Kevin May hosted a panel of industry leaders to discuss what personalization for hotels and hospitality is in the current Digital Media. The panel included Charlie Osmond of Triptease, Nancy Rademaker of Nexxworks, Antonio Figueiredo of Salesforce and Gary Mayger of PROS. This blog summaries salient points and the insights of the discussion.
What is Personalization for Hotel Guests?
Kevin – Personalization is a powerful tool where a company knows what you want to buy before you even thought about it. What do you think it is?
Charlie – Hoteliers do personalization very well, every day, all the time, in a face-to-face way.
Example: On arriving at this hotel, a concierge noted I had no suitcase and was looking around. He asked: “are you attending an event?” – Perfect personalization.
Much of the time, we may try to sell a room when they want to know where to go for a pint. Different people have different needs and you should treat them in different ways.
Tony – People are trying to get more and more connected. You need to be in front of them for every step of the journey: Pre-stay, The Trip, The Stay, Post-Stay.
If you only connect when they are in the hotel, it’s too late.
It’s about the mindset of the experience – from the inspiration to completion of the journey and return.
Garry – It’s about interpretation of needs based on behavior. Then ensure friction-less delivery of recommendations instantly. The most important piece is that it has to be friction-less.
Nancy – Unlearning old patterns is where we fall short. Unlearning is about being open to new experiences and getting in touch with the people who are experiencing with you.
Understand what the Chinese want. It’s a massive new customer group that we know little about. We need to get out there and experiment.
Charlie– Go to your coffee shop and ask people to book your hotel. You will be amazed. We send our designers out to interview and interact with people who may use our product.
When is Personalization Most Effective?
Kevin – What phase of the buying cycle does personalization work best in?
Garry – People don’t wait anymore. Get the offer right at every phase.
Tony – Ask, “have you stayed with us before?”, when they first inquire. We miss that too often and it’s very powerful if you know they have and can gain access to their information. Repeat clients are high-value and the highest value customers get different treatment.
Charlie – Lifetime value of your client is the key, not just what the value is on this occasion! It’s at the beginning that it really counts. Get the offer right at every stage, starting with the first step.
Tony – Sell at ever stage. Sell Earlier – Sell Relevantly – Sell Direct – Sell More.
Who is Most likely to Succeed and Benefit From it?
Kevin – Are OTAs in a better chance of winning in personaliztion because they have so much data?
Nancy – The Chinese because they have one integrated centralized system. In China, precision marketing is at the next level as it’s all on the same platform.
Charlie – OTAs have a good chance of winning / profiting as they have the data. But Google could really nail it. They use info in your emails to personalize your recommendations.
Garry – Content must be bookable and the offer must be trusted. What I see is what I get. You must get it right the first time and every time.
We are missing this a lot in the very segmented data and get it wrong too many times.
Is Creepiness an Issue?
I.e., is their too much access to personal information and prying?
Garry – I don’t worry about it. I think it’s a very low risk. People’s imagination is far greater that the reality.
Nancy – My daughters, who are in their early 20’s, don’t care what you do so long as it helps them.
Tony – The sharing economy around data is going to get more and more evolved. Just watch how it’s going to be nudged up. Creepy is not an issue if it helps and adds value.
Garry – For my Dad, everything is creepy but my 19-year-old son will just go for it.
Millennial’s don’t care and they are the future!
More To Watch and Hear
The discussion went far deeper than this summary. I just pulled out bits that resonate with me. It goes on to discuss Amazon, which everyone says is going to be a challenge. But no one knows quite how and when. Remember: they tried before and gave up, so next time, they must get it right… maybe with an acquisition.See the Webinar here
For more on Personalization and Artificial Intelligence and Behavior Responsive systems see:
Psychologists have understood that colour is an important emotional trigger. Hospitals were designed with green, as it is a soothing colour for a stressful time. Colour Psychology is now a hot topic in Marketing. Researchers have now made important discoveries regarding the psychology of color and its impact on mood, feeling and behaviour.
The Blues in Marketing – As dull as it may sound and as sad as you may thing the blues are, in Marketing, it is an entirely different affair!
“Blue is known for its trust and dependability. It’s reliable, responsible, and mentally soothing. For that reason alone, it’s one of the most-liked colors across the entire world.”– CoSchedule.
Blue is a distinctive colour known to emote trust. It is also associated with quality and reliability and has become the darling of high tech companies such as IBM (known as BIG BLUE). Ford, Chase, Lowes, GE and Samsung are also big blue brands.
In Tourism, Sandals, a Luxury All-Inclusive Resort, uses blue predominately on all its websites. Blue and white are their prime colours. It signifies all noted above but it is also the colour of their Sea and Sand Vacation Destinations. Aside from representing Caribbean holidays, the blue and white combination has the highest score of trust of all colours.
Sandals recently added Black to their website navigation. The various shades of black denote quality more that any other colour. It is a clever use of colour to represent their brand and the destinations they work in.
Blue and white are the Colours of the Caribbean – Ocean, See and Sand. It’s also the colours of Sandal Resort Brand!
