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  • Meet Minneapolis: Travel to the Twin Cities this Summer for HITEC 2019

    We all know that travel can be a real hassle. So, what about a trip makes it worth packing up your suitcase, saying goodbye to your family for the next few days, fighting the airport and staying in a.

  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • A Series of Must-Read Articles on Cybersecurity Produced by the HFTP Research Centers

    Data security remains a pressing concern and top priority for the hospitality industry. The HFTP Research Centers are dedicated to producing findings that can significantly aid hospitality businesses in their efforts to protect their guests’ privacy and personal information against potential cyber threats and attacks.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

5 Unique Experiences Hotels Can Use To Attract Guests

HEBS Digital ·21 March 2019
But these factors aren't always enough to capture the attention of a traveler long enough to secure a booking. Today's travelers expect more. They expect unique experiences every time they travel. Simply offering free breakfast or Wi-Fi has become expected. They're not anything travelers would share by word of mouth, or online, with their friends and followers.As travelers become savvier and seek out new experiences, the hotel is in a great position to leverage their destination to offer something unique to their guests. Consider recreating one of the five experiences below to drive an increase in direct bookings.1. GET BACK TO NATUREYour hotel doesn't need to be located off the beaten path for guests to experience the peace and tranquility of the outdoors. Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver is located in the heart of one of the most vibrant cities in the world, yet they offer guests the chance to escape it all. The West Coast Wilderness Adventure offer whisks guests away by floatplane from Vancouver to Whistler, where they can explore the village before embarking on a canoe tour. The adventure takes guests through rivers and lakes to enjoy the serenity of nature before heading back into the city.Hotels that want to give guests a taste of the outdoors without flying them to a different location can offer alternative experiences in local parks or recreational areas. Offer guests access to complimentary bikes or give them a credit for bike rentals. Many cities offer bike sharing systems, such as Citi Bikes in New York, that allow guests to rent a bike for the day or even just a few hours. Equip guests with a unique map (whether digital, in print, or both!) that takes them on a tour of your destination. This is an easy, fairly inexpensive way to place your hotel at the center of the best things to do and see in your area.2. RIDE THE WAVEOceanfront hotels have the chance to offer amazing beach experiences for their guests. The Gilded Iguana, a Costa Rica hotel designed for surfers, invites guests to hit the waves with their full-service surfing school. Located just steps away from the region's most famous beach, the hotel has professional surf instructors and surf equipment to provide guests with a seamless experience they don't have to worry about planning themselves.Any hotel near an outdoor recreation area, like a beach or a mountain, can offer amazing experiences to their guests. Waterfront properties can create experiences around fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and more. Mountain resorts can offer skiing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing packages. Capitalizing on what experiences are unique to your destination is key to attracting guests. People don't travel to Aspen or Miami Beach to stay inside their hotel room, after all!3. COOK UP SOMETHING SPECIALFood and travel go hand in hand. In Cabo San Lucas, The Resort at Pedregal offers world-class dining at several, stunning restaurant concepts. They also invite guests to learn how to create the unique flavors of Mexico by taking chef-led cooking classes that demonstrate how to prepare authentic dishes within their hacienda-style kitchen.Even if your hotel doesn't have a restaurant, there are still opportunities to offer guests unique ways to experience the local cuisine. Partner with a nearby restaurant that may offer classes or create a custom guide to the best restaurants in your destination. Provide transportation or ride sharing credits (like Uber or Lyft) so your guests can fully enjoy the experience without having to worry about how to get there. Making discovery as easy for the guest as possible is key when creating a memorable experience.4. CREATE ART WITH THE LOCALSA great way to connect with a new destination is through art. An even better way to experience art is to create your own with the help of local artists. At the Ayers Rock Resort, located in central Australia, guests have the option to embark on many different experiences, including art workshops taught by local indigenous people. Attendees learn about ancient symbols and, under expert guidance, have a go at creating their own.Art is all at once universal yet can be very unique to your location. By bringing in local artists to teach classes, hotels can offer guests an experience (and often something interesting to take home!) that is tremendously unique. Guests will have a tangible item for the rest of their lives that they can connect to their trip - and to your hotel.5. GIVE EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO MUSEUMSMuseums are popular attractions for travelers. Partnering with a local museum can set your hotel apart when travelers are looking for an experience that includes accommodations and admission to local attractions. The Kimpton Alexis Hotel in Seattle celebrated Museum Month in February by offering half-price admission to more than 40 nearby museums.Take it a step further by offering a behind-the-scenes tour, available exclusively through your hotel. Travelers are always looking for ways to go off the beaten path. By providing something unique and special, they will be talking about their trip (and your hotel!) for years to come.In 2019, social media reigns supreme and we all "do it for the 'gram," especially when it comes to travel. Offering one-of-a-kind experiences is an impactful way that hotels can stand out from their competitors. Travelers are more likely to share and post online about their amazing surf experience or a new recipe they learned from a top chef than they are to talk about the hotel alone. Leverage your resources to place your property at the center of the traveler's experience to appeal to more potential guests than ever before.

