile device for most things, but 32% still use a computer to complete a purchase. “As is well documented, many of the millennial generation's life choices, future earnings and entrance to adulthood have been shaped by this recession in a way that may not be the case for their younger counterparts,” reports Pew Research Center. Technology that Baby Boomers and Millennials have had to adopt has been part-and-parcel for Gen Z. The iPhone debuted in 2007 when the oldest Gen Zers were 10; since then, social media, constant connectivity, and on-demand content have become the norm. As a result, Gen Zers are thought to be better at multi-tasking, more knowledgeable about politics and the world, and have more diverse tastes – the internet has made the world their oyster. Gen Z and Boomers share a love for discounts; Gen Z and Gen Y share a level of comfort with interacting with brands on social media.    Gen Z Travel Preferences This technologically-savvy group expects next generation digital experiences and wants your hotel to provide genuine, ethical experiences that can be booked through a smartphone. Gen Z takes “mobile-first” to the next level. “As with all other things, Gen Z expect to be able to handle all advance transactions on their phone or tablet: from selecting their destination to booking all the details, including flights, ground transportation, lodging and restaurant reservations. They want to be able to ask questions online and get immediate answers as they make their decisions,” writes VisionCritical. For this group of travelers, that they can book experiences, rooms, ancillary services, and text with your property is should be a given, rather than an exception. This generation also grew up traveling: travel company Contiki reports that 79% of Gen Z have traveled overseas by age 15. Their travel experience, combined with their values of diversity and inclusion, mean this generation sees themselves as part of a “global village.” Gen Z plan trips that prioritize experience ahead of price and these travelers have an open mind when it comes to what that experience could be. When they decide to take a trip, they’re undecided about where they want to go; Gen Z turns to social media to find both inspirational content and travel deals. And, finally, this group travels with a conscience. Gen Z is drawn to hotels and travel companies that show a commitment to sustainability and socially-conscious travel. This group is much more ethical than previous generations; conscious consumerism is more than just a buzzword to Gen Z. McKinsey research found that:  70% of Gen Z survey respondents try to purchase from companies they consider ethical 80% remember at least one scandal or controversy that involves a company 65% try to learn the origins of the products they buy 80% refuse to buy from companies that are involved in a scandal Gen Z will do their research and stay at properties that pay fair wages, commit to sustainability, and give back to the local community. These are important aspects of their travel experience, not just checkmarks in a corporate sustainability report.    Tips for Attracting Gen Z to Your Hotel What does all this mean for your hotel? The good news is that you don’t need to amass a following on TikTok to try to recruit younger guests. That said, you must have a strong digital presence. One way to build a digital footprint is by marketing local experiences through display ads and social media. Approximately 1 in 3 Gen Z travelers reports that they want their next vacation to be an adventure. Display ads attractively showcase destinations, experiences, and sustainable travel in a way that still allows Gen Zers to “discover” something authentic. Unique, Instagrammable – yes, even TikTok-able – experiences will draw in the Gen Z crowd. The importance of foodie experiences has increased significantly: McCrindle’s market research for Contiki found that 35% of Gen Z prioritize food experiences. More than 90% of Gen Z research where to eat before they travel. A firm like D-Edge that can target Gen Zers seeking foodie experience by managing and optimizing display ads on major platforms, like AdRoll, Criteo and Sojern. Expedia reports that appealing deals and images are impactful for more than 60% of Gen Zers who say advertising is influential. Capitalize on the fact that Gen Z prefer spontaneity by highlighting some of the local tours and highlights of the area throughout your hotel website. A hotel website design partner like D-Edge can help you build a website that isn’t just mobile responsive, but totally mobile-optimized; this means guests can quickly find what they need without having to navigate complicated dropdown menus and slow-loading images. D-Edge even has an in-house media production team that can support your brand with great content – content that will hold a Gen Zer’s attention for more than eight seconds. -- Bottom line: it’s time to find a marketing partner who understands how to target the Gen Z guest on their customer journey. Start marketing to this consumer group now to get ahead of the competition as their buying power continues to increase over the next decade.

4 Unconventional Content Marketing Strategy Ideas for Hotels

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

If you’re reading this article, you probably want to increase the traffic coming to your hotel website and having a smart content marketing strategy is one of the best ways to win more bookings online. You also probably know by now that attracting more potential guests isn’t something that happens overnight. Perhaps your competitors have hired expensive website designers or you get a big share of bookings from OTAs. What can you do to get more direct bookings than last year - and more than the hotel down the street? Our best advice is to create high-quality, compelling content that grabs a potential guest’s attention and keeps them engaged all the way until they click “book now.” But you don’t need to be a professional writer or photographer to make your website content shine; with these four unique content marketing strategy ideas, you can start driving hotel website traffic today.   Strategy #1: Location Jacking We pay a lot of attention to competitive hotels, but we can’t forget that many guests can be shopping around for destinations too. Think about what attracts people to your area - is it the restaurant scene, some famous museums, or outdoor highlights like beaches or mountains? Once you’ve determined some big drivers, then you can figure out which other destinations your guests might be looking at. To help sell your destination (and hotel) to these guests, you can create an article that “jacks” the location highlights of these other areas. For instance, the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas is a fabulous place for a yoga retreat. However, search trends show that only 40 people per month search for “yoga retreat in Cabo.” In comparison, yoga retreat-related searches for other destinations get a lot more traffic: Yoga retreat California: 2,400 monthly searches Yoga retreat Costa Rica: 6,600 monthly searches Yoga retreat Bali: 14,800 monthly searches The Waldorf’s marketing team could write an article such as the “10 Best Yoga Retreat Destinations in the World” and create rich content around each of the high volume destinations above.  Within that article they could talk about all of the reasons why Cabo might be a more desirable yoga retreat destination than Bali, and more people would see it when they’re searching for “yoga retreat Bali” than “yoga retreat Cabo.” For U.S. based travellers, Cabo is a much shorter commute and less expensive. The Waldorf could alternatively create an informative article about top yoga retreats around the world, potentially including other hotels in yoga retreat destinations who could share or link to the Waldorf’s post. When researching these search terms, you may be wondering how to find the search volume and competitive keywords. Marketing professionals can use one of the many keyword research tools, like Google Keyword Planner, or for more support and resources, consider partnering with a hospitality-specific marketing company like Cendyn who’s digital marketing agency arm can do all of the heavy lifting for you.   Strategy #2: The Restaurant Megalist Chances are, your hotel guests will be dining out at some point during their stay. They’re probably scouring the web for restaurant recommendations while you’re reading this article. Give your guests a valuable trip planning resource by compiling a meaty “Restaurant Megalist” blog post or page with dozens (maybe even 100) of restaurant recommendations. Add a short blurb about each, or just organize it intuitively with price ranges, cuisine types, rich imagery and the distance from your hotel with a Google Maps link. For example, you could title your guide “45 Restaurant Recommendations in Sausalito.” A restaurant blurb might look like this: Scoma's of Sausalito: Waterfront restaurant known for fresh fish, crab, scallops, and more with stunning views of the bay. 3-minute walk (0.2 miles away) ← Include a Google Maps link here to make it easy for guests to find their way. While a comprehensive restaurant guide is an excellent resource for guests on its own, that’s not where the value in this content marketing strategy ends. Those restaurants that you included in your guide are also competing for website traffic, so they’ll be thrilled to hear you included them in your list. Once your restaurant list has been posted, we recommend reaching out to each restaurant and gently asking them to add a link to your post on their website in the press section - or at least share the article on their social media accounts. Even if only a handful of restaurants share your post, it will still lead to incremental (and free!) website traffic, which is a nice skill to add to your online marketing toolkit.   Strategy #3: Event Tag-Along Along the same lines of destination-related content, hotels can snag website traffic by writing articles related to popular local events. Guests coming into town for an event usually have a lot of questions about the area and the event itself. What’s the event schedule? Where do attendees register? Who are the speakers? What are some nearby restaurant recommendations? As an example, a San Francisco hotel could create a guide to the annual Salesforce conference, Dreamforce. The keyword “dreamforce 2019” received 33,100 monthly searches and scored .06 for competition, so it would be relatively easy to appear high in the search results. A Dreamforce article could include information about registration, fees, concerts, background on the speakers, and the event agenda.   Strategy #4: The OTA Effect Why do guests use OTAs? Sure, some guests are loyalists who stick with one particular OTA for their loyalty points, but many guests use OTAs as research tools. They want to compare hotels quickly and easily. While one hotel can’t really compete with an OTA in terms of marketing dollars, a hotel can “out-OTA” the big guys by creating better content that ranks higher in the search results (it’s not easy but with creativity it can be done). Similar to the “restaurant megalist” we mentioned earlier, a guide to area hotels can be a great resource for potential guests - and an informative exercise to get to know your competitive set. Start this article by compiling a list of nearby hotels or hotels within a particular niche, like “independent hotels in New York” or “new hotels in Miami.” General “hotels in…” searches get a lot of traffic, so you have a nice opportunity to gain significant traffic. “Hotels in New York” generates 70,000 monthly searches, for instance. What gives your article a leg up compared to the OTAs is your local market knowledge. You’ve been inside these hotels and know what makes them unique, so you can write strong content that really speaks to what travelers are looking for when it comes to your local area. Once you’ve published the post, don’t forget to reach out to the hotels you mentioned and ask for some social media shares! -- While any of these content marketing strategy ideas can be a good starting point for improving your hotel’s online marketing, some hotels may be ready for more a sophisticated marketing plan. Hotel marketing experts like Cendyn offer additional reporting and analytics, website design, and automation tools that go beyond what you can find online for free. If your hotel is ready for the next step, consider partnering with a specialized digital marketing agency that can provide tailored expertise. After all, any investment in driving hotel website traffic can pay off quickly as your rate of direct bookings increases.  

