Keeping up-to-date with digital innovations is a tireless job. The digital landscape changes rapidly with many channels regularly advancing to stay competitive online.
Hoteliers and accommodation providers need to think about what their guests may need at any one point in their digital journey. Revolutionary technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), reduces unnecessary admin, allowing hoteliers and hotel marketers to focus on driving business. It also delivers contextually relevant messaging in real time while continuously learning from large volumes of data.
By shifting the booker’s intent back to your own website, you move the focus from a book-direct journey to a customer-centric one. What modern travellers really want are personalised experiences they can control, and your guests expect to be assisted at every point in their path to purchase. There is a big opportunity for innovation in travel, especially with new customer experience technology. To really succeed, you must deliver experiences that are fast and easy to access.
Some key areas to consider for the year ahead if you haven’t already done so are:
- Artificial intelligence
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
- Personal Assistants
- Content Marketing (yes really!)
Google see AI as the 4th industrial revolution and are positioning their business to be AI first. This statement is important and should motivate hotels to evolve their websites from static PDFs into a personalised guest journey, dependant on where in their booking lifecycle their guests are. Each step of the guest booking contains many data points. These pieces fit into one constantly changing puzzle that can be hard to make sense of. Allora – Avvio’s AI-powered booking engine – explores that data to understand individual booker behaviour and patterns through powerful Machine Learning.
Chatbots and native advertising are two other areas to evaluate. With advancements in AI and the rise in popularity of voice search and messaging chatbots, early adopters in the hotel industry will benefit hugely.
Your guests now expect to be assisted at every point in their path to purchase. To really succeed, you must deliver experiences that are fast and easy. If you haven’t done it already it’s time to invest in mobile experiences as well as Machine Learning.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will play an important role for not only accommodation providers but every online business. So what do you need to know about AMP and how it could benefit your property?
In July last year, Google started using mobile page speed as a ranking factor in their mobile search results. AMP is a whole new way of creating web pages that allow a much faster load time than regular HTML. You can see how well your mobile site fairs by using the Test my Site tool. AMP is a whole new way of creating web pages that allow a much faster load time than regular HTML. It also speeds up the delivery of content on mobile devices via a Google-hosted cached version of your website, rather than loading the original version from your server.
For hotels, having a valid AMP version of your site could make a big difference and be enough to elevate your hotel to the top of search results. Ensure that this is on your digital checklist for 2019 and set aside some budget to cover it. Speak to your web agency or partner about getting this implemented as you can’t afford to miss out.
The growth in the popularity of digital personal assistants (such as Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa) makes content even more important. The closer your website snippet aligns with the actual search query, the more likely you are to be considered the most relevant and as a result appear as the answer. Include long tail keywords and keep the local aspect in mind at all times as local is a huge part of digital personal assistants.
Many of us are familiar with Alexa – Amazon’s voice assistant used on an Echo or often alongside a Sonos device. In June 2018 Amazon introduced another dimension to this technology when they announced a new program called Alexa for Hospitality, designed to bring its voice assistant technology to everything from chain hotels such as Marriott to vacation rentals.
Content Marketing Platforms
In their latest Managing Digital Marketing report, SmartInsights asked marketers which tactics they think are most important: The results of the report see some interesting trends emerging:
It’s encouraging and in all honesty, a little surprising to see that marketers considered content marketing to be as commercially impactful as AI. This indicates that we recognise how important websites are and what can be achieved through great content. A strategic content plan is imperative for all hotels but does require time and effort to successfully implement.
According to Zenith Research in 2019 people are expected to spend an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. They’ll spend slightly less time – 170.3 minutes – watching TV. How are you as a hotelier planning for this?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have a video strategy for the year?
- How do I attract guests to my hotel using video?
- When guests are in my hotel are there ways I can use video to enhance their stay?
If you are able to incorporate these into your marketing strategy for 2019 you have a recipe for success!