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Why “Booking Direct” is Valuable & Why Target Marketing Can Play an Important Role in Customer Acquisition

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Digital Industry News

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In the hospitality industry today, digital marketing can be a major factor in revenue generation and hotel awareness. Hotels can differentiate themselves in the marketplace by telling unique stories and knowing their customers’ demographics. One of the most important and influential aspects of digital marketing within the hospitality industry is a hotel’s website. Every aspect of the shopper’s journey online can be influenced by using proven tactics that make booking directly on the hotel’s website more enticing. Roughly 60% of consumers will visit a hotel’s website before booking through an OTA (online travel agency). The hotel website execution is an opportunity that can lead to more successful impressions or views, and potential conversions surrounding what your hotel can offer.

Three factors come to mind when generating genuineness and authenticity in the digital space:

  1. Photography – The hotel website must have high quality images that will capture attention quickly, while also being memorable.
  2. Merchandising & Promotions – The hotel website can also include incentives, such as special offers that serve as rewards for booking direct, which other hotels or OTA platforms may not have the ability to establish.
  3. Social Media Presence – The hotel must provide positive social engagement with review sites that obtain user generated content (UGC).

A hotel’s website must be authentic and genuine for whichever market it serves. Direct bookings help to improve guest relations through more in-depth descriptions of the hotel and the surrounding area. OTA’s also have this ability, but most cannot provide the type of detail that a direct and specific hotel website can.

By partnering with vendors, our MDS Paid Media team has gained market insights through many platforms, learning how to properly utilize types of display and re-targeting ads based on demand in a certain time frame. Sojern is one display channel used through our advertisement vendor that tracks where and when a user searches for a destination. This type of tracking creates a more effective targeting strategy using market data generated through historical demographics. The Sojern platform can target gender and numbers in a party for an event, as well as, length of stay. This specific paid media display channel not only offers exceptional targeting capabilities, but still focuses on the importance of directing qualified consumers to convert on the hotel website. Typically, hoteliers have found that direct bookings will drive double the value as opposed to bookings through OTAs. Even through this advantage it has been found that 80% of online bookings are eventually abandoned. Guests who book direct display a greater understanding of the marketplace, as they know what they want when it comes to their stay. Marriott.com allows consumers a more personal experience while shopping. For example, the best rate available will be presented, and if by chance a shopper stumbles upon a cheaper rate, Marriott direct bookers will earn the match of that same rate, along with an additional 25% discount.

Booking direct is a strategy that can intensify and strengthen a personal customer relationship with a brand that can evolve over a lifetime with travelers, especially those hotels with traditionally positive reviews and customer experiences. Hotels can enhance customer relations and boost revenue profitability using digital marketing to focus on booking direct. Therefore; having a seamless process through digital acquisition can lead to the most success when trying to acquire travelers.

I have mentioned the benefit a hotel website can provide by telling a unique and real story, but it is also important to understand the market you are in, the demographics of the travelers that stay with you and seasonality. These factors are exceptionally important when activating any display channels. It has also been a proven factor within the “millennial” driving force of hotel shopping. Including details that adhere to an “experience” factor. When younger guests arrive at the hotel bar, they are less concerned about the order at first with regards to food or drink, but need their personal items in order such as an outlet for a phone charger or the code to free wifi. This type of information can not only appear on a website, but can convert an impression into a booking.

Digital marketing is not a step-by-step process when it comes to acquiring customers, especially when it comes to hospitality and travel shoppers. Using market data, along with having a detailed website, can make the process of a traveler coming back to your hotel and booking direct more of a reality. Because of the idea that most shoppers will abandon the process of an actual booking, strategy to capture demand must be pointed at not only the right people, but make sure that these people remember what it is that makes your hotel stand out above all others within a market.

Top 5 Things We Learned at Digital Summit Chicago

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Conference Recaps

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Two of our MDS DCSMs, Kayla Carmichael and Roger Littlepage, recently attended the Digital Summit in Chicago. This past Tuesday, we learned about Roger’s takeaways from the conference’s keynote speaker, Shingy. Today, we’re featuring Kayla’s top 5 conference highlights! Learn more in the infographic below. 