Hospitality Digital Technology: Challenges, Priorities, and Buzzwords

HEBS Digital · 8 March 2019
Background:Today's typical online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in a 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices across eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research).With the explosion of the "digital way of life", the customer journey has become increasingly complex, forcing hoteliers to overhaul not only their corporate and marketing strategies, but also their technology stack in order to engage, acquire, service and retain these digitally-enabled travel consumers across multiple digital touch points and across all digital channels and devices.Today's hospitality is being transformed into a 100% digital technology-enabled industry powered by online, mobile, cloud, IoT, AI and blockchain tools and applications. Digital technology is making its way into every aspect of the industry: hotel operations, guest services, communications, revenue management, distribution, CRM and marketing.Today's hotelier must understand, know and use digital tech solutions in their everyday environment, and be able to assess, evaluate, recommend and acquire technology solutions to improve guest satisfaction, operational efficiencies, productivity, customer service, and revenue.Types of guest-facing hospitality digital technologyIf we set aside the traditional hotel operations, administrative/back office and HR technology, and the hotel engineering infrastructure and "mechanical" technology (all of which are typically "hidden" from the guests), there are two categories of guest-facing digital technology:Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technology- these are technology applications focused on engaging and bringing the guest to the property, continuing the conversation pre-, during and post-stay and eventually turning the guest into a loyal and repeat guest.Guest Services Technology- these are on-property hardware devices and appliances, and software applications (on-premises or cloud-based) that provide or enhance guest services, improve guest comfort and satisfaction and enable customer service and communications.Today, the vast majority of hoteliers are primarily focused on and investing in Guest Services Technology, while underinvesting in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology.Unlike hoteliers, the OTAs are focused exclusively and investing only in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology since they do not have to worry about on-property technology and guest experiences. In other words, hoteliers' technology focus and investments end where the OTA focus and investment begin.It's no wonder that over the last 6 years the OTAs have increased their market share by over 40% at the expense of the hotel direct channel. By investing heavily in technology applications to engage the traveler at all possible touchpoints of the customer journey, OTAs have monopolized the guest relationships and left hoteliers in the dust.This is particularly true for independent hotels and resorts, smaller and mid-size hotel brands.1. GUEST ENGAGEMENT, ACQUISITION AND RETENTION TECHNOLOGYThere are crucial aspects of the Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology category which the hospitality industry is ignoring, not excelling in, or dramatically falling behind in including:Online Distribution Technology:Over the past 15 years or so, the industry has become somewhat better at adopting online distribution technology: cloud-based website booking engines (WBE), central reservation systems (CRS) and channel management platforms. Yet, many independent hoteliers still utilize separate WBEs, CRS, and Channel Management vendors. WBEs are used that are not mobile-friendly or have a weak uptime record, and some hotels are even a WBE and CRS provided by an OTA. To reduce friction and lower costs and vendor management efforts, evaluate and select a cloud-based distribution technology vendor that provides all three capabilities: WBE with proven user experience (UX) record, CRS, and Channel Manager, naturally with a two-way API tom your property's PMS.Revenue Management Technology:Over 95% of independent hotels, resorts and casinos do not have an adequate Revenue Management System (RMS). An RMS is a predictive analytics tech platform for accurate and often real-time data processing, demand forecasting, pricing and segment optimization, and channel optimization. An RMS allows the property to sell rooms at the right price, at the right time, through the right channels, and to the right customers, which can result in significant increases in occupancy and revenue. Look for a cloud-based RMS which have lower implementation and ongoing SaaS costs, typically priced per room/month.Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Technology:Over 95% of independents have no meaningful CRM application as part of their hotel tech stack. A CRM technology platform typically provides guest profile data management with ongoing cleansing and de-duping, guest pre-stay communications, in-stay communications, post-stay communications, guest satisfaction surveys, marketing automation, ongoing marketing, loyalty, and guest recognition programs. If your property's repeat guests are 10% and above, you need a CRM solution to help you double or triple that number. A cloud-based CRM is the best way to go today.Online Reputation Management Technology (ORM):Monitoring and reacting to your customer reviews has become a must-do in hospitality. An ORM system typically includes sentiment analysis, comp set analysis, reputation monitoring, guest satisfaction surveys, and analytics. Using ORM, hotels can understand what the sentiments of the traveling public are toward their property versus their competition, and can proactively impact their guests' online reviews and ratings by better understanding their guests and by making improvements that address issues brought up in reviews. By default, ORM services today are cloud and subscription-based.Digital Marketing Technology:All marketing efforts of the property involve digital technology and applications. Marketing is used to engage travel consumers in the Dreaming and Planning Phases, acquiring them in the Booking Phase, and re-engaging them in the Reminiscence and post-stay phase. The digital marketing tech stack includes:SEO technology to manage rankings, monitor competition and provide keyword and ranking recommendations.Dynamic rate marketing applications to engage and convert customers who have expressed interest to travel to your destination.Programmatic and native display advertising.Metasearch marketing.Multichannel campaign applications for offers and promotions.Audience segmentation applications.Demand-side platforms (DSP).Email marketing technology.Social media management tools.Typically, independents and mid-size or smaller hotel brands outsource digital technology needs to specialized tech-enabled digital marketing firms.Website Technology:The property or hotel brand website has become the gravitational center of all hotelier's efforts to engage, acquire and retain the customer. Any marketing efforts of the hotel today lead the potential customers to the hotel website. Today's website technology includes cloud-based Content Management System (CMS), comprehensive merchandising suites, reservation abandonment tools, personalization pricing and content, technical SEO, cloud hosting, and robust analytics suite.Case Study: What Should Your Website Technology Do?Many hoteliers often fail to understand the crucial role the hotel website and its user experience (UX) plays in the overall health of the property and the bottom line. With nearly 59% of online travelers now visiting the hotel website from mobile devices, a mobile-first website design is a must.According to Google, 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. On average, hotel websites download in 6 seconds or more. Mobile-first responsive website with cloud hosting and CDN (Content Delivery Network) provides far better server response times and faster download speeds.Your property's mobile-first website must be backed by a mobile-first website technology platform and Content Management System (CMS) that includes mobile-first functionalities specific to the hoteliers' needs, such as:Mobile-first website design, ensuring an optimum mobile user experience and content access plus best-in-class UX booking path strategy to ensure users can easily complete a booking across devices.Automated Schema Markup on the mobile-first hotel website, which help the search engines understand the content and intent of websites, especially dynamic content elements.Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), greatly increasing hotel visibility and creating another entry point to boost mobile visitors and bookings.Advanced merchandising technology platform for pushing specials, including last-minute offers for mobile users as well as automatic time-based offers, etc.Personalization capabilities to target users with one-to-one marketing messages and promotions, based their demographic info, geolocation, feeder market origin, loyalty member affiliation, and many more.Secure cloud hosting platform, featuring a full stack of automated download speed- enhancement tools and bandwidth, specifically designed for mobile users.Today's hoteliers must create and manage a robust digital presence and engage, acquire, service and retain travel consumers in this increasingly mobile-first world. They must understand and invest in digital technology and marketing that enables the best possible user experience, provides the best customer service, increases efficiencies and boosts revenues.2. GUEST SERVICES DIGITAL TECHNOLOGYUntil recently, hotels offered better technology and amenities compared to many guests' own homes. This is no longer the case. Quite often, today's travel consumer enjoys better technology and amenities at home: high-speed internet, voice assistants like Alexa, streaming media like Hulu or Netflix, smart TVs, and IoT-enabled refrigerators and A/Cs.From a technology perspective, the challenge to hoteliers is to create a hotel and room environment that at least matches but preferably exceeds their guests' home environment. In other words, hotel and room technology, amenities, and features should be the same or better than what guests already enjoy at home. These include:Smart Room Technology:High-Speed Internet(HSIA): true HSIA of 200 - 500 MbpsEntertainment: including big screen 4K, Ultra HD or OLED smart TVs, seamless multimedia hubs to enable the "synching" of the guest-own streaming media accounts (Hulu, Amazon Fire TV, AppleTV, Google Play) with the room TV.Voice personal assistants: these natural language processing devices, typically based on Alexa or Google Home, allow the guest to access room service, facilitate guest requests, and manage utilities and amenities such as adjusting room temperature or lights.Smart Barista and Beverage Center: hubs that "know and remember" the guest's preferences and taste.RFID keyless mobile device-enabled locks and security.Smart Utilities Management: through voice assistants, IoT controls, thermal occupancy sensors or hotel app (ex. Cirq+).Frictionless Messaging Communications: with front desk, housekeeping, engineering, concierge and room service (ex. ReviewPro, Zingle, Whistle).Issue Resolution Technology: guest incident tracking, logging, dispatching, and follow up. Virtually connect guests to housekeeping and engineering or work order automation (ex. Runtriz, Guestware)The future of this technology is the Smart Guestroom which will be completely personalized to guest preferences and loyalty member profile. Hilton Hotels via their Connected Room and Marriott via their IoT Guestroom prototypes are already working on synching loyalty member profiles and preferences with the room experience: room temperature, lighting, bathroom accessories, streaming media preferences, beverages, bedding, and more. Recently Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta stated: "Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room."Self-Service Guest Technology:For DIY-obsessed consumers, self-service kiosks, devices, and mobile applications have already entered the marketplace and are enjoying wide adoption, both by hoteliers and guests. The most common devices and applications are:Hotel Check-in/Check-out Kiosks: these lobby-based devices typically provide guest Identification, room upgrades and special offers, early check-ins, room selection/assignment, online registration card and signature, acceptance of the hotel policies, credit card payments and keycards issuance.Mobile Apps: all major hotel chains, and many midsize/smaller hotel brands, provide their loyalty members with mobile check-in from anywhere, room selection/assignment, ability to customize stay, ability to receive alerts (traffic, weather, when the room is ready), get key from Mobile Check-in Desk or mobile key, credit card payments.Interactive Information Kiosks: these guest information kiosks serve as a 24/7 virtual concierge and information source for both property and destination information, which increases lobby functionality, shortens concierge wait times and enhances the guest experience.Virtual Concierge: these mobile or website apps allow 24/7 guest interaction via messaging with the Virtual Concierge, which can make suggestions, order services, and track the status of requests. This technology enhances the guest experience and generates additional revenue from auxiliary services and upsells.Chat Bots: these AI-powered applications have already received wide acceptance and adoption in the marketplace, especially for customer service and call center reservations. All OTAs and major hotel brands have deployed some form of chatbot or AI-powered customer service application. Some OTAs already handle as much as 85% of their online customer service via an AI-powered chatbot, which has led to huge cost-savings and improved customer satisfaction.Self-Ordering Kiosks: these F&B kiosks typically provide full menu ordering with real-time order information sent to the kitchen, inventory management, credit card payments, and printed or emailed receipts.What are the main challenges for hotels to adopt digital technology?Hoteliers are overwhelmed by the amount of technology, data, and digital marketing silos and the need to work with a multitude of vendors in their guest acquisition and services efforts. The typical hotel uses a myriad of vendors that do not talk to each other, and in many cases do not even know each other. There will be one for CRM, a second for the property website, a third for SEO, a fourth for SEM, a fifth for online media, and so on.Each property team, from revenue generation teams like RM, S&M, and CRM to guest services teams such as housekeeping, engineering and front desk, operate in isolation of each other. Each team has its own technology tools, databases, and vendors which are not in communication with the other teams.These are the major impediments to the industry becoming a digital technology-driven and technology-savvy industry:Reluctance to invest in digital technology: This reluctance to invest in digital technology comes from the lack of understanding that we are serving technology obsessed travel consumers who demand a hotel technological experience be equal or better to what they