2014 digital-strategies-for-hotel-marketers


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2014 digital-strategies-for-hotel-marketers

  1. 1. vfmleonardo.com
  2. 2. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 in 2014 ///////////////////////////////////////////// Digital Marketing Strategies for Hotel Marketers ///////////////////////////////////////////// Table of Contents ///////////////////////////////////////////// vfmleonardo.com Share this eBook 04 Chapter One: 06 06 07 08 08 09 The Emergence Of Visual Storytelling Content Became Snackable Social Media Went Visual- And Video-Crazy Video Continued Its Dominance The Rise Of The Digital Elite Mobile Grew… And Grew Some More 10 Chapter Two: 12 13 Why Visual Storytelling Matters Defining Your Hotel’s Story 14 find success 16 18 19 21 Source: How And Where To Get Your Content Curate: Package Your Story Publish: Produce, Present Your Story Amplify: How, When And Where To Tell Your Story 23 Chapter Four: 24 25 27 30 31 Your Website Your Social Media Footprint Your Mark on Mobile Your Use Of Video Have Your Say on OTAs 33 Chapter Five: 44 About VFM Leonardo Chapter Three: A Year in Review 2014 - The Future is Here 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Putting it All Together Go Forth and Be a Superstar Storyteller vfmleonardo.com
  3. 3. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 Thanks for downloading! As 2013 comes to a close and we begin to prepare for the next year, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about how you can set yourself up for success. In this eBook, we reflect on what happened in digital marketing in 2013 and explore why visual storytelling is the primary driver for the most successful online marketing programs. This eBook is assembled with the collective knowledge and insight from many key industry experts. You can read more of their reflections and predictions in the bonus section at the end of the eBook. I sincerely hope you find it helpful as you develop your digital marketing strategy for the year to come. Regards, John McAuliffe President VFM Leonardo, Inc. vfmleonardo.com
  4. 4. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 Chapter One a year in review vfmleonardo.com
  5. 5. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 5 Life in the digital age moves fast So fast, sometimes, that we don’t even notice it changing! The internet is a constantly evolving source of information, news, entertainment, communication and commerce. For hotel marketers, the need to adapt and keep up with the digital marketing revolution has never been more critical. But it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest trends. The second you’ve mastered the art of the 6 second video on Vine, Instagram introduces their 15 second version. Then just when you finally start to generate “likes” on Facebook, you hear that Google+ is gaining popularity… it’s like a digital marketing arms race! And the reality is that you can’t risk falling behind – after all, your competitors, travel channels and guests aren’t going to wait for you to catch up. For hotel marketers, preparation and planning can help mitigate the risk of falling behind. But first, let’s take a look back at how digital marketing unfolded in 2013. vfmleonardo.com
  6. 6. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 6 A Year In Review The emergence of visual storytelling Content became snackable Visual storytelling emerged at the heart of the most successful marketing campaigns in 2013. Stories are being told everywhere, about everything from consumer packaged goods (think Swiffer commercials) to reality shows (like House Hunters) and naturally, the travel industry. Take a look at the way the web has evolved in the last 12 months – even on the sites you visit on a daily basis – you can see it’s more than just talk. Pictures are bigger and more dynamic. Large blocks of text are dwindling. Streaming video is commonplace. Rather than simply “reading” websites, users are “experiencing” them. Following suit with the visual-first trend, online content has become increasingly “snackable.” Glenn Engler, the CEO of Digital Influence Group defines snackable content as “bite-sized chunks of information that can be quickly ‘consumed’ by its audience”. In 2013 we learned to share easily digestible portions because on-the-go travel shoppers are more likely to engage with websites that offer bite-sized pieces and photos over text heavy websites. Key Stat Images are the most-shared items on both Facebook and Twitter, with an average of 1609 and 850 shares per image, respectively. Videos are the second-most shared item on Facebook, and the third-most shared on Twitter.22 Hotels can create snackable content by converting the material they already have into small, easy to digest snippets of information. The best way to do this is to use visuals and short descriptions (1-2 sentences) to convey your message to travel shoppers. The average attention span of an adult online is only 8 seconds1. Make every moment count by making your content quick to digest, snackable, shareable and mobile optimized. vfmleonardo.com
  7. 7. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 7 A Year In Review Social media went visual- and video-crazy Visually-driven stories dominated social media channels in 2013. Facebook reports that 6 billion photos are uploaded each month. That’s over 200,000 per minute! 2 Pinterest continued its explosive growth, passing 70 million unique users in July3. Vine, Twitter’s six-second video burst software, debuted in January on iOS and expanded to Android in July, and surpassed 40 million registered users in August4. Google+ underwent a visually-driven redesign in May, with a multi-column layout that can show off multiple forms of media – including photos that can span the width of multiple columns – along with larger cover photos and albums. Google+ also experienced a 33 % growth in its user base in the last year7. Popular photo-sharing site Instagram added video sharing in June, and exceeded 150 million active users in September5. Snapchat announced that it broke the 200 million daily photo upload threshold in June… then blew that number away when it topped 350 million daily uploads in September6. vfmleonardo.com
  8. 8. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 8 A Year In Review Video continued its dominance YouTube announced that it surpassed one billion monthly users in the 1st quarter of 2013!8 U.S. advertisers spent more than $4 billion on digital video in 20139. And that’s just for starters: u According to Google, digital video will be more popular than social networking by 201710. u Short form videos have surged in popularity, accounting for more than 80% of total video views for digital content providers11. Think online video has reached a saturation level? Not even close! When it comes to sharing a visual story, video is a compelling, effective way to do it. u 51% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travelers watched travel-related videos in 201312. The rise of the digital elite A new marketing term appeared on the scene to describe the emerging segment of people who typically access the internet from a minimum of 2 mobile devices. (Yes, many of these people are your guests!) Google points out that the digital elite move quickly from one device to another, often beginning the travel research process on a smartphone, then booking on a tablet or laptop computer18. The digital elite use mobile devices both simultaneously and sequentially. This technologically inclined demographic wants a seamless, consistent experience across all devices. In the fast paced world of constant connectivity, hotels need to stand out to catch the eyes of these savvy, multi-screen mavens. vfmleonardo.com
