Hotel industry giants with big budgets have already gotten a head start on the rest of us, which allows us to see the technology in action and to review their ROI.
Here are some of the trends already making an impact on hotel marketing:
Some hoteliers might dismiss VR as a fad that will run its course with tech geeks. But its foray into the mainstream market is just getting started. The hugely hyped Oculus Rift, Samsung’s Gear VR (powered by Oculus), HTC Vive, and other VR devices will bring to the marketplace an entirely innovative medium of online advertising, and will be able to integrate to video channels, popular social media platforms, and even messaging platforms. Marriott has taken advantage of this technology in several of its hotels by testing the first in-room 4D virtual reality travel experience. “VRoomService” allowing a guest to “visit” destinations such as Chile, Rawanda, and Beijing through what they call “V Postcards”.
Video marketing, and even live video streaming via channels like Periscope, is already a hot trend that will continue to be even more so. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then videos are worth a million. On websites, videos translate to lower bounce rates, greater engagement, and can showcase your hotel in multiple scenarios. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, already offer effective video advertising, and in a move that promises to be a game-changer, Google is looking into incorporating video ads in search results.
Video marketing can tell a story that resonates and allows for more out-of-the-box, immersive engagement, beyond the “look how amazing our rooms/grounds/location are” are scenario. For instance, you might promote your restaurant by showing your chef creating his signature dish or the arrival experience from a guest’s POV.
Influencer marketing is the strategy of inviting bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, and podcasters with a massive and dedicated social media following to promote your hotel. It can be a very powerful, far-reaching method of connection. This is especially effective with a tech savvy, digitally connected demographic. Once again, Marriott International is an industry leader in utilizing a “3Cs” strategy, focusing on content, community, and commerce, creating a content studio, and particularly targeting YouTube marketing. They engaged YouTube star Grace Helbig, featuring her in a series of videos promoting the benefits of booking the hotel chain’s rooms directly. The spots, which are generating considerable viewership on YouTube, are also featured on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media Advertising
The largest hotel marketing development in 2016 is social media advertising. Social channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook are now ad-supported media and allow hotels to narrow social media users into highly niche audiences for various campaigns. For instance, promoting a package to female Facebook users within a 50 mile radius and between the ages of 20-35.
As its name implies, momentary marketing leverages the fleetingly quick shareability on such apps as Snapchat, Periscope, and Meerkat, where posts and photos are visible for very limited amounts of time — sometimes only seconds. Why is that an advantage for marketing? In a “limited time only” sense, it increases brand awareness to increase excitement for a specific event, promotion, or service. For example, hotels can use it to encourage guests to share photos or videos of the hotel, which won’t become permanently incorporated into their online footprint. It can be used to offer a “now or never” marketing action — such as a discount or coupon for services available only within a short window of time. Ephemeral marketing plays to the desire of online consumers to absorb smaller, easier and more efficient forms of content.
Wearable “smart” technology, such as the Apple Watch, will be changing the marketing landscape, literally delivering promotions into the hands of the consumer. For instance, Disney has jumped on this “band” wagon by introducing MagicBands. The wristband interfaces with the company’s proprietary MyMagic+ system, through which guests can plan all aspects of their trip. The MagicBand not only acts as a room key, but also as a ticket for attractions, eliminating often lost keys and paper tickets. Guests must book directly through Disney to have access to this feature, giving Disney the ability to get more of its products and services in front of guests.
More Marketing Analytics
Market data is crucial in branding and attracting travelers to your hotel, and an increasing number of analytics tools will help to track both performance and engagement on digital and social media platforms. According to a CMO survey, expect a more than a 60 percent rise in marketing analytics expenditures to interpret and utilize the huge pool of information and content created online by consumers. With more analytics, your hotel’s marketing decisions will be led less by instinct and more by real data.
2016 is already proving that the future of hotel marketing is continuing to move a mile a minute. While some of these trends are still in their infancy (virtual reality, wearable technology, momentary marketing, and live video streaming), you can count the rest (marketing analytics, social media advertising, influencer marketing, and video marketing) as essential elements for your 2016 hotel marketing strategy. By 2017, we’ll see a new collection of game-changing trends. For now, keep thinking ahead and see how to incorporate these items into your marketing campaigns.