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Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Digital Industry News

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

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. 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.

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Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Digital Industry News

Links MDS Loves

It has been a busy couple of months over here at Digital Services! But no matter how jam-packed our schedules might be, we always make time to bring you the latest in digital and marketing industry news. There have been a lot of industry updates circling around the internet over the past month. Here are a few of the articles we’ve been reading. Did we miss any of your favorites?

man-coffee-cup-pen(Image Source: Pexels)

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Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Digital Industry News

Augmented Reality in Hospitality – A Whole New World

As advertising in the hospitality industry becomes more competitive, catching your target audience’s eye and maintaining customer engagement can pose a challenge. In this tech-driven, millennial-centric era, it is imperative to set yourself apart and convince your on-site visitors that you are the travel company central to all their travel needs. In 2015, Marriott’s pledge to innovation brought forward virtual reality (VR) as the next development in the field of experiential marketing. Known for consistently pushing technological boundaries, Marriott introduced and tested VR set-ups in New York and London to change the way people make travel plans.

Marriott Virtual Reality(Image Source: Framestore VR)

In collaboration with Oculus and Samsung Electronics, the concept of teleporting was made possible by being whisked away to a whole new world (yes, cue Disney’s Aladdin soundtrack), incorporating real sensory experiences. What’s the big deal? Well, Marriott successfully led the industry by combining two key elements: storytelling and technology, allowing guests to follow real travelers on different journeys, to “travel brilliantly.” Super cool, isn’t it? Now, the question is, what did we learn from that experience, and why should we consider incorporating VR again?

Marriott VR(Image Source: World Economic Forum)

3 Reasons VR Is Needed in the Hospitality and Travel Industry

  1. It’s Real. Instead of showcasing a destination via pre-filmed videos, you can transport your customers to our far-off resorts without having them leave the room. With VR technology, this 4-D experience is as good as the real deal and holds the potential of enhancing the client experience. It has the power to completely transform the “look before you book” idea to a real-life simulation. Driving an emotional capability like no other media platform, guests are given the opportunity to temporarily sample precious moments and unforgettable adventures. Real life over reel life any day, right?
  1. It’s competitive. Think about it – VR can be a very powerful marketing and communications tool. A unique tool to aid travel decision-making processes, we can truly leverage our brands and the experiences we offer on a global scale. Furthermore, by placing our guests in the center of our destinations virtually, we have the ability to change the way they interact with us in the hospitality and travel industry. Whilst other industries step forward and welcome VR with open arms, perhaps it’s time we bring it back as well to differentiate our merchandising practices from those employed by our competitors.
  1. It’s cost effective. Now you’re thinking: Wow, this is whack – there is no way we’re investing in this super-expensive technology. But what if we think of it from a long-term investment point of view? Yes, an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive ranges from $599-$799, excluding the cost of developing 4-D content (and you’re probably scoffing at the thought of wasting money), but the return on investment is projected to be higher. For some, this may not be convincing enough, but, sometimes, the lasting impression can be of a greater value – one we hold close to our hearts.

Virtual Reality Marriott(Image Source: Framestore VR)

Here’s to the Future

VR just provides another outlet for creative marketing and implementing groundbreaking trends into this industry – the results that can be achieved through this are limitless. To start off, one could utilize this tool specifically for event planning, such as destination weddings, honeymoon travels and other special occasions, providing a true taste of what the location has to offer. You wonder, would someone really want to check out their venue virtually over being there in person? Perhaps not, but VR could be the first in line to entice our guests with all that we can offer. VR provides an affordable means to decision-making for some couples and families, rather than an in-person trip to sign a contract for the desired event destination. Although this may not be a guaranteed reservation, it is definitely a means of consideration in travel decision-making. By adding informative material in the content that decision makers will appreciate, we can stay ahead of guest expectations and obtain a marketing advantage.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am all in for teleporting!