  9. 9. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 9 A Year In Review Mobile grew… and grew some more On-the-go devices continued to sell in record numbers throughout 2013, as consumers surfed the web, socialized, researched, compared, purchased, and chatted across all the devices used during their day. In fact, 2013 smartphone sales alone surpassed 1 billion devices globally13, and over 1.2 billion people accessed the web from a mobile device14. The overall stats for mobile growth are striking: u More than half of all travelers are researching their travel plans on their smartphone – and more than a third are doing the same on their tablet15. u According to Expedia, 65% of travelers who booked a hotel room less than 24 hours in advance did so using a mobile device16. u Approximately one-quarter of overall travelers booked accommodations on their smartphone or tablet in 201317. vfmleonardo.com
  10. 10. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 0 Chapter Two 2014: THE FUTURE IS HERE vfmleonardo.com
  11. 11. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 11 The Future of Digital is Visual Storytelling is a slogan that we’ve championed over the course of 2013. And while this has been true for the past year, the reality is that visual storytelling is no longer the future of digital, it is the present. There is little doubt that in 2014, the web will continue to evolve into a visual-first platform where large images, engaging video, and snackable chunks of content will not only be expected by consumers, but demanded. Best-in-class websites, including those in the travel industry, have figured out how to use the right mix of photos, videos and text to effectively tell stories and create memorable virtual experiences. When you create an online atmosphere that makes a visitor truly “feel” like they’re at your property– you’re that much closer to having them click your “book now” button. In order to be successful in 2014, it will be necessary for hotel marketers to understand what it means to be a visual storyteller. Hoteliers must develop the necessary skills and understand how to apply them throughout the facets of their digital marketing strategy – a strategy that includes web, mobile, social media and third party merchandising. Before we take a look at each of these elements, let’s look at what it means to be a visual storyteller and a few best practices for developing and sharing your hotel’s story. vfmleonardo.com
  12. 12. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 2 2014: The Future is Here Why Visual Storytelling matters It’s not just that our computer and phone screens are better and our download speeds faster. Studies show that people prefer—even on a subconscious level— to interact with visuals over plain text. According to William C. Bradford, author of Reaching the Visual Learner: Teaching Property Through Art, 65% of the population are visual learners. And according to Carol Jeffers, professor at California State University, our brains are wired to respond to, interact with, imitate and mirror behavior that we see. She argues that our brains’ visual systems allow us to “experience our own actions and those of others at an abstract level of representation.” Another benefit of visuals, that may be of particular interest to those of you who market to hotel shoppers around the globe, is that imagery transcends all languages - no translation required! What is Visual Storytelling? The best websites don’t just throw some pictures and video on the home page. They combine those pictures and videos with interesting written descriptions to tell stories—stories that are remembered and shared and most importantly, allow the audience to experience whatever it is the website is selling. Good hotel storytellers are moving away from blocks of boring, standard text towards big, beautiful images, compelling video and captivating narratives. These marketers know that when it comes to getting the consumer to choose their property, they need to emotionally connect with the hotel shopper, while showcasing its features and amenities. Provide an experience where your guest will imagine themselves staying with you! vfmleonardo.com
  13. 13. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 3 2014: The Future is Here Defining your hotel’s story At the heart of your digital marketing strategy is your hotel’s story. It’s the foundation upon which you’ll build the rest of your digital plan. A good story attracts attention, inspires, is remembered and shared. Not every hotel has a grand, allencompassing story, but from roadside motels to five star resorts, each property has a unique tale to tell. If you have a Happy Hour, you have a story. If you have a special promotion, you have a story. Don’t become overwhelmed trying to craft a singular masterpiece, instead, highlight the individual anecdotes that make the hotel unique. How do you find your story? Start by asking yourself these questions: u What is different about your hotel relative to competitors? u Who are your guests? Families? Corporate Travelers? Wedding Parties? Sports Groups? u What makes your location unique? Are you in the museum district? Close to an airport? Waterpark? u Do you offer any special services for children? Pets? Bardessono Hotel in Napa (right) tells a story on their website that gives visitors a glimpse into the hotel. They use engaging photography and descriptive text to share the story of Lucy Restaurant’s garden. There are complementary pages displaying updated events, menus and more photos, which do a great job engaging the reader and increasing the length of time a reader stays on the website. vfmleonardo.com
  14. 14. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 4 Chapter Three 4 components of successful storytelling vfmleonardo.com
  15. 15. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 5 The Cycle of Visual Storytelling Now that you understand what visual storytelling is, why it’s important, and how to start creating your narrative, let’s break down the art and science of storytelling into 4 essential elements. SOURCE CURATE Use professional and amateur sources Focus on what visitors to your property will experience Find “real” photos photos that show actual visitors enjoying your property Curate the content into areas the customers are interested in: rooms, attractions, etc Leverage all of your media - photos, videos, virtual tours Sort your media into stories PUBLISH Publish your curated content as individual distinct stories Refresh your content often Maximize the space on your website AMPLiFY Find multiple ways to tell your story online Make the most of social media and travel sites Keep your branding and tone consistent Expanding your visual storytelling efforts with rich, engaging media will make your hotel stand out from the competition and give web visitors a “you-are-there” feeling when they find your property online. vfmleonardo.com