9 Hotel Marketing Habits You Need to Develop Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Do you know how many customers your hotel marketing campaign converted today? This question causes many hotel marketers to break out in a cold sweat. Hotel marketers have many competing priorities to address throughout the day. From meeting with their team to running ads across multiple platforms and planning for the next marketing campaign, few hotel marketers have the time to get granular and learn how their campaigns are actually performing on a day-to-day basis. Carving out time for a daily routine can mitigate some of the anxiety of not knowing whether the work you’re doing is, well, working. Daily rituals, especially for marketers, reduce friction stemming from decision making, eliminate distractions, and help individuals get into that “deep work” mindset faster. Designing a thoughtful routine can give you a clear vision of how your overall marketing budget is performing, eliminating wasted resources or and letting you identify what’s working sooner, rather than later. A hotel marketing manager can develop a daily routine that involves regular collaboration, staying attuned to market trends, and monitoring your competitors to stay ahead. By doing these nine things every day, a marketing manager will establish discipline and industry knowledge to drive revenue with smart marketing campaigns that connect with guests.    Review your hotel marketing plan & track goal progress Start off every day reiterating your goals and prioritizing your tasks based on the impact you think they’ll have on achieving those goals. While most leaders review their goals weekly, a marketing manager has the benefit of getting more instant feedback from Google Ads, blog views and click-through rate, and social media analytics. Reviewing your hotel marketing plan daily can help make sure your day-to-day tasks continuously ladder up to delivering on big-picture goals, like more direct bookings. Make sure your marketing goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. In practice, that means your hotel marketing plan is:  Specific: well-defined and focused.  Measureable: include concrete targets against which you will measure success.  Attainable: aim high, but not so high that you set your marketing up to fail.  Relevant: tied to being attainable, how are your goals relevant to the competitive landscape and macro-economic trends?  Time-based: give yourself a deadline or series of deadlines. SMART goals are actionable; they can help you know which skillset to pull from and which resources to use as you plan your day. Make it part of your routine to revisit these goals to avoid distractions throughout the day.    Collaborate with your team cross-functionally Specifically, a marketing manager should dedicate some time to syncing with their revenue and sales teams. Sales, revenue, and marketing functions must work in lockstep to decide on rates and availability and then create promotional offers and campaigns based on those data points. As one revenue manager explains, “The hotel is an ecosystem, everything connects and affects one another. It’s critical to be aware of what Marketing is trying to promote and communicate because that could affect our decisions the next day.” Assist sales with key accounts and deliver promotions that meet the rate strategy set by revenue management. Set aside face-to-face time each day with sales and revenue to make sure you’re squeezing as much revenue as possible out of your campaigns.   Check-in with your digital marketing agency Even if you perform your routine every day, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough time to devote to every marketing opportunity available to your property. Delegating to a digital agency like Cendyn is the only way to realistically do everything. A specialized agency will provide digital marketing and web design that brings more traffic to your website, and then ensures you have the graphics, layout, and right on-page SEO settings to capture direct bookings. Improve your SEO and SEM results on Google, Bing and industry specific sites like TripAdvisor & Kayak, and use smart CRM re-targeting to follow up with those at the beginning of the consumer journey. Great agencies can also help deploy social media marketing campaigns and influencer campaigns, driving more viewers to your website. A professional hotel website design team can improve your page’s conversion rate with mobile optimization, personalization, content management and great graphic design. Monitor Google search trends, along with Bing, metasearch, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more to constantly improve your conversion rates. It’s crucial to make monitoring your digital marketing central to your routine. Check-in with Cendyn to make sure your marketing budget is reaching and converting guests at the best rate possible.    Browse new technologies and research market trends The hospitality industry is changing faster than ever before. Our team has identified more than 100 trends impacting hotels that range from renewable energy to new hotel designs, alternative lodging and everything in between. It took us dozens of hours to compile this list, and it’s likely there are many more trends that we missed. Hotel marketing managers need to incorporate some research into their daily routine to stay on top of current trends as they develop. Learning about current market trends in technology, sustainability, hotel design, smart rooms and the guest experience can help marketing managers generate new blog topics that consumers care about, as well as use social media marketing to highlight specific on-site amenities. For instance, if your hotel uses recycled water to maintain a green rooftop, that’s great content for PR placement on a site like Fast Company. As you monitor new technologies and trends, follow the three key areas that must collaborate for maximum growth: sales, marketing and revenue management. These teams must work in lock-step with each other to generate revenue – meaning it must be part of your routine to collaborate cross-functionally. Cendyn’s acquisition of Rainmaker is an easy way to build an integrated workflow. The Revenue Cloud brings together past, current, and predicted demand data into a single view. As a result, your revenue, sales and marketing managers can alight easily around optimal pricing recommendations.    Study other industries for great marketing ideas Marketing is largely agnostic, meaning what works well in one industry can be replicated in other markets. Read sites like Adweek and Ad Age to take cues from consumer brands and the entertainment industry. Look at how movies are being launched, new beverage brands introduced, or creative ways that restaurants are drawing a crowd for marketing ideas you can incorporate on-site. Case-in-point: traditional Hollywood studios are in fierce competition with streaming sites, just as established hotel chains vye with Airbnb and other alternative accommodation for guests. In Los Angeles, at the epicenter of both these battlefields, “blockbuster hotels” mimic the experience of big-budget movies. Just as The Avengers is designed to blow revenue figures out of the water, hotels are offering premium, unique experiences that small shops can’t replicate. For instance, Petite Hermitage features a Soho House style members only club (only more exclusive) with weekend tarot card readings and jazzy burlesque shows. The Magic Castle features an invite only black tie magic show and the Hollywood Roosevelt famously hosted Beecher’s Madhouse (now shuttered), a debaucherous nightclub and variety show frequented by the likes of Miley Cyrus and The Kardashians. What does this mean for your hotel? Find ways to make waves where other properties can’t. Study how other brands facing disruptive market entrants are adapting to the increased competition.    Get outside your office and speak to guests Guest surveys are a great way to encourage feedback because it’s scalable and easy to access. Another great way to gather customer intelligence and insights is to speak to guests in person. Talk to guests so you can develop a better understanding not just customer personas –  critical to any effective marketing – but also to understand your hotel through their eyes. Often, times the things you learn can be taken and leveraged to market in the authentic voice of your customers. We recommend that marketers do at least 6-8 random guest interviews per quarter to make sure they’ve got a pulse on who’s coming through their doors.  This helps create better offers and content so that your marketing resonates with what guests want. Ask them questions like “why did you choose us versus another property?”, “how did you first hear about our hotel?” and “if you didn’t book with us, where would you have booked and why?”. If you find it hard to get valuable feedback from your guests, at least advertise your guest survey tool and encourage people to leave you private reviews that you can mine for insight.   Browse the latest local events, restaurant openings, etc. Capitalize on local happenings to make your marketing campaigns stick. An event-based promotion can capture a lot of traffic when you pair the right offer with the right keywords. For instance, if your property is near New York City, run a post-NYC marathon spa service special using Google Ads to target “nyc marathon+hotels.” Make paying attention to the calendar part of your daily routine to know when to expect start running a promo for maximum impact. “Around 90% of consumers book within 70 days of their trip, however about 80% of this same group book within just 30 days. Keeping this booking window in mind will help you plan the run-time of your overall strategy,” reports one hotel marketing expert. Events like the marathon will have people booking well in advance; concerts or theater openings will have a shorter lead time. Another option is to use social media to target a specific audience that’s RSVP’d to an event. For instance, use Facebook’s audience tool to reach those attending Salesforce Dreamforce with a “hangover package” you can use to fill rooms after the conference – free late checkout included.    Monitor your compset Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing by reading their blog, signing up for their email newsletter, and setting up a Google Alert to let you know when there’s some news you need to know. Follow them on social media or use a tool like SPYFU and SEMRush to see what words your competitors are using for SEO and SEM. Leverage that keyword research by sharing it with your digital agency to get a leg up on similar properties. Try to ascertain not only what your competitors are doing, but how well they’re doing it: how are your competitor’s campaigns working?    Read non-hospitality marketing blogs Ultimately, digital marketing is similar no matter what vertical you are in. Search algorithms and ad platforms change rapidly; make sure that you are up to date with the latest developments. A few experts we recommend hotel marketers follow include:  Ahrefs: SEO tools and resources to help you grow your search traffic. Their blog offers hands-on tactical advice you can take to improve your website visibility.  Moz: Moz compiles SEO advice, research and how-tos to help you improve your digital marketing, tapping different experts to keep their content fresh. Neil Patel: Neil Patel is a consultant and best-selling author who specializes in digital marketing and SEO.  HubSpot: HubSpot make inbound marketing software, and in the process they gather data and insights around lead generation, email marketing, sales, and social media management.  Seth Godin: Like Neil Patel, Seth is a bestselling author on the subject of digital marketing and content. He focuses on the psychology of marketing and how to make your brand stand out. Regularly following this routine can make a hotel marketer more prepared, more flexible, and more agile when it comes to planning and executing timely marketing campaigns.  

8 Ways to Increase Website Traffic Free

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Is your hotel trying to get more direct bookings? Or trying to reach specific types of travelers? Maybe just wanting to share updates about a recent renovation? There are a myriad of reasons to want more traffic on your hotel website, but there’s not always a clear answer on how to get it.  Furthermore, acquisition channels like Facebook and Google Ads continue to rise year after year. Many marketers are guilty of trying to throw money at problems they don’t understand. The good news is that there are a ton of ways to increase website traffic free with a little creativity. Where do you start, especially if you don’t have a marketing budget? In this article, we’ll outline 8 ways to increase website traffic free of charge. You don’t need to be a computer guru or professional writer to implement these ideas either; our simple yet impact solutions will help you drive website traffic while keeping costs low. But if your hotel does have some marketing spend available, we’ll also share some ideas for marketing investment that will give you a big bang for your buck.   Search Marketing Many potential guests find hotel websites on search engines. They type in a search term, then they click on a result that looks attractive. How does your hotel stack up to the competition? Does your hotel come up when you search Try searching for some common, relevant keywords on your favorite search engine and see how your website looks in the search results. Does the headline look attractive and engaging? Is all of the text accurate? Optimizing your website’s content in the search results is an easy way to increase website traffic free of charge! Pretend that you’re a hotel guest trying to book a room in your city.  What are the things you’d search for? Create a list of 20-30 terms and analyze the types of content that come up when you search for those.  Identify areas of your website that can meet searcher intent for those queries and if you don’t have any, consider creating technical SEO pages to pick up search traffic for those terms.  For example, if your hotel is in San Francisco you may want to create a page for “restaurants near the Golden Gate Bridge” or “hotels closest to Napa Valley and Wine Country”. You want to target high volume, low competition terms with rich content.  Google is getting better and better at determining the best content for searchers so make sure that you are writing for people and not robots.  Create valuable content that really solves the pain points of consumers and bookers will come. If your hotel has some marketing budget available, you can take your search results game to the next level by purchasing pay-per-click ads through platforms like Google AdWords.   Online Reputation Management & Reviews It’s no secret that good guest reviews are crucial to a hotel’s success. But asking guests to write reviews isn’t the only important part of managing your hotel’s online reputation. Nobody wants to receive a negative review, but those are the most important reviews for a hotelier to respond to. A negative review offers the opportunity for the hotelier to explain their side of the situation, use the problem as a training opportunity, and reiterate the hotel’s goal of providing excellent service. Responding to these reviews with care allows the hotelier to turn a negative review into a positive impression for anybody reading the review. And when a positive review has been posted, be sure to respond to those too, maybe with a note of gratitude for the good feedback and that you hope to welcome the guest for another stay soon. While many general managers or other hotel leaders like to handle their property’s guest reviews, hotels that want to elevate their reputation management can partner with a company like D-Edge that provides reputation management software, which provides review response services and insightful analytics.   Compelling Website and Blog Content Even if you have top-notch SEO and amazing guest reviews, people aren’t going to spend much time on your website if it doesn’t have engaging content. Whether you have a simple website or an established hotel blog, you can incorporate new and interesting content without spending any money. Consider doing a bit of SEO research to determine what keywords people are searching for in your area, then write an article about that topic. Perhaps start an “employee spotlight” interview program or publish a collection of guest photos. You could also write an article about an area event or celebration and ask the event organizers to share the post on their social media channels to receive additional traffic. The possibilities are endless for engaging hotel blog content! Interested in taking your website or blog content further? Consider hiring a professional writer or content agency to create content that really shines. Content agencies can also help you develop a strategic direction for your blog or dive deeper into SEO.   Website SEO We’ve already established that potential guests often use search engines to find hotel websites, so spending some time on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) can allow guests to find it more easily. It doesn’t take an SEO expert to make impactful changes; a few SEO tips that you can implement today include adding H1 and H2 formatting to headings, compressing large images to improve site speed, and adding internal links. If you edit your website with Wordpress, add free plug-ins like Yoast to see specific SEO guidance for every page. Ready to take your SEO to the next level? Partner with a professional SEO agency for more advanced expertise. An agency can help you determine which keywords to target, discover who your competitors are, and provide ideas for blog posts or content.   Social Media Posts Your hotel likely has social media accounts, but are you using them to their fullest potential? Up your social media game by organizing a giveaway for a free room night, in which people can enter the contest by following the hotel’s account, liking a post, or tagging a friend in a comment. A giveaway helps you build brand awareness without any marketing spend. Some more social media ideas include creating a catchy hotel hashtag that travelers can use or reposting guest photos. Maybe even post about fun things happening in your area, like holiday celebrations or sports events. If marketing funds are available, you can increase your social media presence by running paid ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. These advertising platforms allow you to target very specific guest profiles, like families, foodies, or business travelers. The marketing spend is flexible; you can set daily budgets starting at just $5 or $10.   Email Marketing Hotels naturally build a database of guest email addresses by sending booking confirmation and receipts, but the communication shouldn’t stop after a guest checks out. Leverage that list of email addresses with email marketing, which will encourage recipients to visit your hotel website and book direct. Rather than sending an email from Outlook with your whole database in the BCC field, try using a free email tool like Mailchimp to gain analytics such as open rate and link clicks. Larger hotels or properties with more sophisticated marketing strategies should consider upgrading their email marketing technology to a hotel CRM (customer relationship management). Although these systems aren’t free, they offer even more advanced options and analytics to take guest communication to the next level.   Learn from Analytics and Optimize for CRO You may be thinking, “enough with the acronyms already!” Even though you may not have heard of CRO, or conversion rate optimization, you’re probably aware that it’s important to convert someone who’s browsing your website into someone who books a reservation. Hoteliers can determine their conversion rate by enrolling in the free Google Analytics suite, which will show how many people viewed their website and how many clicked on certain links, like the “Book Now” button. If your website gets a lot of traffic but not many bookings, perhaps the “Book Now” button is difficult to find or a link is broken. A few improvements to your website can make big changes to your conversation rate. Need help making sense of all the analytics out there? Partner with experts from a company like D-Edge who can help with cutting edge website design services.   Competitor Knowledge Your revenue management team looks at your competitive set’s rates on a daily basis, but have you ever checked out their hotel websites? Scope out the competition to get ideas for content, keywords, social media posts, and more. Maybe even sign up for their email newsletter to get the inside scoop on their email marketing strategies. Best of all, gaining this type of competitor knowledge is completely free! Once you’ve mastered our 8 ways to increase website traffic free of charge, it may be time to consider allocating a budget specifically for online marketing. Paid strategies can bring even more guests to your website, leading to more direct bookings, and proving that an investment in your hotel website can pay off. When your hotel reaches that stage, consider partnering with a digital solutions provider like D-Edge that can share expertise beyond what the free tools can offer.  

