Hotel Marketing Trends in 2020: Separating Facts from Fiction
It's that time of the year again when searches for queries such as "Hotel Marketing Trends 2020" or "Year in Review" literally explode. It looks like, every December, we all transform into new-year-resolutions-freaks.
WHERE DO WE GO, NOW?
So let's try to separate the hype from the truth. Here's Xotels’ opinion on ten amongst the hottest hotel marketing trends essential to your hotel marketing strategy in 2020:
1. PERSONALIZATION: FACT
Max Starkov recently published an intriguing panel on the topic, debunking much of the misunderstanding on this critical issue.
Xotels’ view? Personalization is not only here to stay, but it will become the conditio sine qua non for both guest acquisition and retention, so make sure to integrate it into your hotel marketing arsenal.
2. VOICE: FACT (but not now)
Voice market size is estimated to surpass $30B by 2025, but hospitality is a laggard in technology adoption. There are some exquisite exceptions, such as Amadeus' Volara, yet voice did not penetrate our industry as we thought it would.
Xotels’ view? If you're about to launch or renovate your hotel, then do it with voice in mind but, if you're not, you can wait a couple of years before investing in the technology.
3. BLOCKCHAIN: BOTH FACT & FICTION
Blockchain's mass adoption merely is Darwinian. The problem is that most keep translating blockchain to bitcoins. Unless we fight this crypto-association bias, we'll never understand the true potential of distributed ledger technology. Blockchain can solve pretty much every single issue in our industry, from rate leakage to lost pieces of baggage. Companies such as Arise and Winding Tree are doing some excellent work, and even dinosaurs such as TUI embraced the blockchain (R)evolution (even though in a bizarre, private chain way...).
Xotels’ view? Educate yourself on the topic. Chances are you won't be implementing blockchain-based tech in the next couple of years, but you'll be forced to go with the flow here...
4. AI: UBERFACT!
What it's widely called "AI" (when technically, we should often use the term "Machine Learning" instead) is not even the future, it's the present. And if you're not integrating some degree of non-human intelligence in your marketing strategy, you're doomed.
Xotels’ view? Switch to an AI-enhanced advertising platform today. There is simply no way humans can keep up with the billions of real-time variables out there, being a simple Google Ads campaign or an intricated multiple-touchpoint-strategy. Educate yourself on the topic by reading this entry-level piece.
5. INFLUENCER MARKETING: HYPE
You may remember the story of Elle Darby, the "influencer" that reached a Dublin hotel, asking if it was interested in a "possible collaboration" in exchange for a five-night free stay. "If I let you stay here in return for a feature in a video,” " the owner promptly replied, “who is going to pay the staff who look after you?, The 22-year-old YouTuber, probably not so influential IRL (in real life), broke down in tears.
Xotels’ view? Influencers in hospitality are ALWAYS a bad idea. Save the money and the free nights: nobody cares about your mojito pictures by the pool. Nobody.
6. CLOUD > LEGACY: FACT (are we still discussing this?)
I am not even wasting my time here. If you still have a legacy system in your hotel, you should ask some hard questions about yourself, as you're basically shooting yourself in the foot. Legacy systems are unscalable, unreliable, not secure, easy-to-hack, rarely GDPR-compliant, freaking expensive,...You want more?
Xotels’ view? If you have a server somewhere in your hotel, you have a problem. Pick a cloud-native (NATIVE!) system and enter the 21st century, like all the rest of humanity.
7. ALTERNATIVE PAYMENTS: FACT, FACT, AND FACT!
According to a recent survey, alternative payments already account for 51% of e-commerce travel transactions for travel worldwide. A cash-less, credit-card-less world is (finally, thank God...) around the corner. You may still have a wallet in your pocket and think that's normal. Well. It's not, dinosaur! Don't be stubborn!
Xotels’ view? Get a proper payment gateway system as part of your hotel marketing strategy for 2020, or leave Booking.com and Expedia's virtual cards take even transactions away from you
8. UP/CROSS-SELLING SYSTEMS: FACT
This does not mean you have to push your sloppy continental breakfast to every single guest, but there are great tools out there to enhancing your guest experience and driving incremental revenue.
Xotels’ view? Integrate an up-selling tool in your 2020 hotel marketing strategy (and thank me later).
9. CRM: FACT
Customer relationship management software. Not sure why we’re still talking about that. Oh, now I remember: BECAUSE SOME HOTELS STILL DON’T HAVE ONE! Do yourself a favor and integrate a CRM now.
Xotels’ view? Remember point 1? If you want to personalize, don’t even think of doing it without a proper CRM. Make sure it’s easy to integrate with your existing tech stack and focus on automatism. When it comes to personalization, humans are simply not that good.
10. MOBILE-ONLY APPROACH: FACT
With 2020 around the corner we still have a design firm delivering desktop drafts. Really? Mobile sessions largely overtook desktop’s, mobile revenue is on the rise and even Google moved to mobile-first indexing (didn’t you know that?) last July. In a nutshell? Desktop websites are on the verge of irrelevancy.
Xotels’ view? Forget about desktops’ design. Forget about mobile-first. This is mobile-ONLY-land, and you’d better get used to it!
In hotel management, you can find two different, antithetic schools of thought: hoteliers that shrink from every new form of hotel digital marketing trends be it technology or strategy, and hoteliers that embrace everything glittering without any real critical reflection.
And you don't want to be either of them.
Nicolas Lajambe @ Xotels