What was Hot, and what was not. Hotel Marketing in 2018

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Hotel Marketing in 2018

The trends that caught our attention, and those that didn’t.

Since 2011 (excluding the gap years) I’ve been going through the top headlines in hotel marketing and technology. Mainly for my own analysis and interest to see what subjects hotel marketing people are most interested in. In theory, we click only on the subjects that we are curious about. The system isn’t perfect, click bait titles, sponsored posts, clever sensationalism can skew the results.

Unfortunately the sensationalism and gossip gets clicks, and some media companies have figured out how to use that to get more clicks.

This year I included the top 50 articles from Hospitality.net and the top 10 articles from Phocuswire. This changes the scene a bit, since Hospitality includes paid distribution and opinion pieces that educational advertising - it isn’t exactly the same landscape. However they can be filtered out on the graph below.

The subjects that piqued Our Interest

The short version: Hotel marketers are definitely over the direct booking hype. What OTAs are doing is much more interesting. The conflicts against the OTAs are less important, thought still exist. Disruptors are interesting and innovation remains of great interest as is technology. Loyalty is moving up on the list of interests as is the subject of Experience.

OTAs are Winning the Marketing Game

Over the last two years, the “Direct vs OTAs” debate has lost a lot of steam. It is still a topic that people want to know about, but it isn’t the most important topic at all. Last year was the first time general news about OTA activities was more important than Direct Revenue. This year confirmed it and news about what OTAs are doing to innovate and change got the most views again. I don’t think this is because hotels are ignoring Direct Revenue, but probably most have understood by now that there would be no winner on a war against OTAs. Optimizing one’s distribution mix is probably a lot more productive than fighting OTAs.

Disruption is Coming to hotel marketing

While the past years have seen mainly Airbnb as the disruptor, this year Amazon began to make ripples as well. But of course this has been a banner year for Airbnb in the hotel sector, so much so that it is also the most mentioned brand of the year. Google’s increasing presence in the industry is concerning more than just hotel groups now, it’s worrying the OTAs. With Booking even admitting that their Google-dependency is similar to hotel’s OTA-dependency and they’re trying to drive more direct traffic (there’s always a bigger fish). On the advertising front, Amazon’s return to the travel industry has been interesting for many hoteliers, much more so than the last time they made an appearance (according to the headlines).

Innovations, Technology and Trends

Though less prevalent than previous years, trends and innovation remains interesting to hotel marketers. In fact is one combines these into one category they are the most interesting topic. This is slightly skewed by the fact that this year includes news from Hospitality.net and as mentioned above most of it is vendor written to promote their products. But like all media, we like news and new things so it makes sense that this category is growing. The startup scene in hotel technology is growing quite rapidly at the moment and the news is grabbing hoteliers attention. This is healthy for the industry, and maybe it can grow further (a few years ago this was the number one category in hotel trends). We need more innovation, now is not a time to settle on following what the OTAs do.

Loyalty Makes an Appearance

I mentioned last year that we’re not really addressing the elephant in the room - hotel loyalty schemes. The points system has worked really well for a number of years and will probably survive as a great system for the many travellers that comprise the 8% high frequency guests. But the remaining 92% don’t get anything - and yet they’re probably more likely to become brand ambassadors. But nobody has come up with a better system, one that helps everyone. Nobody had worked out the Prime Membership of Hospitality. But is that even a fair comparison?


The Top Brands in Hotel Marketing and Technology

To measure the top brands I’m going to look only at the number of times the brand was part of the title in a top article from hotelmarketing.com. This doesn’t take into account if it was a positive or negative mention it merely looks at who was most spoken of, year by year over the last 5 years.

This year Airbnb became the number one brand in hotel marketing which is quite a feat. Dethroning both Expedia and Booking who have been competing for the spot every year since 2013. Amazon coming in at 4th place is quite interesting and shows that hotel marketing people really are looking at the disruptors and watching what is happening there.

Google has steadily been declining in hotel marketing interest. Probably because Google wants to ensure they are very far from the limelight while they slowly take more market share with their various products. However they moved from 6th place in 2017 to 5th place in 2018 so they’re not fully being ignored.

TripAdvisor peaked at 3rd place in 2017 but vent back down to 6th place in 2018, and unlike Google they need more visibility as they need the revenue. Will they manage to get that back with their social stream product? It would be awesome if they could. As I’ve said before, the product seems great, but a little late.

Hotel Chains have not managed to get much attention this year, outside of Marriott and for all the wrong reasons.


In Summary

The hotel distribution space is looking for innovation and possibly a bit of disruption (as long as it is happening elsewhere). OTAs have largely matured into the default distribution system, but now that they have finished disrupting hotel distribution they’ve become the incumbents to disrupt and hotels seem to be curious about what will happen next. Meanwhile hotel tech companies are being consolidated while new startups are popping up everywhere.

Will 2019 be the year of disruption? I’m not sure, I think it will take another year or two.


Most Popular Posts by media in 2018

FROM Hospitality.net

The Value of Social Media in the Hospitality Industry

What to expect in 2018 from the battle between hotels and Airbnb

A Look Into Hotel Hospitality Trends for 2019

How Employee Engagement Drives Customer Loyalty

Mobile: 11 Eye-Opener Travel Stats For Hotel Marketers

Hotels Have a Growing Guest Loyalty Problem ... and They May Not Even Know It

Top Concerns Hotels Need to Know About the GDPR and How to Prepare Your Action Plan

8 Vital Email Marketing Tips for a Successful Hospitality Industry Campaign

How Can Hotels Increase Revenue Without Putting More Heads in Beds?