The Social Media Leaders Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn use blue extensively. In Marketing, Salesforce and Constant Contact are bluers. In Finance, American Express, Visa and PayPal choose blue!
And the list goes on…
The point is that big brands understand that colour is important and use it accordingly.
In a recent test by HubSpot A/B tested call-to-action (CTA) colors, they found that just changing the colour of the Call To Action (CTA) increased the conversion rate. They also discovered that some colours work better than others. In their test, a red CTA button outperformed a green CTA button by 21%.
Primary colours are the main ingredients for colour at large. But what they are depends on your point of view.
If you are an artist, then it’s the pigment that matters most.
If you are looking at light as the source of colour, your primary colours would be cyan, magenta and yellow.
For print, it’s CMYK and for screens or monitors, it’s RGB.
For general purposes in art and design, it’s red, blue and yellow. These are the 3 colours we need to make all others and they are the building blocks of colour psychology in marketing.
Understanding colour is helpful in design but it may not help you understand what colour means in terms of mood and emotion. For that you need to talk to a colour psychologist.
Blue has powerful positive and negative emotional resonance and like all colours, one must use it wisely.
Blue’s emotional triggers are widely seen in nature – from the Blue Ocean to the Blue Sky to Blueberries. Because of these emotional connections, blue is omnipresent in marketing.
Other colours each have a different significance that may be more aligned to what you do, who you are and the emotional.
Just click on the blue chart here to see the spectrum of colours and their personality traits and meanings.
BMW Website Focus On Content is a really interesting example of how Website Blogging and Content Marketing is becoming a key element for major brands.
Reaching New Customers with Special Interests
BMW has done that very well for a very long time. Now it is looking beyond the obvious to broaden its appeal. And it is doing that with broad-range content that will “widen its sales funnel”. The subjects mainly revolve around mobility and lifestyles. They include industry-related content on design, innovation and performance as you would expect but go far beyond the car. Travel, lifestyle and culture are just a few examples of the new content focus.
As BMW’s Global Head of Digital Marketing, Jorg Poggenpohl, says: “we wanted to create relevant and snackable content in helpful and entertaining ways,” which includes video, infographics and other easy-to-use and engaging multimedia.
The result to date is that site visits are up 49% through SEO and the average user is spending over 3 minutes on the site on mobile.
Blogging For Hospitality, Travel and Tourism
The wide content reaching out to a broader interest group is not in typical hotels and tourism marketing. Like it is for BMW, this Wide Range Website Focus on Content is a lesson for Tourism and Hotel Content Marketing. It may be as huge a marketing shift for hotel brands as it was for BMW.
But the rational applies perfectly to what is a major over-site for many tourism marketers. All too often, hotel owners concentrate on their own website. They build a solid digital footprint for their site on content related to their location, facilities, amenities, USP and distinct messaging. The focus is typically oriented to their niche market.
Even destination sites typically restrict their content to news, stories and events in the destination. Barbados does this well with informative content on news, personalities in the news, events, history, heritage and even industry and agriculture. But nothing on the scale, persistence and entertainment multi-media of BMW.
That approach leaves a lot of money on the table. Travel consumers have very variedpersonasand it’s not easy to pin them down to a single avatar. The wide funnel will appeal to interest groups that go beyond your average target market. Take art, for example. Let’s say you have an interest in art and you write about it and place it on your own website. Then you promote it, syndicate it, bookmark it and have other blogs link to it. Soon you may have many more travellers checking out your site and some of them will be your ideal clients.
You may never have had a chance to get to them by the conventional means of advertising and search engine marketing. By hitting on an interest that is real, what you are doing is reaching people based on an interest that transcends price, place and amenities to give them what they want: MORE RELEVANT CONTENT!
Marketing Shifts to Entertain
BMW did not just add a blog to its site and let users find articles. No; that is not what works. People want to be fed content that is of interest to them. The front page of the new content focus website says nothing about the cars. Yes, you can navigate to cars with the menus but the first image you are likely to see is something out of the box. Right now it is a full-page high-definition video of a shoot by Brooklyn Beckham with the Caption: “My Camera is My Travel Companion“. Could that work for your hotel? You bet it can!
But the shift in presentation is to move away from hard sell BOOK NOW and self serving messages. However well disguised the message is today’s travelers have strong attenas and pick up the intent with every message. Content must be encourage real engagement and interaction. Highly produced professional brand promos don’t work as the used to in the digital age. Travelers expect more. Today’s digital media and your social media accounts are more and more in the entertainment business.
A prime example of this is Booking Yeah fun Videos and Cayman Islands Disney like images.
Looking For a New Angle To Write About
Marketers have run out of ways to market hotels, travel, cars, finance services and just about every business and in every industry. It’s all about differentiation and thinking out of the box. Booking.com moved to take a light hearted, whimsical and funny look at the holiday experience with Booking yeah.
Today marketers are using AI, behaviors science and colour theory to make things more personalized. Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia used the Tag line Discover, Dream, Enjoy because travel is a something people dream about and let their imagines take them to places of fancy. More and more advertisers are using creative new ways to excite and entertain.