DigitalSummitChicagoInfographic

Shingy Shares Secrets to Social Marketing

Posted by on Nov 14, 2017 in Conference Recaps

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Two of our MDS DCSMs, Kayla Carmichael and Roger Littlepage, recently attended the Digital Summit in Chicago. Check out out Roger’s conference keynote address takeaways below, and stay tuned for Kayla’s top 5 conference learnings on Thursday!

Shingy Shares Secrets to Social Marketing – Keynote Address Takeaways

David Shing, or more commonly known as “Shingy” is a very strange, eccentric and possible visionary for all things digital. His recent keynote address at the Digital Summit in Chicago on Oct. 24th, was both the conference highlight and the craziest presentation given.

Who is Shingy?

If you need proof that personal branding is important, look no further than Shingy. If you ever meet him, hear him speak or see a photograph of Shingy, you will not forget him. His hair symbolizes his persona and his corporate logo is simply his silhouette. A self-labeled Digital Prophet for AOL, he has worked in marketing for them since 2007 and most recently created his own position and job responsibility. A quote taken from his website states: “I work across the globe to identify new opportunities for the business. I regularly speak at conferences worldwide, discussing the latest trends and the future of the web to provide insight on the evolving digital landscape.” His Instagram feed [@davidshingy] is a random mishmash of artistic black and white images, as well as silhouettes of his newborn child, who shares the same hairstyle.

Roger Littlepage and Shingy

Left: MDS’ Roger Littlepage. Right: Shingy

What Sayeth the Prophet?

Listening to David Shing speak and attempting to take notes, is an exercise in futility. Even though his Australian accent is not strong, he speaks at the speed of a Formula 1 race car. His slides move as fast as he speaks, while being in perfect sync to highlight keywords and phrases. It is as entertaining as it is informative.

One common marketing term that is extremely overused is “Millennials.” Something Shingy never said. Instead he referred to the new generation as “young adults.” As marketers and those in the business world we sometimes think of them as being so different that we need to change our business and marketing models to attract them. The truth according to David is that they really are not that different, they have the same values as other generations. They want to achieve happiness, spend more time with friends and family, they want to be true to themselves and financially stable. These values are something that 81% of baby boomers say they align with. The difference is the way the newer generations go about expressing it and what they spend their time on. David Shing pointed out that 90% of young adults say they want to be entertained because 96% of them identify as being bored.

Why Do I Care?

The largest opportunity for any brand marketer is this newest generation. This “young adult” group represents $2.4 trillion in spend globally which are feed driven and 87% uses 3 different digital devices per day. For marketers to truly impact this generation, they need to be where they are at and marketers need to appeal to their desire to be entertained.

“There is an opportunity there. That opportunity is that the creativity you now develop can be re-defined. You are now in the content business and not in the advertising business. If we are in the content business we now compete with everybody, not just competitors. That is the new ‘new.’”

How Do I Do That?

According to Shingy’s hypothesis, moving forward, people’s behaviors are more and more influenced by their closed group of peers rather than by social media “influencers” and celebrity content. There is intimacy in these closed networks that marketers must attempt to break through and market to them on a personal level. So often, marketers and brands dictate where in a purchase funnel each channel falls into or where someone can be “labeled.” This marketing metric cannot be implemented in social or on a brand’s creative content.

Shingy hit home by saying our measure of success should not be measured by “engagement” labeled as likes or emojis on our feeds. Rather, to penetrate the closed networks and to influence this new generation, we simply have to persuade individuals to change their decisions and buying habits to positively influence our company’s bottom line through creative content.

Infographics: Science Behind Art

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Digital Industry News

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Curious what goes into making the perfect infographic? Turns out there’s a science behind the art form. Read more in Contently’s article, “Why Good Infographics Are More Than Just Pictures and Numbers” and check out this handy infographic originally produced by Siege Media to visualize infographic trends. (Hint: the color blue is pretty popular!)

The Science Behind the Most Popular Infographics(Image source: Contently)

Breaking Down the 2017 Local Search Ecosystem

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in All Matters SEO

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Have you ever wondered where search engines all pulling your business’ information from? The answer is complex, as local SEO data sharing is in constant motion within the local ecosystem. Nonetheless, the new US 2017 Local Search Ecosystem gives insight into specific relationships across the local space of digital.

What is the Local Search Ecosystem (LSE)?