  16. 16. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 6 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Source: How and where to get your content At this point it should be clear: To take your hotel’s website to the next level, you need to reinforce it with strong visuals. The next logical step is acquiring those visuals! You probably already have a collection of professional media: photos of the property, including rooms, business center, pool and so on. You may also have virtual tours and videos. That’s a great start. You can round out your existing media by sourcing photos and videos from the surrounding businesses. Your local tourism board is a great place to start, but don’t hesitate to reach out to restaurants and attractions directly. This way, you show your visitors that your hotel experience isn’t just on the grounds of your property—it extends to the local area as well. Next, consider “non-professional” media. This can include photos that you and your staff can take yourself of the property and area, as well as photos sourced from guests, including any they’ve tagged of your property on social media. (These can be linked to, but always get permission if you intend to use them in other ways). While these sorts of photos may not have the “shine and polish” of a professional, they offer an authenticity that appeals to travelers. Today’s camera technology, loaded with new, easy to use features make amateur photography better than ever. These guest sourced images show real people enjoying your hotel in a real way. A balanced mix of professional and amateur photos and videos can really bring your property’s story to life! Tips for sourcing content u Look beyond your door: Connect with the local tourism board and nearby attractions, restaurants and other vendors and suppliers for photos that showcase the experience of staying in your area. u Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest contests are very popular for a number of reasons. They help promote the hotel and engage potential guests, both local and out of town. They can provide exceptional imagery that hotels can use on their websites, and they encourage online sharing. u Be authentic: Staged photos have their place, but remember to use candid pictures of real guests enjoying your property. vfmleonardo.com
  17. 17. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 7 4 Components of Successful Storytelling u Most hotels have an aspiring photographer on staff, utilize their abilities! Try holding an employee contest for new photos, with prizes for the best entries. u Create a photography lesson package for guests with a local photographer. Use the best photos on your hotel website. u Most importantly, when you do have new images, showcase them prominently on your website and promote them on social media. The Freehand in Miami (left) takes advantage of Instagram’s professional looking photos by sourcing them from guests! The hostel encourages visitors to contribute to their online gallery by tagging @FreehandMiami on Instagram. The guest photos that get uploaded create endless opportunities for unique, fresh photography each week. The hostel gains a constant stream of images from guests’ perspectives, and guests get to see their images shared on the property website. vfmleonardo.com
  18. 18. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 8 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Curate: Package your story Mixed media that doesn’t tell a story is a pretty boring thing. Once you’ve arranged an effective method of sourcing content and keeping it fresh, how do you actually curate it in a way that makes sense? Visually representing your hotel’s story requires more than just adding a massive gallery of property photos to your site. they stay with you. Organize content into easily digestable “snackable” chunks. Transforming your content into great stories can be a challenge, but the best way to start is to keep it simple. Consider the season, local attractions, or special events. If it’s summertime, you can show off your pool, outdoor recreational activities, the local amusement park, beach or zoo—basically any local summertime hotspot. The way you present your photos and multimedia should accurately represent what a guest will experience when One of the easiest ways to curate your story online is by setting up a blog or dedicated page where you can post updates about your property. Arowhon Pines Resort (right) keeps site visitors in the loop by posting weekly updates about what’s going on at the property. Their story is clear and engaging through this regularly maintained blog. Tips for curating content u Guest experience: Keep your photos and videos grouped and presented in logical manner. Always remember it’s the guests’ experience that you want to showcase. u Maximize your search engine optimization: Tagging your multiple, linked pieces of content with common search terms and keywords can help boost your organic search rankings, making your hotel easier to find. u Organize your media into logical sections that are easy for guests to navigate. u Try posting regular updates to a blog or specific page on your website to keep visitors engaged and in-the-know. vfmleonardo.com
  19. 19. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 1 9 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Publish: Produce and present your story You’ve collected your content, developed or curated stories that reflect the experience that will inspire your guests, now it’s time to publish your story online. Multimedia galleries are a common and logical step. Dividing them into sub-sections that each tell part of your story is an easy and straightforward way to publish your content in an engaging and interesting manner. Think beyond your homepage and find opportunities within other sections of your website to publish these stories. If you have a page about your restaurant, produce a gallery that features your top menu items, guests enjoying their meals or a video of the bartender crafting their signature cocktail. Barnsley Gardens Resort (left) makes the most of every opportunity to publish their story online. From their website, to customized Facebook apps to third party channels, this resort is sharing their up-to-date story across multiple platforms across the web. Platform consideration is also part of the publishing step. Beyond your own standard website, you also need to contemplate your tablet- and smartphone-optimized sites, and the different needs of those devices. At this stage you can also consider publishing your story on social media and online travel sites. vfmleonardo.com
  20. 20. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 0 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Tips for publishing content u Stay current: Refreshing your content is key, especially if your property or the local attractions go through changes. You want your guests to see what your hotel is really like, not what it used to look like. u Capture your audience “above the fold”—the space of your web page that’s visible on initial view without any scrolling. This is your website’s most valuable real estate. u Take advantage of every opportunity to publish your story, including on your website, social media channels and in your email signature. vfmleonardo.com