The Cayman Islands is using Disney like imagination to animate ads that are part of their “Dream in Cayman” campaign. The Cayman Isles Department of Tourism explains “the aim is to move beyond the sea of sameness that characterizes the ad campaigns of many sun, sea and sand destinations.
Creative director for the the Ads, Ron Henderson, says that the ads are whisical and more like a fashion brand which creates a new vogue for the destination. “The ‘Dream in Cayman’ campaign was designed to create a place full of whimsy and charm and mystique that feels less like destination advertising and more like a luxury fashion brand.”
Find Your Blogging/Content Angle
Travel is a very personal experience and people who travel love stories. Their is no limit to the stories you can tell about your your place, your destination, the people and places, history and culture. Just speak to your marketing team and see what they can come up with that could be special to your hotel and be sure you get the message right. See more about messaging in my Books Website and Digital Media.
Website Blogging VS External Blogging
Learn why you need to blog on your website and what to blog about
You need to blog on your own website (internal Blogging) as well as get others to blog about you or guest post on other site (External blogging).
Internal blogging adds content to your website that will increase your sites value. It is helpful to guests and provides current information, reviews, guests experience and local events. Useful local content about your destination, will help your site rank in search. Valuable informative will get listed and drive more travelers to your site. This is exactly what BMW is doing with the content strategy noted here. The other travel examples show how personalities in the news, entertainment events and local awards etc are news that your guest will appreciate.
It does not matter that it may already be on the internet; the point is that it is summaries on your website and easily accessible. As noted above always try to put your onw interpretation and your angle. If it is a local event give direction and show how to get there. It may be an opportunity to show how central you are to everything in the destination and of course it give another reason to consider the destination and your property.
Buy Website Now
External blogging is also vital. This is covered in Digital Media which looks at external blogging under the topic Conteant marketing. You cant get great credit by writing about yourself and that is where external content marketing comes in. Read all about this in Digital Media Chapter 3 Review.
Google Hotels, which used to be Google Hotel Finder and sort of went quite a few years ago, is back. It now is a fully functional set of tools and system that you will find on Kayak, Expedia and Booking.com. But it has some advantages which are integration with Google Maps and Google search results. Even if the say that they don’t want to become an OTA or compete with them, this article by Search Engine asks, “will Google Hotels create a giant black hole that sucks all the direct traffic away from online hotel booking sites?”
Digital ad spending by the travel industry is projected to exceed $9 billion this year, according to several industry estimates. It’s a massive market.
Maybe it is part of a strategy to grab more advertising. The competition is already fierce with Digital ad spend by the travel industry estimated at $9 billion or more in 2019. Already hospitality brands have to buy Hotel Ads to be on top of search results even for thir own brand names.
It’s all in a state of flux and certainly the travel marketing is going to change.
It is natural for competitors to jockey and position themselves for the future. The industry is ripe for disruption and hotels are looking for alternatives to the very steep discounts they give OTAs in order to market in that channel. Airbnb is seen as a viable alternative with their possible buy of HotelTonight. But like Google Hotels there are PROS and CONS. Airbnb has created new competition for hotel with every homeowner now being a potential hospitality competitor. That does not sit well with the hospitality industry. Google Hotels being in able to now offer the full functionality as the online booking sites is a big worry to OTAs. Google for its part says they focus on proving the best result for the consumer. Certainly Google has that advantage as it holds big data and can deliver a personalized recommendation for travelers. But is that its business?
As TravelDailyNews says the Google initiative is long overdue as “Google has been dabbling in hotel bookings for a while. Moreover, since Google already has a flight booking site, what’s stopping them from launching the same service for hotels?” Kristine Mariano goes on to say “The newly launched full-fledged hotel booking site will let you determine whether you’re getting a deal for your chosen hotel and how that rate compares to nearby options with similar amenities.” You just click “Book a room” and it links to either hotel directly, or a third-party booking site, or there is an option to book right on Google. The “Deals” filter “uses machine learning to highlight hotels where one or more of our partners offer rates that are significantly lower than the usual price for that hotel or similar hotels nearby.”
Its’ really annoying Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com and they pay a pile of cash to Google for advertising. But does Google really care?
This is a follow up on the previous News Release on the HotelTonight Airbnb deal . In this followup Max Starkov of HEBS Digital Marketing examines why Airbnb wants to be an OTA, why they may not be a great idea and what they have to do to get there. He suggest that the reasons are a matter of growth opportunity and declining expectation for rental growth and user fees.
Currently Airbnb charges 4 to 8 % for the host and 6 to 10% for guests. But the trend is moving away from guest fees as the OTAs get into Airbnb Vacation rental with no guest fees.
The writing is on the wall so Airbnb want to hedge its bets and get into the mainstream business head to head with OTAs.
That the reason they want HotelTonight. Its not that they need the technology as HT is way behind on instant bookings and many of its properties are still connected via a manual extranet. Airbnb has ample capability in mobile also so that not a reason to want HT.
It’s not going to be a happy marriage for many hotels who think that Airbnb is steeling their business.