The Local Search Ecosystem (LSE) is a visual explanation of the complexity of local data relationships*, and why incorrect data so often finds its way to the front page of Google or Bing. It was introduced in 2009 by David Mihm and has updated every two years.

Why is it important?

Understanding how the local search ecosystem works is important for successful UNAP consistency, which will result in better rankings and user experience. A business listing that appears to be correct on the surface might become incorrect later due to inaccurate incoming third-party data, or inaccurate data that already exists within another listings database, but has not surfaced yet.

The 2017 US Local Ecosystem

Whitespark and Tidings teamed up to create a new local search ecosystem, bringing attention to specific site relationships by hovering over and clicking the site segments on the chart. The circle shaped chart is set up with three relationships classifications:

  • Confirmed Relationships- Relationships that were confirmed either by the data aggregators’ distribution lists or by the business directories (or by both)
  • Likely Relationship- Relationships that were reported by the business directories
  • Unconfirmed Relationships– Relationships that were reported by the data aggregators in their distribution lists, but were not confirmed by their study

WhiteSpark and Tidings also noted the following categories in the circle:

  • Primary Data Aggregators –Businesses whose model consists of collecting and regularly updating and enriching business data, and then selling it to other companies, including business directories. They have the most influence in the ecosystem. IE. Infogroup
  • Core Search Engines – Most important display platforms that receive information from a number of different sources. IE. Google and Apple Maps
  • Key Sites – Sites that serve either as actual data providers of lesser significance, IE. Foursquare, or as important display platforms, IE. Facebook or as both. IE. Yelp
  • Other Sites – All other important business directories in the ecosystem that either receive, or on rare occasion provide data from/to other sites

The 2017 US Local Ecosystem(Image Source: Whitespark)

What Your Hotel Should Know

The chart helps us understand where to focus on in order in ensure our hotel’s URL, name, address and phone number (UNAP) are consistent throughout local search. But there are also some other findings and areas our hotels should note:

  • Proprietary Data –Some sites, such as the major data aggregator TripAdvisor, are not displayed because they generate listings based on business data they collect on their own. They use different methods of collecting such data, such as directly calling the business or using information found on their websites. Be sure that your associates are aligned with the correct data to give these sources and your hotel website accurately represents the hotel. Digital Services claims our hotels’ TripAdvisor pages so we can input correct data into the platform.
  • Less Significant Sources – There are hundreds of other data sources sites use. For instance, Factual has a feature called Crosswalk, through which they collaborate with business directories and display links on to third-party pages for the same business on their listing. Even if they are less significant, they are still appearing to users, and therefore should be entirely correct for your hotel’s credibility. Digital Services conducts a citation audit for hotels enrolled in our program to ensure UNAP consistency across sites like Factual, CitySearch, etc.
  • International Hotels– If your hotel is outside of the US, you may be wondering about your country’s local ecosystem. In their release, they stated that they will be releasing local search ecosystems for Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and Brazil in the coming months. There are local ecosystems in every country and you should be keeping your hotel’s UNAP consistent no matter where your hotel is located. International hotels enrolled with Digital Services are set up with a Yext account to ensure the correct UNAP is being pushed to the countries’ specific local ecosystem.
  • The Dirty Four– Overall, Yelp, Yellowpages, Foursquare and CityGrid could be viewed as the “Dirty Four” – a secondary group of 4 semi-data-aggregators that seem to be as important as the primary data aggregators. For instance, Yelp can feed review and business data to Bing, Apple Maps, Yellowpages, Yahoo! Local and MapQuest. Yellowpages can feed to these sites as well. Therefore, it’s important to not neglect these sites and making sure they are optimized with your hotel’s correct information. Hotels in Yelp supported countries that are enrolled in Digital Services are provided with a paid Yelp listings as well as optimizations to ensure the profile accurately represents the hotel.

 

* Local search ecosystem relationships change frequently, so it is possible that such changes occurred from the time the first audit had been performed to the time the last audit was completed. As a result, the audit analysis data might be contradictory or incomplete.

The Importance of Content Strategy

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in Digital Industry News

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If 98% of Sr. Marketers believe that having a content strategy is important to a business’ success, why do only 55% have a documented strategy? Learn more in the below infographic from Contently. Ask your DCSM how MDS can help you build out a content marketing strategy that reaches your target guest and traveler.

Contently_The Importance of Content Strategy(Image Source: Contently)