have at home. In this digital age, hospitality technology goes way beyond the flat-screen TV or the property PMS, and should focus on guest-facing digital technology applications and devices like streaming media hubs, voice assistants, messaging capabilities, mobile-first property website, personalization technology, and one-to-one pricing and marketing applications.Antiquated accounting in hospitality: Most of the cloud Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology solutions and many of the cloud Guest Services Technology applications are accounted for from the Sales, General and Administrative Expense section of the property P&L. In other words, these new technologies are not being amortized like capital expenses or considered COGS (Cost of Goods Sold). This singular fact makes many property owners and managers reluctant to invest in new types of digital technology applications, most of which are being sold to the property on a subscription SaaS basis.The technology and data fragmentation in hospitality is another big challenge and impediment to progress the industry faces today. Guest data lives in multiple "data islands" that do not talk to each other: PMS, CRM, CRS, Social Media, Web Analytics, Marketing Data, and BI. Very few properties and hotel companies can boast a single view on customer data with live data feeds from ALL touchpoints with the traveler.Most of the time, CRM data is not being utilized to engage and retain past guests. Quite often different teams at the property use different sets of data in their day-to-day operations, creating a total "data integrity mess," which directly affects the property's guest acquisition and retention efforts.The goal here is very clear: bridge the guest data and technology silos in hospitality and create an end-to-end solution, empowering hotels to acquire new guests, engage current guests, and retain past guests by combining digital marketing, website, and CRM data into one cohesive marketing and personalization platform.Lack of proper education and professional development opportunities on digital hospitality technology and the latest technology innovations, trends and best practices. How many hospitality schools today teach hospitality technology courses? Only a few. New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality launched a brand-new course on Hospitality Technology in the Spring 2019 Semester, which is a great start to educating future hoteliers on the importance of technology in this industry.And finally, we have become an industry of buzzwords and flashy gadgets, in the hope of impressing guests, owners, and investors. These show that your hotel brand is not "falling behind the curve." Recently, an independent hotel introduced room service delivery robots, which would have been great if the rest of the hotel tech stack were in order. The hotel was still using a 6-year old website and had no CRM technology.Hotels should first focus on the fundamentals of the technology stack before implementing more advanced things.Fragmentation in the hospitality tech sector.The global hospitality industry a highly fragmented industry with a lot of technology deficiencies and needs that require smart solutions. The U.S. hospitality industry is a $155 billion industry. This provides endless opportunities for smart technology vendors to thrive and service the industry with state-of-the-art solutions.The technology and data fragmentation at the property, discussed above, is further exacerbated by the fragmentation in tech vendors. The industry needs fewer, as opposed to more, technology vendors.Due to the increasing complexity of hotel tech, vendors are already in need of significant investments to innovate and scale up. As a result, it's expected there will be consolidation and M&A in hotel tech over the next few years.What are some next-generation hotel technology applications?Hoteliers need to monitor, proactively inquire about and familiarize themselves with the Next Generation Technologies that are already making their way into hospitality, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Voice Assistants, Chat Bots, Robotics, and Blockchain.It is up to hotel tech vendors to carry the torch and help the industry overcome its technology deficiencies by embracing the rising tide of digital-obsessed travel consumers. Hoteliers need to embrace, learn about, and invest in the next-gen technologies already being adopted.Labor-intensive hotel positions that involve repetitive or structured work such as housekeeping, customer service and call center reps, and F&B waiting staff will see wider adoption of robotics, automation, and other AI-powered devices in the years to come.Over the next 3-5 years we will witness wider adoption and implementation of the following next-gen technologies:Artificial Intelligence (AI): Customer service (chatbots), personalization (one-to-one marketing, one-to-one pricing), database management (single-view customer data) and loyalty programs.Voice Assistants/Voice Search: Integration of major hotel brand CRS with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Home Pod, customer service (voice assistants in hotel rooms).Internet of Things (IoT): Customer service (concierge, hotel lobby, room service); hotel security, operations (power and A/C management).Robotics: Robots will replace jobs around the property, from front desk to housekeeping to kitchen staff.Blockchain:The much-promoted use of blockchain in all aspects of hotel distribution, marketing and operations is another affirmation that we are an industry of buzzwords. Over the past two years, many hoteliers got overly excited by this new technology and its perceived "magic wand" ability to solve industry deficiencies.In my view, blockchain technology will have the following three potential uses in hospitality:Procurement: a mega brand like Marriott deals with tens of thousands of vendors in hundreds of geographies. Utilizing a public or a private version of blockchain technology (like the IBM Blockchain Platform), a major hotel brand can introduce unprecedented traceability and transparency in its supply chain and streamline its procurement logistics.Secure Contracting: blockchain can power secure legal contracts between hotel chains and numerous legal parties: from franchise agreements, preferred vendor contracts, and corporate groups.Universal Digital IDs: in the future, blockchain could provide travel consumers with Universal Digital IDs which could be used for voice hotel reservations and loyalty program memberships. These could ultimately facilitate easier and more secure online transactions.One thing blockchain technology is not good for at this point is hotel distribution. In order to utilize blockchain for hotel distribution, any blockchain player has to tackle the complexity of hospitality technology which consists of many moving parts.Conclusion:The "digital way of life" adopted by today's tech-savvy travel consumer is forcing the hospitality industry to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and become a 100% digital technology-enabled industry.By being primarily focused on and investing in Guest Services Technology, while underinvesting in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology, hoteliers are allowing the OTAs to gain more visibility and engage, acquire and retain the online travel consumer.OTAs are focused exclusively and investing in Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technology. By investing heavily in technology applications to engage the traveler at all possible touchpoints of the customer journey, hoteliers have the opportunity to take market share away from OTAs and keep guests engaged throughout their lifetimes.

