September 21

Tell me, what’s ONE thing hotels need to do in 2020?

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LET’S GET SOME INSPIRATION FROM HOTEL LEADERS WHO ARE DOMINATING IN THEIR SPACE.


Do you feel that?


It’s that new year buzz, and the hotel industry is bustling with aggressive growth plans and creative ventures that will put their hotel at the top of their comp set.

The problem is, how do you sift through fantasy and fact, and make sure you are putting your efforts into the right vehicle that will deliver your hotel success.

Not to mention, are you clear on what that success even looks like for your hotel – ADR growth, engagement or direct bookings? 

There is nothing quite like time away from the hotel to think about what you want to leave in the year gone by, and what you endeavour to adopt in the year ahead to achieve that success metric.

If you are like me, this list of new habits and initiatives probably fills a page or two.. but what is the ONE thing that you need to do most in 2020? 

Alright, I’ve sprung that pressure on you pretty unfairly, so let’s get some inspiration from hotel leaders who are dominating in their space and outperforming the market.

Stop worrying and start selling rooms

In 2020, hotels need to stop worrying about parity and Book Direct and all the other things that take up our time and start to focus on selling rooms. 

  • STEP 1: A total spring clean of your room types and rate plans – are these relevant and bringing in the revenue?

  • STEP 2: Shop your hotel like a customer by going ‘incognito’ and see what the customers see.

  • STEP 3: Hit the delete button and get rid of anything that is no longer relevant. Merge room types, delete rate plans, end contracts with underperforming OTAs or add new ones. Take out the clutter and streamline.

  • STEP 4: Get some new photos.

  • STEP 5: Wait a while, review and then repeat.

Inform and inspire creatively 

My top tip for hotel marketers in 2020 is to harness the power of video content to share your brand story and drive digital engagement.

The best travel content should inform and inspire, allowing potential guests to feel as though they are experiencing your hotel or destination firsthand while leaving them wanting more.

Video is the ideal medium for this as it allows for creativity, fun, and can humanise your brand in a way that words and images cannot.

Video also performs better on social media with Facebook prioritising video in its newsfeed algorithm over static content.

Be entertaining

The public demands to be entertained by your hotel and brand. Experiences have to be unique and innovative if you want to stay ahead. If they don’t reach this level, then your hotel won’t be noticed or even worse, won’t reach your audience. 

Currently, we’re seeing top brands produce little narratives within their content that engages with their audience and amplifies reach.

Our biggest tip for 2020, is if you’re not a professional stylist then don’t style your shoots. The general public are quick to disengage with brands who don’t entertain them. Lastly, this goes without saying, please stop taking photos on your phone

Some quick wins to longer-term actions

Hoteliers have many levers they can trigger to improve their online revenue. 

  • Set up a price disparity in favour of your brand website. This is the nerve of war!

  • Replace Static Rates with Dynamic Rates in your contracts with your distributors

  • Offer discount coupons for a next stay when checking out to encourage your guests to come back and book on your website.

  • Update information on your website to improve your conversion rate. Make sure these updates address your visitors’ main concerns, so they don’t have to leave your site to get this information: location, photos, quick search, price comparison widget, etc.

  • Implement an online visibility strategy to generate traffic: search marketing, metasearch, pre and re-targeting. These campaigns can generate a quick return on investment.

  • Rethink your website, especially if it has not been optimised for mobile.

Learn from and leverage your customer data

The biggest opportunity available to hotels in 2020 is making the most of the goldmine that is guest data, as it can be used to power advertising strategy. 

Invest in software that can combine data from across siloed systems and use that joined-up data to deliver great guest experiences, like tailored retargeting ads based on user behaviour and your hotel’s parity profile.

Learn, create and convert

Understanding the conversion funnel not only across traditional sales metrics but more importantly in terms of marketing strategy and digital exposure.

2020 is going to be a year of fierce competition, and understanding your business markets, guest journey and point of difference will be the key driver behind success. Many of us talk “digital” in the hotel world but do we truly understand it? 

My advice for the year ahead is to seek education and advance your knowledge in order to create the story, to fuel the funnel and convert the revenue.

There is more to a stay than just bed and breakfast

2020 is going to be a really exciting year for the industry. It’s a perfect time for hotels to focus on gaining back more control of their guest’s experience from making the booking to enjoying their stay.

City hotels, show off much more than just what’s inside your property, partner with your city and become city cheerleaders, ambassadors! Create an experience beyond just the hotel.

Free WIFI and breakfast won’t cut it, we are becoming very savvy and fickle travellers. In order for this to happen though, hotel leadership teams will need to empower every member of the hotel to create the ultimate guest experience. Include everyone from housekeeping to engineering and food & beverage to the spa.

Create a simple, fun and engaging session on how OTA commissions work, hotel distribution and guest acquisition, and then incentivize everyone to support sales, marketing and revenue to become city champions.

Rally people around a new revenue stream

People buy from people, no matter how digital or automated we become. The people that work in a hotel are their most valuable asset – they drive the growth of a hotel.

We’ve seen hotels have massive success where they rally their people around a new revenue stream, like a signature series of events, experiences or value adds that are relevant to their hotel and market.

You can then use digital marketing to drive adoption of the new experience. This can add a pretty chunky revenue stream to a hotel P&L without incurring massive external costs.

Don’t fear OTA’s, conquer them

Hotels are making the mistake of focusing all their effort on getting their business on various websites and losing more customers while paying more commission. Hotels need to focus more on gaining customers via direct bookings, as going into competition with OTAs will be a fight you never win.

Instead, I suggest they implement an AWARENESS, ATTRACTION and RETENTION strategy for their hotel. OTA should be seen as leverage that can be used to give your hotel and it’s website the proper amount of exposure it needs. With this strategy, you would be able to effectively gain customers from OTAs and convert them into your own loyal ambassadors.

Do not be dependent on OTAs, rather use them as a way to get direct traffic.

2020 is a virtual environment

There is a new kid on the block  – virtual tours. With a virtual tour, guests can choose their own journey, take a quick peek or a deep dive and visit as many times as they like, it’s up to them.

In fact, more than 50% of visits to virtual tours are repeat visits, which is a clear indicator of customer engagement. 

In 2020, customers should be able to experience the hotel amenities and connect with space in a new way.

Virtual tours give customers more of everything, information, entertainment and control. A hotel can be open for viewing, from any device and from anywhere.

Virtual tours increase online engagement, build trust through transparency and improve customer experience.

What an exciting space the hotel industry is entering in 2020!

From revenue hacks to channel performance, there are enough directives here to secure strong occupancy and loyalty in the year ahead.

Like anything, bring a measured approach to the new year and tale your time in implementing changes so that you can assess which strategies are working. 

If you would like to discuss one, three or all of these concepts, I’d love to hear from you.


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Katie Hokin

About the author

Hello, I'm Katie Hokin, A self-professed hotel and digital nerd, servicing a number of hotels and resorts across the country with all things digital and branding. In addition to managing the performance of my hotel portfolio, I offer online courses that hone in on areas that hotel marketers are not leveraging to their full potential. No client solution looks the same, with my team and I taking various tasks off your plate, so you can get back to work.

Katie Hokin

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Obsessed with Hotels, Digital Marketing, Branding & Planning

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