  21. 21. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 1 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Amplify: How, when and where to tell your story Make use of multiple channels to tell your story in a compelling, engaging manner. Good stories aren’t just told once— they’re re-told, over and over, often in different mediums. Your hotel’s story, and your digital marketing plan, should follow the same idea. After all, if you’re not telling your story, you’re not going to benefit from all the resources you put into sourcing, curating and publishing your content! Sharing, or amplifying your story, can encompass several different means. You can share your stories on travel websites, review sites and OTAs, include links in your e-mail signatures and even add them to sales proposals. You can also tweet about your latest gallery or multimedia presentation, share links on Facebook, add photos to Instagram or create a board on Pinterest. Ultimately, your goal should be to tell your story to as many potential visitors as possible, using all of the channels available to you. Modern travelers do their research on a variety of platforms (desktop, mobile) and channels (website, social, travel sites). By ensuring a consistent, visually rich and engaging presence across these platforms and channels, you can be confident you’re always putting your hotel’s best face forward, regardless of how a prospect finds you! vfmleonardo.com
  22. 22. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 2 4 Components of Successful Storytelling Tips for amplifying content u Be consistent: While the specific details of the stories you tell may differ —and you’ll want to play to the strengths of each channel and platform—it’s important to keep your tone and branding elements consistent so that no matter where a visitor finds your story, they know it’s you telling it. u Keep it fresh: We’ve discussed keeping your content current in previous sections, but it’s an important aspect of amplifying your website as well. You don’t want to just tweet out the same photo gallery over and over. People will be more apt to click and share your links if your content is refreshed and current! The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort (left) empowers people to amplify their content across the web thanks to the visual smorgasbord of Pinterest. By sharing engaging, current images on their boards, the King and Prince allows other Pinterest users to repin their content and their message has an even further reach online! vfmleonardo.com
  23. 23. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 3 Chapter Four putting it all together vfmleonardo.com
  24. 24. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 4 Putting It All Together Now that you understand the key steps involved with visual storytelling online, it’s time to apply these concepts in a practical way. your story; leveraging social media to connect and engage with your guests; developing an optimized mobile web presence; and establishing a presence on OTAs and other travel channels where consumers are searching. Let’s explore each of these elements in more detail to learn how to apply your visual story throughout the wheel. Your website Think of your visual story as the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. The pieces that it supports include your website; using video to tell Even with all of the other channels you should be leveraging as part of your digital marketing strategy, your website remains a critical component of your brand and your story. After all, close to 40% of hotel stays booked online, are booked through direct websites19 – and direct websites account for more than half of the dollar value of all bookings.20 Key Stat According to a recent Expedia report, hotels that doubled the amount of pictures online saw a 4.5% spike in take-up and increased their daily average rate (ADR) by $3.50.21 When it comes to best practices for website design in 2014, as discussed earlier, websites in general are moving towards visually-driven design, with striking, high-quality images taking up a majority of page real estate. Hotel websites are following the same trend; take a look at some of the best-known brands, and the difference is clear. vfmleonardo.com
  25. 25. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 5 Putting It All Together 2014 Website To-Do List u Review your current website. Ensure your images are large, inviting and authentic and your text descriptions are short and to the point, with exciting language. Use bulleted lists or bolding when possible. u Curate a library of images – and update them regularly. Include your own professional images, but allow room for photos taken by your guests as well by sourcing from social media. u Use multimedia – photos, videos, panoramas, 3D virtual tours and more – to tell your hotel’s story and truly showcase the look and feel of your property to your online visitors. In addition to informative, professional photos, your hotel website should feature authentic, engaging images to accent your story. Take this opportunity to source photos that your guests are sharing on social media channels. Gather the content and curate it in a way that tells your story in a clear, engaging way. Your social media footprint Social media has become one of the key ways society connects and communicates today. And while that connection takes place on a personal level – between friends and family – it also takes place on a “business” level, between consumers and businesses. When it comes to social media, hotel marketers need to listen to the conversation: both the written word and the images being uploaded. Knowing what people are saying about you will help you craft your hotel’s story. Once you’ve listened in, it’s time to join the conversation! The beauty of social media is that it’s a three-way dialogue. Encourage your guests to share your story online, thereby amplifying it throughout their own networks. Sharing images of guests enjoying your property (with their permission) is a great way of making them feel special and share your story. As you share images, guests will share more, too. This creates an ideal opportunity for you to source fresh content from what is being posted online. vfmleonardo.com
  26. 26. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 6 Putting It All Together 2014 Social Media To-Do List u Determine which social sites are best for your property. Facebook should be at the top of every hotelier’s “must-do” list; Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are also important, but ensure you have the time and resources to manage your participation on multiple sites. u Encourage visitors to post content – particularly images and videos – to social sites. Create a hashtag they can use when posting to associate the content to your hotel (and make sure your visitors are aware of it)! “ Telling a story from the perspective of your guests is great way to reinforce key value propositions without overtly promoting. Brewster House B&B in Freeport, Maine does this effectively in this post on its Facebook page: ‘Cute couple got engaged here last night. Now enjoying champagne oranges, banana bread, and blueberry stuffed French toast.’ The subtext here is, “Come here for romance and a great breakfast.” The messaging is clever and authentic at the same time. An accompanying photo of the couple (with their permission) or, Daniel Edward Craig barring that, a photo of Reknown the setting, the view or breakfast, would round the story out perfectly. u Use a mix of user-generated and professionallygenerated content to tell your story. The pro-shot and proedited video and the perfectly color-balanced photos sure look great, but content created by guests will help show your online visitors what a stay at your property is like. vfmleonardo.com