10 Mandatory Marketer Skills in the Hotel Industry & Beyond

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Social media marketing and digital marketing made LinkedIn’s list of most in-demand skills in 2019. Research by Marketing Hiring Trends predicts that 44% of companies will want to hire more digital marketers in the coming years. From Google Adwords to content marketing, learning the marketer skills is a critical step to future-proofing your career and keeping you in constant demand. Digital marketing is a wide-ranging and diverse area where a marketer can develop different skill sets, from analytics to visual design to creative writing. Because more than 90% of online activity starts with a search engine, SEO and paid search marketing are critical tools for any marketer or entrepreneur. Content creation, email marketing, and social media strategy are needed at virtually every B2C company and deliver high ROI to businesses seeking to build 1:1 relationships with customers. Glassdoor’s data shows that the average salary for a digital marketer is around $61,000 per year. Digital marketers can get hired at agencies, directly by companies, or as consultants and freelancers. In the hotel industry, on-property marketers have the benefit of working with agencies who already possess these digital marketer skills.  Hotel marketing agencies like Net Affinity tend to become more than just service providers, they act like members of your team.  Top marketing agencies not only help you tactically execute on the skills we outline below but the best ones actually teach these skills to their clients.  If you aren't learning from your agency, it may be time for a new marketing partner. Hotels are best suited working with a firm that specializes in hotel marketing because they understand industry specific nuances such as Google Hotel Ads, lodging benchmarks & best practices, booking engine conversion rates and the latest hotel trends.  Net Affinity, for example, has built it's own booking engine which integrates closely with your hotel website to control the full purchase funnel.  Outside of these nuances, the marketer skills required to succeed in a digital world are relatively similar no matter what industry you’re in. These ten areas will help grow your marketing career more effectively, sharpening your skills and boosting your client’s marketing efforts in the process. On-site SEO Off-site SEO Conversion Rate Optimization Content Marketing Social Media Google PPC Metasearch Graphic Design Email Marketing Promotion Psychology   On-Site SEO A study by SEO experts Ahrefs found that 91% of online content receives no traffic from Google. That means the majority of websites out there aren’t getting any views from people searching on Google. On-site SEO prevents your hotel’s website from falling into that dark void of no views. On-site SEO refers to those factors on your website that impact the ranking of your page on Google. There are five main on-page SEO components that matter most when building your strategy:  User engagement: how do people interact with your website? Metrics for measuring your user engagement include click-through rate, bounce rate, pages per session, and return vs. new visitors.  Site structure: the way your website is built combines with your keywords and content strategy by preparing your website for indexing and crawlability. How easily can a search engine access, crawl, interpret and index your website? Is your site secure? Are your URLs clean and easy to understand? Content: keyword optimization plays a role in making sure your site is getting the traffic you need. To find keywords, use a tool like Google Keyword Planner, Moz, or Ahrefs. Then, add focused keywords into title tags and page titles. Create header sections that use header tags. Interlinking: Interlinking is when you add links in your copy to other parts of your hotel’s website. It enables customers to move with ease between content, increasing session time and decreasing bounce rate.   Mobile responsiveness: mobile is taking over the hospitality industry. And, Google has taken notice: starting July 2019, Google officially rolled out mobile-first indexing. Sites that aren’t mobile-optimized will receive a lower ranking than their competitors. Your site must be able to be read on any device. On-page SEO can get technical, but a basic understanding of the factors impacting your organic ranking can start you off on the right foot. Find a partner like Net Affinity – they’re a Premier Google Partner, meaning their experts are in the top 5% of agencies worldwide with deep expertise in on-site SEO. Work with their team to reach your organic traffic goals and gain bookings from Google and other search platforms.   Off-Site SEO & Link Building On-page SEO is dependent on the activity and structure happening on your hotel’s page. Off-page SEO, conversely, applies to elements occurring outside of your website. These elements include social media, your online marketing activities, and most importantly, links to your web pages from other websites. There are a number of ways to impact your off-site SEO. Google's algorithm uses “ranking factors” to improve your site’s visibility, and one of those factors is relevance. Does your page contain relevant information to a user’s search query? To meet the relevance metric, Google looks for “backlinks” or inbound links. These links remain the single most important factor in improving your off-page SEO ranking. When other websites recognize your page’s value, your domain authority goes up and your search engine page ranking will follow. Previously, Google’s algorithm would look to the number of backlinks to verify relevance. Now, it’s quality that matters: and the quality of the link incorporates a number of different factors, including: How often are you acquiring backlinks  How old is the link The text used to link back to you (does the anchor incorporate a keyword or phrase?) The domain authority of the linking site Number of visitors the link garners There are numerous ways to earn backlinks, including working with a PR agency, launching an influencer campaign, or pitching your hotel to bloggers and the press. Actively using your social media channels can also impact your off-page SEO.    Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Conversion rate optimization, CRO, is the process of increasing the percentage of your website visitors who convert to guests. To build a CRO strategy, investigate how a customer moves through your site, what actions they take, and what barriers are preventing them from clicking the “book now” button and completing their reservation. For a clear picture of what’s going on, start with your website analytics. Google Analytics can tell you:  Which webpage does a person land on to enter your site? What parts of your site does a person engage with? What channel or referrer brought them to your page? What device or browser are they using? Who are your customers (by geography, demographics, and interest)? Where do users abandon your site? A heatmap tool like HotJar can show you where users are scrolling, clicking, and leaving your site. Visualize areas of weakness on your page to optimize your site and capture more bookings. Net Affinity can also dive into your analytics to discover the true value and impact of your marketing channels, using that data to focus your marketing efforts toward higher conversion rates. Continuous optimization informed by your analytics means that your hotel can refine messaging, site speed, and other factors to improve CRO.      Content Marketing Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves generating valuable, relevant, and consistent content – blog posts, videos, social media posts, or podcasts, for example – to attract customers and drive conversions. By some estimates, “content marketing provides conversion rates about six times higher than other digital marketing methods.” Many hotel owners see stats like that and assume they must immediately start a blog. But, as we’ve argued in the past, hotel blogs and other forms of content work only when they’re relevant. No benefit comes from blogging for blogging’s sake: your content must work for your property and be interesting to your prospective customer. To get started with content marketing, determine who your ideal guest is, forming guest personas based on rich, actionably psychographic and behavioral traits. A persona should read as if you’re describing a single person, digging into their motivations and mindset to understand their mission when they visit your hotel site. Once you’ve defined your blog audience, develop a content calendar that offers stories, videos, or recommendations that help them achieve their mission. Don’t be shy about getting granular in your topics. The more specific you can be, the more likely your content is going to be relevant. Over time, content marketing can positively impact your SEO ranking as well as boost your CRO score. When done properly, content marketing costs about 62% less than traditional marketing tactics. Clearly, there’s a big payoff to be gained in building a thoughtful content strategy.    Social Media Management There are mixed opinions over what a hotel’s social media strategy should look like. Some hotels have benefitted from 6% of direct reservations coming from Facebook; others have discerned no notable difference from investing resources in social media platforms. The key takeaway to social media management is recognizing its value as a) an SEO and content marketing tool and b) a place for sharing. Social media profiles can boost your SEO when you share quality, relevant posts. You must offer your audience value to see the benefits of social media. This can be in the form of promoting a travel deal, highlighting a new spa service, or posting a travel guide to some top attractions near your property. The second reason to actively manage your social media profiles is that guests frequently share reviews and experiences on your pages. Net Affinity predicts that user-generated content is going to rise in 2020; your hotel can be proactive about sharing and responding to great reviews, as well as managing negative feedback. It takes a solid social media management strategy to know how to address both instances.    Pay-per-click and Google Hotel Ads Paid search has an immediate impact on your direct booking strategy. Net Affinity uses paid search to deliver insight on where your traffic is coming from and to help hotels connect with the right guests at the right price. This involves utilizing Google Ads and pay-per-click campaigns. Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is an advertising channel that promises to put your ad in front of a user at the moment they’re ready to book. It utilizes a pay-per-click model, meaning that you only pay when a user takes a specific action, like clicking your ad to visit your site or make a booking. Google Hotel Ads and PPC campaigns offer a way to earn back more direct bookings and counter OTAs. A smart keyword strategy involves a deep understanding of the services and queries for which your target guests are searching. Then, make your ad text “specific and unique to your hotel, mentioning benefits and descriptions which are clearly about your hotel,” recommends one expert. By doing so, “you can often appear more relevant to the user and earn the click over the OTA. The high level of specific relevance might also help increase your Click Through Rate, Quality Score and Ad Rank, the result of which can be a reduction in Cost Per Click.” Pay-per-click is a smart way to stretch your marketing budget, but to see real results, you need to dive into your website analytics and learn about your guests. Lean on Net Affinity’s expertise as a Premier Google Partner to ensure your bid strategy gets you results.    Metasearch Bid Management Metasearch engines like Google Hotel Ad, Trivago, and Trip Advisor have opened a new channel for independent hotels who wish to compete with large third parties, elevating their listing through smart bid management. Net Affinity leverages their relationships with several metasearch channels to bring new guests to your hotel website and convert clicks to bookings at a lower cost than OTAs. There are four key reasons why metasearch must be part of your marketing mix.  Gain exposure: metasearch immediately shows guests what they’re seeking – the price of a room. It allows them to quickly make a purchase decision and gives you a way to make more direct bookings outside of OTAs.  Take control from OTAs: metasearch gives your hotel a way to set a rate for specific stay dates and room type.  Competitive bidding: managing your metasearch gives you deeper insight into your market position to make sure OTAs aren’t undercutting your prices.  Diversification: position your listing as the more favorable option and open a new channel through which to gain bookings. Google, TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Trivago are the biggest metasearch channels you must understand. A digital marketing agency can help you test different metasearch channels to come up with the right strategy that delivers bang for your buck.    Graphic Design Lessons from Amazon, Zappos, and Expedia have proven that simple copy updates and changes in color theme on your website can increase revenue by double and triple percentage points. Graphic design is an element of your website experience that can’t be ignored.  The design of your site is the digital equivalent to the lobby of your hotel. It sends certain signals to your guests that can either entice them to book, or turn them away. Use high-quality images that are optimized for page speed and views on mobile devices. Adding video to your site can increase revenue per visitor by 27%. Show your rooms in a grid layout to enable site visitors to quickly scan to find what they’re looking for. Remove any distractions that prevent a user from completing their booking. Look to Sorrento’s Grand Hotel Royal for an example of a clean, straightforward home page that uses great graphic design elements. Unless you have a graphic designer in-house, it’s likely that you’ll need an agency to help design a website that is both functional and appealing. Find a website builder that gives you the flexibility to edit pages easily and add landing pages for your marketing campaigns. Your graphic design is only as good as the user experience, and it’s imperative that your agency partner recognize that.    Email Marketing According to research by Campaign Monitor, every dollar spent on email marketing led to a $38 return. That makes email marketing the most effective marketing channel out there in terms of ROI. Redirect spend from your social media marketing to email to capture higher ROI and develop higher brand affinity with targeted messaging and personalized offers. Email marketing requires four elements for success:  Customer segmentation: divide target customers into groups based on factors such as loyalty, lifetime spend, frequency and recency of stay. Valuable content: what does your email campaign deliver in value to the reader? Send content that is relevant as measured by an increase in conversions or a decrease in the unsubscribe rate.  Timing: 98% of all upsell revenue came from pre-arrival emails; your email must be timed for key moments in the guest journey.  Benchmarking: learn how your emails perform based on geography, segment, and email type to constantly improve. Setting up your email campaigns takes the right tools. What action do you wish your email recipient to take as a result of your message? Net Affinity’s booking engine incorporates automatic pre and post-stay emails to constantly help your property improve their reputation and services. Design landing pages that convert from your email campaigns, and send targeted upsell offers that capture additional revenue per guest.    Purchase Psychology & Creative Promotions Upselling, when done well, increases revenue and guest satisfaction simultaneously. Guests are expecting personalization; Google Traveler found that 36% of travelers are willing to pay more for tailored information and experiences. Understand why people click “buy” on an ancillary product to master your upselling technique. According to Psychology Today, “a buying decision is the result of a consumer learning pathway where the consumer must learn about a product or service and relate it to their specific situation to make a favorable buying decision.” Drive profit by creating promotions that utilize compelling marketing copy, vibrant and high-quality images, and strategic pricing. Show the guest that you understand their needs, delivering the promotion in a way that connects with the guest. A creative promotion can be anything from a cooking class from your on-site chef, a welcome package with local treats, or a partnership with a luggage transfer company to bring a guest’s suitcase door-to-door. Mine your website data to learn more about what will excite your guests and use those insights to improve the guest experience and drive revenue.   Where to start: Consumer Insights All of the skills above are tactical. Without understanding your consumers (guests and prospective ones) you can’t execute any of the digital marketing strategies outlined here with any precision. Hotels must be good at analyzing guest surveys and reviewing data to build customer personas; then, shape your tactics around these insights and personas.  

