For decades, hotel marketing was dominated by flyer printing, advertisements, trade fair appearances and advertising letters. Measurability was non-existent. The new hotel marketing is digital. This creates new challenges and requires new skills. In one’s own team and with service providers. The daily news about great and ‘vital’ new tools and possibilities can drive you crazy. Many hotels – even individual hotels – try to jump on every bandwagon and often lose sight of the essential course. CRO (conversion rate optimisation), blockchain, beacons, voice control and chatbots are exciting developments, but unfortunately they currently have no influence on the sales results of your hotel or destination, and they won’t if the foundations for efficient, effective and measurable online marketing and powerful distribution are not created!
Training, software, revenue management, distribution, MICE management and sales controlling. These are the areas that individual hotels in particular, but also some of the hotel groups and most cooperations, have to take care of now: Training and further education concepts for reservation, reception, marketing and sales have to be developed and implemented.
Topics such as distribution, revenue management, e-commerce or customer loyalty concepts are not taught in vocational schools (at least in Germany) and hardly in hotel management schools or other technical schools. What is taught there is – according to my personal experience – usually either outdated or lacks any practical application. However, with training offers such as those of the German Hotel Academy or the DFV media (e-commerce manager, revenue manager or MICE manager) and the ÖHV, you can reach a level of training with which the worst mistakes can be avoided and outdated processes and procedures can be improved. It’s obvious: everyone will have to make do with fewer employees (don’t forget that ALL industries are desperate for skilled workers). The employees you do have will have to be much better trained and better utilised. This article also fits in with that.
Modern hotel software is the basis for measuring results and this is the basis for controlling marketing, distribution and revenue management. You have to question your hotel software if you know these problems only too well: New interfaces to revenue management tools, distribution software like booking engines or further channel managers are always a challenge. They wait a year or more and the pilots suffer from insufficient quality tests and hardly find any help from an overburdened support! I can’t help but make the very subjective comment: SIHOT by Gubse always takes the cake on these and other issues.
Reports on sales results, customer performance, pick-up reports or forecasts are generally not available in comparison to the previous year. A modern dashboard is unfortunately also mostly a pipe dream. There is a lot of talk about BIG DATA, but most hotels don’t even have a “little reporting”. There is no way to evaluate the revenue production of volume customers (compared to the previous year). Let alone to notice that an important customer or guest suddenly stays away. Or that a distribution channel is weakening. At least semi-automatic revenue management is not supported by the hotel software. Bar levels, daily rates, anchor rates are foreign words for your hotel software. But it knows seasonal rates. The reservation team has to work with outdated letter templates (for the adaptation of which one must have studied information technology) and all processes around reservation acceptance, offer creation, conversion of offers into bookings are accompanied by tedious and manual activities. This applies to individual enquiries as well as group and conference bookings.
Every day, the wildest strategies can be discovered in the market. The power of the OTAs continues to grow and homemade problems of the hotel industry are still predominantly responsible for this. A hotel that does not adopt a professionally designed revenue management strategy this year will lose at least 10% to 30% of its potential turnover.
It feels like about 50% of the hotels are still jumping on every customer loyalty tool of the OTAs (e.g. Booking Genius, HRS business rate, Expedia member rates, deals, etc.) and have no concept themselves of how to reward the bookers on their own website. At the same time, there is a lot of whining about the dwindling pricing sovereignty. In the meantime, there are quite good and affordable tools with which even small hotels (yes, even those with only 20 rooms) can build up a good revenue management strategy. But one thing is important: unfortunately, tools without training do not bring the desired success either!
Personal note: I am currently gathering experience with Rateboard in various projects with small hotels. Essential functions are still missing and the reliability also leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s a start.
No, 400 followers on Instagram and a weekly, content-free post on Facebook are not a success criterion for professional social media marketing. It’s simply a sign that here, too, people are trying to get in on the act with a small budget and a lack of training. A modern, sales-boosting website, a target group-oriented editorial plan, a budget for graphics and photos and a clever content strategy belong together. It is not the channel (“we are now also on Twitter”) that is decisive, but the target person, their interests, your message and the communication of the message.
And if you invest hundreds of euros a month in a Google Ad campaign and your agency always bids heavily on your own hotel name, but unfortunately has not set up any success measurement up to the booking software, then you can safely save this advertising money. Perhaps you would rather invest it in further training for your marketing managers.
There is no clear target coordination (what can we achieve with which budget? – where the number of clicks is NOT a meaningful measure of success).
No topic-specific landing pages are created on your website that are optimised for conversion.
Your ad appears in a search for “event location in Bonn” even if your location is in Berlin (try it, it usually worksJ).
You have no idea if the visitors generated by the ads will ever make a booking.
The path of distribution of MICE products is unstoppable. And MICE revenue management concepts go hand in hand with it. The two are inseparable. But the conference products must be designed to be distributable. With general terms and conditions and pricing concepts from the 1980s, there will be no better results. On the contrary, the pressure of rental offices and other locations as well as online events on the classic conference hotel industry is increasing massively. This change in customer preferences is just not yet noticeable enough, because thanks to the strength of the economy and the need for education, even the weakest providers still feel sufficient demand. This is bound to change.
The so-called ‘digital guest folders’ (we still have to work on the name) offer new possibilities. Of course, many are far from mature and, as is so often the case, the effort of a successful implementation and the ongoing operation is massively underestimated. Here, too, content is a huge issue. But not only. And the objective of increased in-house sales again presupposes a decent degree of digitalisation. Special dinner ideas need online table reservations and the increased sale of wellness offers only works to a limited extent with appointments by phone. Above all, because the telephone in the hotel room is being dispensed with more and more frequently, and rightly so. Former table reservation systems suddenly become powerful platforms for free restaurant tables. Don’t miss this development.
A well-managed intranet is a good basis for sharing knowledge, even in small teams.
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Gabriele Schulze Tel : +49 30 23137364