  27. 27. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 7 Putting It All Together Your mark on mobile When it comes to your digital marketing strategy, you can’t be satisfied with a “one-size-fits-all” plan. We live in a multi-screen, constantly-connected world. Consumers don’t just “use the internet” on their PCs anymore; they’re always online with their phones and tablets. Optimizing your hotel’s online presence for these mobile devices is key to keeping your current and future guests engaged. Providing a consistent experience across varied devices is key, as consumers are frequently beginning their search on one device, and completing it on another. To further understand this multi-screen world, let’s look at this study from Google (on the next page). Planning a trip is one of the primary tasks people do on their devices. Interestingly, 47% of people start their travel planning from their smartphone over a desktop/laptop or tablet. Again this speaks to context; that is, what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and from where. So you can see how critical it is to give the consumer the best experience for the device they’re on. Key Stat Mobile web traffic grew 10 times faster than desktop web traffic last year.23 Consumers are looking for snackable content while they’re on-the-go, so mobile is an important medium for a hotel storyteller. vfmleonardo.com
  28. 28. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 8 Smartphone Most Common Starting Place for Planning a Trip Started on Smartphone 65% 63% 65% 47% 59% 66% 56% Started on a PC/Laptop 29% 30% 25% 38% 34% 30% 34% Started on a Tablet 7% 7% 11% 15% 7% 4% 11% Searching for Info Browsing the Internet Shopping Online Planning a Trip Managing Finances Social Networking Watching an Online Video vfmleonardo.com
  29. 29. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 2 9 Putting It All Together Red South Beach Hotel (below) optimizes the mobile experience by offering travel shoppers eye-catching visuals, click-to-call functionality and easy to access tours. Ideal for the travel shopper on-the-go, this mobile site offers an optimal experience! 2014 Mobile To-Do List u Review and test your mobile-optimized sites. Mobile is a constantly evolving space, with new devices and updated operating systems appearing on the market regularly. It’s critical to ensure your mobile sites are optimized for multiple platforms. u Ensure your smartphone site uses smartphone capabilities. Enable click-to-call and click-to-get directions functions to make the experience fast, easy and intuitive. u Show off your guest rooms on your mobile optimized website with great visuals and informative text descriptions for each. u Include local attractions as many guests are researching hotels from mobile devices on the go for last minute bookings! u Ensure you’re providing a consistent message across website, smartphone and tablet. This will give travel shoppers the assurance that you’re reliable as they move between devices. u Use mobile-optimized photos and videos to tell your story. Thumbnails that lead to large images and short-form video are ideal for on-the-go visitors; making effective use of them can help draw your mobile visitors into your story. vfmleonardo.com
  30. 30. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 0 Putting It All Together Your use of video In the last year, a virtual “video arms race” broke out online, with Twitter first announcing Vine, followed by Instagram adding video to its service. But it’s no surprise; consumers crave video. Travel shoppers are no exception: Google’s 2013 Traveler study found that both leisure and business travelers are watching online video throughout the travel shopping journey – from the moment they start thinking about a trip right up until they decide which website to book on.24 The beauty of video is that there’s no limit to the types of content you can share, and with simple to use editing software and highresolution video cameras becoming more and more affordable, (and built in to most smartphones) anyone can become a director. And of course, every guest that walks through your door is a potential content source! User-generated videos are a great, authentic way to show off your property and demonstrate “realworld” people enjoying everything your hotel has to offer. 2014 Video To-Do List u Create more videos! Virtual tours of your facility are a staple, but consider more “authentic” video as well – visitors enjoying your pool or making use of your business center. Guest testimonials are also worth considering; all of these help tell your story and give online visitors a feel for your property. u Share. Beyond your own site, leverage your videos across multiple channels. Facebook and OTAs are obvious channels on which to showcase your video; consider adding video to your mobile sites as well. u Be creative. Particularly when it comes to social. A six-second Vine or 15-second Instagram video might not seem like much, but users (particularly on-the-go mobile users) are used to digesting information in snackable chunks. Showcase the top choices from your menu on Vine, or create a welcome message from your concierge on Instagram. vfmleonardo.com
  31. 31. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 1 Putting It All Together Have your say on OTAs Your customers use multiple channels as they travel through the shopping journey online. It’s critical that A) you have a presence on those channels and B) your presence represents your story and your brand in an effective and engaging way. OTAs in particular are a large part of the shopping journey - making them an important place to tell your story online. Well before they reach the booking stage, customers start comparison shopping between various properties. In fact, studies suggest that travelers hit more than 20 different sites online before they make a booking decision, including review sites, search engines, blogs and social media - as well as hotel websites and OTAs27 - with the most common sources for comparison research being Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Travelocity.com.28 OTAs drive a lot of traffic; ignoring them is a mistake. Leverage your presence on these channels by presenting your hotel in a way that sets you apart from the homogenous list of hotels, allowing you to compete on something other than price. Key Stat 64% of leisure travelers and 57% of business travelers always comparison shop on OTAs before booking.29 vfmleonardo.com
  32. 32. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 2 Putting It All Together 2014 OTA To-Do List u Ramp up your OTA presence. Much like your own website, strong visuals that tell a compelling story are key to a successful OTA presence. People are visiting OTAs during the research and planning phases, so it’s critical that you put your best foot forward and catch their attention early. u Ensure consistency across channels. While you should definitely adapt your message to make the most of each specific channel, at its core, your story and branding must remain consistent – the experience must clearly be you. Regardless of how the user finds you, each channel needs to contribute to the “you-are-there” experience. u Engage with guests and prospects on OTAs and other channels. Much like social, OTAs and review sites are a great places for you to engage and respond directly to guests. Remain aware of what’s being said about your property, and respond when appropriate. vfmleonardo.com
  33. 33. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 3 Chapter Five go forth and be a superstar storyteller vfmleonardo.com
  34. 34. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 4 Go Forth And Be A Superstar Storyteller Travel is the world’s largest industry, and together, we can be leaders and trendsetters when it comes to digital marketing. Planning ahead and paying close attention to what your peers and competitors are doing can help keep you ahead of the curve. There’s no other industry that has an inherently built in story like hospitality. Take time now to create a 2014 marketing plan that includes developing your hotel narrative, integrated with rich visuals and context that will inspire guests. Source, Curate, Publish, Amplify. Once you’ve completed the 4 essential elements of successful visual storytelling, showcase your property on all of the travel websites, social media platforms and devices consumers are using. Hotel shoppers will be delighted to find that their travel expectations can be met by your property. It’s a fun, exciting time to be in hotel marketing. It’s your story; tell it and enjoy the year! vfmleonardo.com
  35. 35. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 5 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say What is your reaction to a hotelier that says, “my hotel doesn’t have a story?” How can a hotelier assess the value of their hotel’s Facebook Page? “ “ A hotel might not have a clearly defined overarching story, but it still has individual stories, ranging from guest testimonials to a special employee. Focus on micro vs. macro. Focus on any ways that the hotel positively impacts the guest experience, and share those stories. Also, consider topical content about the immediate neighborhood that will appeal to specific guest demographics. Greg Oates Hotel Strategist People are engaging with Pages more than ever before. Your Facebook Page is a one-stop shop for users to learn all about your hotel. Engaging content is key to attract Facebook users to your hotel’s Page. Content can range from compelling photos, videos and timely contests and deals. Hoteliers can assess the value of their Page by studying the level of engagement via Facebook Page Insights and using targeting tools, such as Facebook Exchange, to see if users who are visiting the Page are also visiting the hotel’s site and booking a stay. Lee McCabe Global Head of Travel Facebook vfmleonardo.com
  36. 36. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 6 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say How can hotels gain more “likes” on their Facebook page? “ I don’t think gaining likes should ever be the end goal, but maybe a means to an end: building a community of people who share an affinity with your brand. Hotels focus on likes because they’re easy to measure and give the illusion of popularity. But it’s a vanity metric that has little meaning on its own. What’s more important is who likes you. Did they like the page only to win a contest or would they pay for a room even if they didn’t win? People are getting stingier about liking brands because they don’t want their feed clogged with promotional messaging. So hotels have to work hard to build communities. How? Well, start by being likeable. That means helpful and curious, plugged into your destination, responsive, resourceful, and not too talkative. Funny helps, too. Once you get people to like your page, great content and meaningful engagement will help ensure that they continue to like you and your content over time. Daniel Edward Craig Reknown Hoteliers always want to drive bookings through their direct channels – and specifically their websites. What role do visuals and visual storytelling play on hotel websites and why should hoteliers put an emphasis on this in 2014? “ It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. And sharing visually (either through still images, video or virtual tour) can offer more powerfully moving story telling than even the most awesome poetry. Proof of that power can be seen in the popularity of today’s social media platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine and others. Or on any facebook page whose business uses imagery well to support individual posts. Check out the sheer numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of image/video posts vs. strictly text posts. That’s all you need to know. Monica Rafter Owner Write On Marketing Communications vfmleonardo.com
  37. 37. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 7 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say What are some of the best methods for incorporating video in an online marketing campaign? “ The obvious way is to get your video out there. YouTube has over one billion unique visitors each month, so taking the time and effort to get your video on YouTube as well as add the appropriate title, tags and descriptions is super important. The next obvious one is any social channels you’re on, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, encourage your guests, as well as employees and friends to share increases engagement. Why should hoteliers and management companies make mobile optimization a priority in 2014? Another key place that is proven to be very successful is adding video to your landing page. The average attention span is about 8 seconds, which means you have less than a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and to convey your message. Adding a video to your page is one of the best ways of conveying a lot of information in a short time, and increase the amount of time people spend on your page. Mobile is an integral part of consumers’ lives and so optimizing is cost of entry. Optimizing for mobile is understanding how consumers behave on phones and tablets – and not simply re-sizing web content for a smaller screen as consumers behave differently on each screen. Colin Osing Vice President - Marketing SoMedia Networks “ Top reasons to optimize: u Screen Time: Roughly 1/3 of total screen time is spent on a mobile device and often outside the home/office u Smartphone Users are Social: They are 2-3x more likely to share information with friends and their social networks – they amplify messages and talk about your business/brand. Jed Schneiderman Co-Founder & President Tapped Mobile vfmleonardo.com
  38. 38. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 8 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say We continue to hear that mobile has arrived, yet so many hotels still lack an optimized mobile presence. Is mobile here and if it is, why should hoteliers and management companies make mobile optimization a priority in 2014? “ There is no question that all hotels need to make sure that their online presence is device agnostic. Consumer for all markets today are sourcing information and engaging with hotels in a variety of methods; we need to be responsive to the behavior of our current and prospective customers. I think the large brands have been able to manage this evolution but it’s independent hotels and resorts that need to identify a method to stay abreast of emerging distribution patterns and confirm that they have resources dedicated to managing this internally or outsourcing the strategy and tactics. Robert A. Gilbert President & CEO Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International How should hotels deal with “3 screen” marketing strategies? “ As mobile and tablet continue to stake their claims in visitor device share, three screen marketing is becoming that much more crucial for hotels to adopt. In the past, television was traditionally the third screen in the cluster of devices. While users do search through their televisions with Apple TV, television apps, and game consoles, conversion rates for hotels are typically seen through desktop, mobile, and tablet. Whether you’re targeting users with completely different site versions or a responsive website, designing and optimizing for each type of device and considering the behavior associated with each will create the strong user experience that will promote bookings and return visitors. Katharyn Vera Senior Account Manager Blue Magnet Interactive vfmleonardo.com