Hotel Blogging: Simple Strategies for Marketing Success

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Are you tired of having a boring hotel blog that gets no traffic? You know there are opportunities to increase traffic to your hotel website, but probably don't know where to start. Is hotel blogging the best way to grow organic traffic? Do you even need a hotel blog? In this article, we're going to answer these questions and give you hands on hotel blogging ideas to kickstart your growth.  We'll then review 2 case studies and show you what these hotels do well, then give exact tips to get even more traffic that you can use for your own hotel blog. Let’s dive right in. The guest experience doesn’t begin at check-in anymore; with engaging blog content, hotels can start offering value to guests before they even start thinking about booking a room.  By the time these guests start considering which property to book at, you’ve already got a leg up on the competition. By leveraging local expertise and relevant recommendations, hotel blogs can reach thousands of potential guests in ways that OTAs simply cannot. However, a blog might not be necessary for every hotel right now. Perform a SWOT analysis of your hotel’s overall marketing strategy. If blogging fits within your hotel’s overall needs and objectives, then it may be time to invest in the following best practices and content ideas to create an exceptional hotel blog. But creating a blog is only half of the journey; partnering with a digital marketing agency like NextGuest Digital will provide the expertise and exposure necessary to put your blog in front of the right readers.  A hotel digital marketing agency like NextGuest will even help develop content for your website that is purpose built to bring in prospective guests.   Does your hotel even need a blog?   A 21st-century hotel must have a website, social media profiles, and a blog - right? Not so fast. Though a blog might seem like a necessary part of a hotel’s online presence, no benefit comes from blogging for blogging’s sake. In fact, cranking out a multitude of posts may do more harm than good without carefully choosing topics and producing high-quality content. When it comes to hotel blogs, choose quality over quantity - or choose not to have a blog at all, such as the Maven Hotel in Denver, which dedicates resources to other marketing channels, like Instagram. Compelling hotel blog content shouldn’t be robotic and needs a personal tone.  Great hotel blogs showcase unique characteristics of their hotels, offer tips about the area and highlight influencers that resonate with the hotel’s brand. After creating a great blog post, the next step is to share it with the hotel’s target audience, whether by social media, an email newsletter, or in other publications. If a hotel’s marketing team is confident that they can uphold a high standard of content and distribute it to an audience of readers who are likely to book rooms, then the hotel might enjoy benefits like increased website traffic and conversion, better performance in the search results, broader brand awareness, and greater guest loyalty.   The Maven's website was designed by NextGuest Digital   What makes a great hotel blog?   Just as revenue management seeks to sell the right room to the right guest for the right price, a hotel’s blog content should also try to deliver the right content to the right guest at the right stage of the booking process. The first step in building a great hotel blog is to determine who your ideal guests are and create guest personas unique to your property. Guest personas start with high level naming conventions like families, business travelers, or bachelorette parties - but that’s only the start.  Great personas contain rich actionable psychographic and behavioral traits. They should read as describing a single person and deeply encapsulate their motivations and mindset. Once you’ve nailed down your blog’s audience, then you can provide specific recommendations and or stories that would be most relevant to them.  Many marketers have trouble with this because they may be in a back office or even in corporate. Don’t stress though, use this as an excuse to get out from behind your desk and go mingle with guests in the lobby.  Have open ended conversations with them for a couple hours just casually talking about their trips and you’ll come up with dozens of hotel blogging ideas. Hotel 48LEX in New York City, a NextGuest Digital client, publishes blog articles like “How to Ride the NYC Ferry Like a New Yorker” and “What to See at the Bryant Park Winter Village” that are hyper-relevant to their target audience.   48Lex's blog has rich content for LGBT, Sports Fans, Families and more   Specificity is key to a great hotel blog. Rather than speaking in general terms about the hotel and the market, a blog gives you the opportunity to showcase exactly what makes your hotel or market special. Using concrete details and descriptive words, you can illustrate unique decor features, recommend things to do in the neighborhood, or even tell about a fascinating bit of history from the hotel’s past. These specifics help your post become engaging and memorable.   Mix up your content with these unique hotel blogging ideas   Set your blog apart from the rest with one-of-a-kind articles that readers will remember. The blogosphere is full of “10 Things to do in [insert city name here]” posts, so take a different approach and you’ll be rewarded for being unique.   Film video blogs of area attractions and activities One of the best ways to develop engaging content for potential guests is to collaborate with existing ones, and one of the best ways to generate traffic is to post articles about popular area attractions. People search for “Golden Gate Bridge,” for example, around 360,000 times per month, which shows that potential guests want to know about your market’s top attractions and activities. What better way to help them picture a future trip than using video from a real guest’s visit! Encourage guests to film their experiences by offering free tickets to major attractions if they submit their footage, then you can incorporate the footage into rich, fresh, and authentic content about the area. Furthermore, blog pages with more informative content tend to perform better on the search engines than thinner articles do. If you develop a highly useful and comprehensive page about an area attraction, it will generate better traffic than a simple paragraph about the attraction. Complement the footage with descriptive text that answers questions or addresses apprehensions travellers might have.   Compile statistics or create infographics about the local area Hotels have access to a pool of guest data via post-stay surveys, and this data can be quite interesting to local destination marketing organizations or travel publications. Turn your standard guest satisfaction survey into a dynamic research tool by adding survey questions that you can incorporate into a compelling blog post. Perhaps ask guests about which attractions they visited or what the purpose of their trip was. Using this data, you can create infographics or charts that other industry publications might want to link to, which will generate additional readers, build brand awareness, and add to your blog’s backlink profile.   Interview Instagram influencers Just getting started on social media? No problem! Rather than waiting for your follower count to grow, get your hotel in front of thousands of social media users immediately by partnering with Instagram influencers. Search through the profiles of popular restaurants or trendsetting hotels in town to find out which influencers resonate with your hotel, then reach out to them and collaborate on a feature for your hotel blog. Perhaps they can provide curated restaurant recommendations or uncover some local hidden gems. Once you’ve posted the article, be sure to share it with them so they can then share it on their social media channels.   Looking for more content inspiration? Add these creative ideas to your hotel blog’s pipeline:  Employee spotlights or interviews Recipes from your hotel’s restaurant or bar Packing guide for each season Special promotions for your hotel’s social media followers Updates about new amenities, services, or staff members Calendar of upcoming area events or festivals Sneak peek of renovations Dictionary of local lingo and abbreviations   Make sure your hotel blog’s technical aspects are up to par   Even if your content is the best in the world, readers will have trouble finding your blog or staying engaged until the end of the article if the website’s technical aspects fall short. From website design to search engine optimization, make sure to build a solid technical foundation so your content can really shine. Follow these tips to ensure your blog is easy to find and read:   Target local keywords: Many travelers begin to research destinations and hotels on search engines, so it’s crucial that your blog performs well in the search results. A great way to become more visible in search results is to write blog posts using topics or keywords that a large number of people search for - even if the topic might include competitor hotels! For instance, a blog post like “The 17 Best Hotels in LA” is a nice way to target the high-performing keywords “hotels in LA.” Use intriguing and shareable headlines: A blog’s title is only a few words long, but those few words are the most important ones in the entire post. Why? Because in the couple of seconds while a potential reader to reads the headline, they’ll decide whether or not to click on the post. Try including lists, questions, or “how to” guides in your headlines and maintaining a balance of easy-to-understand, powerful, and emotional words. Build a network of backlinks: Besides targeting specific keywords, another strategy to increase search results placement and traffic to your blog is to develop backlinks. A backlink is a link to your blog which is placed on another website, for example, an influencer’s travel blog or a news site. If securing backlinks is a challenge, consider partnering with a digital marketing agency to help promote your content.   Real life hotel blog case studies & analysis   Eager to see how these strategies work in the wild? Check out these fantastic hotel blog articles, learn why they work and learn what can be done by hotel marketers to get improved results:   NextGuest Client Apex Hotels’ post Seven Facts You Didn’t Know About Bath: In this article, Apex Hotels does a great job targeting the keyword “facts about Bath” (the article ranks at #4 in the search results), but this keyword doesn’t get many searches, only about 40 per month. In order to gain more visibility, we may want to create a new article that targets more popular keywords like “population of Bath,” which receives 3,600 monthly searches, and “history of Bath,” which gets 1,300 hits per month. While historical content might not seem like something that the hotel’s guests would be interested in booking this is a great way to bring in cultural tourists, school groups and history buffs.     How to Plan the Perfect Cabo San Lucas Wellness Retreat by NextGuest Digital client Resort at Pedregal: This post is  just informative and well-written, but its target keyword, “yoga retreat in Cabo San Lucas” keyword, only receives about 40 searches per month. Resort at Pedregal may want to write a similar article that targets what might seem to be competitive keywords like “yoga retreat Costa Rica,” which receives 6,600 monthly searches, in order to gain visibility to travelers who are looking for warm-weather yoga retreats. Resort at Pedregal could provide a list of yoga retreats in Costa Rica, along with helpful information for readers, and then explain why a yoga retreat in Cabo San Lucas is comparable or even preferable, which could sway the reader’s travel plans and turn into a booking at the resort. Resort at Pedregal’s marketing team could then reach out to the retreats mentioned in the article and ask for a backlink or social share in order to boost visibility even more and building the article’s authority on Costa Rica yoga retreats. Before long, traffic will be rolling in!   Remember these keys to hotel blogging success   As with any big project, building a great hotel blog takes time, but investing in your online presence can yield impressive results. Focus on quality content rather than quantity, and ensure that your content is unique, engaging, and relevant to your ideal guest - starting with a headline that just begs them to click. A blog is an excellent opportunity to show off your hotel’s personality and value proposition, so working with a digital agency that understands content and search patterns is crucial to securing the readers you want. Let the experts at a firm like NextGuest Digital handle email marketing, SEO, blog post distribution, and more while you focus on creating hospitality experiences that guests will want to write about!   Are you a hotel marketer who's too busy to blog? Browse our list of top rated hotel digital marketing agencies to find a partner who can grow your web traffic today.  

Cendyn: A Complete Overview of the Hospitality Cloud

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

There are three key aspects of any hotel’s revenue generating operation: sales, marketing and revenue management.  Collaboration between these three functions is critical and Cendyn’s Hospitality Cloud provides a one-stop-shop for each department to work in tandem. The job of sales is to bring in new group business, marketing is tasked to bring in leisure direct business and revenue managers sit between (or above) both functions ensuring that their hotel has optimally priced rooms and well merchandised offerings across channels to maximize tRevPAR. As the revenue engine for hotels, sales and marketing acts to keep beds full and profits flowing while revenue management uses data to forecast demand, optimize pricing, and maximize profitability. To keep this engine going at full speed, hotels must continuously improve by keeping their revenue, sales, and marketing teams working in tandem to build a healthy business across both group and leisure segments. Without that alignment, silos create inefficiencies, reduce trust -- and cost your hotel money. Cendyn is the only company today that offers both a leisure (marketing) and group (sales) CRM for Hotels.  The firm addresses this interplay between sales, marketing and revenue with its Hospitality Cloud by delivering solutions for each role. “The hotel is an ecosystem, everything connects and affects one another. Being aware of what Marketing is trying to promote and communicate could affect our decisions [in Sales and Revenue]." -Kevin Chan, Revenue manager at JC Resorts In support of this ecosystem, the Hospitality Cloud offers distinct products that align Marketing, Sales and Revenue teams around optimal pricing, better client communication, and guest-first marketing. This ecosystem feeds into itself, with each area enhancing and amplifying the others: Marketing generates demand, Sales converts demand to revenue and Revenue crunches the numbers to optimize pricing across the ecosystem. Here’s how these three focus areas empower your hotel’s digital marketing, sales outreach, and revenue management to bring your hotel more profitable business while saving your team time and stress.   A One Stop Shop: Hotel CRM, Web Design and Digital Marketing Services   Email Marketing and Hotel CRM have become linchpins for hotel marketers. That’s because effective digital marketing requires rich guest profiles that inform your digital marketing operations. These profiles allow you to segment and personalize messages to serve the right message at the right time which ultimately increases conversion rates and bookings while decreasing costly email unsubscribes. The beauty of email marketing is that you don’t have to go out and find all new customers - which is expensive.  Email marketing is high ROI because the acquisition cost is next to nothing. It’s always cheaper to bring back old guests than to go out and find new ones.  Another asset to email marketing exists in your targeting options. You have enough information about historical guests that you can quickly leverage this resource to act on need periods.  Let’s imagine that occupancy is unusually low this weekend. We can use that information to run a targeted promotion to guests who stayed at our property last year during this season and also came from drive markets. Because of the compelling interplay between digital marketing, CRM and web design, your hotel may benefit from using a single provider like Cendyn.  For example, let’s imagine a campaign where we want to sell out our suites on Mothers’ Day. We’ll want to start by exporting a list of families of 3 or more who have previously booked a suite at our hotel from our CRM.  We’ll then create a Facebook lookalike audience to run some ads towards that base group as well as the lookalikes. Finally, we’ll run an email campaign to our core group after we’ve warmed them up with ads showcasing our property’s unique selling proposition with a focus around property USPs targeting families (e.g. great brunch buffet, nearby hiking trails, spa).  In this kind of situation, it is often beneficial to work with a single vendor like Cendyn who can create omni channel campaigns in an efficient manner vs. coordinating with multiple parties. Here’s how Cendyn’s Marketing Cloud delivers more cost-effective digital marketing to book more direct revenue: eInsight CRM provides multi-property operators and enterprises with a hotel CRM module that maintains rich guest profiles. With more detailed guest information and enterprise-level marketing automation, revenue managers can target segments with precision and drive repeat bookings by running campaigns customized to each specific segment. Each campaign’s analytics then informed your the next campaign, to keep improving your conversion rates. KPIs: Repeat guests %, direct bookings %, Email open rates, Email conversion rates. Guestfolio CRM is a CRM designed for boutiques and independents that centralizes guest information into a single dashboard. Guestfolio was a Cendyn acquisition and has been part of the portfolio for some years now.  These rich guest profiles make better guest experiences. For instance, easy access to a guest’s history means that loyal guests can be reliably recognized at check-in with a special thank you. These details can then be automatically pulled into your marketing workflow so you can speak 1:1 with your guests with pre-arrival, on-property, post-stay and re-engagement nurture campaigns.  KPIs: Repeat guests %, direct bookings %, Email open rates, Email conversion rates. Personalized marketing efforts also benefit from observing trends in guest data to adapt guest engagement strategy according to the latest guest demographics and stay patterns. For example, Guestfolio reviewers have seen positive impact from marketing automation that sends surveys soliciting reviews. With intelligent routing that segments guests based on review score, one hotel found opportunities to improve less-than-stellar reviews. What's the point of having all this useful data if you don't use it? Cendyn’s digital marketing suite uses your existing CRM data to enhance targeting with PPC, social, display, and metasearch ads to past guests (and those with similar profiles or intent-to-purchase). With SEO, you keep your hotel’s website ranked highly to avoid leakage to third party channels. Whether it's attracting bookings for past guests or finding new ones, the suite attributes conversion across channels to get you more bookings for less money. Rinse and repeat. KPIs: Clickthrough rate, cost per conversion, average booking value. Cendyn’s digital marketing team can also modernize your hotel’s online infrastructure. If potential guests land on an outdated, slow, or poorly-functioning hotel website, they are far less likely to book. A thoughtfully-designed website with modern functionality, such as a CMS that allows customizable marketing content, enhances your hotel’s reputation and gives guests the confidence to book. Better hotel web design and faster page load speeds also help improve your search engine rankings to drive more traffic.  KPIs: Web traffic, Website look-to-book/conversion rate, bounce rate, page load speed, average booking value.   Close More Groups With Streamlined Workflows, Customized Proposals And Real-time Collaboration   Prompt responses to event planners are how your hotel competes winningly. According to Cendyn data, hotels that respond to RFPs first win the proposal 70% of the time. The takeaway? Your hotel must respond quickly to RFPs...but without sacrificing the proposal’s quality (or your hotel’s profitability) in the name of speed. To balance speed with accuracy, responses must also be coordinated with relevant colleagues in catering, events, revenue, and marketing; this ensures that proposals are realistic and profitably priced by not overpromising or sacrificing more lucrative transient business.   "The most effective thing that a revenue manager can remember is that "group is king."Having a sound relationship with your sales team will allow you to strategize around groups, find the base where you need it, and ultimately give you the biggest impact." -Adam Richards, Revenue Manager at Hilton Cendyn’s Sales Cloud empowers hoteliers with a set of tools to not just win more group business, but also win more profitable group business. These tools keep you organized and expand your hotel’s reach so that you can reach new prospects, increase your conversion rates, grow total revenue per event,  and nurture a reputation for world-class events management. With eProposal, you can show planners how responsive and helpful your venue is by answering questions clearly and succinctly, all in just a few minutes. You’ll win more business by increasing the number of responses without sacrificing quality. For independents, Cendyn offers ePLite, a simplified client-facing solution that allows smaller properties to leverage the power of custom proposals. KPIs: Average response time, RFP response rate, proposal conversion rate, average deal value. eMenus makes menu management hassle-free. With interactive design, dynamic upselling, a budget/profitability calculator and real-time updates across channels, the software increases menu accuracy, enhances profit, and makes for a better user experience for guests, planners, and staff. The software integrates with eProposal, so you remove guesswork and price accurately to protect the profitability of the F&B portion of your event proposals. KPIs: Staff time to update menus, F&B sales via online menus, upsell conversion rate on premium items, % growth in F&B sales for events, profitability % of event F&B, satisfaction score of event planners.  Getplanning enhances collaboration with clients so that your team can deliver knockout events that turn satisfied planners into repeat business. Often, it’s easy to focus only on closing that next group and overlook the technology that makes existing events successful. With features like document sharing, real-time notifications, task management, and configurable views based on client, property or team, the software streamlines collaboration to keep events on track. KPIs: % of returning event planners, satisfaction score of event planners, staff time spent managing events, staff satisfaction score.   Consolidates Demand Data so Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Can Optimize Prices Across Channels   Cendyn’s recent acquisition of Rainmaker Group has brought a complete revenue management solution into its portfolio. The Revenue Cloud consolidates past, current, and future demand data into a single view to align revenue, sales and marketing around optimal pricing recommendations. These tools also make your staff more productive, empowering them to do more meaningful analysis that leads to impactful actions -- such as reducing acceptance of unprofitable groups and adjusting group quotes dynamically according to demand. To remove guesswork and increase accuracy based on the latest data, hotels can leverage three tools in the Revenue Cloud portfolio: grouprev is a meetings and events tool that enables smarter pricing decisions so your hotel wins more group business. With grouprev, group pricing becomes less of a guessing game and more of an exact science.  By using data from across your property to make optimal pricing recommendations, the tool protects transient rates with forecasted displacement analysis and compares that displacement to the total potential value of a given group. This means that sales always prices groups to convert, while still optimizing space utilization and protecting profits in other areas of the business. KPIs: ADR, RevPAR, GOPPAR, gross revenue from groups, group wash %. Grouprev users report impressive revenue lift, with some seeing up to an 8% increase in group revenue after implementing the solution. On HTR, recommendations mention the responsive customer service and the user-friendliness of the interface, which makes it easy to find the ideal rates for a given group. guestrev is a hotel revenue management system built to optimize profit across your entire property.  These granular demand forecasts are based on Total Guest Value, which tracks a guest’s total spend across your property, as well as seasonality, length-of-stay, and events. Armed with these forecasts, you can better align revenue with marketing to move beyond static rules to dynamically capture more room and non-room revenue across segments. KPIs: ADR, RevPAR, GOPPAR, occupancy rate, gross revenue, Total Guest Value, pickup/pace. Customers highlight the impact that this data-based Total Guest Value approach has had on their revenues, with most seeing a seven to ten percent lift in revenues by accounting for both room and non-room revenue. revintel is a BI tool that pulls demand data and future forecasts from your PMS, RMS, and third-party market demand into one view so you can monitor trends in your segment mix, channel mix, traveler booking patterns, and total on-property spend. Then revenue managers can collaborate with sales and marketing to make any required adjustments to your marketing, room and event pricing and inventory availability. KPIs: Channel mix, room type mix, ADR, RevPAR, gross room revenue, gross non-room revenue, booking window. Reviewers appreciate revintel‘s ability to master complexity and provide the confidence to take action based on data and demand forecasts. One called the tool “worth every penny,” as it revealed valuable insights across segments and stay patterns. *** Whether your hotel is an independent or a multi-property, whether it needs one tool or the entire suite, the Cendyn Hospitality Cloud provides a wealth of opportunity by aligning Marketing, Sales and Revenue. From analyzing your property’s data for valuable insights and improving your group sales conversion rates to streamlining your demand generation activities, the software suite can truly transform the way your hotel does business across functions.  

