Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

What digital marketing tools (e.g., software, platforms, etc.) will be essential for hotels in 2022?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Adele Gutman
Adele GutmanCulture and Guest Experience Expert, Hospitality Reputation Marketing Podcast

“Because I have spent the last 20 years in a role that integrated and aligned Sales, Marketing, Revenue and Guest Experience/Reputation, I realize that what I consider a “digital marketing tool” may be controversial for some strictly marketing or strictly-revenue professionals, but hear me out.

If you are not earnestly working every day to increase true loyalty as represented by your Net Promoter Score (NPS), your marketing, sales, and revenue management results are being held back from their fullest ROI.

Decision-makers are going to look at your reviews and the more 5-Star reviews you have and the fewer 3s, 2s, and 1s you have, the better your conversions, your retention, and your brand’s perceived value will be. The key to any great relationship is Communication. Therefore, the tools you need to have and implement well are those that will promote excellence in communication. In addition to all the tools that every hotel should already have, like CRMs, guest engagement messaging, and apps to help elevate rapid service and reduce friction, here are some tools you should consider adding:

  1. A desk-free employee communication tool: this allows for all employees to access current information, best practices, inspiration, vision, and goals from the leadership, plus enables them to share successes and challenges both laterally and to decision-makers. This promotes a culture of caring, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Nudge and BeeKeeper would be two examples of this technology that every hotel should add to their tech stack.
  2. A reservation CoBot: there is nothing in hospitality that makes my heart sink faster than being transferred to a corporate office reservation center. Give your in-house reservations team the assistance they need in getting all the options and calculations done for them by an AI bot, so that they can quickly focus on personalized, gracious hospitality only. Look at AskSuite or HotelResBot as examples.
  3. Track your numbers and collaborate with your team for solutions: yes, you can track your scores by yourself, but Reputation Tracking tools are so affordable now and efficiency is key, so why not help your team track feedback and improvements when there is so much revenue riding on those scores? More than just the numbers, most tools will offer a way to communicate and collaborate with you on finding the root cause of issues and fixing them so they won’t recur. When your NPS rises, so will your profitability.”

Luminata Mardale
Luminata MardaleDirector of Marketing and Business Development, Vienna House

“Marketing teams and agencies use many different types of marketing software, from marketing analytics tools to SEO dashboards, asset managers, landing page builders, marketing automation tools, and many others.

Pardot (B2B marketing automation by Salesforce) offers a marketing automation solution that supports the needs of B2B organizations with features such as streamlined lead management, email marketing, robust ROI reporting, and more. It’s a great tool for automating a lot of inbound marketing efforts with automated workflows, autoresponders, etc.

HubSpot Marketing boasts features like marketing automation with smart content, content creation tools with SEO strategy built-in, custom event triggers and reporting, website traffic analysis, and more.”

Thomas Dieben
Thomas DiebenFounder, Becurious

“To increase the possibility of receiving direct reservations, an effective hotel website is key. To keep the website up-to-date and to capitalize on the benefits of SEO, working with a specialised Hotel CMS is essential. As an example, incorporating the Google image file format WebP will result in an increase in page speed and therefore a better indexation and conversion. Also, ask your webmaster about your website’s page experience as the Google Core Web Vitals will have influence over your hotel’s website indexation.

Rich content like videos and high-quality photos should give your future guests a tempting impression. Offer clear booking benefits, the possibility of having a discount when subscribing to your newsletter and provide a seamless booking process.”

Tim Kolman
Tim KolmanCommercial Strategy Expert, three&six

Automation and Optimization! During the pandemic, everyone in hospitality needed to learn how to do more with less, both in the case of humans as well as financial resources. This didn’t just apply to the hospitality corporate office or property levels, but it also applied to digital marketing agencies.

Much like with pricing optimization and automation, using data and a revenue management platform, plus optimizing paid search by using data directly from your Google Ads account and working with an automated, optimization platform can ensure that your property is optimizing your keyword and bid strategies 24/7/365 using fewer resources at a lower cost!