Hospitality Digital Technology: Challenges, Priorities, and Buzzwords

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 6 March 2019
Today’s typical online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in a 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices across eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research).

Back to Basics: Search Engine Marketing

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 4 March 2019
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the act of improving the visibility of your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It incorporates search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) listings. SEM is a key advertising initiative, so here we’re diving into the PPC basics that you need to know.

The Mobile-First World Creates Tremendous Revenue Potential for Hoteliers

HEBS Digital ·15 February 2019
The shift from desktop to mobile and tablet devices continued its steady pace in 2018. More than 58% of web visitors and more than 51% of page views were generated from mobile devices last year, compared to 38% of web visitors and 40% of page views only three years ago. In 2018, nearly 28% of bookings and 25% of room nights came from mobile devices, compared to 21% of bookings and 17% of room nights in 2015 (HEBS Digital client portfolio data).It's clear that we're already living in a mobile-first world. Mobile devices dominate the travel planning journey: up to half of all desktop bookings worldwide are preceded by a click on a mobile device, and 94% of leisure travelers use multiple devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) when planning and booking travel (Criteo).In hospitality, up to 30% of hotel bookings are done via mobile devices, a percentage dependent on whether the property is branded or independent, its location (rural or metro area), complexity of hotel product (golf resort vs. major city hotel), availability of a loyalty program, and composition of its customer segments (business vs. leisure, transient vs. group).The hospitality industry, by default, has lower mobile booking share compared to the overall projections for the travel industry due to the complexity of managed corporate travel and SMERF group segment procurement, such as mandated GDS bookings for managed corporate travel and the offline RFP process for group travel.The mobile-first world is here to stay:Across HEBS Digital's hotel client portfolio, consisting of hundreds of hotels and resorts of every size, we saw this shift occur in every data category. The most notable developments in 2018:Nearly 28% of bookings, 25% of room nights, and 24% of revenue came from mobile devices. If we include over-the-phone reservations originating from the hotel mobile website, more than 35% of bookings and 30% of revenue originated from the mobile channel.Nearly 58% of web visitors and 51% of page views were generated from mobile devices.Compared to 2015, mobile devices generated:Less than 21% of bookings, 17% of room nights, and 15% of revenue.Less than 38% of web visitors and 40% of page views.Or, compare to 2012 when mobile devices generated:Less than 9.5% of bookings, 8.6% of room nights, and 9% of revenue.Less than 17% of web visitors and 14% of page views.How Should Hoteliers Approach the Mobile-First World?As we continue to experience this shift to mobile and increased complexity in the travel planning process, hoteliers need to find ways to engage their best potential guests across multiple touch points and across all devices, especially mobile. Today's typical online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in any 60-day timeframe. They also visit an average of 18 websites via multiple devices in eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research). This journey results in some serious competition for the travel consumer's attention and has become increasingly dominated by mobile micro-moments and touch points.Here are the top two action steps for hoteliers to address the shift to mobile-first user behavior:#1. Invest in a responsive, mobile-first website.Hoteliers need to keep the property website, which is the foundation of their digital marketing and distribution strategy, up to the mobile-first standards demanded by today's travel consumer. With nearly 59% of website visitors now viewing on mobile devices, a fully responsive mobile-first website design is a must.If your property website is older than two years, it's due for a redesign. Websites older than two years are often lacking the latest best practices in technology, design, and UX, such as a mobile-first design, content merchandising, Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), schema, and technical SEO considerations. An outdated website leads to lower conversions.The website download speeds across various devices also inevitably affects conversion rates on the hotel website: fast download speeds drastically improve the user experience and increase the user's desire to purchase on the site. According to Google, 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. Mobile-first responsive websites with cloud hosting and CDN (Content Delivery Network) provide far better server response times and faster download speeds across geographies.A hotel's website must also be backed by a website technology platform that includes mobile-first functionality specific to the hoteliers' needs, such as:Automated schema markup on the hotel website. Schema markup helps search engines understand the content and intent of websites, especially dynamic content elements such as events and happenings pages, special offers, opening hours, and star ratings. These rich snippets make hotel webpages appear more prominently in SERPs, thus improving visibility of a hotel website's overall SEO performance. One of the important benefits is the Featured Snippets, which Google creates dynamically based on the content of your website and places on top of the search results.Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) pages which download fast on mobile and wearable devices and are featured as news and info "teasers" in the Google AMP teaser section in mobile SERPs. This works to increase hotel visibility and create another entry point to boost mobile visitors and bookings, as well as provide another opportunity to outshine the competition.Advanced merchandising technology platform for promoting special offers and packages, including last-minute deals for mobile users.Content personalization capabilities to target users with unique marketing messages and promotions, based on the device they are currently using (mobile vs. desktop), their demographic information, geo location, and loyalty member affiliation.Promotional banners with live rates providing real-time availability and rate information for both mobile users with shorter booking windows and desktop users with longer booking windows.Advanced content management functionality to create and manage custom page layouts designed to showcase a property in its best light.A highly-secure cloud hosting platform.The property website must incorporate the right balance of beauty and science. An excellent design combined with a state-of-the-art website content management system (CMS), supported by a strong merchandising strategy and engaging visual content and copy, all while providing an optimum user experience from top to bottom on all possible devices. This type of website will result in a boost in conversions and revenues from the direct online channel.#2. Engage the mobile-first travel consumer with multi-channel, multi-device marketing.Keeping travelers engaged and reaching them at various touchpoints throughout their journey requires integrating all marketing channels across all possible screens. Effective multi-channel marketing campaigns utilize the full spectrum of digital marketing (SEO, SEM, display, paid social, and email) to promote one cohesive message across channels and devices. This strategy is the most effective way to increase reach and boost revenues for a need period.Campaign Strategy Recommendations for 2019:Establish the overarching business need you are trying to meet with the campaign: drive weekend stays, increase RFPs for meetings and events, increase ADR, or drive last-minute occupancy needs due to a big group cancellation, for example.Use guest data, campaign insights, website analytics, and customer research to build a customer persona of your target audience.Based on this data, create one cohesive campaign message that will most effectively speak to these audiences across all touchpoints and devices.Map the path to purchase for your travel consumer and launch initiatives that will reach guests across devices and throughout all stages of the lifecycle, from the dreaming to planning and booking phases and beyond.Integrate powerful and engaging technology that assists in lead generation, relationship building, and driving direct bookings.Reserve 15-25% of your property's digital marketing budget for multichannel campaigns.To achieve mobile-readiness, hoteliers must invest adequately in a mobile-first website and digital marketing campaigns. Bying, and future guests, hotels can drive more direct bookings throughout the entire path to purchase, especially from the mobile channel.

Now Available: The Q1 2019 Hotel Marketer's Whitepaper

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·14 February 2019
Now available for viewing and download, the Q1 2019 Hotel Marketer’s Whitepaper covers current trends and industry insights hoteliers should be paying attention to in order to have a strong digital presence. The whitepaper takes a deep dive into strategies that will help to reach different audiences.

The Mobile-First World Creates Tremendous Revenue Potential for Hoteliers

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·13 February 2019
Hoteliers face a challenge in 2019: Creating and managing a robust digital presence in an increasingly mobile-first environment. This means investing in mobile technology and marketing that enables the best user experience while achieving maximum engagement, regardless of device. The explosion of mobile customer engagements creates a tremendous upside opportunity for smart hoteliers who invest in and take advantage of this rising tide of mobile-obsessed travel consumers.

Digital Inspo: What Creative Hotels Are Doing Online

HEBS Digital ·11 February 2019
The CampaignLast year, Hyatt Hotels partnered with then up-and-coming pop star Dua Lipa. The setting for the British musician's single "New Rules" was Hyatt's new boutique hotel, The Confidante, in Miami.While the branding for the hotel is not overtly obvious in the video, every shot occurs inside the modern rooms or around the trendy pool of the Miami property. This partnership goes beyond a simple celebrity endorsement, appearance in a commercial, or a sponsored Instagram post. The creative partnership left behind a product that benefited both parties.Along with the video, Hyatt produced several additional pieces of video content released across their social media channels as well as a branded Spotify playlist with songs similar to Dua Lipa's own musical style.The ResultsThe goal of the partnership was to introduce Hyatt's new Unbound Collection, which boasts boutique- style accommodations that appeal to millennial travelers. It was a huge success, receiving over 1.6 billion views on YouTube and 20 million on Hyatt's owned channels.TakeawaysThis obviously was not a cheap project, and Hyatt spared no expense. However, the out-of-the-box idea can be adapted to hotels looking to appeal to a younger crowd. Utilizing video content with music or creating a campaign centered around music, could be a great way to attract that particular crowd.If your hotel is near a concert venue, create a Spotify playlist that includes songs from artists that have performed there or are scheduled to perform in the future. Target advertising efforts to the fans of artists on social media and share videos from that artist in your hotel's Instagram stories to further appeal to millennials. For hotels, sometimes thinking outside of the box can pay off in a big way.

