HOTEL BUSINESS REVIEW

June FOCUS: Sales & Marketing

 
June, 2020

Sales & Marketing: Technology Rules

It is impossible for any hotel to develop an effective sales and marketing plan that doesn't include a wide-ranging digital strategy. Online platforms have impacted virtually every aspect of their business, due to major changes in how Internet users research, plan, and book their hotel visits. As a result, a successful plan includes generating traffic through the use of a hotel website, social media, email and a myriad of other digital marketing technologies. One such strategy uses data collection and automation technology to create personalized content to individual customers. The goal of personalization marketing is to engage potential customers by communicating with them as individuals - to establish a more personal relationship - as a way of encouraging them to visit a property. Video marketing is also extremely important. Showing someone authentic video from a specific location is immersive and engaging, and video is still the preferred way for customers to interact with a hotel brand. Voice and Visual Search are increasingly in demand, as consumers are moving away from typing queries into a search engine. Instead, they can simply speak their request into their phone, and find and book a hotel without ever typing a word. Similarly, other platforms allow consumers to search visually for almost any image, and find out pricing information, shopping comparisons and how-to-buy - all from the app. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence is also becoming popular. The ability of chatbots to answer simple questions or fulfill requests 24/7 is undeniably appealing. In addition, A.I. seems best positioned to qualify leads that can be later nurtured and closed by a human sales expert - all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional support team. The June Hotel Business Review will examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating these innovative technologies into their operations.



This month's feature articles...

Jessica Kaiser

While our nation's lockdown is loosening, we still won't see a 100% return to business as usual for some time. So your content marketing strategy shouldn't act like it has. According to Jessica Kaiser, CEO of leading hotel marketing agency Hawthorn Creative, if you're a hotel or resort that has recently re-opened or is in preparation to do so in the near future, here are the ways to best use your content (blog posts, email campaigns, and social media) to not just encourage bookings but to ease your guests' concerns and get them excited about future travel to your destination. READ MORE

Allison Handy

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality sector like a sledgehammer. As hotels around the country prepare for reopening, however, it's incumbent upon hotel owners and operators to demonstrate that they have not only absorbed the blow, but also the hard-but-necessary lessons about what it will take to flourish in a post-quarantine world. The good news is that leading hotel management companies have been doing just that, pivoting to new approaches and integrating new operational realities. While the operational modifications safeguarding guest and employee health are likely to be the most visible evidence of that adaptive flexibility, it is behind the scenes in sales and marketing where there is potential for truly transformative change. READ MORE

Jeffrey Hirsch

Industry insiders across a range of businesses, including hotels, all seem to have the same rosy view of the future. "Working together, the (your category here) industry will come back stronger than ever." If it were only so. The corporate world has discovered that working from home and conducting meetings on Zoom, while not ideal, work just fine. Moreover, the trade-off of keeping people healthy (now) and saving significant sums on travel (now and in the future), will almost certainly offset any perceived advantages of in-person meetings. This article lays out the grim prognosis while offering recommendations for a new vision of the industry. READ MORE

Florence Quinn

Now that states have begun to lift stay-at-home orders, people are venturing out. For hoteliers to secure their business, it's important to first understand who is traveling, where they are going and what's important to them. Armed with this information, hoteliers can then craft messaging, programs and offers that cater to consumers' level of comfort, interests and desires. To recoup lost revenue and jump start the comeback, it's important that hotels get in front of American travelers to capture their attention and dollars. To start the creative gears churning, here are eight ways to increase buzz, connect with travelers and increase bookings. READ MORE

Michelle Anseeuw

It is a new era for Sales & Marketing in the Hospitality industry. Uncertain future demand, new customer demographics, reduced base business, new venue restrictions and many similar factors are likely to impact how Sales & Marketing teams perform business during these times. It is imperative to consider all tactics and strategies that will deliver optimum results, as well as pushing them into fruition in order to redefine success. Old methods and customary approaches must be reimagined, and teams must be resilient in order to reinvent themselves and their hotels in order to gain a larger share of the smaller market. READ MORE

Brenda Fields

During this pandemic and for many years to come, there will be significant analysis on lessons learned. And there will be innovations and new ways of thinking and doing business. The thoughtful hotelier has already determined that life is irreversibly altered and our understanding of hotels has forever changed. Deloitte Consulting has provided a leadership framework that breaks down this process: Respond. Recover. Thrive. It is how that process is managed that is the key. And one can argue that, at the heart, is marketing. READ MORE