6 Hotel Website Design Lessons From the Best eCommerce Companies

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

E-commerce companies have perfected the art and science of converting website visits into sales. Amazon, Zappos, and Expedia have all optimized their sites, down to the color of the “buy now” button, to ensure casual browsers become active customers. The hotel industry can learn a thing or two from these e-commerce giants. While many of the small changes we make to hotel websites appear to be small, insignificant changes, the results speak for themselves. Simple copy updates and color schemes can increase revenue by double and triple percentage points. Hoteliers seeking to improve revenue can draw from ecommerce web optimization lessons to update their website and booking experience accordingly.   Integrate FAQs within the booking experience Guests love to ask for a room upgrade – before they’ve even seen where they’re staying. Travelers are picky about their hotel rooms and have a lot of questions when seeking a place to stay. The same is true for shoppers on e-commerce platforms, especially those looking for a specific piece of clothing. Roller-skating retailer, Roller Skate Nation, ran an experiment where they added a pro tip to their product pages adding, “when in doubt, size up – compensate for the extra room with an additional pair of socks.” Turns out: it paid off, big-time. Checkouts shot up by 69%, and customer affinity grew as well. The key takeaway: give guests all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. When you know that guests are constantly asking for a certain piece of information, provide those details upfront on the website. For example, BookAssist client Buddha Bar Hotel in Prague provides extensive lists of their room amenities alongside detailed photos of their rooms. Things like the size of the room, type of showerhead, and brand of soap, and type of coffee available are all listed right up front in the booking process to make the purchase decision easy. Hotels that want to take this one step further should consider adding their own ‘pro tips’ into the booking flow.  Add tips throughout the booking flow that help contextualize each room type. If you don’t know this information intuitively head to your reputation management system like Revinate and TrustYou to do some in-depth research on your guests.  Let’s say that your largest suite gets the highest reviews from business travellers who like that it is quiet during the day which is great for work. That’s a great pro-tip you can add into the booking flow to entice business travellers that contextualized the room type even beyond the raw data like square footage and amenities.   Remove distractions from your hotel website Retailer FSAstore.com is an e-commerce site that accepts payments from Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). In seeking to optimize their customer conversion rates, the site experimented with removing sub categories and other top-bar navigation from the landing page. FSAstore.com removed sub-categories from their homepage to try to help visitors focus on their featured products – those high-margin or best-selling products that needed to catch a customer’s eye. That simple change led to an increase in revenue per visitor of 53.8%. Bottom line: fewer options leads to higher conversions. When your hotel’s webpage is frequently viewed by guests at the top of the purchase funnel – casual browsers – removing distractions is a key way to draw a visitor deeper into your site. Remove noise from your landing page and instead, lead visitors to focus on featured products, thereby completing a purchase at higher conversion rates.  Too often hotels like to be super unique in the way they layout their websites at the expense of confusing prospective bookers. Sorrento’s Grand Hotel Royal offers a great example of a clean, straightforward home page designed by BookAssist that promotes the destination’s top products: wellness, a private beach, and their member’s club. When a visitor enters the website, the menu items immediately funnel you into their offers, property information, and rooms and suites. As you think through your hotel’s purchase funnel, recognize the steps on your webpage a visitor must take to complete a booking. Then, make that journey as short as possible.    Use a grid layout to showcase your available rooms A website is more than just a shiny, virtual sales brochure. Of course, you need nice pictures and attractive design elements (more on that in a minute). But, the way your website looks can impact your sales on a psychological level. The more intuitive and easy to understand your hotel’s website is, the better chance you’ll convert viewers to bookings. One A/B test performed by Smartwool and Blue Acorn tested two different formats for their content. The first was “unique and aesthetically pleasing.” The control, conversely, used a straightforward grid layout. The results were surprising: “Despite how fantastic the SmartWool and Blue Acorn teams thought the control product page looked, a more uniform design turned out to be better for conversions.” Repetitive image attributes, like the same size image laid out in rows and columns, enables users to scan quickly and efficiently find what they’re seeking. Design is only as good as the functionality it supports. The more uniform you can make your product and room type pages, the better chance you have of inducing a guest to checkout. Look to the rooms and suites page of Prague’s Golden Crown Hotel to see how hotel web design and marketing agency BookAssist leverages a grid layout to market the property.   Experiment with call-to-action text Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are low-hanging fruit that hoteliers often ignore. But, research shows that simple updates to your CTAs can result in a 16% increase in monthly revenue. Key to writing a good CTA is giving a visitor an action to take. Instead of writing “reservations,” change your booking button to say “reserve now.” Experiment with A/B testing to see what language works best, especially if your site will be translated into different options. For example, Hotel Bastille Speria uses “book now” which can be translated easily by Google’s translation plug-in.    Make booking as straightforward as possible  Just as your site should eliminate any distractions from getting to the booking page, the booking process needs to be as straightforward as possible. The VeggieTales store ran an experiment that removed the top navigation from the checkout page. The original page included large, bright and distracting banners. These banners sidetracked visitors from getting where they originally intended to go – leading to page bounces and cart abandonment. When VeggieTales removed their category banners, sitewide revenue increased by 38%. Don’t give your guests too many options once they’ve taken further steps toward conversion. Navigation menus and other sidebar options give a guest too many ways to exit the checkout cart. The Arcotel Hotels website by BookAssist is one great example of an efficient checkout process that nudges guests to complete a booking. As you go through the final reservation process, a visitor can see what they need (upgrades, pricing, dates, and more) and expand for more information. By expanding their information, the hotel brand prevents prospective guests from clicking back and abandoning their cart enticing them one layer deeper without showing too much too soon.   Use high-quality product images and videos This goes without saying: if your images don’t immediately grab a visitor’s attention, you’ve lost their booking. Videos or moving images are even better. A great example of a hotel website that utilizes media to its full power is that of Fontecruz Hoteles. Fontecruz uses high-res imagery and looping video to showcase its properties in Spain and Portugal. It works: one case study found that by simply adding video, you can increase revenue per visitor by 27%. A 360-degree video can increase RPV by another 12%. Make sure the images or videos you use are optimized for page speed and views on mobile devices and experiment with different formats to before you invest heavily in new design elements.