Why Luxury Hotel Brands are getting into the Vacation Rental Business in 2018

Another Move By The OTAs That Is Harmful To Hotel Profitability - What You Need To Know

Modern PMS: The Ultimate Hotel Revenue Generator

Dropping the Desk from the Hotel Front Desk

Digital disruption in the hospitality industry reinforces customer experience

Cloud PMS - A Safe Bet for Security, Liability and Payments

6 hotel booking trends we're watching in 2018

I feel sorry for Marriott...

The Death of Luxury, the Rise of Transformational Experiences

10 Luxury Travel Trends To Watch

3 Reasons Why Focusing On Guest Satisfaction Is A Losing Battle

Top 5 Things You Need to Know Now in Hotel Digital Marketing: June Edition

The Necessity of Social Media Marketing In 2018 And Beyond

Hotel marketing to millennials

Putting Your Hotel at the Forefront of Innovation

The Future Business Model of Hospitality Brands

Pay-for-Performance Model measures components of CEO compensation

Death to PMS Interface fees!

6 Simple Hospitality Management Ideas

How Do Boutique Hotels Benefit From the Rise of the Soft Brand?

5 Signs It's Time to Change Your Hotel Property Management System

In the Hotel Room of the Future, Technology Will Simplify Things

New Regulation To Protect Hotel Housekeepers: Are You Ready?

Revenue Strategy Report: How Blockchain Could Disrupt Hotel Distribution And Loyalty

Top renovation ideas that will help your hotel stand out and increase revenue

Hotel Preventive Maintenance: Focus Areas

Don't Lag Behind: Emerging Hotel Technology Trends for Hospitality Industry

How Programmatic is Transforming the Hotel Industry

The Future of the Hotel Internet Booking Engine

Built for the Cloud: A Blueprint for Hotel Technology Success

Why a Mobile Cloud PMS is a Perfect Fit for Independent Collections, Groups, and Brands

Authenticity Beats Customer Service Anytime

Is the Future of Hotel Property Management Systems in the Cloud?

Unique Revenue Types in the Vacation Rental Industry

Hotel Rooms vs Apples. Specifics of Managing Perishable Inventory

5 compelling reasons why you should make guest experience your hotel's niche

Which Department Handles Customer Experience? All Of Them

"Code Itineraries": A roadmap for the travel industry to unlock one trillion dollars in value by 2025

How to Improve Your Hotel UX Web Design (4 Things that Are Important to Your Visitors)

Casual Dining: A Fresh Perspective

3 Misguided Trends in the Hotel Industry Today

From Phocuswire (in reverse order)

Air Canada and WestJet irked over Hopper's Secret Fares

The Power of Email Marketing in Hospitality

Google Flights: the mainstream player everyone feared?

Amazon's options for disrupting online travel: try or buy

Interview: Airbnb CEO says it's now "100%" battling online travel agencies

Airbnb tests eliminating guest fees in new pilot program

Booking Holdings reveals $12.7B revenue, goes lukewarm on Airbnb threat

Welcome to the Hot 25 Startups for 2019

Airbnb officially opens up platform to hotel distribution

I was a senior VP of technology at Starwood - here’s my take on the guest data breach


From Hotelmarketing.com

Airbnb officially opens up platform to hotel distribution

DHISCO tries to bounce back for the post-hotel era

Booking.com to launch Risk Free Hotel Reservations program

Deloitte’s 2018 travel and hospitality industry outlook

Amazon, Facebook and the future of travel tech booking

How Airbnb is growing with online marketing

Booking.com is now offering third-party inventory with Booking.basic

How Airbnb overtook Booking.com

Will blockchain be hospitable to the travel and hospitality industry?

Airbnb vs. Booking.com: who will win the online accomodation battle?

How Expedia Add-On Advantage and Booking.basic harm hotel profitability

Expedia study: OTAs are the preferred way to book, especially amongst Gen Z

Report: Direct distribution is no cheaper for hotels than indirect

Expedia: Heavy investment in marketing and content starts to pay off

How Google’s organic search results have become ineffective for hotels

Amadeus in talks to acquire TravelClick

Up to 80% of last-minute hotel bookings are now made on mobile devices

Airbnb for hotels: Here’s how it works

How TripAdvisor ranks hotels

Amazon could disrupt online travel industry next, Morgan Stanley says

McKinsey: Digital trends in travel

Is Google working with hotel chains to hurt OTAs?

The state of Hotel Central Reservations Systems (CRS)

Airbnb ad campaign invites hotels to reduce OTA reliance

Online travel is a huge opportunity for Amazon

TripAdvisor releases path to purchase study: How consumers research and book travel online

Airbnb accused of deleting negative reviews

Booking.com TV advert banned

Hoping for better customer service, travelers turn to Facebook’s Messenger

RateGain buys DHISCO, creating a hotel distribution powerhouse

Expedia is coming after Airbnb, Booking in home-rental market

Hotel Distribution Channel Strategy: The path to profitability

For Millennials Instagrammability of holidays most important factor when booking

Hotel Distribution: How rate parity is evolving

Expedia study reveals key trends in ‘booming’ bleisure travel sector

Top loyalty trends in hospitality

Why hotel brands should really be scared of Expedia

The OTA battlefield: Legislation to loyalty

Marriott aims to cut commissions for OTAs

Securing last minute hotel bookings during peak season

How a Danish hotel portal wants to go global with no marketing

Travelers who book through OTAs stay longer, says Expedia

Expedia Affiliate Network launches new API solution

Booking.com to close RateManager

How blockchains for hotel reservations work

Overbooked: Expedia and Booking Holdings battle the digital duopoly

Why Airbnb is taking some lessons in hospitality from the hotel industry

Google Maps: A new approach to hotel listings

Is hotel luxury dead?

Amazon launches Alexa for hotels

Airbnb is overhauling its business, becoming more hotel-like




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