Lucille Yokell

In preparing for this story I spoke with sales and operations people including general managers from the hotel side – small and large. Some are privately owned and flagged, some are independently owned and operated, some have management companies and others are part of the larger branded organizations. I spoke with customers – those with corporate travel programs, those who book individual travel, those who organize corporate meetings and events and those who contract with hotels to then resell the rooms to the public either directly or through another company. I also spoke to guests. And one thing we can all agree on is that some big changes are coming… READ MORE

Jamie Sigler O'Grady

Over the last few years, travel and hospitality were at an all-time high, and the industry's biggest concern was the over-tourism of some of the world's most beautiful destinations. Fast forward to the COVID-19 global health pandemic, which has forced us to reevaluate the ways in which we think about, talk about and approach travel, resulting in a redesigned hotel sales and marketing landscape. In this article, Jamie Sigler O'Grady, founding partner of top hospitality PR firm J Public Relations shares her insights on how hotels must set aside everything we once knew about marketing and communications to best predict where we will go as we navigate these unprecedented times. READ MORE

Stephanie Smith

Along with many other budgets, marketing budgets for 2020 have been drastically cut to make up for a lack of revenue due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions. If you find yourself struggling to research marketing trends and evaluating your website performance, there are a lot of useful and free digital marketing tools available. In this article, Stephanie Smith from Cogwheel Marketing outlines TEN marketing resources that hotels can start using right now and will not cost a dime. These free marketing tools analyze your website performance, provide trend data and ways to analyze what the competition is doing. READ MORE

Clifford Ferrara

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. Forward-thinking hotel owners and operators have moved past the initial urgent priorities of the early days and weeks of the shutdown to begin addressing planning and preparation for what's next. That planning includes not just operational changes, but fundamental shifts impacting every part of the sales process, from staffing to staying connected with guests. Smart hotel management professionals are sharpening messaging to address evolving guest priorities, becoming more flexible, more creative, and finding new ways to add value, as you will read in this article by Chesapeake Hospitality's Clifford Ferrara. READ MORE

Greg Berman

In an increasingly competitive industry with new emerging hospitality brands and OTAs, hotel brands are embracing the concept of total distribution to capture more bookings, differentiate their brands, and provide personalized guest experiences. With the increase of global tourism and tech savvy travelers, hotels have introduced more and more mobile innovations, but have yet to fully encapsulate the benefits that total distribution provides. The industry has developed beyond simply distributing hotel availability, rates, and inventory and into amenities, add-one and ancillary products to create customized experiences for the modern and experienced traveler. READ MORE

Marie Profant

In support of the travel industry recovery, a Santa Barbara based company is offering strategic solutions for hotels seeking new ways to both increase hotel sales and offer new value for hesitant visitors. These techniques could influence success for a range of departments, from F&B to Convention Sales to Front Desk and online booking. Embedding virtual products within hospitality functions is a timely way for hotels to promote their property, encourage direct bookings, upsell appetizers, and keep the kids entertained. Since hotel managers have extreme reopening challenges, these strategies involve hands-free implementation based on technology, however they are bound by the premise that destinations stories are the "comfort food" of hotel marketing. READ MORE

Marissa Criaris

Sales and marketing as we knew it changed radically with the advent of COVID-19. Suddenly tried-and-true tactics were no longer feasible. Sales meetings, trade shows, lunches, and customer events just weren't possible. Those of us involved in sales and marketing in the hospitality and service industries had to rethink not just our tactics, but our messaging as well because trying to hard sell in a #ShelterInPlace environment would set a negative tone for your brand. Digital technologies like Zoom became more popular than ever as we reinvented and innovated how we could maintain connections with our customers in both the short and long term. READ MORE

Martin Stoll

The hospitality industry is facing an uphill battle to convince consumers to travel this summer. Understanding how COVID-19 has changed consumers' thoughts about traveling and staying in hotels is critical to developing relevant campaigns that drive short-term bookings. Analyzing social media sentiment is an effective way to gain insights that can be used to create hyper-targeted campaigns that minimize the risk of backlash against brands that are promoting travel as restrictions are lifted. READ MORE