  39. 39. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 3 9 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say Describe the role you see social media playing in the travel shopping journey today and why you see this as important? “ The relationship between social media and travel has changed over the last few years. Facebook is playing an increasingly important role in the travel experience. I like to think about the traditional five stages of travel – Dream, Plan, Book, Experience, Share. Facebook not only impacts each one, but it has also evolved the five stages. Sharing is no longer the last silo stage; it is now at the heart of every stage. The last stage should now be “reflect.” u People are Dreaming about travel on Facebook. u People are Planning travel on Facebook. Travelers are 80% more likely to book a trip from a friend liking a Page than they are from responding to traditional advertising. Experiencing – Users are updating their status and/or sharing photos and videos while traveling. People return home, curate and Reflect on their favorite vacation photos on Facebook. For their friends viewing these photos, it’s a major factor in not only inspiring them to book a trip, but determining their next travel destination. Lee McCabe Global Head of Travel Facebook u People on Facebook are influencing Booking decisions. vfmleonardo.com
  40. 40. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 0 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say How can hotels gain more “likes” on their Facebook page? “ I don’t think gaining likes should ever be the end goal, but maybe a means to an end: building a community of people who share an affinity with your brand. Hotels focus on likes because they’re easy to measure and give the illusion of popularity. But it’s a vanity metric that has little meaning on its own. What’s more important is who likes you. Robert Cole Founder RockCheetah Did they like the page only to win a contest or would they pay for a room even if they didn’t win? People are getting stingier about liking brands because they don’t want their feed clogged with promotional messaging. So hotels have to work hard to build communities. How? Well, start by being likeable. That means helpful and curious, plugged into your destination, responsive, resourceful, and not too talkative. Funny helps, too. Once you get people to like your page, great content and meaningful engagement will help ensure that they continue to like you and your content over time. What are some best practices for creating an amazing hotel video? “ A few come to mind, first of all, be careful not to jam too much content into one video. The good news is hotels have the luxury of a lot of great visuals to play with; the bad news is you can fall into a trap of jamming too much stuff in one video. I’d recommend being careful choosing the theme of your video. In my experience it’s better to create shorter videos and even create a series instead of one 5 or 6 minute video. In terms of types of videos, there are video tours, featured guest rooms that differentiate you from competitors. Reviews or testimonials are very effective, having guests talk about their stay, a hosted profile where an employee speaks about a feature of the hotel, it’s a personal way to connect with viewers, or do a traditional overview with a voice over and music. Colin Osing Vice President - Marketing SoMedia Networks In terms of timing, and the sweet spot for length, we find that 60-90 seconds is best. vfmleonardo.com
  41. 41. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 1 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say Hoteliers always want to drive bookings through their direct channels – and specifically their websites. What role do visuals and visual storytelling play on hotel websites and why should hoteliers put an emphasis on this in 2014? “ Direct channels are most attractive for hotels as they represent the lowest distribution cost. Unfortunately, the traveler could really care less about the hotel’s cost drivers – Most simply want a website that will make the hotel selection process simpler and less painful. This is normally accomplished by providing useful information in a fresh and innovative fashion that makes it easy to understand. Most importantly, it must make the customer feel appreciated by honestly and transparently communicating that satisfying their needs is the top priority. those similar to your typical guests taking advantage of its unique features and services of the property are much more compelling. Similarly, videos, featuring hotel staff members introducing the hotel, its services and highlights of the local area create an instant connection with the guest and help bridge the shopping and travel experience. Robert Cole Founder RockCheetah “ Travel is an emotional experience. Quality photos/videos communicate that emotional experience in a visceral way, and they make a stronger imprint on our memories. Also, as more and more people research travel on mobile devices, the visual impact of photography and videos plays an even more significant role leading to direct bookings. Greg Oates Hotel Strategist Creating a compelling narrative, with your guest in the lead role, can be most effectively accomplished by using visuals. While most hotels rely on sterile architectural shots, photos and videos of vfmleonardo.com
  42. 42. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 2 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say What do you anticipate the impact of visual media (photos, virtual tours, and videos) will be on consumer behavior and interaction? “ Managing consumer behavior and trends has always been difficult for a hotel company. In many organizations, the legacy model of operating or marketing hotels and hotel companies has formed structures or silos that make it difficult to be responsive or even understand the implications between functions that didn’t use to exist. Visual media is definitely an increasingly important part of the “content” that consumers should have access to if a hotel or hotel brand wants to differentiate itself from a competitor. Hotels can provide a very personalized experience; the technology available today to communicate this experience to a global universe of potential customers – or even a very targeted audience – has never been easier. The impact of visual media will only become more important to consumers in the future and therefore hotels Robert A. Gilbert have to use and leverage this type President & CEO of content. Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International What hotel marketing trends and developments surprised you in a good or bad way in 2013? “ One of the trends from 2013 that I am most surprised with is the hashtag. Although used in certain channels prior to 2013, the hashtag became very prominent in the social sphere this year, now used across Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, and the like, and as of March of this year, a RadiumOne study showed that 71% of social media users use hashtags in their posts or to find new content. While its use is less integral or prominent in certain channels, it’s arguably the easiest way that users and businesses can leverage extra exposure, organize types of posts, and create fun or interesting contextual information around their content. The hashtag is so trendy right now that users add them in posts on platforms that don’t even support them and actually hashtag verbal conversations, showing how Katharyn Vera expansive, surprising, Senior Account Manager and even viral its usage is. Blue Magnet Interactive vfmleonardo.com
