Reauthorizing Brand USA through a renewal of the Travel Promotion Act is something that the lodging industry will continue to promote because the initial legislation attracted more than 1.1 million additional visitors to the US that resulted in $3.4 billion in spending. This public-private partnership has been highly successful and the legislation's renewal is critical.
Impacted by national, state, and local politics is the living wage movement and the uncertainty of how quickly the minimum wage will increase. But one thing is clear, the minimum wage is going up across the country and hoteliers need to plan accordingly. In San Diego where we run several hotels, the City Council recently passed legislation to increase the minimum wage above and beyond the already scheduled increase in the state minimum wage. Although that wage increase is now on hold pending a public referendum in June 2016, the confusion creates uncertainty in the business climate and does not allow businesses to forecast or budget accurately.
Social is Mobile and maybe soon we will see social as a dominant booking engine. According to PhoCusWright, the term "mocial" may be among the most overused buzzwords of the past few years, but there's no disputing the importance of mobile to social strategy. Hotel companies are likely underestimating traveler interaction with them via mobile. For most social platforms, mobile is becoming the primary means for travelers to access and contribute content.
Travelers' ability to access social networks anytime, anywhere empowers them to create and consume more content than ever before. And this is not just for domestic travelers. Our international visitors are just as likely to have a smart phone.
In addition, nearly 50 percent of hotel companies have a booking engine or widget on their Facebook page, according to PhoCusWright's "Social media in travel: Mayhem, myths, mobile and money" study. Bookings generated through the channel, however, are generally low, with 45 percent of companies surveyed saying they receive less than 1 percent of total bookings through the site.
Video campaigns on social media, when done properly, are proving to be successful for hoteliers looking to generate guest engagement. We are anticipating the use of video campaigns this year and have already introduced the use of Flip.to to engage future guests in social media conversations. Flip.to allows for hotels to connect with guests from the moment they make a reservation and to create a unique experience upon arrival. By connecting with the hotel, guests are able to share with their friends and family about their upcoming trip. Flip.to then creates a custom experience for their social media connections that can help lead to future bookings. In the first few months since we partnered with Flip.to, we have seen an increase in interactions with the hotel, shared experiences with friends and family and future rooms booked directly from the engagement.
Finally, the days of "walk-in" reservations are dwindling. With mobile apps such as Hotel Tonight and others, guests rarely walk in to inquire about room availability. Instead, they turn to apps and mobile websites, so remember, "mobile is the new walk-in"...tighten up your mobile displays!
As I wrote in my recent forecast, 2015 is poised to be the best year the hotel industry has ever experienced. Understanding these trends and planning accordingly will provide you with the opportunity to experience a record-breaking year ahead on both the revenue and net income side of the equation.
R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc.
11025 Vista Sorrento Parkway
San Diego, CA 92130
Robert A. Rauch, CHA
Robert Rauch, CHA, is a nationally recognized hotelier and President of R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc., a leading hospitality management and consulting firm. Rauch has over 35 years of hospitality- related management experience in all facets of the industry. Widely recognized as the 'hotel guru', Mr. Rauch maintains a blog where he expounds upon insights and trends in the hospitality industry at www.hotelguru.com. Along with the blog, he also publishes Hospitality Innsights, an electronic newsletter that is distributed monthly. Mr. Rauch held nearly every position in the hotel business including General Manager of full-service Four Diamond hotels for Hilton and Embassy Suites. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration from Western International University and a master’s degree in Tourism Administration from Arizona State University. He is a Certified Hotel Administrator and has served as chairman of numerous tourism organizations nationally and in the western U.S. He has been directly involved in developing several leading brand hotels, some of which the firm still owns and manages. R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc. currently operates hotels in California, Arizona and Colorado with several under development.
Robert A. Rauch
R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc.