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.



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Last month's feature articles...

Federico Pilurzu

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas strives to protect the environment and educate guests about its importance, all while providing world-class service in a paradisiacal setting. Travelers are getting savvier and are taking into consideration their carbon footprint while booking their vacation and even business trips. They are also thinking about the impact they have on the local community with over tourism becoming an important global issue. Cala Luna is proud to hold the highest Sustainable Tourism certification (level five) from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. Their sustainability efforts include solar energy, sustainably-farmed produce, bamboo straws, beach cleanups, and more. READ MORE

Dan Bornholdt

Sustainability is more than a buzz word; it is one of the most important issues currently facing our world. For hotels, it's doubly important because of its significant impact on the business' reputation and bottom line. This is why savvy hoteliers have turned their focus on making improvements to conserve energy and water. Sadly, towel & linen reuse programs have become so ubiquitous in hospitality that it has lost its meaning –or worse, it has gained a bad rap among clients don't understand them, see them as a marketing ploy or aren't informed enough about its underlying environmental cause. Do these programs really make a difference? Can they be done better? READ MORE

Ranjit Gunewardane

The most effective decisions regarding sustainability in a building facility are made in the early design and pre-construction stages. Traditional Computer Aided Design (CAD) planning environments, do not support the possibility of such early decisions. Energy and performance analysis are typically conducted, if at all, after the architectural design and construction documents have been produced. This lack of integration into the design process leads to an inefficient process of retroactively modifying the design to achieve a set of performance criteria. In order to assess building performance in the early design and pre-construction phases realistically, access to a comprehensive set of information regarding a building's form, materials, context, and technical systems is required. READ MORE

Taryn Tuss

Hotels that set ambitious sustainability goals must address unique infrastructure, operations, and purchasing challenges, often without a road map. Those that succeed find the effort is worthwhile, enjoying water, energy and cost savings, increases in corporate bookings, and higher staff morale. But to get there, staff report the need for technical training, access to local networks, and support systems for solving problems. Where to begin? In an interview with eco-certifier Green Seal, the Fairmont Chicago's Colleen Sweitzer offers a firsthand account from a property that has reaped significant business benefits from its sustainability achievements. READ MORE

Vicente Ferreyra Acosta

Thinking about the direct link between travel and environmental awareness can sometimes be a complex issue, given that there is little understanding of the impact of travel and the opportunities for tourists to leave a positive impact on destinations, although these opportunities are on the rise, they are minimal. This article explains a concrete and applicable example from the perspective of hospitality and how to travel sustainably, while generating environmental and social benefits. READ MORE

Nancy Loman Scanlon, Ph.D.

When I began this article on climate change resiliency practices it was not with the expectation of finishing it under a "stay in place" order with hotels and restaurants closed, parks and beaches cordoned off and overnight curfews. Today as I look out over a view of Miami Beach, all hotels are closed. In the downtown and airport areas of Miami some hotels are open, classed as essential. Tourism attractions are closed and six very large cruise ships are tied up to the docks in the Port of Miami. Whether land bound or floating, Miami's hotel and cruise industry has come to a halt with a huge question mark about when they may again open their doors and set sail. READ MORE

Jan Peter Bergkvist

We all know and feel deep down that living in harmony with nature is a better option than today's linear way of take – make – dispose in combination with our over consumption of yesterday's energy. Let's face it, the main barriers stopping us from going 100% sustainable are in our minds rather than in society as such. Steve Howard, former chief sustainability officer at IKEA said once that "100 percent sustainable is an easier goal than 80 percent or 50 percent, because once you set your mind to an ambitious goal, everyone gets on board and does what needs to be done." READ MORE

Matthew Lobach

According to a joint report published by the UN Environment Programme and the International Energy Agency, buildings and construction account for 39% of global energy-related emissions. Operationally, due to their setup of one day leases, hotels invite millions of people through their doors on an annual basis, and therefore have the opportunity to not only cater to guest needs in a sustainable way, but also align themselves with global strategies to engage and educate guests on how collective actions can pave the way for a sustainable, connected, and inclusive future. READ MORE