  43. 43. BONUS MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 3 DIGITALSECTION What The Experts Have To Say What tone should hotel marketers take when posting on social media? “ The art of successful social media story telling mirrors successful cocktail party conversation. The fundamentals are these: u Remember why you are there. To see and be seen. To mingle with those you know quite well, those you know a little and to hopefully meet and engage a few new friends. u Work the crowd. Connect. Acknowledge. Seek out and interact with those who presumably already like you a lot, those who like you a little and those whom you don’t know. Yet. u Engage. Make others want to be with you. No matter what you’re sharing. Because they’ll come to like you THAT much! Share; not tell. Discover and explore common interests. And then, follow up. u Be conversational. Spin and weave stories or information of interest to your listeners. Don’t launch into a presentation all about YOU. Because nobody cares! Not until you give others a reason. Instead, seek common ground. Learn THEIR interests. Listen to what’s new with THEM. Get to know what’s important to THEM. Whatever the social media platform, consider each post every time a virtual cocktail party. Monica Rafter Owner Write On Marketing Communications u Cocktail party ‘tone’ is most effective when it is sincere, warm, friendly, familiar. Occasionally playful or direct. Never overly dramatic. And ALWAYS in the voice of the brand. u Keep the conversation going by always first being interestED; then being interestING. Mix it up. Share; not sell. vfmleonardo.com
  44. 44. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 4 About VFM Leonardo VFM Leonardo is a technology and online media company for the global hospitality industry. We provide e-marketers at hotel brands, management companies and hotel properties with technology, sales conversion tools and a global travel media network that enables them to better visually merchandise their hotels to millions of in-market travel shoppers monthly. Our core products, the VScape® Digital Asset Management System and VBrochure™ Online Merchandising System, leverage the VNetwork™ - the largest media syndication network in the industry. It includes all major search engines, Global Distribution Systems, online travel agencies, travel research and supplier websites, search portals, review, travel editorial, local directories and major social media and video sharing sites. Taking advantage of VBrochure’s mobile and social media platforms, hotels can ensure that their rich visual presentations reach consumers on their mobile devices and through their social graphs. For more information about VFM Leonardo, visit www.vfmleonardo.com. Share this eBook vfmleonardo.com
  45. 45. DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HOTEL MARKETERS IN 2014 / 4 5 SOURCES 1 http://smartblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SSS_Infographic_5_1-page-001.jpg 2 Pop Photo: How Many Photos Are Uploaded to The Internet Every Minute? (http://www.popphoto.com/ news/2013/05/how-many-photos-are-uploaded-to-internet-every-minute) 3 TheNextWeb: Pinterest now has 70 million users… (http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2013/07/10/semiocast-pinterest-now-has-704 million-users-and-is-steadily-gaining-momentum-outside-the-us/) The Verge: Vine hits 40 million users… (http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/20/4641980/vine-hits-40-million-registered-users-but-how-many5 are-active) Forbes: So Much For Facebook Ruining Instagram… (http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2013/09/08/so-much-for-facebook-ruining-instagram-it-just-hit-150-million-monthly-active-users/) 6 TechCrunch: Snapchat Now Sees 350M Photos Shared Daily (http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/09/snapchat-now-sees-350m-photos-shared-daily-up-from-200m-in-june/) 7 Business Insider: Suddenly, Google Plus Is Outpacing Twitter (http://www.businessinsider.com/google-plus-is-outpacing-twitter-2013-5) 8 Wired: YouTube hits 1 billion monthly users (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/03/youtube-1-billion-monthlyusers/) 9 Marketing Land: Online video ads to eclipse $4 billion 2013 (http://marketingland.com/report-online-video-ads-to-eclipse-4-billion-in-2013-43726) 10 Google: The 2013 Traveler 11 Tnooz: Latest online video stats show continued domination of short-form content (http://www.tnooz.com/article/latest-online-video-stats-show-continued-domination-of-short-form-content/) 12 Google: The 2013 Traveler 13 Gartner: Smartphone Sales Grew 46.5 Percent in Second Quarter (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2573415) 14 Mobify: 13 Stats to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Mobile in 2013 (http://www.mobify.com/blog/13-statsto-convince-your-boss-to-invest-in-mobile-in-2013/) 15 Google: The 2013 Traveler 16 Mashable: How mobile tech is changing travel (http://mashable.com/2012/09/03/mobile-tech-travel-infographic/) 17 Google: The 2013 Traveler 18 Google: The 2013 Traveler 19 Google Think Insights: The Hotel Traveler’s Road to Decision 2012 (http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/hotel-travelers-road-to-decision-2012.html) 20 HotelNewsNow: Consumer Booking Behavior in the Age of Comparison Shopping (http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Article/4861/Consumer-booking-behavior-in-the-age-of-comparison-shopping) 21 Tnooz.com: Five Tips From Expedia on how Hotels can Convert OTA Traffic into Bookings 22 Digitalbuzzblog: How to get your content shared (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/How-To-Get-ContentShared-XLarge.jpg) 23 BrightEdge: Mobile Share Analysis (http://info.brightedge.com/rs/brightedge/images/BrightEdge_2013_Mobile_Share_report.pdf) 24 Google: The 2013 Traveler 25 Digiday.com: 15 must-know stats for online video (http://digiday.com/brands/celtra-15-must-know-stats-for-online-video/) 26 Forbes: Video + Tablets: The Mobile Catalyst for E-Commerce (http://www.forbes.com/sites/darcytravlos/2012/08/18/ video-tablets-the-mobile-catalyst-for-e-commerce-watch-out-amazon/) 27 Travel Daily News: Study Sees Travel Distribution Transformed (http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/52490/study-sees-traveldistribution-transformed) 28 Google Think Insights: The Hotel Traveler’s Road to Decision 2012 29 Google: The 2013 Traveler VFML_eBook_2014_0145 vfmleonardo.com