Why the Old Rules of Hospitality Marketing Don't Work
New media and customer-centric marketing are the name of the game now
By Chris Proulx Chief Executive Officer, eCornell | November 18, 2012
For both business and pleasure, the way to get travel booked for the right price used to be through a flesh-and-blood travel agent. And nearly all transactions were conducted either in person or over the phone(!). Marketing for hospitality was, in hindsight and comparatively, a pretty straightforward endeavor.
And we all saw the effect the Internet had on our industry. It upended and changed nearly every aspect of marketing for leisure and corporate travel. New distribution channels began to emerge and online reservations make booking travel began to feel as if it was happening at the speed of light. This was technically accurate, given that fiber-optic cables were now driving the networks. Innovation in the travel industry took off.
In many ways, the Internet initially had a disaggregating effect. Travel services became segmented and the in-person agent quickly became a thing of the past. But in its place we saw the virtual travel agent, one-stop-shopping model take off in the form of sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak and variants on their model. Prices became variable, algorithmic and better targeted to the consumer. This was the beginning of a new era, where the customer felt emboldened by choice and the number of travel sites jockeying for their attention with amazing deals.
But what has had perhaps the most lasting and transformative effect is how consumer-driven the hospitality industry eventually became. Make no mistake about it--the customer is now in the driver's seat. The marketer can now observe the online behaviors of customers in order to make the right deal at the right time and at the right price.
But any approach in this consumer-driven market needs to be structured, with a well thought-out architecture and proper allocation of resources. Without a smart framework and a business strategy, simply diving into social media because it's hot will certainly lead to failure.
Navigating the murky waters of hospitality marketing be daunting, but one thing is certain: The old rules of hospitality marketing simply do not apply anymore. Marketing for today's consumer-driven hospitality market takes place entirely online, and almost entirely in the new social media sphere.
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