David Allison

As we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic that has disrupted economies to an extent not seen before, consumers will need to coaxed back into the market, and public support must be focused where it is needed the most. This article outlines exactly what needs to be said to motivate the most people, based on a global dataset of what consumers want to hear. The statistically accurate identification of shared values for industry supporters, and those that can be influenced most easily to help, are useful not only for sector-wide initiatives, but for individual operators too. READ MORE

Janet  Gerhard

The hospitality industry has always been subject to external threats. The depth of this shake-up is hard to comprehend, and many experts are predicting a recovery to be years in the making. In some instances, it includes re-evaluating or abandoning your existing brand identity. With the uncertainty of group travel, luxury big box hotels must attract new customers. And while those properties with smaller footprints feel safer, some won't survive. The winners and losers are far from being determined but how you show up matters. Marketing in the age of Covid-19 means planning for the comeback and positioning your hotel to shape the new normal. Short-term that means reassuring the public of the cleanliness and safety of your hotel and taking this opportunity to own your brand voice. READ MORE

Matthew Babiarz

Hotel operators are facing an unprecedented challenge. How should marketers approach this period before and after operations have slowed or ceased, and stay-at-home orders are in place? Are there opportunities? Are there any positive indicators as to what can be expected when things return to normal? In this article, we demystify the impact of the pandemic crisis, examining the macro-factors and the analyzing the effect on search and social media channels. We also share how hotel marketers can prepare for the rebound, providing inspiration from the top-performing hotel brands and best-practice tactics for maximizing recovery and return on marketing investments. READ MORE

Janelle Schwartz

Artificial intelligence undoubtedly is the wave of the future, powered by recent dramatic advances in computer capabilities. Millennials and Generation Z consumers have eagerly embraced the new technology in the sales and marketing of hotels, while members of earlier generations may be less enthusiastic, preferring a more traditional, face-to-face, hands-on approach. When it comes to such advances in A.I. as chatbots, personal guest histories and robotic concierges, is there a way to bridge this ambivalence that works for every segment of the traveling public? READ MORE

Matt Bitzer

For most hoteliers, the hotel website is the hub of their digital marketing machine. It is the crucial last point of contact the hotel has with its guest before a booking is made...or lost. Building a fast, modern, user-friendly website and then marketing that website using appropriate digital marketing channels are important first steps in driving qualified visitors to the site and encouraging direct bookings. But there is still more to do to fully optimize the site: By providing a more customized viewing experience for website visitors, dynamic content and personalization can significantly improve conversion rates and lower customer acquisition costs for hotels. READ MORE

Steven Ferry

PART II. Last week, we looked at how the official response to the pandemic morphed from great concern about the danger; to numbness at the economic devastation (the UN World Tourism Organization estimated earnings down 80% on 2019 and the loss of 120 million jobs); to increasing rejection of the absurd. This week in Part 2 we review how a draconian censorship of the medical community is being enforced not just in China, as one might expect, but also in the Western world; we examine the information that has been hidden so enthusiastically from you, and finally explain why almost every action taken by authorities has been at variance with impartial science and common sense. READ MORE

Mandeep S.  Lamba, MRICS

While the extent of global financial distress is still uncertain on account of its enormity and the virus being nowhere near control, what is certain is that the world will soon be grappling with several changes of a permanent nature that will become the "new normal." These will be in the form of products, services, and the several life choices we make in our everyday life as we gradually, over time, put the memory of this pandemic behind us and move on. Here are some trends and changes that will likely be seen in hotels across the world. READ MORE

David Ashen

Creating a hotel brand that resonates means far more than designing an eye-catching logo and putting together a style guide. A brand should evoke a feeling, according to David Ashen, president & CEO of interior design and brand consulting firm dash design. In this article, he explores how hotels can imagine a dynamic environment and a service culture that, alongside sharp design, creates magic that few brands have yet to fully tap. Most of all, Ashen implores hoteliers to define if they are a head, heart or gut brand and to bravely lead from that revelation. READ MORE

Lucheng Wang

As the exponential growth of the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked worldwide havoc and forever altered life as we know it, the food and beverage industry has nearly been decimated over the past three months. Ongoing efforts by the entire food and beverage industry, as well as local, state, and national governmental agencies have been successful at mitigating the devastating effects of this virus. While the overall impact has still yet to be determined, it is abundantly clear that we all have a role in defeating this common enemy and that valid and reliable data needs to be made available for future research and analysis. READ MORE