But wait – I know you are thinking that digital marketing needs a human marketer to be successful. And I do not disagree with you! However, there are some digital marketing campaigns that can easily be automated by a platform like three&six’s PATHWAY, which will free up the resources to be more strategic in other campaigns and channels. Elevate your digital marketing by automating where you can!”

Jolien Alferink
Jolien AlferinkHotel Marketing Consultant, Orange Hotel Marketing

“In order to win market share while demand is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, “standing out” will be more important to hotels than ever before. Starting with a strong brand and a compelling brand story needs to translate into marketing tools like an attractively designed website, catchy video and photography content, virtual tours etc., to deliver the brand story you wish to convey.”

Amy Draheim
Amy DraheimOwner, ABD Creative

“It wasn’t so long ago that marketers had to convince hotels that they needed mobile websites. In more recent years, we convinced hoteliers to add mobile booking engines, or at least make their booking engines mobile friendly.

Today, adopting new technology continues to be incredibly important. The next frontier for hotels? SMS texting.

We need to be accessible to guests in a way that works for them, and that means accessibility via smartphones. Text messaging not only works, it yields 80% open rates.

If you need to get a message to your guest during their stay, text messaging is your best bet. In fact, text messaging could revolutionize the concierge function at your hotel if it hasn’t already. Access to a virtual concierge can really enhance the guest experience on property, whether it’s a request for additional towels or a dinner reservation that needs to be booked, particularly in a post-pandemic world where human interactions have become a ‘nice to have’ but not the norm.”

Michael Markarians
Michael MarkariansPresident, Tee Hospitality

“The future of travel isn’t crystal-clear, but I predict a global travel boom in the near future. According to the U.S. Travel Association, upwards of half of Americans have set funds aside in the past year, and many have said they are ready to spend some “fun money.”

As more countries lift travel restrictions and people finally venture out and start spending more on experiences, the travel industry should reap the rewards. I also think remote work offerings and increased opportunities for business travel will likely fuel the boom.

Marketing channels for business travellers and vacation travellers are nothing new. Here are some of the trends that I think would be worth experimenting with:

  • Booking via Voice: more than 20% of people use voice search. Creating a voice-friendly listing is crucial for your future success.
  • Pre-Booking VR: the virtual reality industry is expected to expand from less than $5 billion in 2021 to more than $12 billion by 2024. Within the hospitality market, the technology allows prospective travellers to explore their accommodation and the surrounding area before booking a trip.
  • Mobile-friendly services: when travellers board a flight or arrive at a hotel, they want an easily accessible, customer-focused experience. Consumers bank, shop, and order dinner through their smartphones and tablets, and they’re beginning to expect a mobile-friendly experience everywhere they go, including hotel rooms and aeroplanes.
  • Sustainable stays: to be in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, the global hotel industry will need to reduce its carbon footprint by 90% by 2050. This is not only good for the planet but also good for business. Consumers (particularly younger generations) are beginning to demand sustainability from the brands and organizations they spend money on. An eco-friendly approach to hospitality can help you satisfy your current guests, expand your reach, and compete in the changing market.”

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized

“Most marketing agencies will recommend the next shiny object or software that will ‘triple your traffic’ and so on. I’m not going to feed you popular opinion because 99% of the time, it simply doesn’t work. The #1 thing that you MUST do as a business in 2021 leading onto 2022 is to leverage your data.

Hotels can begin to do this today as follows:

  1. Set up analytics correctly. One great (and free) example is using Google Analytics correctly to track the data flowing in and out of your website.
  2. Once Google Analytics is correctly installed on your website, you want to install pixels from ALL advertising channels (yes TikTok and Snapchat included) onto Google Tag Manager to collect data on autopilot for every person who visits your website, allowing you to advertise anywhere profitably should you need to in the future.
  3. Learn to interpret data from Google Analytics and make decisions based on DATA (not guesses). This means understanding where your customers are coming from (social platforms, email, google, referrals, etc.) and what decisions your customers are making on each page.
  4. Optimize your landing pages/website/checkout pages according to your data insights.
  5. Once you have optimized your website based on data, and assuming that you have had your pixels installed for a while with consistent website traffic, you can use your pixel data to target your exact specific customers anywhere they may