Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.

Library Archives

Nick Ovanessoff

Today’s hotel industry is rapidly evolving to meet the needs of a digitized society. These efforts require mobile and global marketing strategies to reach customers at an unprecedented rate. Social media has become the go-to tool to foster visual communication and engagement with target audiences, and marketers can use social media to deliver digestible, consistent, and influential content to potential travelers looking for “Insta-worthy” accommodations. From working with influencers, highlighting service features, and understanding diverse markets, social media gives hotels a platform to distinguish their brand and expand their customer base faster than ever before. READ MORE

Allison Handy

When I speak with my industry peers, asset managers and owners lately, they tell me that the number one thing keeping them up at night is the increasing cost of customer acquisition. To appreciate why that concern appears to be not just prevalent, but justified, we first need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture about what is currently taking place in the hotel industry. Understanding why rising acquisition costs are an issue—and appreciating some of the complexities involved in the strategic and perspective shifts that will likely be required to effectively address that issue¬—is essential for hotel professionals who want to continue to thrive in an evolving industry. READ MORE

Kevin McAteer

Digital marketing execution is a major contributor to a successful hotel opening and requires engaging specific tactics and strategies as early as when the first shovel hits the dirt. Concord Hospitality’s pre-opening digital strategy, themed “From Shovel to Shoot” by associates, emphasizes a digital marketing pre-opening checklist that begins when the first shovel is put in the ground and continues through opening day when the first official photo shoot occurs. This is a key driver in any hotel revenue generation game plan and will maximize future successes and early returns for all investors. READ MORE

Akshay Ramanathan

While the distribution reach of OTAs is extensive, their effectiveness and value are increasingly questionable. Hotels are provided assurances that their products will reach an end consumer, but this comes at a hefty cost. Technology provides an avenue to dramatically lower that cost of customer acquisition, and hotels must realize that there are more options available to help them to take ownership of and maintain control over their guests' experience. Developing and maintaining an effective technology stack plays a critical role in that process. The “tech stack” refers to the myriad of hardware and software that work together to manage various aspects of the hotel business. READ MORE

Janelle Schwartz

Now that online guest reviews are an established feature of both and OTA booking sites – led by TripAdvisor, Google and Expedia – successful hoteliers are taking a more strategic approach to guest opinions. They understand that crafting appropriate responses to reviews is a high-level responsibility that should not be automated or delegated to junior staff members without proper guidance. These hoteliers subscribe to the opinion that standard responses should be banished. READ MORE

R.J. Friedlander

Online reputation has a direct effect on hotel bookings and revenue. Many hoteliers have discovered that promptly responding to reviews has a positive impact on a hotel’s online reputation. Online guest reviews cannot be modified or changed once they are written, nevertheless, responding to them is still very important and impacts the perception of your brand and ultimately reservations. This article will look at how to create an effective response strategy, so you can leverage the power of reviews and boost your conversion rates. We will also provide insight into the approach taken by two well-known hotel brands when responding to reviews. READ MORE

Michael Markarians

The hospitality industry is changing in ways we never saw coming. Thanks to Millennials who don't travel like their predecessors coupled with growing competition from disruptors in the sharing economy, all players in the travel arena need to up their game with new concepts and innovation in order to not just stay relevant, but profitable, too. Hotel sales departments need to completely change the way they've done business previously in order to have success selling to this new generation of traveler. Technology and experiences are key, but we also can't risk losing sight of compassion and creating relationships. READ MORE

Mary Gendron

Embedded in the travel-buying decision making process is consideration of online reviews. Led by the mother of all travel review sites - TripAdvisor - these resources provide a platform for individuals to post direct comments about their experiences in specific hotels and resorts. Smart owners and operators are embracing the major review sites, gleaning information that gives them an understanding of the guest experience - good, bad or indifferent - and serves as a barometer for answering the question: “How are we doing?” This article provides an overview of the main review sites and their influence, offering recommendations for responding to reviews. READ MORE

Susan Tinnish

Artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced to make it viable in businesses applications due to computing power, availability of data and underlying technologies (digitization, analytics, big data, deep learning). While AI is currently present in the hotel industry, applications are often focused on customer experience leaving opportunity for the industry to employ AI in central business processes like revenue management and demand forecasting. This article examines AI efforts in sales across industries to see where the hotel industry can adopt, and summarizes approaches for the hotel industry to prepare to integrate AI into sales functions. READ MORE

