Hottest Hotel Marketing Topics of 2016

As has become customary on my blog, every year (well almost) I go over the most popular topics from HotelMarketing.com and do a bit of analysis and review of what hoteliers and hotel marketers considered the most interesting topics of the year. 

It is interesting to see how trends evolve, what is catching on and what we're moving away from. Below I've included the charts with the percentages and explained how I categorized the list. 

Previous years' HOT TOPICS

So with no further ado, let's get into it. 

There's a hunger for better solutions

Topping the list this year was new solutions being offered to hotel marketers, new revenue management solutions, communications platforms, chatbots and new distribution channels came out on top. The only issue with that is that most of those solutions were being offered by existing big brands such as Expedia and Booking.com and I believe they skewed the results. Still it does show interest for innovation which is great. My only wish is that we'd see more of the smaller companies and startups who are trying to push the envelope.

Direct Bookings are still hot

A full quarter of the top 60 list was about increasing direct revenue which shows that we've not yet found the a comfortable mix on hotel distribution. Hoteliers are still trying to find better solutions. Several articles still talk about a "war between hotels and OTAs" which in my opinion is pushing it a little too far. But suffice it to say, there seems to be a need to solve that problem. In addition to the mentions of direct booking one of the topics that caught hoteliers was everything related to OTA conflicts and controversy which proves the point.

OTA Innovations still caught our attention

Interestingly in third place was everything related to how to improve one's distribution on on OTAs and how OTAs are changing their search algorithms and data. So on the one hand we want to get more out of OTAs and on the other we want more direct. While we could say hotel marketers want to eat their cake and still have it, I think it is more about finding a balanced and less dependent distribution mix. 

Airbnb Worrying hoteliers


Airbnb is increasingly seen as a threat by hoteliers. There is no doubt they are disrupting the market, this year was a little more agressive than last year with Airbnb being seen as a more direct threat. The reality is they are taking, albeit a small, share of hotel revenue and hotel marketers need to get better at improving product and marketing not to loose too much revenue. 


Rate Parity lost steam

Last year's hottest topic was the end of rate parity, this was much less the case this year with some 5% of articles discussing that as a topic. And correctly so. I don't believe rate dis-parity is the solution, restrictions don't help but finding a balance between parity and dis-parity is something one should do on a case by case basis. This isn't a silver bullet that will solve all direct booking or OTA dominance. 

What happened to Metasearch?

The interest for metasearch seems to have waned dramatically, despite the changes in the industry it seems it wasn't the hottest topic. Not sure if that means there's a consolidation phase starting (seems like it already started) or that, like reviews, it has become part of the daily routine and isn't innovating. 

Reviews are a matter of fact

Comparing to a few years ago, the perception of reviews, review management and the effect of reviews on revenue seems to have changed quite a lot with hardly any mention. Probably because by now hoteliers have learnt that managing reviews is a must and has been integrated into hotel life. 

The chart

This year, I'm publishing the chart of top topics per category in addition to the list so you can make your own opinions. 

Hotel Marketing Topics 2016

The 60 most read articles from HotelMarketing.com categorized into the 10 most important recurring themes per the article titles.

What didn't make the list & Other notes

As I mentioned above, there's could be a lot more coverage about innovation in the hotel marketing space, new applications, software and platforms would be great. There are more new tools and applications for hotels than we've had in a long time. Each working to improve hotel's marketing efforts to compete with the chains or OTAs in service quality and reach. The Hotel Technology Index lists some 500+ hotel tech products and providers, and that list is not complete by far. 

Hotel data arrived on the radar of hoteliers maybe because of SnapShot, maybe not. But it is great to see this arriving. On that note, I was happy to see my article on How to Choose Big Data Analytics Tools for a Hotel make it on the list. 

Chatbots and AI Voice is not yet on the radar. While it is still in it's infancy as a technology hoteliers and marketers would do well to prepare for the paradigm shift that is probably going to happen to hotel distribution and hotel bookings. The main way to prepare for that now is ensure existing providers are integrating with these solutions. 

