2010 was a big year for digital marketers in the travel and hospitality industry. Multiple studies by eMarketer show that travelers are going to multiple digital channels before they make a reservation or plan a trip.
If travelers are getting savvier with digital marketing, how can marketers stay ahead? Here are five considerations hospitality marketers should take note of as we head into 2010.
• Privacy please – Media campaigns will be in the limelight in 2011. Growing concerns over user privacy have prompted calls regulation of behavioral targeting campaigns, data collection and tracking. Marketers will have to make sure their campaigns are meeting the expectations of users and regulation bodies. Travel and hospitality marketers should be especially cognizant of new icons showing their remarketing and retargeting tactics.
• Marketing integration – Everyone knows they need to think about their entire marketing ecosystem when developing campaigns and initiative, but integrating all user touch points will still be the largest hurdle marketers will have to overcome in 2011. Integration is difficult for a number of reasons, not the least important of which is that users are more fragmented than ever. Marketing to travelers and visitors demands that marketers are adept at all forms of digital and offline advertising. This should include mobile devices, digital adverting, search engine marketing, offline promotions, location based services and onsite promotions, just to name a few. All of these channels have innate differences and varying levels of user engagements, so identifying synergies is not a simple exercise.
• Tweet this – There is little doubt that social media will continue to be a powerful force in the travel and hospitality industry. The good news with social media from a marketing perspective is that it acts as a bridge for marketers to address their guests and visitors on the go. Most are still wary of mobile marketing like SMS messaging, but they are likely to engage with marketers on social media, which coincidently they use on their mobile devices. There is a huge opportunity to create mobile sites that excel in utility, apps that help with up and cross-selling and social discussions that build brand evangelists. What better way to get real time feedback about your service, employees and the customer experience. Using social media, hospitality marketers can refine and reinforce their brand promise to consumers and extend engagements while guests are on property and after they check out.
• You are here – Location-based marketing aligns perfectly with hotel and casino marketing programs. It can sync with existing loyalty programs and social media efforts to add a sense of urgency behind time-sensitive promotions. Additionally, LBS marketing strategies allow casinos and hotels the chance to build an opt-in database beyond email. Tapping into this data base, marketers can increase revenue per guest and encourage guests to stay on property instead of venturing out to different hotels and casinos. Location-based marketing is still largely underutilized by hotel and casinos, so those marketers that can add this to their marketing arsenal can make headway in the beginning of the year.
• Are you #1? – Search engine optimization is alive and well, despite a litany of updates by Google and the other search engines. More than ever, search engines are honing in on local search results. This will make it more important for hotels and casinos to establish a strong hold on rankings for revenue-driving keywords. With updates like Google Instant and Google Places, page two rankings are no longer acceptable because guests are not clicking to multiple results pages. Further compounding the urgency, Google Instant serves an average of seven-times more results per search query, so users are being bombarded with results. If a property does not appear on the top of the page, there is a high likelihood that users will not see your listing.
• Places, local and instant...oh my – Like SEO, paid search marketing has gone through several evolutions this year. Yahoo and Bing have merged in an attempt to serve more relevant results to searchers and Google’s updates indicate a preference towards paid listings. Paid search results will become more important this year as marketers revamp their SEO strategies. It will be imperative that marketers continue to optimize their paid search campaigns, so that they are scalable and efficient.
In 2011, marketers will have to stay ahead of trends and adapt to evolutions in user behavior quicker than ever. I urge hotel and casino marketers to look at their consumer base and determine where optimizations can be made. Budgets might not be what they once were, so marketers need to creatively find engagement points and make sure each execution is poised to take make an impact.