Digital Inspo: What Creative Hotels are Doing Online

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 6 February 2019
Coming up with fresh and creative marketing initiatives is never an easy task. Hotels all over the world face fierce competition regardless of their destination. Utilizing creative ideas to attract guests can help hotels stand out in the crowd and help them to gain new and repeat visitors. Our new article series, Digital Inspo: What Creative Hotels are Doing Online, dives deep into a recent original campaign idea developed by a hotel brand.

How To Get The Most Out Of The New Google Hotel Search Interface

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 5 February 2019
A few months ago, Google began unrolling a new design for their hotel search results. With the updated design, they now display four hotels instead of three and have updated the filters available to the user, all in an effort to help people easily find the hotel that best fits their needs.

Product Spotlight: YouTube TrueView

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·25 January 2019
The Problem Currently, YouTube is the second largest search engine out there. With over 1.9 billion logged-in monthly users, most users now prefer the platform over live tv. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any other broadcast or cable network. Often times, however, reaching this vast audience in a meaningful and engaging...

Coffee Chat: Triptease & HEBS Digital

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·23 January 2019
HEBS Digital’s Brand Marketing Manager, Garrick Lee, recently chatted with the Founder and CEO of Triptease, Charlie Osmond, to discuss his career, the beginning of his company, and some of his favorite products that Triptease has recently developed.

Your Top 10 Digital Marketing New Year's Resolutions for 2019

HEBS Digital ·18 January 2019
With new technology and digital innovations announced daily, it can seem overwhelming for hoteliers to stay on top of trends and work them into their own strategies. With voice search and AI, omnichannel marketing, and the use of influencers on the rise, hoteliers have the opportunity to reach potential guests at more touchpoints than ever before.It's important to start 2019 with a strong foundation to your digital strategy and be able to incorporate new initiatives as the year goes on. To get you started, we put together the top resolutions for hotels based on current and forecasted trends.1. Understand the importance of an updated website and technology. Implement design trends on your website that follow UX and are backed by the right technology that leads user towards a booking.Selecting the right CMS is important for your hotel's digital strategy. Content management systems can help your hotel implement website personalization, present real-time rates and inventory, promote offers and specials, and more. All of these factors will showcase the property and can turn website visitors into bookings and revenue.As mobile continues to dominate, you should also make sure that you have a mobile-first, fully-responsive website design. Last year, Google began to use the mobile page versions of a domain for indexing and caching in its search results, and subsequently, for ranking. Historically, the desktop version of a page was primarily used when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user's query.2. Make CRM a priority. The goal of customer relationship management is fairly straightforward - improve your hotel relationships with guests. A CRM solution can help to understand customers through data and deliver them messages that they want and care about.By engaging guests before, during, and after their stays, hotels can fuel loyalty throughout the customer lifetime journey. Own the conversation from the moment a booking is made, nurture the experience with marketing automation, and retain your best guests by showing them how much you value their business.3. Learn about the importance of omnichannel marketing. Multi-channel marketing has been around for some time now and has proven to be a successful strategy for hotels. Now, with consumers expecting more personalized communication from brands, comes omnichannel marketing. This refers to providing a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device.Consumers expect their experiences with a brand to be the same in a physical location, on a website or app, through social media, and across online advertisements on any device they use. All of these touchpoints create an omnichannel experience for the user. Hotels can take advantage of omnichannel marketing by monitoring what guests are responding to best (on social media and on the website) and create content that reflects the brand and property. Utilizing data can help hotels understand what guests really want from the brand. From there, hotels should make sure all digital touchpoints represent the brand. This can include look and feel, the tone of voice, and the use of colors. Multi-channel and omnichannel campaigns can help achieve high results on a fairly small budget, sometimes generating over 10X ROAS.The final aspect of omnichannel marketing is personalization. As mentioned above, personalization can connect users to brands and help develop relationships. By personalizing content, hotels can achieve the omnichannel experience where guests will feel noticed and appreciated no matter what platform they interact with the hotel on.4. Give website visitors a personalized experience. A personalized online experience is more important than ever for hotels as customers expect brands to remember them and present them relevant information.Data doesn't lie. It's evident that customers expect a personalized experience when they visit your hotel website. 74% of consumers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized (Infosys) and 77% have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized experience.It's no longer enough to present potential guests with static website content and expect them to find what they're looking for and make a reservation. In fact, a Salesforce study found that, by 2020, 51% of consumers will expect brands to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions.Through personalization, hotels can create a dynamic user experience. Rather than a broad experience that attempts to reach all possible travelers, hotels have the ability to create unique content that appeals to different segments in order to achieve specific business needs. In this way, the hotel website can--and should--be the primary channel for engaging your best guests.5. Invest in video. Video continues to dominate.70% of consumers have shared a brand's video (Wyzowl) and 52% said that watching a product video makes them more confident in online purchases (Invodo).Although investing in video assets can be costly, the payoff can be huge for hotels. Videos can be utilized on websites, shared on social media channels, and provide a great way for potential customers to get a feel for their experience before ever stepping foot on the property.A video on The Grand Ely Lodge homepage recently helped the property increase the time spent on the website and decrease bounce rate, both of which impact search engine rankings and the overall health of the website.6. Optimize for voice. As the use of voice assistants grows, hotels need to optimize their websites in order to capture this audience.Although still in the early phases of being a viable distribution channel for hotels, voice search is already shaping consumer behavior, with the use of digital assistants higher than ever. In order to stay on top of the changing landscape, hotels must optimize their website content for voice by combining traditional SEO, technical SEO, and incorporating patterns inherent to voice commands.A robust content strategy also helps in voice search optimizations for those in the beginning stages of the travel planning journey. At this stage, users can have their devices search for destination information. Further into planning, they may say to their device, "Siri, find me the best hotel rates in downtown Boston."The impact of voice search will have on the hospitality industry is still uncertain, but, based on current trends, we can anticipate that the voice search landscape will continue to evolve and hotels can expect to see new opportunities for engagement and revenue.7. Be aware of AI & BI. Over the past few years, we've heard about artificial intelligence. Advancements and innovations will have even more people talking about its potential impact on different industries, including travel.AI & BI (business intelligence) can analyze consumer behavior by utilizing data from across the web to help businesses understand users. By beginning to plan for AI technology this year, hotels can have an edge over competitors.8. Don't ignore the upper funnel. Often times, when analyzing the success of a campaign, hotels are led to believe the most important KPIs are bookings and revenue. While these metrics are significant, it's also important to understand the purchase funnel. Marketing to users who are still in the early phases of their travel planning journey means engagement metrics are equally as imperative as reaching those who are ready to book.When a customer is in the upper funnel, or the dreaming phase of the travel planning journey, they are undecided on which accommodation they will book, with 67% of users more likely to book with a brand that provides relevant information for the destination they're interested in (Google). Consider adopting or investing in some of the following initiatives to capture the attention of those beginning to think about their next getaway:SEO-Optimized Destination Content - feature local neighborhood guides on the hotel websiteLifestyle & Editorial Blog - create long-form editorial content about the destinationDestination Video - create and share video so travel planners get a better sense of the destination and hotel propertyDestination-Focused SEM - target keywords promoting destination-specific contentNative Advertising - reach potential guests with relevant content on websites where they spend their timeSocial Media - be visible on social media where travelers ask for advice from friends and family throughout the dreaming phaseMetasearch - have a presence on Google and TripAdvisor to ensure the hotel website is discovered during the early phases of travel planning9. Try influencer marketing. It's been a hot topic in the hospitality industry, but with 92% of consumers saying that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than any other type of advertising (Nielsen), it's clear that influencer marketing isn't going away anytime soon.Using influencers can be a very effective method to attract new customers to your property as well as a way to generate fresh content for your brand. The first step is to identify key advocates that embody your brand and can deliver the messages you want to convey in an organic way. Additionally, you need to look at the follower loyalty of the influencer. Having a high follower count is much less important than the engagement their content receives (i.e. how many people interact with their posts).10. Invest in a virtual concierge for your hotel. As a form of AI, chatbots or virtual concierges will make a splash in the coming year. This technology allows for instant messaging in real-time with website visitors.Many people are already used to interacting with chatbots online and 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use bots by 2020 (Oracle). And with the development of Facebook Messenger bots, it's easier than ever for hotels to utilize bots in their online presence. The bots are programmed to understand questions and provide answers.The benefits of chatbots include reaching an audience directly, saving time and money on customer care, qualifying customers, handling transactions, and re-engaging users. A good example of this is Marriot's Facebook Messenger chatbot The bot helps customers link rewards accounts and was so helpful that the company transitioned it into a booking bot.Overall, as you begin to execute your 2019 strategy, it's important to be aware of the continuously changing trends and technology updates. Your resolutions can be a guide for your digital plan and should adapt throughout the year as business needs change and as technology innovations become available to you. Using this as a "checklist" can help ensure that your strategy stays on the right track and that your digital performance is successful through 2019.