How to Know When Your Hotel Needs a New Digital Marketing Agency

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Digital marketing is one of the top ways to drive direct bookings to your hotel. It’s the demand engine that raises awareness about your hotel, and pulls guests directly to your hotel’s website.  Yet, most hotels lack the ability to fully harness the power of digital marketing. This is mainly due to limited resources -- both time and money.  Digital marketing sounds like a “field of specialty” but it’s actually more like 20 different fields.  Google is just one such platform that digital marketers need to stay ahead of the curve on and their search algorithm changes 500-600 times each year.  That doesn’t even factor the changes to products like Google AdWords and Google Hotel Ads.  Expecting an on property marketer to fully understand Google search trends alone with all of their other responsibilities is unrealistic, let alone expecting them to be experts at Bing, metasearch, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Your hotel needs to also have access to CRO (conversion rate optimization) expertise, link building capabilities, content marketing, graphic design, social media marketing and more. Your on property team is literally competing with billion dollar ad budgets from companies like Booking and Expedia - you need to provide them with the resources to compete effectively or you’re leaving thousands of dollars on the table each month.  The craziest thing is that even if you find someone who’s an expert in all of these areas - they still won’t know how they’re performing because they’re looking at a single property or small portfolio. What is a good website conversion rate? What percentage of your hotel website should be organic vs. paid? What is a good ROAS?  All of these questions will be answered in monthly meetings with a great hotel digital marketing agency. If one thing is clear it’s that you should not be sending your on property marketing manager to the fight without the right resources and assistance.  There’s never enough time in the day, and certainly not enough cash in the marketing piggy bank. While it’s not always easy to get more budget, there is one easy way to get more time: turn to a top rated digital marketing agency that will be a true partner and augmentation of your in house marketing function.   The value of efficiency In 2018, Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. totaled $107.5 billion, which was way up over 2017: a 21.8 percent increase, according to a recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The continued growth in digital marketing mirrors a massive shift in attention: in the U.S., consumers now spend more time on their devices than watching.   The takeaway here is that digital is where the eyeballs are -- and hotels must follow. That means competing with massive OTAs and well-heeled hotel groups for consumer attention. That means navigating a multitude of platforms, both existing and emerging. That means spending time to understand where your audience lives online and then spending money to reach them. It’s a massive mountain to climb, and it’s something most hotels shouldn’t do alone.  How can hotels boost digital marketing spend (and efficiency) with limited budgets and fewer staff to optimize performance? The answer lies in the hands of others: finding a great digital marketing agency that aggregates its expertise from other clients to power a better, more efficient, and ultimately more powerful digital marketing strategy.    Meet Screen Pilot In the competitive landscape that is the hotel business, partnering with a specialist digital marketing agency can prove a nimble approach. The right agency helps hotels formulate and execute the right digital strategy for a given property or brand. Acting as an extension of the hotel’s in-house marketing team, a digital shop can help drive more direct bookings by bringing added levels of objectivity and expertise to the table as well as more progressive insights and advanced technology.  Denver-based Screen Pilot has been with working with hospitality companies of varying sizes for more than a decade. The company scores 4.8 of 5 by Hotel Tech Report users, with 97 percent recommending the business. Unsurprisingly with this level of overwhelmingly positive feedback, Screen Pilot also won Top Rated Digital Marketing Agency at the HotelTechAwards in both 2018 and 2019.   Read more Screen Pilot reviews like this one   While Screen Pilot implements strategies that are customized to the needs of a specific property or hotel group, each digital marketing program delivers measurable results. Following the first 45 days of work with San Jose’s Hotel De Anza, total website transactions increased 13.8 percent and associated revenue jumped 11.2 percent. Extend out to 90 days, and website production resulted in increases of 97 percent in revenue, 113 percent in bookings and 116 percent in room nights. Impressive stats that dramatically improved profitability! To achieve these outcomes, Screen Pilot employs a variety of digital marketing tactics such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, social media and metasearch management. The company excels at the core pillars of website design, content marketing, and social media marketing. For hoteliers considering when to elevate your digital marketing game, here are three signs you may benefit from some expert help.   #1: You have a low website conversion rate A hotel’s website is fundamental to its ability to drive direct bookings. It’s where most travelers have their first encounter with the property, setting the tone for their potential upcoming stay. Ease-of-use in terms of user navigation as well as how efficiently a booking can be made on the site, factor into higher conversion rates. Users want a streamlined process that’s frictionless. Information on amenities and packages should be simple to search.  Screen Pilot’s approach to hotel website design and development includes the essentials such as graphic design, copywriting and tag management tracking and configuration. The company can also customize a hotel website’s look and feel, including unique features such as 360-degree room tours or review sections for specific room categories.  Since Google shifted its focus to how fast websites load on mobile, speed is an important consideration for hotels. Screen Pilot can also optimize a hotel’s website for mobile with specialized technology like Google AMP markup. The Screen Pilot team will optimize mobile experiences using tools such as Google Optimize, which allows up to five website options to run simultaneously, without permanently affecting the CMS platform. Leveraging Google Optimize for one hotel client’s website lead to an 80 percent increase in booking engine views.   #2: You have a low percentage of organic traffic  Content is paramount to strong SEO. It’s also vital to engaging with website users as they move from the top of the funnel down. But effective content must reflect the brand while also closely aligning with the interests of the hotel’s target audience and including targeted keywords. It’s a delicate balancing act that reaches across a hotel’s marketing.  In fact, improving organic SEO is at the center of the Screen Pilot approach, insofar as every facet of the digital marketing engagement exists to both add standalone value and to improve SEO outcomes.     The first step to determine the viability of current SEO strategies is an audit of a hotel’s existing website content. Where there’s room for improvement, the team has an arsenal of tools: copywriting by brand-specializing journalists, influencer marketing campaigns, interactive content like quizzes and customized itineraries, public relations, user-generated content and others. It all comes together in a single strategy that positions hotels prominently in search engine results pages and, of course, more direct bookings.  Working with a collection of boutique hotels located across the U.S., Screen Pilot created a three-month campaign across multiple channels, focused on interactive content intended to generate brand awareness for the individual properties and pair them with a specific hotel and ultimately, increase year-over-year bookings for that period.  The social media component of the program resulted in over 200 bookings, with a 13 to 1 ratio for return on investment (ROI). PPC, remarketing and awareness display advertising generated 879 bookings and a 16 to 1 ROI ratio.   #3: You’re overwhelmed by the ever-changing social media and search marketing landscape  Screen Pilot’s expertise in social and search marketing gives its clients an edge over their competitors. The digital marketing firm is both a Bing Partner and a Google Partner, meaning Screen Pilot is officially a certified expert on each organization’s advertising programs and policies, making them well equipped to optimize a hotel’s pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Moreover, Screen Pilot will also add new PPC channels into the mix, depending on client needs and strategy.  Social is also a key component of Screen Pilot’s suite of services. An active social media presence has a strong impact on hotels, as it acts as both a marketing tool and a guest engagement platform. A consistent (and constant) presence has become table stakes for any brand that engages with today’s traveler. A 2018 TripAdvisor report found that a hotel’s social presence is important to 92% of travel business owners. Of course, an effective social media presence can only be achieved with a customized strategy that incorporates the most relevant channels to a hotel’s target audiences and messaging that will resonate with those users while also communicating brand values. Screen Pilot buys media that supports each client’s objectives, incorporating elements such as social media photography, graphic design and influencer outreach.  In addition to crafting social media ad campaigns that drive brand awareness while also prospecting and retargeting users, Screen Pilot, a partner of social media management platform Sprout Social, can manage clients’ social media presence and deliver in-depth, monthly reporting and analytics. This also includes keeping up with guest comments and online reviews so that responses are timely and the brand’s reputation is safeguarded.  When the company was tasked with creating the social media presence for a new 878-room Orlando resort, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest channels were launched in April 2016. Between then and March 2017, Screen Pilot built a combined following of 2,400 followers, representing an increase of more than 4,000 per cent.  The entire social media campaign resulted in nearly four million organic impressions, more than 15,000 organic engagement and over 80,000 link clicks to the resort’s website.  More impressive results that show how valuable an expert ally can be to amplifying your hotel’s digital marketing efforts!   A final consideration When choosing an agency to level up your hotel’s digital marketing, be sure to find one that knows hospitality. It’s worth paying for that specialization, as this expertise pays off. You’ll spend less time training those unfamiliar with the business, and benefit from the learnings the team has from other clients. Prioritize agencies who are on the bleeding edge of hotel marketing tactics.  These agencies will have enough experience to know the latest updates in search algorithms and tactics to steal share from OTAs but usually won’t be so big that their work is cookie cutter - Screen Pilot fits right into this creative and trusted sweet spot. Much of Screen Pilot’s core team comes from a background in hotels, resorts and restaurants. The relevant backgrounds meant that they not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. This expertise also means that hotels with limited budgets can find an ally: since the team is efficient and knowledgeable, there’s less waste and more ability to help hotels of all sizes.  As this Assistant GM from Lakeport said in a review, it’s all about finding a “personable” team that’s “easy to work with” and “able to produce great results” -- even with a limited budget. That’s exactly the type of ally you need when investing more thoughtfully in your hotel’s digital marketing strategy!

