What was Hot and what was Not Hotel Marketing's 2017
What was Hot,
& what was Not
The best of Hotel Marketing in 2017
Reading between the lines of the most popular articles and topics in hotel marketing of 2017. There's a funny thing with headlines and clicks-throughs (when it isn't fake) it gives us an idea of what readers are interested in, what solutions they are looking for. Or in other words, what concerns them. And in 2017 what concerned hotel marketers the most was OTAs, in fact this is the year OTAs became the single most important piece of news in hotel marketing.
Every year now, I go through HotelMarketing.com's "best of" and categorise the posts into subjects to look back at the year and see what happened. It is a pretty interesting exercise and almost every time I'm surprised by some of the results. Things I thought were important actually aren't and things I found unimportant are actually important.
Methodology is a big word in this case, it isn't that scientific. The yearly analysis is done by going through Hotelmarketing.com's most popular articles of the year and attributing them to categories. This year the system changed in that a single article could be classified in multiple categories which wasn't the case last year (additionally this year the list totalled 78 articles versus 60 the year before). So on average each of the 78 articles were included in 1.35 categories.
What was Hot
OTAs ARE THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS
The world of hotel marketing is driven by OTAs and this year marks the point clearly. The most read topic of the year was news from the OTAs. The new tools they launched, struggles they faced, the tips they shared and more. This year it seems the hotel marketing world embraced the fact that OTAs are the ones that make or break hotel marketing. The topic of OTAs was much more read than topics related to Direct Revenue and not only that, this year those topics increased whereas Direct revenue decreased. Let's hope this doesn't mean hotels are giving up on direct.
Hotel Marketing Innovation still gets great interest
The buzzwords still work, they're just changing. This year saw the advent of blockchain, AI, machine learning, bots and all those things as marketing buzzwords. And those they are just that, buzzwords. The fact that those articles got a high readership comforts me in knowing that hotel marketing people are constantly searching for new solutions. Despite the fact that so many of the innovations coming out are often a new OTA or Trip Planning application, we need to keep looking out for to be ahead of the next shift.
Hotel Brands are back in the news
Something that's new this year is that more hotel brands are showing up in the top articles, no single brand is really taking the space but there seems to be more interest in what hotel brands are doing and more importantly the big brands are more public about the actions they are doing to innovate or counter the disrupters. Hopefully this isn't going to turn into regulations only but more creative ideas for the industry.
Data, AI and bots
There's a growing awareness for hotel data and with new regulations coming in one could expect this to become a bigger topic in the coming year. But considering the implications of these topics for the future of hotel marketing it is slightly surprising that this isn't a larger topic of interest. It could point to how much hotel marketing people are looking for short term solutions (and that's a total assumption).
Experience is on the rise
There's a new category which is Experiences. The articles in the category are a disparate set of articles from city guides to guest expectation trends. That hotel marketing people are getting interested in this is great because in the end, the best marketing is word of mouth and great experience is the best way to generate that word of mouth.
What was not
The steam is leaving the Direct Booking train
The best click bait of 2016 and early 2017 was putting the word "Direct Booking" in the title. It almost always guaranteed views and clicks. But it seems hoteliers and hotel marketers have grown tired of click-bait tricks. In fact of the only 4% of the top articles even had the word direct in the title (compare that to 22% in 2016).
There are two ways to look at this. The first is that hoteliers are getting tired of the click-bait (which has become so bad that every other hotel marketing company has put the word in their tagline) and the second is that hoteliers are realising that it isn't all about direct. Maybe more people have crunched the numbers and realised that direct just isn't the holy grail it was advertised as.
Is the Industry in Denial about Airbnb?
Oddly Airbnb related news didn't pique our interest as much as last year. It is strange as this year had quite a lot of Airbnb related news, regulations and so forth. Are hotel marketing people just bored about it? Ian Schrager believes this is one of the biggest threats to hospitality. The fact is that articles related to Airbnb just weren't that read and the click-bait effect might also be to blame.
Not so Metasearch
Last year metasearch was already pretty low, this year TripAdvisor related articles were mainly categorised in this category. There was literally no mention of Trivago, Skyscanner, Kayak, HotelsCombined or Google Hotel Ads which is surprising considering how the industry is changing.
What should be hot
The last few weeks has seen increasing discussion on hotel loyalty. The topic is interesting because it is a huge cost for hotels and because it is a model that is being carried on from the 1980s that maybe needs a bit of a refresh. Simone Puorto did a great recap of hotel loyalty last week that I suggest you read. Here's a category which is ripe for disruption.
Hotel marketing could get such much better, if the right systems were integrated with each other easily. This subject is arguably number one on the "Best of Hotel IT" newsletter wherever that newsletter is. But it deserves a spot on hotel marketing's newsletter as well. The next big advances in hotel marketing are going to come from many different systems communicating and personalising messages to the right person on the right time.
CRM & AUTOMATION
Almost no hotels have a proper CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Many still use their PMS for this, and yet this is where they can build great guest profiles that make communication with guests better, more relevant and generating more revenue. But this point means Integrations need to be solved.
Booking Engines (Rant)
It is 2017, and hotels still use a website paradigm that dates from 2005. Meaning a "showcase website" + "e-commerce website" this model exists just about nowhere else. Even regular e-commerce sites for Etsy makers are better integrated than this. Normal systems such as Shopify are actually integrated within the website, they don't sit on a separate link in a separately designed environment. And yet, hotels, who make millions of dollars of sales a year operate with such old systems. Now that mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic we're going to feel it in lowered conversions. And that means direct bookings will really take a hit.
Updated and interactive chart
I’ve added an updated and interactive chart, some categorization might have changes slightly in the process making the results slightly different. However this new method is easier to understand and more transparent.
The Hot brands of the year
Exactly like last year, 66% of the top articles were branded. It is a "rule" in writing stories and headlines that one needs to have a big name associated with the story if one wants readers, but 66% two years in a row is an interesting coincidence. The list is quite different this year compared to last year. Expedia and Booking on the top is no surprise, but TripAdvisor made a major comeback and Google pretty much vanished.
Surprisingly Airbnb also wasn't too big. Several hotel chains made the list but each with very small mentions.
Scroll below the graph if you want to read the articles one by one.
HOTTEST BRANDS OF 2017
Most popular posts in 2017
The complete list and links to the posts. If you aren't signed up with Hotelmarketing.com I'd recommend it.