The Transformation of Hotel and Travel Media

By Lorraine Abelow Founder & President, Abelow PR | October 01, 2017

Due to the exponential growth of digital media, how we plan and book our vacations has changed dramatically over the past two decades. The environment is constantly evolving; with an increase in the use of mobile content being amongst the most recent advances. Travel Public Relations firms suc can help you to remain fully informed about this rapidly-changing landscape. Magazines, guidebooks and newspaper supplements were once seen as the ultimate authority on travel. But now the biggest touchstones also include online reviews, travel websites and blogs. Traditional travel print media took a beating due to the fractionation of the media but many managed to stay afloat by diversifying through online content and social media.

What Propelled Changes for Print Media?

Print brands were slow to adapt to changing media landscape and many at first struggled to figure out how to change their business model for the digital age. Despite the print brands having strong brand recognition and influence, free online content from TripAdvisor, Yelp forums, Expedia, YouTube et al sprung up as fierce competition, with real-time reviews competing against static print ones. However, traditional print media companies have come out the other side as Google's Domain Authorities.

The situation was first complicated by the dramatic drop in advertising sales revenue in the wake of the 2008 global economic crisis, which led to staff cutbacks and content being reduced, and this all in turn exacerbated the drop in circulation. So even the print brands which wanted to create a digital platform found their hands were tied due to budget cuts. Brands slashed their marketing budgets, readers curbed their spending on print media and travelers skipped their vacations.

Travel + Leisure dropped from 1,481.11 ad pages in 2008 to 967.48 in 2011, according to The Association of Magazine Media. Guidebooks were also hit by the economic downturn, with print sales falling by 50%. This led to Travel + Leisure and The New York Times aggressively creating online content which attracted large readerships and secured their places as Domain Authorities ranking on the first page of Google results. They key to survival seems to have been a combination of doubling up on quality content, and creating a diverse range of additional content online including videos and clickbait articles to attract a wider audience.

It's Not All Bad News: Success Stories

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.