Open technology and APIs is surprisingly still an "unknown" subject mainly being campaigned for by newer startups and innovators. 


The brands that dominated

As usual brands tend to make us click and read. 66% of the top articles contained a brand name which is telling. And I hope this article doesn't encourage writers to making click-bait articles next year.  This year's top brands list was again dominated by Booking.com but Expedia caught up. The big three brands in hotel marketing seems to be Booking, Expedia and Google which reflects pretty well on the innovators. Airbnb is taking up more of our mindshare every year. Oddly, TripAdvisor wasn't big in the news this year, as one of the big players last year. Interestingly hotel brands are coming back up, yet I was surprised that AccorHotels wasn't on the list as they have been shifting to an innovation strategy over 2016, but we'll probably hear more about them next year.

Hottest brands of 2016

The brands that attracted most reads per HotelMarketing's 60 most read articles of 2016

Most popular posts in 2016

And as is customary here is the full list including links in case you didn't get it in your inbox. 

Hotel book direct tactics that work

Expedia launches direct communication tool for hoteliers

Booking.com launches new data-driven products for hotels

How hotels can compete for revenue against the growing threat of Airbnb

Marriott officially launches “Members Get More by Booking Direct” campaign

Direct bookings 9% more profitable for hotels, “billboard effect” a myth

Cornell study: Hotels shouldn’t overdo responses to online reviews

Eight big travel predictions for 2017, according to Booking.com

Booking.com helps travelers kick-start their New Year’s resolutions

How OTAs reorder hotel searches

How OTAs manipulate hotel search results

Independent hotels increasingly dependent on OTAs

Getting out from under Expedia

Booking.com announces global release of RateIntelligence

Booking.com’s Rate Manager now available to all hotels worldwide

Ryanair to ‘disrupt’ industry with launch of Ryanair Rooms

Hotels intensify rate war with OTAs

Expedia’s Accelerator Program, the final nail in the coffin of hotel profitability?

Booking.com launches chatbot to connect hotels and travelers

Booking.com annoyed by hotel direct booking initiatives

Expedia launches revenue management tool

Hotels vs. Airbnb: Let the battle begin

How Hilton is convincing travelers to book direct

How to choose big data analytics tools for a hotel

What Uber’s new travel feature means for the hospitality industry

Germany orders Booking.com to delete all “best price” terms

The case for stopping OTAs use your brand terms in Google AdWords

Why guests still call hotels for reservations

Expedia invests in CRM platform for hotels

Hotels no longer sell rooms, they sell experiences

How Google’s rich snippets features drives hotel bookings

Expedia turns hotel search results pages into a marketplace

Expedia’s first bot is for booking hotels

Hotel trends for 2016

The rise of independent hotels

Hotelier outrage over rate parity agreement with Booking.com and Expedia

How travelers expect technology to transform experiences

Airbnb expands beyond accommodation with the launch of Trips

GDS channel’s growth outpaces hotels’ direct bookings

Hilton sees gains from direct booking initiative

Are hotels’ direct booking efforts really working?

Google’s new mobile travel search makes web results almost irrelevant

Booking.com rejected as trademark

Google launches trip planning experience on mobile

Hotel website referral traffic down significantly

Google Destinations could disrupt online travel

This is how hotels could win the direct booking wars

Booking.com launches pilot for destination experiences bot

Should TripAdvisor Instant Booking be part of your direct booking strategy?

French tax authorities seek $400 million from Booking.com

Hilton considering cutting travel agent commissions

Airbnb vs. Hotels: New study reveals key consumer purchase drivers

The battle for ‘book direct’ may be won, but the war will be not

Will Google replace travel agents?

Airbnb begins testing program to give guests guided one-of-a-kind experiences

Google on how people use their phones for travel

Priceline’s next growth area will be in corporate travel

Marriott offers lower rates for booking direct

In search of hotels, more travelers turn to OTAs than hotel websites

OTAs are for hotel research, brand sites for booking