2012 has been an exciting year for hotel marketers, with positive signs of growth and innovation along with the continued challenge of optimizing digital marketing plans produce maximum results. The New Year is just 2 weeks away and planning is in full swing. To help hoteliers prepare for 2013, I hosted a webinar on December 12th“New Year, New Plan: Planning Your Digital Marketing for 2013”. The webinar was a great success, with thoughtful insights and advice from our two industry experts:
- Glenn Squires, Chief Executive Officer of Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc. and the Immediate Past Chairman for the IHG Owners Association
- Craig Perch, Area Director of Revenue Management for Crescent Hotels & Resorts, including The Georgian Terrace Hotel
Glenn discussed current trends in today’s hospitality industry and what to expect in the New Year, covering topics from corporate travel to social media. Glenn left us with eight key tips for maximizing revenue in 2013, including:
- Focus on your core capabilities
- Use discounting techniques carefully and appropriately
- Don’t be afraid to try “hot new media” like Instagram
For the complete list of Glenn’s advice, check out Slideshare.
Craig shared his 2013 digital marketing plans for one of his six properties, The Georgian Terrace Hotel. Although this hotel has already experienced a great deal of success, Craig keeps up with industry trends to appeal to consumer behavior. Three key goals Craig is focused on for next year are:
- Optimizing the hotel shopping experience for mobile devices
- Increasing consumer engagement through social media
- Integrating more rich visual content throughout their web presence
For more details of how Craig plans to accomplish these goals, view the Slideshare presentation here.
We also had a great deal of enthusiasm and participation from our audience and received many thought- provoking questions. Due to time constraints and the overwhelming number of questions, we were not able to answer all of them on the webinar, so I will address the top questions here.
Q) Baby boomers are a highly viable and valuable audience. How do you reach this demographic through social media? Are they engaged in social?
A) For several reasons, it is a common misconception that Baby Boomers aren’t engaged on social media. According to Mashable, they are the fastest growing demographic online, nearly doubling to 42% in 2011  and are among the most social and mobile of any group. To reach Baby Boomers through social media, hotels must post content that is relevant to this highly desirable audience. Think about what they’re looking for in a hotel and what types of experiences they’re seeking, then use rich visuals combined with compelling narrative to create your story and communicate with and appeal to them on social media channels.
Q) How do you raise rates in a very competitive market? It’s challenging.
A) Yes, it’s possible to raise your rates, because as every smart marketer will tell you, it’s all about the value you offer your guests. Rupesh Patel, the Vice President of ZENique hotels in California, has proven this time and time again at his Holiday Inn Express in Modesto. Here, he has been able to charge a $20 ADR premium over this competition because of his marketing approach which focuses on the value he provides to corporate guests. Rupesh was featured as our merchandising hero for his success, read his story. Identify key features and amenities such as free Wi-Fi, access to the fitness room or to your complimentary breakfast. Then develop your story, using matching written descriptions and rich visuals. Syndicate that story out to the VNetwork and along with your vanity site, and don’t forget to include a link in your email signatures and sales proposals for maximum visibility.
Q) What digital display strategies have you found to be most effective in driving bookings and revenue? Not including social/mobile?
A) When all hotel listings on OTA’s are presented together, it can be overwhelming and they tend to look homogenous. That’s why visual merchandising is the most effective strategy, because it cuts through the clutter by offering an enhanced visual experience. In fact, “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text”.  Moreover, consumers are attracted to videos more than they are to photos, so if you distribute videos, you’re more likely to appeal to your guests and keep their attention. Our speaker, Craig Perch is a great example, he spoke of his website redesign plan during the webinar and why he’s making visual merchandising a priority for 2013. Craig was also featured as our merchandising hero for outstanding visual merchandising efforts.
If you have any other questions or comments about our 2013 webinar, please free feel to comment below or tweet them to, #vfmlwebinar.
Our webinar presentation is available for download from Slideshare.