Hotel Flash Sales: Engagement At Any Cost?

By Ann Manion President, Hotel Advantage | August 28, 2011

Recently, the following message appeared on my Tweetdeck:

  • @HOTELADVANTAGE REGARDING GOOGLE OFFERS: SHOULD HOTELIERS HOP ON, OR DOES IT AFFECT INTEGRITY?

This led me to examine how online companies are using hotel guests' collective buying power to lure them into a new era in online booking.

The Daily Deals Landscape

The four companies that lead in online couponing are Groupon, Living Social, Facebook Deals and Google Offers. Each started out catering mainly to small businesses, feeding consumers a heavy diet of discount massages, half-price Pilates classes and sushi on the cheap. Soon after, small inns and B&B's jumped on board to gain instant exposure and put their property on the map.

Things continue to ramp up, and hotel guests are being influenced by marketing campaigns that tell them to bid bon voyage to full fare rates and grab hotel deals in real time.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.