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Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Digital Industry News, Travel Industry News

The World of Metasearch – Quick News Hits from the Metasearch Giants

Since 2014, metasearch traffic has tripled. More recently, it has been suggested that metasearch advertising is one of the most important channels for hotels, allowing properties to amplify their book-direct strategies. If you aren’t familiar with metasearch channels, in a nutshell, they aggregate rates from a variety of sources and allow a user to compare a supplier’s room rates against those of many other channels. Koddi, a metasearch bid-automation platform, recently shared an excellent infographic to help answer the question “What is metasearch?

If you are already well-versed in the metasearch landscape, you know that the space is becoming increasingly competitive. Today, many of the major players are prioritizing innovation and ramping up marketing spend to ensure they can solidify their spot in the future of the hotel-rate-comparison business. Take a look at what some of the biggest competitors are up to these days:

Google Hotel Ads Tests, Including Vacation Rentals

This summer, Google began testing, including vacation rentals in their Hotel Ads interface – a first and major milestone for the company. Traditionally, users could search for dates and see a variety of hotels, but never alternative lodging options. According to Skift, the test appears to include 7,000 property listings and is focused on European cities, including Barcelona, Paris and Rome. and (owned by Expedia) both have listings appearing in the test; notably, Airbnb and HomeAway are not present. Koddi President/Co-founder Nicholas Ward noted a few clear shortcomings of the current user experience, including the lack of filtering options, content and reviews for the vacation rentals. Even still, the test marks the monumental entrance of Google into the vacation-rental business, and the company certainly has the resources for further testing and development if there is demand.

Google Hotel Ads(Image Source: Jacqueline Sharp, screen capture of Google Hotel Ads)

“Alexa, ask Kayak to book me a hotel room”

Conversational search queries are on the rise and, in May 2016, Google stated that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. For the hotel industry, though, voice bookings were an untapped playing field until Kayak introduced the opportunity to book hotel rooms through Amazon’s Alexa, the persona of the Echo device, in June 2017. The new functionality can be used in two ways:

  1. You can share your destination and travel dates with Alexa, and she will recite the available hotels and their rates. When you hear one you like, you can request to book it.
  2. You already know where you’d like to stay and when, then you can ask Alexa for the rates and to complete the reservation.

Of course, for users who are interested in scouring many different sites to find the best rate, reading reviews and looking at photos, the Alexa experience will not be well-suited. Even still, the capability is the first for the industry, and will only get better and more advanced with time.

TripAdvisor Reacts to a Decrease in Advertising Spend

In July 2017, TripAdvisor experienced softer cost-per-click pricing on their hotel metasearch rate ads – a result of suppliers and OTAs spending less than in the past. Expedia and Priceline had traditionally been the company’s largest advertisers, contributing up to 46% of the annual revenue. But with the recent decrease in advertising spend, which is not particular to one region but rather experienced globally, TripAdvisor has taken action.

While it may be too early to tell if major OTAs pulling their money from TripAdvisor and directing it elsewhere will become a trend, the company has launched a series of television commercials to combat the lost revenue. Between July and September, TripAdvisor will spend over $35 million on the television spots, and will run the campaigns in the United States, Canada, France, Spain, the UK and Australia.

Trivago Urges Independent Hotels to Advertise Online

Trivago’s CEO Rolf Schrömgens recently shared that “Trivago now has access to 1.8 million properties sourced from more than 180 booking sites, more than 230 hotel chains and some 11,000 individual hotels.” While these numbers are impressive at first, it’s estimated that there are between 140,000 and 600,000 independent hotels globally, leaving a tremendous amount of properties outside of the Trivago landscape. Today, the majority of hotels on the platform are the major chains, while many independent hotels rely on OTAs to drive their businesses instead.

Trivago hopes that by continuing extensive television advertising, they will further achieve brand recognition, and as Schrömgens shares, “It’s hard to reach them [the independent hotels]. But this effort will help.” In addition to increased advertising, Trivago introduced Rate Insights in June 2017, a solution designed to help independent hoteliers access rate data and understand traveler search volume and fluctuations.


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