Just Back From: Bangkok, Thailand

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·15 January 2019
Known for ornate shrines and a vibrant city life, Thailand’s capital is an experience unlike any other. The city welcomes visitors from all over the world and it’s not hard to imagine why. HEBS Digital’s SEO team member, Iana Rivera, recently escaped to the legendary city and came back with insights on everything you need to know.

Insights from The International Luxury Hotel Association's INSPIRE SUMMIT '18

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·11 January 2019
Each year, the International Luxury Hotel Association (IHLA) brings together hoteliers from all over the world to speak about current topics affecting the industry with tips and insights on building guest loyalty, increasing revenue, enhancing your hotel’s brand, and more. This year’s event focused on inspiring the luxury guest experience. Many presenters brought new and interesting perspectives on exceeding expectations of elite guests, while industry insiders described the influence of technology on the guest experience.

Learn from HEBS Digital Experts During Three Workshops at the 2019 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 7 January 2019
For more than 15 years, HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference has been where senior leaders in hotel marketing connect and engage in meaningful, thought-provoking conversations about the most important strategic issues facing the business today. The conference continues to provide hoteliers and their partners with practical information, insights, and strategies to drive revenue and engage guests – before, during, and after their stays.

HEBS Digital Wins Silver Adrian Award for The Resort at Pedregal's Here Comes the Sun Campaign

HEBS Digital · 3 January 2019
Known for its award-winning service and amenities, The Resort at Pedregal began development of this campaign with affluent travelers in mind. To attract the attention of this audience, HEBS Digital worked with the client to develop upbeat messaging and imagery with a memorable theme. The package included VIP round-trip airport transfers, a daily gourmet breakfast, 20% off exclusive excursions, welcome margaritas, and a complimentary bottle of Clase Azul tequila."We are always looking for creative ways to drive bookings that reach our niche affluent travelers; we thrive on providing guests with exceptional service and unmatched experiences," said Adriana Silva, Senior Marketing & Public Relations Manager at The Resort at Pedregal. "It's a collaborative achievement for all teams involved and such an honor to receive this recognition for our hard work."Utilizing SEO, SEM, email marketing, TripAdvisor display, social media ads, and merchandising on the resort website, HEBS Digital deployed creative across multiple channels that worked together to drive direct bookings for The Resort at Pedregal, including:9% increase in unique website visits1,816 visits and 5,247 pageviews from email marketing229 bookings totaling 829 nights57X ROI"The Adrian Award and performance of the Here Comes the Sun campaign are a direct result of the collaboration of talented individuals across HEBS Digital, The Resort at Pedregal, JRPG Hospitality, J Public Relations, and others. I am thrilled that we were able to develop an engaging, enticing campaign that drove awareness and new visitors to the resort," said Jacqueline Lucas, Senior Account Executive - Team Lead at HEBS Digital.About HSMAIThe Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners and is the industry's leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals & their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as HSMAI's MEET, Adrian Awards, and Revenue Optimization Conference. HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. Connect with HSMAI at,,, and

Celebrating 2018: HEBS Digital & Serenata CRM Reflect on Another Successful Year

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·18 December 2018
As the year comes to a close, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM celebrate the many accomplishments of 2018, as well as the team members who made them possible. In the last 12 months, both companies were industry leaders in helping hotels around the world pave the way to digital success. Both HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM launched new products, innovated existing technology, and received multiple industry awards and accolades for award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns.

Employee Spotlight: Patrick, Team Lead Digital Media & Creative Strategy

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·13 December 2018
I’m the team lead of the digital media and creative strategy department here at HEBS Digital. My department is responsible for launching, tracking, and optimizing all of our display media, paid social media, and metasearch campaigns for our clients. We are also responsible for leading the collaborative effort in strategizing multichannel campaigns.

