In 2014, I predict that we will continue to see the growth in popularity of metasearch, such as Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor’s TripConnect. Google Hotel Finder will evolve to offer more features and value for hotels using the tool to drive Google traffic to the direct channel. Similarly, I expect TripConnect to begin offering its price-per-click (PPC) campaigns to more and more independent hotels and regional hotel chains.
In 2014, we will also see Internet booking engines becoming an even more essential part of a successful online distribution strategy, as they provide hotels with a significant competitive edge. There are many hotel-booking engines on the market but their ability to convert “lookers” to “bookers” varies greatly. Hotels who use sophisticated online booking engines will have an improved ability to consistently convert clicks to bookings, as more hotels start to add metasearch marketing with direct integration back to their online booking engine.
In fact, a 1 percent improvement in online booking conversion from metasearch PPC traffic (i.e. 7 percent to 8 percent) will yield a huge impact on the ROI of the channel, as well as a lower overall cost of online distribution.
Another related prediction – In 2014, hotels will recognize the extra value of a booking engine that can be integrated into the property’s Facebook page. Many consumers are using social media sites to share information, images and stories about their travels, giving hotels the perfect opportunity to leverage the online exposure that a post provides for increased bookings. For example, a Facebook booking engine allows consumers to read a post about a hotel at which their friend stayed, click through to the hotel’s Facebook page and then book, without even leaving Facebook.
While this will be a hugely attractive feature to potential guests, social media integration is also a fantastic tool for hotel marketers because it allows them to monetize their investment in social media marketing. While not all social networks have enabled the integration with online booking engines as of yet, I predict that the rest of the most popular social networks will integrate at least some functionality to benefit hotels/travel companies – be it full integration of a booking engine or simply enhanced business information offered through the property’s profile.
As the online channel keeps growing through 2014, so do the opportunities for hoteliers to leverage the power of the OTAs to increase their revenues worldwide. Hotels will begin to recognize the importance of smaller, local OTAs – as well as the big brands – in bringing potential guests from international destinations to their property. Using these smaller, regional OTAs, hotels can proactively market to customers in any corner of the globe using the sites that are most popular in that region. Having a global OTA presence will create a great deal more online exposure for hotels and maximize a property’s billboard effect worldwide.
Finally, I predict that savvy hoteliers will recognize the huge impact that customer satisfaction can have on a hotel’s revenues and act accordingly. As consumers continue to recognize the value of hotel review sites (like TripAdvisor), a bad review could be the difference between a “looker” and a “booker.” Customer satisfaction can also have a significant impact on revenues; according to Cornell, a one-point increase in your hotel reputation score on TripAdvisor can support a room rate increase of 11.2 percent. If that doesn’t demonstrate the importance of “the art of hospitality,” I don’t know what does!
Got it. Facebook´s possibility to add a booking engine tab into the page is a nice tool although booking rates directly on the Facebook booking engine, so far are not as high as expected – with some exceptions. But agree, this could change in 2014 with more predicted social interaction in the booking process.
Any more specific idea on how this could look like in the further social networks? Pinterest could be interesting or Google+ integrating more deeply with Google Hotel finder. Any creative ideas?
OK, quite a few questions, let me answer each point as best I can.
Firstly, our hotel clients are enjoying really great results on both Facebook and mobile instances of their hotel booking engine. One area where there is already a huge impact between Facebook and the booking process is within the TripAdvisor platform.
Facebook and TripAdvisor have partnered on a deep integration which has many consumer and hotel marketing benefits. As a booker, if you allow the Facebook integration with your TripAdvisor account, then while searching for hotels, you will see any Facebook friends who have “liked” any hotels in your short list.
From a marketing perspective, it’s the equivalent of a trusted friend giving a “thumbs up” to your potential bookers, whilst they’re in a research mode. This is marketing gold.
I agree that Pinterest has great potential as a crossover platform from the “inspiration” to “book” layers in the online marketing funnel. Statistics at least support the correlation between Pinterest “leads” to “purchases”, so it’s a logical evolution for the people at Pinterest to offer “inspiration to booking” capability within their community platform.
With regards to Google, I don’t believe we have seen anything remotely close to what a potentially “über metasearch” platform from them could look like, but I expect it to be primarily a Google Maps UX with flights and hotels intelligently integrated in that search experience (and on mobile + tablet).
A creative idea? Sure. I see a huge opportunity for Facebook, or TripAdvisor, or Google (or Apple) to get a closer relationship with both their mobile app users and hoteliers alike. Guests carry apps, I certainly do. My “apps du jour” include Facebook, TripAdvisor, Tripit, Twitter and AirBnB.
Anyhow, here is the idea; if a hotel guest could “alert” the hotelier mid-stay, if there was a problem with service delivery or their stay experience BEFORE they checked out and wrote their review, this would benefit both guest and hotelier and app provider (win-win-win). The hotel guest could alert the hotel via their “preferred app”, the hotelier has an opportunity to “correct” the service failure point, more likely leading to a better post-stay review. The app provider (Facebook, TripAdvisor, et al) has more “engagement” on their app and provides a valuable service to the hotelier.
I call that a full circle of service delivery integration (pre-stay, mid-stay and post-stay).
Erik Munoz is a specialist in the field of hotel sales, marketing, revenue management, and operations technology. In his role with SiteMinder, Munoz is responsible for EMEA and Americas strategic accounts and commercial relationships with industry partners globally. He is a frequent public speaker on topics related to online distribution, digital marketing and revenue management and moderates an online group of more than 11,000 hospitality industry professionals about hotel sales, marketing and revenue technology solutions and strategy.
Founded in 2006, SiteMinder is a leader in the online hotel distribution industry. SiteMinder offers award-winning cloud-based distribution products – including a channel manager, booking engine, PMS/CRS integration and GDS connection tools, to help hotels increase online revenue, streamline business processes and decrease operational costs. Driven by a no-contract, commission-free business model, SiteMinder”s robust product suite and exceptional client support has made the business one of the most recognizable in the industry. SiteMinder has offices in Bangkok, Cape Town, Dallas, London and Sydney, and has more than 10,000 customers in more than 105 countries.
For more information about SiteMinder, please visit www.siteminder.com.