Steve Bowie

Technology affects every component of our daily lives, even as the executive of a hotel. From the front of house to the depths of the basement, there are opportunities to use technology to make improvements to your business, including one of the most overlooked areas: your hotel's laundry room and operations. There are three main ways the laundry game has changed: the invention of spray rinsing technology, optimum dryness level monitoring and cloud-based machine oversight. These features are changing the way hoteliers spend their time, manage their staff and generate increased revenue, both directly and indirectly. READ MORE

Marci Zaroff

Our responsibility in retail and hospitality is to extend the wellness lifestyle experience to guests in their home away from home. Offering a comfortable sanctuary to a variety of individuals with different expectations is no easy feat. There is, however, one key ingredient that is universal: a GOOD sleep. As hospitality providers, we have evaluated the appearance of everything that might impact a deep night's rest: blackout curtains, soundproof doors and plush bedding. Now, it's time to go beyond the surface to offer a truly healthy, holistic and restorative sleep experience-that's GOOD on every level. READ MORE

Amanda Hurley

Fortunately for the planet, the argument on whether or not hotels should "go green" is over. Now more than ever are hotels embracing environment conservation strategies. Aside from the typical linen reuse programs and energy efficient building features, hotels should look to embrace consumer trends in terms of food and beverage offerings that have a lower environmental impact. In this article, Amanda Hurley CHDM, Corporate Director of Marketing for broughtonHOTELS, explores the idea of hotel restaurants and F&B outlets offering plant-based menus and menu options in order to reduce their environmental impact, increase revenue, and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. READ MORE

Theresa van Greunen

The importance of sustainability is an ongoing global conversation, and increasingly, consumers want to do business with companies focused on how to limit their environmental impact. This is especially true for the tourism industry. According to Booking.com's Sustainability Travel Report, travelers have a growing interest in experiencing authentic local experiences and 56 percent of travelers are seeking environmentally-friendly hotels with amenities that can offset their vacation carbon footprints. Now more than ever, it's time for industry experts to make sustainability a focal point and act on this growing consumer need for eco-friendly options by engaging with the community and creating opportunities for guests to make responsible travel decisions. READ MORE

Federico Pilurzu

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas strives to protect the environment and educate guests about its importance, all while providing world-class service in a paradisiacal setting. Travelers are getting savvier and are taking into consideration their carbon footprint while booking their vacation and even business trips. They are also thinking about the impact they have on the local community with over tourism becoming an important global issue. Cala Luna is proud to hold the highest Sustainable Tourism certification (level five) from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. Their sustainability efforts include solar energy, sustainably-farmed produce, bamboo straws, beach cleanups, and more. READ MORE

Glenn Hasek

As national and state governments propose and pass legislation eliminating single-use plastics from the waste stream, the global lodging industry, at the property, company or organization level, is taking its own action. Earlier this year, The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative was formed and within the past year companies as large as Marriott, IHG, Accor and others have established policies around plastics ranging from straws to amenity bottles. What is clear is that consumers, as well as hoteliers, are growing tired of the problems associated with plastic-everything from tarnished reputations to ill health to tinier bottom lines. READ MORE

Sandy Murphy

At The Beverly Hilton, 2020 brings many reasons to celebrate. This year, the ionic hotel marks its 65th anniversary and remembers its storied past while remaining a sought-after destination that combines the glamour of Hollywood with prestige of Beverly Hills. Continuously re-imagining itself, The Beverly Hilton will also unveil a top-to-bottom $35 million renovation, which includes updates to our guestrooms, common spaces, CIRCA 55 restaurant and our legendary suites. As we embark on this new chapter, we continue to look at creative ways to reduce our environmental footprint, increase our social impact and create a better world to travel for generations to come, in alignment with Hilton's Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals. READ MORE

Joe Ogdie

Ideally situated minutes from Park City, The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, opened June 2019, is a 3,500-acre ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range that invites travelers to leave the cares of the modern world behind and reconnect with nature through unmatched outdoor experiences offered on property year-round, from fly fishing on miles of private waters and mountain biking to shooting an 18-stand sporting clay course and horseback riding. Embodying a relaxed Western lifestyle – guests won't need to leave the resort to find adventure and learn to connect with the land. READ MORE

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.