Case Study: La Fonda on the Plaza Boosts Brand Awareness and Website Traffic with Sweepstakes Campaign

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 5 December 2018
La Fonda on the Plaza was launching their newest program called Artist in Residence – a city-sponsored initiative bringing Southwestern artists and live painting to the hotel lobby for guests to enjoy – and needed a creative way to bring awareness to the ongoing events.

Hotelier's Guide to Creating Special Offers

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog· 3 December 2018
Finding and booking the perfect hotel takes time. Beyond rate, hotel shoppers are looking at plenty of other factors, such as amenities, local activities, and nearby restaurants. Hoteliers can leverage these unique features by packaging them into special offers that will help travelers be sure that they’ve found the best deal.

Google: Your Most Important Hotel Distribution Channel

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·30 November 2018
The latest whitepaper from Duetto (in partnership with HEBS Digital) focuses on how Google has evolved from a digital marketing medium to a major player in hotel advertising, loyalty, and distribution. Hotel operators need to be assigning the same importance to Google as they do to OTAs and their own websites. Those that don’t are going to be left behind.

New Zealand based Heritage Hotels launches new, multi-property website on HEBS Digital's smartCMS

HEBS Digital ·29 November 2018
Heritage Hotels in New Zealand is an experience out of the ordinary. A healthy indulgence, and a refreshing contrast, to everyday life. You might seek calm of Kaikoura, the bustle of the city in Wellington, a conference in Queenstown, or a party in Paihia. With Heritage Hotels, the experience is up to the traveler.With 18 individual properties throughout New Zealand, Heritage worked with HEBS Digital to launch a new, multi-property website on the smartCMS platform, allowing for full control of each sites content in one place. Users can now access the Destinations page, where theyll find an interactive map and details on cities and regions each property is located. With a custom Venue Showcase, all relevant information for event planners is easily accessible. These features and more create an improved, seamless user experience for all types of website visitors.Were delighted to launch our new website. Heritage Hotels now has leading-edge digital technology to encourage direct bookings. The HEBS Digital content management system is user-friendly for our marketing team, and our team was very efficient in creating the new website that encompasses our 18 properties as well as the overarching brand, says Graham Yan, Chief Executive of Heritage & CityLife Hotels and Heritage Collection. Innovative functionality in the HEBS solution allows reservation recovery, where a booking may not have occurred. The abandonment application solution and Heritages marketing program are 100% focused on delivering strong growth in direct bookings for Heritages properties. Over the next few months, we are rolling out our new rewards program and on-property guest portals, as part of our focus on T.H.E. Heritage Experience ensuring guest are recognized as well as experiencing a user-friendly engagement when on the Heritage Hotels website, adds Graham Yan.Explore this project by visiting the new Heritage Hotels website.

New Zealand Based Heritage Hotels Launches New, Multi-Property Website on HEBS Digital's smartCMS(r)

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·28 November 2018
Heritage Hotels in New Zealand is an experience out of the ordinary. A healthy indulgence, and a refreshing contrast, to everyday life. You might seek calm of Kaikoura, the bustle of the city in Wellington, a conference in Queenstown, or a party in Paihia. With Heritage Hotels, the experience is up to the traveler.

The top 5 things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing: November Edition

HEBS Digital ·27 November 2018
1. SEO: Google launches a follow button for businesses in Google Maps.Earlier this year, Google added a posting feature to Google My Business listings, allowing businesses to post updates directly to their local listing. Now, Google has added a follow button for businesses featured on Google Maps so users can subscribe to a businesss updates, which will display in a new tab for users called For You. In light of this new feature, businesses will be able to launch a Google My Business listing three months prior to opening, in order to build awareness and traction.Now hotels have a new way to engage with potential guests, keeping them in the know of spa or dining specials or driving awareness of new hotel openings on Google Maps, up to three months before the first guest sets foot in the lobby.2. SEM: Google expands Exact Match to include close variants focused on query intent.Google has officially rolled out exact match to include variants that share the same meaning of the keyword, including implied words and paraphrases. Now, instead of focusing on the exact wording of the keyword, Google is focusing more on the intent of the keyword to potentially reach more users with relevant ads, even when the query itself might be worded slightly differently.In light of this change, hotel search marketers may be able to spend less time building out exhaustive lists of keywords for campaigns and more time analyzing search term reports for new and negative keywords once a campaign gains traction.3. Display: AMP Story Ads come out of beta with Google Ad Manager support.AMP Story Ads are full-screen ads that appear directly within a Google AMP story to promote products, services, and content. Theyre now accessible to everyone with the Google Ad Manager. Hotel brands with a strong blog presence or editorial content hub can utilize AMP Story Ads to promote content to mobile users on the go.4. Social: TripAdvisor goes social with personal ways for travel planners to connect and share advice.The new TripAdvisor expands its community beyond travelers to also include brands, social media influencers, publishers, and friends. Travel planners can now follow and connect with individuals or content creators who share information that is relevant to their travel research and interests.Complementing our more than 661 million reviews and opinions, TripAdvisor members will be able to create and view inspirational and helpful new forms of content including photos, videos and articles, TripAdvisor announced on their investor relations forum. Members will also have the ability to create Trips, which can be in-depth travel guides, itineraries, or simple wish lists of things to do while traveling. Trips can be made private and saved for personal use or shared with the community to inspire and help others.As TripAdvisor evolves more into a social community, theres potential for TripAdvisor to dramatically change the way travelers research and plan travel. While the impact of these changes remains to be seen, hotel brands should keep a pulse on these changes to find new ways to leverage in their digital strategy. HEBS Digital is currently developing best practices on ways hotels can take advantage of these new TripAdvisor features.5. Design: Particle website backgrounds.Hotels with limited video assets that still want engaging animation throughout their web design should consider a particle background. Particle backgrounds are lightweight java script animations that allow movement to be created as a subtle part of the website background. This is a great way to make a website more exciting and interactive without overwhelming visitors.

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

Max Starkov | The HeBS blog·26 November 2018
Staying innovative in your digital marketing strategy means staying up-to-date with the ever-changing digital landscape. From TripAdvisor evolving into a social travel platform with new research and sharing tools to Google Maps adding a follow button for businesses, learn more about the top things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing.


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