HITEC 2019 Recap: Everything You Missed in Under 5-Minutes

by
Hotel Tech Report
7 months ago

The Hotel Tech Twins just returned home from HFTP’s annual US HITEC show which just so happened to find itself in...wait for it...the twin cities.  This year’s location in Minneapolis is the hometown of hotel tech darling IDeaS which happened to be celebrating its 30th year in business - serendipity was in the air. The week kicked off with our favorite part of every major conference, Klaus Kohlmayr’s exclusive tech startup happy hour where we got to bump elbows with CEOs like ALICE’s Alex Shashou, Meeting Package’s Joonas Ahoola and Triptease’s Charlie Osmond who just returned from running a marathon in North Korea (nope that’s not a typo...NORTH Korea!). During the conference we met with more than 50 tech companies to learn about the latest tech developments and tips to grow your hotel business.  In this article we distill major trends that we saw in the market and highlight key innovations that should be on every hotelier’s radar within each trend.  Consolidation certainly seems to be driving the market with Travel Tripper + Pegasus making its first combined HITEC debut, Jonas Hospitality launching its Jonas Chorum brand and HeBS/Serenata rebranding the organization Next Guest. Whether you were at HITEC and were too overwhelmed to cut through the noise or couldn’t make it at all...fear not, we've got you covered.  Below you’ll learn about the 6 biggest hotel tech trends we saw at the show, discuss what they mean for your hotel business and highlight the companies that are pushing the envelope within each.   TLDR; HITEC trends at a glance TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error (12 products covered) TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help hoteliers manage and make sense of their data (6 products covered) TREND 3 | A new focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service (8 products covered) TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution (4 products covered) TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up (4 products covered) TREND 6 | Fraud and security are still poignant post-Marriott breach (8 products covered) Bonus Coverage: More Notable Product Rollouts and Launches From the Show (10 products covered)   Before we jump into the trends...3 shout-outs for creativity at the show Most creative HITEC marketing initiatives: a tie between IDeaS and Infor IDeaS went big for their 30th anniversary and brewed their own line of local craft beers for the show.  We heard they still have a few extra cases left so when you are negotiating that contract for your hotel group’s next RMS - make sure to ask them for a hoppy throw in. Infor launched its new grab-and-go POS solution where guests can purchase food on a touch screen kiosk.  The Company went all in on the demo and had a full service food and beverage operation running in real time.  It turns out hoteliers love free food and the demo was super slick so the Infor booth was slammed every time we passed by. ALICE delighted conference goers by shelling out envelopes of cash to announce its latest release.  While envelopes of cash alone would have been enough to secure a shout out for creativity, the meaning behind the stunt sealed the deal with class, creativity and customer centricity.  Having just launched the all new ALICE Housekeeping, the envelopes were actually tip envelopes for conference goers to bring back to their hotel rooms and leave for their room attendent paying homage to housekeepers and the back breaking work they do day-in and day-out.   Congrats to SABA Hospitality, the winner of E20X People's Choice Award.  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue.     TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error Due to years of overzealous media hype, when hoteliers hear the word ‘automation’ they mostly think about robots but the kind of automation that’s actually changing the hotel industry is a very different kind of automation. Most techies are familiar with companies like Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That).  Essentially these companies are platforms that help businesses setup and execute rules for repetitive processes.  For example, you could set a “Zap” that triggers a Google Calendar meeting scheduled every time someone fills out a form on your website.  These kinds of automations are the backbone of building a great business because they free up your team to focus on high value tasks.  Hotels are notorious for having these kinds of repetitive tasks.  For example, every time a room attendent finishes cleaning a room they need to radio the housekeeping manager who then needs to mark the room ready for inspection.  Take another example where your night audit team needs to do a manual bucket check to cross reference each in-house folio against your in-house list in your PMS.  All of these tasks can be automated away which frees up those team members to focus on higher value tasks which can really move the needle for your business. At HITEC this year we saw a ton of companies from guest messaging platforms to revenue management systems showcasing ways for hoteliers to automate away those redundant and tedious tasks.  These tools help you save time, eliminate frustration and mitigate the risk of error across your property operations.   Below are the key HITEC launches and showcases that help hoteliers like you with task automation. Whistle launched AI conversation and dispatch automation for its guest messaging product Some hoteliers fear that adding guest messaging at their property will increase the amount of work for their teams by adding a new channel for requests. The good news is that Whistle has been honing their conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) model which now claims to predict responses to 80%+ of guest questions and requests. With this knowledge, Whistle can suggest or automatically prompt the appropriate response back to the guest, and even auto-prompt service requests and work orders to internal departments via Whistle’s lightweight task management module or other integrated Service Optimization solutions like Quore.  Whistle has won the top rated Guest Messaging category two years running and its new time saving functionality looks like they're likely to step up their game again this year. IDeaS showcased Investigator, a new feature to show hoteliers how pricing decisions were made As technology plays more of a role in revenue management many revenue managers want to know the “why” behind pricing decisions to ensure that mistakes aren’t being made and so that they can effectively communicate strategic decisions to stakeholders. With Investigator, revenue managers can drill into the analytics behind decisions made by IDeaS’ G3 revenue management system. Investigator allows revenue managers to embrace automation while also staying in the loop to make sure everything is working properly. OTA Insight adds intelligent rate parity breach detection and bulk actioning via automated alerts Hotel distribution is extremely complex and due to the way that 3rd parties resell inventory it’s nearly impossible to track down parity issues like price discrepancies or room-type issues. Parity Insight provides a turnkey solution to detect, action and resolve parity issues in real-time. The new functionality provides workflow automation and streamlines communication between groups, chains and hotels. OTA Insight is trusted by more than 40,000 properties globally and leverages data across the entire group to help each individual client ensure that their distribution partners aren’t engaging in costly breaches of contracts. Zingle launched automatic message categorization and intent triggered automation Without the right automation, guest messaging can add more work onto your team’s already busy plate so it’s important to have the right automations in place to ensure that this great guest amenity doesn’t come at the expense of team productivity. Zingle’s messaging software has pre-made and customizable automated workflows that re-route and follow up to messages to save staff valuable time on repetitive tasks. There are dozens of automations available today, including recognition of plumbing issues, process information requests (like gym hours), or housekeeping related messages like  room-cleaning and turn down service. Zingle  streamlines communication for hotels and improves service times by reducing the need for manual ticket entry, routing and follow-up by staff.  Zingle raised $11M from Peakspan Capital to fuel technical R&D and drive growth. Fun fact, Zingle's founder Ford Blakey also happens to be the brother of billionaire Spanx founder, Sarah Blakely.   Travel Tripper showcased its ADA compliance audit and monitoring platform to automatically detect compliance issues with your website. The platform offers a proactive approach to the increasing threat of ADA website lawsuits in the hotel industry, allowing hoteliers and their web service providers to address website accessibility issues and mitigate the risk of ADA compliance lawsuits.  This platform is the first of its kind (in the hotel industry) which actively audits hotel websites according to WCAG 2.1 AA-Level standards and automatically alerts property teams if a technical violation is found.  Upon recognizing an ADA violation, the platform sends regular notifications to account users until the issue is fixed.  In addition, Travel Tripper assists hoteliers’ legal teams by giving them the proper documentation they need when responding to an ADA website compliance lawsuit. Cendyn announced a new funding round lead by Accel/KKR to increase the capabilities of its marketing automation products both in SMB (Guestfolio) and enterprise (eInsight). Cendyn was one of the first movers in the hotel CRM market and to this day is amongst the top hotel CRM choices in the enterprise clients with its eInsight product.  Back in 2016 Cendyn acquired Guestfolio, a provider of hotel CRM independents and moving forward AKKR is likely to have its sights set on more M&A opportunities like Guestfolio (or even a larger merger).  With Tim Sullivan taking the helm from founders Robyn and Charles Deyo, hoteliers can expect the firm to push deeper into automation.  Over the last few years hotel CRM vendors have needed to invest heavily in GDPR compliance initiatives but with that behind them expect more "Marketo" like marketing automation functionality out of this category in the next 6-12 months. Protel launched zero cost 1-click integrations to fuel automation Integration is the key to all automation but historically integrations have been extremely expensive and time consuming to set live. protel launched one-click connect and slashed activation costs for select partners in its i/o marketplace. Now protel clients can instantly turn on top rated apps like OTA Insight, Oaky Upselling and Atomize revenue management without paying a dime. While this is a small step towards a more integrated future it is a critical one since this kind of move from a major PMS company like protel with 14,000 clients will put pressure on others to follow suit. Atomize launched its group booking price optimization functionality Group sales reps often price groups manually which takes a lot of work.  If they ask too much they could lose the contract and if they charge too little they leave money on the table. Atomize’s new group booking functionality allows hoteliers to automatically set optimal prices for group booking packages.  The software cuts out manual calculations, negotiations and collaborations by taking into account the total expected spend of various groups on property.  Atomize can factor varied requests within the same group like different arrival and departure dates. Atomize won top rated revenue management system in the 2019 HotelTechAwards and has been taking the industry by storm ever since.  This new group functionality is another step towards rounding out Atomize as a complete revenue management software the platform. SevenRooms launched email marketing for hotel restaurants Hotel food & beverage operations often lack the resources and know how to run personalized marketing campaigns. SevenRooms’ segmentation and email automation enables F&B managers to easily add customizable tags to guest profiles then run rules based marketing campaigns to those segments.  Run unique marketing to critical segments like: first timers, high value regulars, positive reviewers and more. Companies like Revinate and Cendyn have demonstrated the immense value of personalized hospitality marketing campaigns.  Now F&B outlets can benefit from marketing automation too. Zoox debuted facial recognition technology for hotel check-in Front desk agents are overloaded with repetitive tasks like identity verification which creates bottlenecks at check-in and hurts the guest experience. Zoox’ facial recognition software allows guests to check into the hotel in under 15 seconds without the front desk ever needing to verify their identity with ID or credit card. Facial recognition is already being used in markets like China which have leap frogged some of the West’s archaic traditions by using next gen tech. Avvio showcased its Allora powered booking engine Each guest is enticed by different booking messages, layouts and visuals so having a static booking engine means that you’re losing guests by not putting the right offer and presentation in front of them. Allora leverages data from Avvio’s client base to put the right messages and visuals in front of guests that are likely to be enticed by those calls to action. Continuous website optimization is mainstream in eCommerce and is a critical piece of maximizing direct bookings. Avvio guarantees that you will see a 25% increase in direct booking revenue when you switch to their booking engine. Knowcross launched KNOW Maintenance to automate preventative maintenance KNOW Maintenance is a cloud based multilingual application that helps automate, schedule and monitor all preventive maintenance activities at hotels.  The application organizes all engineering responsibilities for hotels, thus ensuring superior guest satisfaction, minimize malfunction accidents and maximized equipment lifetimes. This also results in enhanced productivity and better manpower forecasts. Event Temple showcased group sales automation. Sales & catering is the lifeblood of any business hotel and managing your group sales pipeline effectively could be the difference between making or losing money.  Event Temple's group CRM is purpose built for the hotel industry and features digital contract signatures, banquet orders, pipeline overview, menus and more.  With this software your sales team can track progress at the property or portfolio level.  Event Temple features built in emails and the ability to automate initial drip outreach with new leads.     TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help manage and make sense of your data We know that you and your staff are probably sick of tech companies talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data. Ultimately the big hotel data challenge can be boiled down into 3 simple buckets: (1) Guest profile data (2) Market data (3) Operations data   Most of the datasets that tech marketers are referring to are not really big data.  Here’s how analytics firm SAS defines big data. “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis.” Since big data can be overwhelming for hoteliers, let’s first define our data types so that we can see it’s actually not so scary: Guest profile data helps us target new guests and better serve them on property.  CRM systems use recency, frequency and monetary value as the core data points but this data includes PMS data like stay dates as well as 3rd party data pulled in from social media platforms, reputation platforms like Revinate, guest surveys and other data sources.  Ultimately we want to use this data to find new guests who are like the ones that stay with us and to deliver personalized experiences that drive loyalty Market data helps us price our rooms and plan for the future.  This data includes historical pricing, demand trends, local events and more.  Market data sources come from platforms like OTA Insight or TravelClick Demand360 as well as 3rd parties like Kalibri Labs, STR or CBRE. Operations data helps us streamline how we run our business.  This data comes from PMS and operations systems.  We’ll want to look at things like how long it takes to turn our rooms, average cost per occupied room, time to service requests and more. The challenge becomes tying all of this data together in ways that enable us to make business decisions and act on them in real time.  Integrating these datasets and visualizing them in a clear and understandable way is critical for the success of any hotel. Because this data is constantly flooding into our properties it’s impossible for humans to process it and make good decisions without the right software systems in place. From budgeting and forecasting to marketing and operations, the vendors below showcased new ways of visualizing and manipulating a hotel’s existing data to help hoteliers make better business decisions. Revinate debuted its new platform that promises to manage and organize all of your hotel’s marketing data How can hotels manage relationships with guests? Not just manage room inventory, but create and manage rich guest profiles that tell them everything they need to know about potential guests: recency, frequency, and spending of previous stays to really understand who their VIPs are and when and how they should be marketed to. Currently, data is tied up in various systems that don’t speak to each other very well. Hoteliers need tools specifically built for the complexities and nuances of the hospitality industry. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to managing guest relationships effectively at scale. The Hotel GMS allows hoteliers to easily surface insights on their guest, segment and market to them, and learn more about them over time to make future communications even more effective. Hotel Effectiveness showcased its labor optimization dashboards and new wage benchmarking capabilities With labor costs on the rise and labor being the single largest line item on most hotel’s P&L, finding ways to monitor and optimize your labor and staffing is mission critical for most hoteliers.  The problem is that most hotels still track and manage their labor manually on pen and paper but luckily, Hotel Effectiveness (in depth review).  The team showcased their purpose built tool that is used by major clients such as Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Pacific Host Hotels and Chartwell Hospitality and promises to reduce total labor costs by 5-10% by turning labor hours and cost data into actionable recommendations served up right in the dashboard. SHR launched its Wave RMS (revenue management system) SHR is the latest in a slew of companies launching revenue management systems in the last couple of years. SHR's algorithm uses Reinforcement Learning techniques with a proprietary mathematical model that recommends prices not only based on one specific date, but factoring in both days-to-arrival and optimal price on shoulder dates, as well, to maximize revenue across the stay pattern.  Wave combines advanced algorithms with a Strategy Builder tool so that Revenue Managers don't need to solely trust a “black box” recommendation. Cenium showed off its Microsoft BI powered customizable dashboards If you’ve used multiple PMS’ before you know that the dashboards often look the same.  Based on your role, there are different metrics and views that are most important to you but it takes a million clicks to get to your favorite view. With a redesigned interface, Cenium put its new customizable dashboards on display at HITEC.  Powered by Microsoft BI, hoteliers can pick from pre-built templates or easily slice and dice data to personalize their dashboard. Owned by a Norweigan hotel conglomerate, Cenium was built for the portfolio’s own hotels and is now being made available globally to other hotels outside its portfolio.  Funded by the cashflow of the real estate business, Cenium’s pockets are deep and offer a deep resource pool to build a strong product with a customer mindset at the heart of product development. SnapShot rolled out its V1 POS Analytics to compare PMS and POS data in one interface While PMS Software was built for hotels, most POS Software was built for restaurants which often becomes evident when trying to run hotel analysis of various F&B outlets or compare POS and PMS data in one interface to identify performance by outlet as well as slice and dice data from both systems to do things like remap and unify POS outlets' names, payment methods, F&B categories and price modifiers. Snapshot POS Analytics is currently only available for hotels who utilize sister Shiji company Infrasys’ POS and the lightning fast growing Lightspeed POS. Profitsword showcased its custom financial performance dashboards The new user interface is a continuation of ProfitSword's commitment to provide instant and straightforward access to the information that businesses need in order to plan and ensure a successful, efficient and profitable operation. ProfitSword customers are now able to instantly access, group and compare real-time performance data in a way that fits their specific needs at any given time, and with a level of detail that is truly a first for our industry and save custom reports as favorites for easy 1-click access.     TREND 3 | A new Focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service We’re living in an age where we manage our investments on mobile devices via apps like Robinhood and choose our workouts at home via platforms like Peloton.  As technology gets better, we’re able to go straight to the source and get exactly what we want, when we want it and at a fraction of the cost. In the hotel industry the notion of self service has taken a bit longer to catch up except in innovative markets like Las Vegas.  Many hoteliers believe that disintermediating services is detrimental to delivering a great hospitality experience. In many ways they are right and there will always need to be a highly personal component between guests and staff to truly create a great guest experience. Having said that, there are many facets of hotel operations where guests are actually better served completing these tasks themselves which also frees up staff to focus on building personal relationships, surprising and delighting. An example of this in our professional lives exists within the meeting booking space.  Platforms like Calendly and x.ai are actually much better at scheduling meetings because they integrate directly with our calendars and don't require back and forth to coordinate between parties.  That doesn't mean executives no longer need personal assistants, it just means that personal assistants can focus on adding more value for their employers and skip the back-and-forth. There are lots of examples of this dynamic in hotels. Most guests would prefer an automated grab and go where they don’t need to go through an entire transaction process with an associate.  This seamless experience at the front desk actually builds loyalty by cutting out any wait time or frustration - something that is increasingly critical in the age of instant gratification.  