Jennifer Nagy

More Visibility = More Sales. It's really that simple. This simple principle is why PR is the best way to affect real change in your current sales conversion rate; it is a marketing tool that is designed specifically to increase awareness of your company in the hotel industry. It gets you in front of the people who might, one day soon, be your first customer (or your 500th!). This article will provide you with the ONLY two marketing tactics that start-ups need to boost sales of their tech solution to hotels today! READ MORE

Brenda Sandoval Valdes

Before, luxury hotels were defined in a simple rating system consisting of one to five stars. As today's consumer and the technology that consumer uses evolves, so too does the very definition of “luxury.” According to a report published by Skift Trends and the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), the upscale travel sector is experiencing challenges to offer high-end customers the ever- growing facets that comprise of a luxury travel experience. The most challenging aspect of marketing a luxury travel experience is that every consumer has a different definition of what luxury really means. READ MORE

Shawna Suckow

Do you feel the undercurrent of change that's taking place in our industry? While it may be a seller's market and things are robust right now, buyers are changing how they connect, and how they buy - and making prospecting much more difficult than ever before. It may not seem like a big deal now, when the market is at record highs. But when the tide turns - and it always does - back to a buyer's market, will you be prepared for the new age of buyer behavior? READ MORE

Sherry Heyl

Recent studies show that brands using automation software have seen 80% growth in lead generation and 77% increase in conversion. The numbers suggest that automation software is great for the bottom line, but is it a great experience for your guests? Good automation should make your more effective. It will free up some time while not compromising the authenticity of your engagement. Take the time needed to be spent tracking the interactions and results of automated engagements, improving results and optimizing the opportunities for the personal touch. READ MORE

Jay Hartz

As Baby Boomers retire, Millennials are moving into key positions in the workplace involving business travel. So how do you attract and retain their attention? Artificial Intelligence is one technology being deployed to target this generation of tech-savvy managers who essentially had tablets or smart phones in their crib. From augmented reality and voice search (think Amazon's “Alexa”) to chatbots, the ability to provide instantaneous responses leveraging continually evolving technology is going to be one of the key ways the hospitality industry stays current with a generation who breaks the mold when it comes to consumption of pretty much everything. READ MORE

Mark Ricketts

Hospitality sales and marketing requires much more than a sharp website or attractive brochure, as valuable as those items are. Through embracing a comprehensive approach to sales and marketing, hospitality organizations can identify and build new user groups, while differentiating oneself from the competition. These initiatives include forging relationships with local business, nonprofit and charitable groups, as well as public service departments; and encouraging and supporting the volunteer work of staff members. These efforts can help drive occupancy and revenues and enhance brand awareness. READ MORE

Jeff Doane

As the pace of daily life has sped up to a breakneck speed, some of the subtleties have been lost in the name of heightened efficiency. However, in the case of how most hotels go to market, it is possible that this has led to a decrease in effectiveness. As media overwhelms the average consumer, the ability to stand-out may reside in the lost art of storytelling. In today's landscape the skill of weaving a compelling storyline into the content we create will likely be the difference in whether or not a message is both seen and heard. READ MORE

Coming up in August 2019...

Food & Beverage: Millennial Chefs Lead the Way

Led by Millennial chefs, hotels continue to foster sustainability, sourcing and wellness within their dining rooms and banquet spaces, and by all measures, this is responsible for an increase in their revenues. In many hotels, the food & beverage division contributes 50 per cent or more to hotel sales and they are currently experiencing double-digit growth. As a result, hotel owners are allocating an increasing amount of square footage for F&B operations. The biggest area of investment is in catering, which is thriving due to weddings, social events and business conferences. Hotels are also investing in on-site market or convenience stores that offer fresh/refrigerated foods, and buffet concepts also continue to expand. Other popular food trends include a rise of fermented offerings such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and pickles - all to produce the least processed food possible, and to boost probiotics to improve the immune system. Tea is also enjoying something of a renaissance. More people are thinking of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits. Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails are beginning to appear on some hotel menus. Another trend concerns creating a unique, individualized and memorable experience for guests. This could be a small consumable item that is specific to a property or event, such as house-made snack mixes, gourmet popcorn, macaroons, or jars of house-made jams, chutneys, and mustards -all produced and customized in house. One staple that is in decline is the in-room minibar which seems to have fallen out of favor. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will document the trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and report on what some leading hotels are doing to enhance this area of their business.