Steven Ferry

PART I. Do you personally accept the "New Normal" for the hospitality industry and society as a whole - which is based on the premise that Covid-19 is a singularly dangerous threat that requires a complete change in our lives, when (as it turns out) it is actually on a par with the common flu and (as it turns out) every other incorrectly declared pandemic? Or do you want to understand what has happened and do whatever is in your power, big or small, to return to the old, fun and life-filled normal that has been snatched from us? READ MORE

James Downey

The hotel industry was hit hard by the COVID virus earlier on in 2020 and may be the last to completely recover. Cancellations have outpaced bookings by a 3 to 1 margin at third-party reservation websites and recovering lost revenue will be a serious hardship hotel companies may not be able to withstand. In the face of this monumental and unprecedented medical malaise, only those lodging companies that can adapt and adopt to providing guest-conscious safety and prevention measures will be the ones to see a light at the end of the tunnel so as to stave off catastrophic losses and/or bankruptcy. READ MORE

Jared Meyers

COVID-19 has truly exposed weaknesses in the foundation upon which our social and economic systems depend. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) recently reported that since the US public health issue began escalating in mid-February, hotels have already lost more than $21 billion in room revenue. As a purpose-driven hospitality company, Legacy Vacation Resorts knew they had to navigate the crisis with the utmost care for people and the planet while maintaining a values-aligned approach to business. Their commitment to employees, customers, the environment and local communities guided each decision made as well as the development of new programs to best benefit all those impacted. READ MORE

Larry Spelts

Team members who work the hardest and often are paid the least are our room attendants. While there are opportunities for them to supplement their incomes with tips, these industrious individuals more often than not leave rooms empty handed. Even though there's a well-accepted method of calculating tips for servers across the U.S., hotel guests are either unclear on what an appropriate tip for a room attendant should be or simply unaware that it's customary to tip room attendants. With that being said, should hoteliers educate their guests on proper tipping etiquette to increase the likelihood of guests tipping room attendants? READ MORE

Philia Tounta

A tourism crisis occurs when circumstances in a destination pose a change which is potentially destructive to the destination and to its tourism industry. Destinations can exploit the window of opportunities linking destination branding to their crisis management strategies. Branding is an essential tool for positioning the destination, and in order to be effective, a need to re-study the destination marketing strategy is crucial. For the firm execution of place branding is essential to examine and map culture, customs, characteristics and every feature required that can benefit place image. Preferably, a place branding project intends to build an overall perceived image, apart from priorities in mission when it comes to targeting tourism, investments, etc. READ MORE

Travis Crabtree

At the beginning of 2020, the accommodations industry had been experiencing steady growth for a couple of years. However, with the introduction of COVID-19 there has been a very clear slowdown. Some hotels have been forced to cease operation while others have cut down significantly on staff. Whatever the case may be, there are still a few things those in the industry can be doing. Hotels can take cues from those who survived the 2008 recession, take time to create a response plan in the event this happens in the future and plenty more. This article will provide tips about what you can be doing now in the face of COVID-19. READ MORE

John Tess

Traditionally, downtowns have served as the commercial and entertainment centers of the city. Between the shops and restaurants, the local hotels provided a space for people to socialize and recline. In the present, the historic hotels of the traditional downtown have continued the legacy of providing a social space for locals and tourists alike. The modern parallel includes offering event spaces for parties and weddings. The Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York, one of the last surviving examples of the typical Saratoga Springs hotel from the resort town's zenith in the late-19th century, is an example. READ MORE

Christine Samsel

Christine Samsel, a shareholder, and Jesse Sutz, an associate with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, provide "tools of the trade" to assist employers in crafting legally compliant business expense reimbursement policies. While many states have no specific requirements and default to federal law standards, the article outlines the more stringent requirements in various states including California, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts. The article dives into remote work considerations, especially now with the COVID-19 epidemic and how employers must pay particular attention to expense reimbursement requirements for remote workers. The article also discusses risk for employers and tips to avoid liability. Read more… READ MORE

