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The 2018 State of Online Travel

by Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor |

Seven trending hotel news stories that will have an impact on your hotel Revenue Strategy.

1. THE CURRENT STATE OF ONLINE TRAVEL

In 2017, the online travel space saw developments that no one could have predicted, according to a year-end Skift report. Expedia’s CEO jumped ship to Uber, the Priceline Group announced that it would retool its digital-marketing strategy with a tilt toward brand advertising, share prices for Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor sunk, and one hotel tech CEO said blockchain could upend the distribution landscape.

Skift’s Travel Moments That Mattered in 2017 offers a solid recap and could help shape your big-picture strategy for 2018.

Full story at Skift. 

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2. BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS ARE KEY TO INCREASED BOOKINGS

Behavioral economics, or the study of how consumers make buying decisions, has been the staple strategy for many digital marketers, including online travel agencies. The author says hotel marketers can use the same principles to increase bookings. He offers 5 examples:

  • Reduce decision making by offering your guests fewer options—or at the very least, splitting options into multiple steps.
  • Use rounded numbers ($100 vs. $98.75) to make it easier for consumers to process their decisions, leading to a sense that the decision ‘feels right.’
  • Work to assuage buyer’s remorse, or the guilt consumers might feel after making a substantial purchase, like a hotel booking.
  • Use urgency-based selling tactics.
  • Don’t get bogged down in discounts, deals and incentives and instead allow consumers to bask in the fun, freedom and excitement travel brings to them.

Full story at HotelOnline. 

3. ANOTHER APPROACH TO FIGHT THE CLOUT OF THE OTAS

Hotel operators should focus less on moving bookings direct and instead on creating more personalized experiences for guests that move them to become loyal customers.

OTAs have some clear advantages over hotels when it comes to attracting lookers, yet in addition to building memorable guest experiences, hotels and hotel companies can improve booking platforms and wisely employ digital advertising campaigns with Google and OTAs.

Full story at Travel Tech Media. 

4. INDEPENDENTS HAVE AN EDGE OVER BRANDED HOTELS

For a variety of reasons — consumers’ desire for something fresh, the proliferation of distribution alternatives and more — independent hotels are, for the most part, outperforming branded properties. However, revenue managers at independents need a game plan to exploit their advantages:

  • Find the right platforms to aim at the right guests at the right rates for the right booking dates.
  • Since chains of command are shorter and bureaucracy less of an issue at independent hotels, revenue managers need to exercise the freedom an independent environment offers.
  • Use the inherent flexibility of independence to create personalized rates and packages and to test what works and to revise as necessary when needed.
  • Employ cloud-based technology to level the competitive playing field between brands and independents.

Full story at Duetto Research.

5. GOOGLE ADDS CRUCIAL MESSAGING TOOL FOR HOTELS

A new service from Google gives hotels a more-direct connection to potential customers while they’re on Google search pages. The new feature, which is free to both hotels and guests, enables hotels to answer questions potential bookers might have about specific properties. “Is breakfast included” is the apt example included in the story.

Sign-up is easy, according to the article: “All that’s needed is to sign into the hotel’s Google My Business page, navigate to the chat tile—if available—and turn it on. Then just verify the contact number, add a welcome message and include a reasonable average response time.” 

Full story at TrustYou.

6. HYATT CHANGES CANCELLATION POLICIES WITH A TWIST

Hyatt Hotels Corp. joined the ranks of other large hotel brand companies by instituting a 48-hour cancellation policy at its properties. While 48 hours is the minimum cancellation window at all properties, operators of individual hotels can put in place more restrictive cancellation terms. The new restrictions go into effect on January 1.

Hyatt’s new policy comes with a twist: Many members of its World of Hyatt loyalty program will be able to cancel up to 24 hours of check-in, with a few exceptions.

Full story at Skift.

7. TRIPADVISOR DEBUTS SPONSORED POSITIONS FEATURE

Just like a search engine PPC program, TripAdvisor’s new Sponsored Positions feature gives hotels the opportunity to bid to appear at the top of a destinations page. Previously, and unless a hotel bids for a higher position, hotels were ranked at the user’s choice by best value, lowest price or distance. Unlike a traditional PPC campaign, hotels are not able to set bids; they’re only able to choose between three budget levels per day.

According to the author, “If used correctly, (Sponsored Positions) appears to be a very effective way of putting an otherwise unknown property onto the customers’ radar.  However, if not used correctly, it can be a very expensive way to drive guests to book with OTAs.” 

Full story at Fuel Travel. 

Stay up on hotel Revenue Strategy news and discuss industry tech trends in the Hotel Revenue Strategy Leaders Group on LinkedIn.

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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Contributing editor at Duetto
Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.
Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.