Similarly, there is no check-in experience that can make up for waiting in line at the reception. Solutions like mobile check-in and keyless entry can alleviate wait times and free up staff to focus on higher value tasks. Below you’ll find the latest technology developments within the self service trend that deliver instant gratification and consistently perfect service to guests while freeing up your team to focus on surprising and delighting. Zoox Smart Pass rolls out facial recognition for seamless and verified self-checkin So you’ve been Global Entry or Nexus and wondered why the kiosks there can check you in but you have to talk to someone at the front desk at a hotel.  Well, now you don’t have to. As self service check-in goes more mainstream especially at select service and extended stay properties, it’s only logical that facial recognition will allow for a more frictionless and secure identification process.  With this new tech, guests simply walk up to the computer camera like they would a Global Entry terminal, scan their face and checkin to their room in under 15 seconds. Impulsify showed off its ShopPop hotel pantry solution that they're so confident in it actually comes with an ROI guarantee Having a hotel pantry has often been reserved for brands and larger properties who have the manpower to be able to properly service customers.  Even so, in the majority of cases front desk agents double as grab-n-go cashiers and anytime something is sold it creates a bottleneck at the front desk.  Impuslify’s purpose built pantry POS, ShopPop, allows any hotel to easily run their own pantry to offer additional convenience items to guests while driving ancillary revenue through an easy to use self service checkout kiosk.  In addition to time saving features like automated shopping lists and PMS integrations-- Impulsify has processed over 5 million transactions, giving it a growing database of information so you won't have to rely on instinct or habit to decide what guests prefer.   The results are so good that Impulsify even offers new clients an ROI guarantee. Infor showed conference goers just how easy self-service can be with its POS Kiosks Usually we expect creative displays from smaller companies but at HITEC, Infor stole the show with a live demonstration of it’s grab-and-go solution where attendees ordered food and beverages on one of Infor’s new self service POS kiosks.  Similar to Impulsify, Infor’s self service kiosk allows hotels to offer additional food and convenience items to guests with the tap of a button without having to worry about staff oversight. Zaplox rolled out its new customizable self-service check-in kiosk While self service check-in/check-out kiosks are ubiquitous in the airline and grocery industries, most hotels have lagged behind the trend and few offer a fully self-service check-in process.  More and more technology providers are creating solutions hoping that hotels will wise up and follow their more technologically advanced sibling categories. Following the likes of Mew’s Self Service Checkin Kiosk that was released earlier this year, Zaplox launched their take on the tech hoping to bolster usage of keyless entry by offering a more fluid end-to-end check-in experience.  Zaplox Kiosk enables guests to skip the lines and check in and print their own key cards - with 24 hours availability. The kiosk's custom-branded interface enables hotels to create a cohesive brand experience and because the kiosk runs on any tablet-based device, hotels can select the hardware that best matches the interior and space limitation. Whistle put its conversational commerce on display with its new text based upselling feature According to Whistle, nearly 30% of guest interactions on their guest messaging platform are potential revenue generating opportunities for the hotel. While guests often express their interest in purchasing an item or placing an order through messaging, they are then inconveniently redirected to communicate their request to the appropriate department (ex. Please call room service to place your order) which both adds friction for guests and reduces conversion to purchase for hotels (aka lost revenue). With Whistle’s new upsell module, hotels can add custom inventory from their F&B outlets, pantry, local businesses or even add-ons like late checkout and guests can now seamlessly purchase with one click and have the charges added to the room via PMS integration or leverage 1-click checkout with Apple or Google Pay.  Conversational commerce has long been the gold standard in Asian markets so its great to see frictionless ways to tap into more guest wallet share during their stay while simultaneously adding convenience value for consumers, a win-win for Whistle, hotels and their guests.  MeetingPackage showcased it's group booking engine and channel manager If you’ve ever tried to book a hotel meeting space or venue online you know just how cumbersome of a process it usually is. First you have to fill out a form, then you wait for a response, then when you finally get a response the first question hotels often ask is ‘how much is your budget’.  The whole experience is cumbersome, awkward and feels inherently like you’re being taken by a used car salesman. In comes MeetingPackage to the rescue with its M&E booking engine and channel manager that allows you to manage content, sync across channels to increase your reach and add a booking flow with rich content, add-ons and full customization for your next event promising to drastically increase conversion rates while delivering corporate clients and meeting planners a seamless self-service booking experience that consumers expect. Aethon Robotics turned heads with its delivery robots to cut down on delivery times Aethon’s TUG robots take a different approach to self-service by delivering things like food, linen, banquet supplies and luggage via an R2D2 looking robot.  Except for singularity believers waiting for the Terminator to jump through a time warp portal to initiate Skynet--the Aethon is likely to leave guests with a unique and memorable experience that they’ll want to tell their friends and social media followers about.  Beyond the buzz factor, for hotels looking to cut down on expensive labor can leverage Aethon’s robots to automate common deliveries and cut down on delivery times. Intelity's tablets got a backend upgrade to make it easier for guests to access information at their fingertips New additions to INTELITY Staff include an enhanced ticketing system, a more robust content management solution (CMS), in-depth guest and operations analytics, and Guest360™, which provides a 360-degree view of guest preferences, designed to help hotel staff across all departments make the right decisions at the right time while further personalizing the guest experience. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff will provide staff with access to comprehensive business intelligence and the ability to streamline daily workflows, seamlessly track, manage, and organize preventative maintenance and service recovery, and make real-time content updates. One of the biggest challenges today's hoteliers face is connecting and engaging with their guests in a personalized manner on digital platforms. Guests expect highly personal experience and interactions in hospitality, but also want to have access to the convenience that technology affords them. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff streamline staff workflows so that staff can spend more time focusing on creating the connection and personalization guests crave. Saba's chatbot and no-download app  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue. Swyft put its Amazon-esque cashierless stores on display And we’re back...more automated retail! Have you ever walked by a Best Buy or CVS vending machine in the airport? If so, then you’ve seen Swyft’s cashierless retail kiosks in action.  While not as widely adopted in hotels Swyft’s tech offers another option to generate ancillary pantry and merchandise revenue without the added labor bottlenecks or cost. StayMyWay rolled out all new keyless entry door hardware StayMyWay featured a series of shiny new access solutions including its signature Cylinder door lock hardware and 3 more unique digital replacements that each boasted clean lines and strong functionality without breaking the bank starting at under $200. 4Suites showcased its app-less mobile key solution 4Suites mobile keys are fully automated for hotels and frictionless for guests. No actions required from hotels, no app download or login for guests. All intelligence and security is handled by 4Suites in the background to offer the easiest, yet most advanced mobile key solution. Mobile keys can simplify guest operations, reduce costs and improve the guest experience. If done correctly.  4Suites removes friction and has created a fully automated process for hotels and a simple, seamless and impossible-not-to-understand journey for guests. Qwick showcased its short term staffing platform The Qwick app refines and matches job listings for professionals and allows them to accept and confirm shifts all through a smartphone device. The Qwick app has features all in one central place: view matched shifts to accept, view work schedules, clock-in and clock-out, and receive payments within as little as thirty minutes after completing a  shift through their secured platform. This level of convenience and accessibility is helping to grow Qwick’s database of professionals, ensuring high quality workers and quickly filled shifts for businesses.     TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution Hospitality has always been a big focus for big tech and fortune 500s but it seems to be heating up in recent years.  Travel and tourism contribute $1.5 trillion to GDP globally so it’s no surprise that these companies want in on the action. Traditionally companies within the room automation space (e.g. Honeywell), high tech materials (e.g. Corning) and business electronics (e.g. LG) focus on the hotel sector and increasingly we’re seeing big tech get into the mix with the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Amazon.  Below we highlight some of the key hospitality launches for big tech players at HITEC this year. Peloton made its HITEC debut offering a new way to attract a fitness focused audience for hotels Peloton made it’s HITEC debut where the firm unveiled its new “Hotel Finder” feature.   With Hotel Finder, riders can find and book hundreds of hotels with Peloton bikes across the United States.  The Company is set for IPO this year with it’s last valuation set at $4.15B and growth has been on a tear.  Peloton’s rider base recently surpassed Soul Cycle as it doubled its user count year over year and the firm is naturally looking for new growth avenues.  Fitness focused hotel brand Westin partnered with Peloton and this move seems to be an evolution of that thesis.  More than 400,000 bikes were sold by February of 2019 and many of those riders are die hard fitness junkies who are highly likely to seek out hotels where they can get their fitness fix.  As Peloton continues to grow it’s install base and product offerings (e.g. Peloton Tread) hotels could find an interesting niche distribution channel to reach fitness enthusiasts. Samsung mounted its 8k QLED monitors dubbed, ‘The Wall’ outfitted with captivating next generation digital art Samsung’s gorgeous 8K QLED and The Wall stole the show with digital art provided by partners Niio and Black Dove. 8K digital signage delivers impeccable picture quality and resolution that was previously unimaginable at scale. Samsung’s technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) upscaling to produce lifelike images and immersive experiences. Great hoteliers know that first impressions are everything. For select service hotels digital art can provide new advertising revenue while for more upscale high end and boutique properties it can give your hotel a huge leg up.  Digital art leaders include firms such as Niio, Blackdove and the 2019 HotelTechAward winner in the digital art category, Wrapped.   Create your own next gen hotel check-in experience with digital art like Sharks from Wrapped on an 8K Samsung Wall.   If you need some inspiration, we highly recommend checking out Wrapped Studios’s Shark installation that wow’d even the high brow crowd of attendees at this year’s renown Art Basel in Miami. Amazon and LG’s hospitality divisions collaborate to make in-room entertainment remoteless Gernophobes will be rejoicing at Amazon for Hospitalty’s latest partnership announced with LG.  Together the companies will infuse Alexa voice controls into the hotel TV experience allowing guests to never have to touch a remote again.  Other than being carriers for germs, most hotel remotes are clunky and make channel surfing a frustrating experience so voice controls promise to make for more seamless guest room entertainment. Microsoft steps up to the plate looking to bring its Teams for Frontline Workers product to hotel operations and compete in the employee engagement category While most offerings in the staff collaboration and employee engagement categories are purpose built for the hotel industry, Microsoft appears to be testing the waters by tailoring its employee communication offering to empower frontline workers.  Teams for Frontline workers dubs itself as “the hub for teamwork” and touts benefits including easier employee training, culture building and document management. With Microsoft’s office suite already being used by most hotels to manage email, the company has a strong foothold into the industry already and may just be able to gain footing in the employee communication category if it plays its cards right.     TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up Earlier this year the NY Times wrote a great piece titled ‘The next wave of unicorn startups’ where it argued that the next wave of billion dollar tech firms will not look like the last.  Rather than splashy consumer facing companies like Snapchat, Uber and AirBnB making their way towards IPOs - the article hypothesizes that the next wave of unicorns will be filled with B2B software companies focused on seemingly boring and unexpected industries.   Now, many of the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns have names like Benchling and Blend. And they largely focus on software for specific industries like farms, banks and life sciences companies. ~New York Times Add hospitality to that list because there are some major players entering the market.  Where the OTAs and digital distribution have largely driven the last wave of massive technology adoption in hotels because they focus on the top line, the next wave of hotel tech adoption is coming from operations software and specifically within the housekeeping segment.  After watching Quore take the title as “Top Rated Housekeeping Software for Hotels” in the HotelTechAwards two years in a row, several newcomers are entering the space to capitalize on the opportunity. ALICE upped its game with the launch of its all new ALICE Housekeeping While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin. The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. ALICE gave Hotel Tech Report an exclusive behind the scenes look at the all new ALICE Housekeeping See the product in action Hkeeper showed off new functionality that enables housekeeping departments to track materials usage and supply levels Using HKeeper, you will find all needed operational management hotel's tools and avoid unnecessary problems related to the human factor and lack of collaboration between departments. HKeeper will optimize all daily routine processes, improve your guest relations quality, and free up more time for working with projects and vendors. Hkeeper is one of the best tools for managing the personnel of the hotel and tracking material usage. With HKeeper, you can streamline workflows, reduce the turnaround time between tasks, and increase employee productivity. One of the main advantages over other housekeeping software is that Hkeeper offers a unique feature that allows tracking all materials used during cleaning and maintenance tasks or other operations through the program in real time. Moreover, HKeeper also monitors working progress in real time and analyzes staff performance by counting active working time, turnaround time, and time required for each task. Another exceptional function in the HKeeper program is that the mobile application can work off-line. Not all similar programs are offering integration with PMS software, and Hkeeper does, so hotels can easily stay updated on room status, availability, and guest information. Nuvola showed hoteliers if you can't measure it, you can't manage it The housekeeping department in the hotel industry is simultaneously one of the most valuable areas in creating the best guest experience possible while at the same time the hardest to optimize. Introducing new technologies and systems can often make daily processes seem more complicated and be met with resistance. Developed by former hoteliers with this unique understanding in mind, Housekeeping Productivity has been created to meet the specific department needs through an easy to use system and provides accessibility across desktop and mobile devices. Daily room attendants are now able to streamline activities (i.e., room assignment needs, cleaning service tasks) through an intuitive platform that speaks to the notion of making their lives easier.  Nuvola's analytics suite helps hoteliers gain critical insights to reduce average time spent "in between rooms" for room attendants, measure room attendant productivity by credit count and compare guest survey score vs. room attendants effectiveness. PurpleCloud takes a unique approach to housekeeping by leveraging gamification to increase staff productivity Housekeepers for hotels are in short supply and the nature of the work is unique. Their work is time sensitive and requires great attention to detail. If we give these housekeepers world-class tools to make them better at their jobs and couple this with common sense, easy to understand recognition and incentives, then we start winning their hearts. In doing so, hoteliers win for the guest.  PurpleCloud organizes the housekeeper’s day with a world-class digital platform. Gone are messy paper assignment sheets and balky walkie-talkies. The system is easy to use: self-explanatory; requires only a few clicks; and is available in the housekeeper’s given language. The system further provides housekeepers with feedback on their performance and rewards them for doing well by way of a gamification leaderboard. The result: housekeepers are connected and function as a team.       TREND 6 | Fraud and security still poignant post-Marriott breach A recent study by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) reports that as much as 55% of all credit card fraud in the US takes place within the hospitality industry. Of course, that only considers criminal fraud; but when you factor-in other loss sources like fraudulent chargebacks, the real figure is much higher. Fraud tends to impact the travel and leisure industries even more heavily than other sectors like retail or digital goods. According to Kount, this is attributable to five specific factors: Fluidity: Multiple and last-minute booking changes create more opportunities for fraud. Perishability: Fraudsters tie-up space that cannot be used for legitimate bookings. Margins: Higher ticket values for hotel bookings mean greater impact on the bottom line. Revenue Loss: Excessive false positives mean merchants are declining valid bookings. High OPEX: More manual reviews mean increased operating expenses. With such high transaction volumes and so many moving pieces--hotels continue to be highly susceptible to fraudsters and hackers as evidenced by the Marriott data breach earlier this year of more than 500 million guest records that were hacked earlier this year.  Luckily companies are coming out with new and innovative ways to help hotels ward of expensive fraud and damaging hacks. Canary showcased its Y Combinator approved software that claims to cut chargebacks by up to 90% While not the sexiest topic, payments and fraud prevention are big business when it comes to hotels.  Y Combinator backed Canary Technologies has a suite of PCI compliant solutions to secure guest data, reduce chargebacks, and speed up sales and catering contract execution by eliminating paper processes on property.  If you’re ready to leave your fax machine in the 80s, minimize fraud or just want to hear about why PG is bullish on the product--its probably time to reach out for a demo. Insighti offers hackers for hire to help brands and management companies pre-emptively identify security flaws and protect their data Insighti offers hackers for hire. With the hospitality industry suffering loads of hacks lately from Marriott to Sabre, insighti offers much needed protection. insighti goes in-depth with physical, social, and digital facets of security, using creativity and persistence to find the vulnerabilities other companies miss.  Insighti recently partnered with former MGM Resorts VP of IT Marc Fancourt to create hiGuard.io taking the firm’s approach to cybersecurity and applying it to the unique complexities of the hotel industry. VENZA announces partnership with the PCI Council positioning them on the forefront of the latest compliances and security measures Navigating the ever changing PCI compliance regulations and ensuring that your hotel is up-to-snuff can feel like the endless climb to the top of Everest.  Luckily, Venza is here to be ‘your guide to data protection’. In the limelight was Venza’s partnership with the PCI Council and certification as a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) that enables the team to work hand-in-hand with the council to set requirements, become early adopters on new PCI DSS requirements and, overall, ensure that customers are receiving the highest quality standards possible.  If you’re looking to shore up your hotel’s compliance you’ll want to check out VENZA’s Everest Plan, their entry level plan to get your hotel compliant. ADAsoft launched eSwipe, a passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in ADASoft launched its new passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in and registration while eliminating data entry errors by seamlessly reading, capturing and accurately transferring data from ID documents and passports into practically any PMS in the market. The company lately announced the release of another unique feature allowing printing of a pre-filled customized registration form available after each passport/ID scan for the guest to sign. Simply scan each guest's Passport/ID in less than a second creating an accurate and complete database, and enjoy the benefits of a great marketing tool and after sales potential. ADAsoft’s eSwipe passport scanning solution facilitates GDPR regulation compliance since typing errors are eliminated and data is accurately registered as stated in GDPR regulation, Chapter II, Article 5, Section 1.d ASSA ABLOY GLOBAL SOLUTIONS unveiled its all new staff safety solution  With the US hotel industry continuing to up its requirements when it comes to staff safety with many cities such as Chicago and Miami now requiring hotels to provide employees with safety devices--ASSA ABLOY is the first major company with a storied history and strong credibility to bring a safety solution to market.  The safety solution runs off of blue tooth low emission gateaways (BLE) via its Vostio Location Solutions software meaning that (a) it doesn't take up any wi-fi bandwidth and (b) it allows properties to unlock additional location based services within their hotel including asset tracking, proximity messaging and wayfinding.