Euan McGlashan

The reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has arguably been the most radical, vicious and unprecedented in history – we are currently in the worst economic slump since WWII. This is not just a financial crisis, it's a global crisis. Though it our industry has been forced to press pause, savvy hoteliers understand that how we react today will shape long-term guest loyalty, while creating unique opportunities for growth during a period of economic decline. Though we've never experienced anything like this, we must all stay positive. Now is the time to identify and resolve pain points to prevail, in wake of COVID-19. READ MORE

Brenda Fields

In navigating an unprecedented and epochal global crisis, each country, city, county, and province has had its own unique challenges and afflictions as well as experiencing common hardships with other countries and nations. Approaches varied. Some worked. Some didn't. But with them all, there was a steep learning curve that, at this writing, has not even come close to plateauing. In observing what was effective, it became apparent that leadership was the core component in how a country or a nation fared. This article will address some lessons learned about leadership at the onset of this global crisis. READ MORE

Janet Wright

After the COVID-19 crisis, consumers will likely be eager to get away and book a week's vacation at a resort property. For many, this could also mean scheduling at least a few days' worth of childcare during their stay. Many resorts offer activities and lessons for children, day camps, babysitting services and more. These offerings are appealing to hotel guests, but what happens if something goes wrong? In this article, we offer tips on how to design and maintain child-safe programs in a post-COVID-19 environment, common risks hotels must consider, and ways to protect the hotel should an incident occur. READ MORE

Ford Blakely

COVID-19 has impacted every area of business operations, but few have been as affected as communication. Experiencing spikes in incoming requests from anxious customers, even hotels that have had to close their doors temporarily have had to make dramatic changes to their communication strategies. Everything about guest communication has changed overnight. From the conversations brands are having with guests to the resources facilitating these conversations, and most notably the very impact that real-time communications, or the lack thereof, has on an organization's success. It's fair to say that real-time communication has gone from a competitive advantage to a survival strategy. READ MORE

Scott  Lee

The rise of coronavirus has reset our rhythm as humans, and in slowing down and sheltering in place, we have had time to notice natural features in our surroundings and get back to basics. Social distancing may seem at odds with hospitality, but hotels can learn from the mindful and wellness-oriented activities people are using to ground and reset, from gardening and taking walks, to home cooking and baking, artistic pursuits and wholesome family activities. How might designers shape the 21st guest experience with spaces that nurture guests' inner worlds and push them past comfort zones, reaching deeper into nature? READ MORE

Scott  Watson

Hoteliers need to be equipped with the most up-to-date and cost-effective business solutions available. Finding the right technology partner can be like finding a needle in a haystack, so it's important that hoteliers come equipped to get the most of out of their investments. Especially for management companies balancing numerous properties, switching to an outsourced business model can make all the difference. For hoteliers looking to cut-costs and streamline their portfolios back-office operations, outsourcing hotel accounting can help tighten up loose ends and improve your management company's financial health. With so many technology solutions available, it's important to know your options and how they can best help your company. READ MORE

Kristi  Dickinson

Selecting a skincare line is one of the most important strategic decisions you can make for your spa, as this long-term partnership carries a significant investment of time and financial resources. Failure to choose wisely can impact your brand, alienate clientele, and damage the trust of your staff. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the Personal Care, Beauty, and Anti-aging Industry is valued at $1,083B and growing. With more skincare lines introduced every day, there is a massive increase in marketing noise and false claims. This article will help you narrow down your options and find the best choice for your spa. READ MORE

Coming up in November 2021...

Architecture & Design: Wellness is Key


Like every other facet of hotel operations, architecture and design firms are adapting their work to ensure the safety and well-being of both guests and staff. New ways to bring Wellness into hotel spaces are being explored and these solutions are taking on many forms. Hotel designs are incorporating more open floor plans, open air spaces, high ceilings, outdoor areas and operable walls into their spaces. Guests no longer want to be packed into tight areas. More "biophilic" elements are also being incorporated, offering guests the sense of being outdoors. Another trend is the reimagining of guest rooms to support remote work capabilities. Some hotels are converting empty guest rooms into office spaces, complete with effective lighting and suitable backgrounds for video conferencing. Dedicated Zoom Rooms are also becoming increasingly popular. The main goal is to provide guests with a positive experience in a space that feels safe and comfortable. These are some of the architecture and design subjects that will be covered in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.