The hospitality industry is rapidly growing—with revenue expected to reach $550 billion by the end of 2016. Alongside this growth comes industry trends driven by advances in technology, changing lifestyles of guests and the emergence of hospitality services like Airbnb and HomeAway. To stay competitive in this environment, you’ll need to understand how these trends fit into your occupancy strategy.
When done well, content marketing has massive potential to generate new leads—and hospitality is well-suited for it. Blogs, sponsored posts, travel guides and infographics are a few types of content that you can create to provide value to potential customers while increasing your brand reputation. High quality, useful material is especially important as travelers use social media to share recommendations and develop relationships with the brands they support.
In fact, 92% of consumers trust earned media (such as content marketing) over traditional forms of advertising.
The growing popularity of ad blockers and a distaste for traditional digital ads also points to content creation as a key component to reaching new customers.
While content marketing can help you gain more prospects, you’ll need to think about how you can share meaningful information with your guests. For example, if your property is based in a popular travel destination, you might choose to create online guides on fun local activities to try and lesser-known sites to visit. Or if your hotel often hosts business conferences, you can opt to publish sponsored posts in major business blogs. These factors will influence how you’ll implement your content marketing plan, but it can be a worthwhile component of your overall marketing strategy.
Virtual Reality (VR)
A growing tech trend, virtual reality has shifted from science fiction into the real world. While the mass market hasn’t adapted this technology just yet, consumer-level products are beginning to be released at competitive price points.
Besides gamers, VR is attractive to travelers: 74% of U.S. consumers have expressed interest in VR tourism.
VR in hospitality has a lot of potential—guests can use headsets to preview rooms and destinations, or try new entertainment experiences as part of in-house attractions.
It might sound enticing to invest in VR, but there are still many issues with the technology. Some VR users have reported experiencing motion sickness and nausea, and the technology’s relative youth means there are few content developers and platforms available right now. You won’t likely see major benefits from incorporating VR in its current form unless your hotel brand focuses on emerging technology; otherwise, consider waiting until VR technology has developed into a more secure and accessible form.
Video has long been a popular vehicle to deliver entertainment and information—what’s changed is the diversity of video-sharing platforms. Social media sites like YouTube and Facebook have developed massive user bases and made it easier to distribute videos without requiring high production quality.
What’s more, video plays a key role in making travel decisions: 66% of people watch travel videos when they’re considering a trip.
Hotel and casino managers can take advantage by incorporating more video content into their branding and communications. User-generated video campaigns, property tours and influencer interviews are just a few simple ways you can engage with your audience.
The key to effective video marketing is understanding what would most appeal to your guests. Do your patrons regularly use Facebook or YouTube? Do they travel for leisure or business purposes? That information can help you tailor your videos accordingly and increase your occupancy rate as a result.
As more people use smartphones around the globe, they’ll come to expect mobile features as basic offerings from the hotels they stay at. As we’ve mentioned before, a mobile-focused strategy is necessary—both leisure and business travelers prefer to book through their phones, and hotel apps can provide convenient services for guests.
Hoteliers are recognizing the importance of this trend: 60% have reported that they’re investing in mobile applications.
Current apps offered by hotel brands like the Marriott come with booking, check-ins, service requests and other options. These features allow guests to cut down on wait times for basic amenities.
Mobile payments have yet to be integrated in many property management systems so when deciding to invest in a mobile app, you should keep in mind what features your guests would most appreciate. Send them an email survey that asks them to rank their preferred options such as mobile check-ins, digital keys or food and drink orders.
Keeping up with trends and adapting to the feverish pace of new technology is a daunting task, but one that can pay off. By embracing innovation while maintaining a focused occupancy strategy, you’ll attract guests and separate your brand from your competitors.
Feature Photo: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com