Hotel Leaders Warned To Not Shortchange Marketing
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of reaching various guest segments has evolved.
Whether it's targeting business travelers, social groups, seniors or families, hotel brands and companies must invest in ways to personalize marketing, simplify approaches and win back travelers who are booking alternative accommodations.
Here are some of the highlights from Hotel News Now's coverage during 2021 about shifts in sales, marketing and revenue strategies, that could carry into 2022.
Effective Marketing Relies on Quality Data Panelists at the 2021 HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference said hoteliers need to be doing the most to utilize guest data and collect data that reflects how guests behave.
"It's not just demographics, not just purchase history, but also things about how they engage with your product and getting your experience," said Boston Consulting Group Principal Adam Goldberg.
And in an era where marketing budgets have been significantly cut, Boston Consulting Group Managing Director Edward Crouch said better use of first-party data can lead to cost efficiencies.
Marketing Is an Investment, Not an Expense At the same conference, another group of panelists said hotel industry leaders must not shortchange marketing.
"We keep having to explain that marketing isn't an expense; it's an investment. I think that [disconnect] is repeated in every budget," said Caroline MacDonald, group vice president of sales and marketing for Rosewood Hotel Group, noting that owners often think "you're just driving costs and you're not driving value to the degree we really are."
Lisa Checchio, chief marketing officer at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said a change she would like to see in the hotel marketing landscape is simplifying it.
"Marketing has gotten so fragmented over the years," she said. "We're watching different streaming services. We're reading different newspapers. We are using different forms of social media. In the past, it may have been we were all tuning into Thursday night must-see TV, and we knew we could hit a certain demo."
Older Consumers Became Ready To Travel When COVID-19 vaccines first became available to certain age groups in the U.S., studies showed readiness to travel was on the rise for older guests as they became among the first to receive the jab.
To help welcome that demographic, hotels created promotions and rolled out discounts.
"With many hotel companies going above and beyond to support and accommodate senior travelers across the board, enhancing cleaning protocols and offering discounted rates have been a great incentive to stimulating business across hotels," said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Best Western Hotels & Resorts. "With data showing high positive sentiment among travelers aged 65-plus, seniors will play an integral role in driving higher occupancies and [average daily rates] for hotels across the country."
Now, in 2022, sales and marketing experts are saying multi-generational travel will be a segment to pay attention to.
Hotels Try To Win Back Share From Alternative Accommodations Hotels had to step up their game to entice guests back from Airbnb and other alternative accommodations by way of adding more options to guest programming and unique amenities.
"The personal touch that traditional hotels offer is still unmatched," said Jonathan Webster, vice president of lodging for Geronimo Hospitality Group. "These properties are implementing new, innovative ways to customize guest experiences, including personalized services like private in-room dining options, and in-house entertainment and dining choices conveniently located all in one mixed-use space."
Meeting Planners Are Nervous At the 2021 Hotel Data Conference, the sentiment of the panel titled "Group Preferences Post-Pandemic: and How To Adapt With Them" was that sales strategies for groups has changed.
Dawn Gallagher, chief sales and marketing officer at Fairfax, Virginia-based management company Crescent Hotels & Resorts, said in some cases sales teams haven't fully returned to work.
Tim Rector, vice president of global sales, North America, at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said those who are back feel rusty and nervous because of the past few years.
"They need our help to work with them and customize meetings," he said.
Gallagher added meeting planners in the past never had to worry about whether certain amenities, like food and beverage outlets, would be restricted, and that must now be explained to planners by hotel sales teams.