Recently, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and Smith Travel Research (STR) released the "2016 Lodging Survey." The goal of this biennial survey is to provide a current and comprehensive understanding of hotel operations, with the possibility of identifying the critical travel trends heading into 2017.
The survey covers a wide range of areas. I highlighted the key findings from the survey on Multibriefs.com, but here is a brief summary:
#Hotel #Trends http://bit.ly/112216
Almost all hotels across various chain scales (from luxury to economy hotels) adopt central reservation systems (94-100 percent).
More hotels are using mobile apps for customer service, including checking-in into a hotel.
98 percent of hotels offer high-speed in-room internet service with wireless access, with fewer hotels charging for the service.
Fewer hotels are using social networking sites for marketing purposes, dropping from 93 percent in 2014 to 87 percent in 2016.
Hotels have a difficulty in building relationships with their customers through advertisements. Nowadays, it is not an easy task to inform a customer about one’s property, especially to the millennials. Some customers do not find ads credible or accurate, and new software such as AdBlock provides customers the options to remove advertisements from their computer. Today, people rely on social media to acquire and follow the latest trends. A new method of advertisement has taken over due to this concept. Many hotels are changing their marketing plan and trying to improve their social media presence to gain more sales. Moreover, Google has come up with a plan to help hotels acquire more businesses.
Social media have become a great mean to advertise a product. However, advertising on social media is different than on television. It is not as simple as opening a Facebook fan page or creating an Instagram account. It requires hours of preparation and a good understanding of what customers are looking for. For instance, on Instagram, I follow a very well-known fashion stylist who is always traveling. Through her posts, I have noticed that she mentions the places that she has visited. The pictures that she posts show the beauty of those places and can inspire people to visit. The places she has visited, the hotels she has stayed, and the food she has eaten are all advertised in the forms of social media posts.
On the other hand, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have utilized social media in a different manner. They decided to create a campaign featuring a plush toy named Maxine. This plush toy was featured in all the most well-known social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and etcetera. Maxine traveled everywhere in the Big Apple, and people were excited to see where Maxine was going to travel next. This was a genius idea since it was meant to target family travelers to their hotels. Kids loved the plush toy and they wanted to visit the same destinations that Maxine had visited. They were also able to interact with Maxine in their facilities. The campaign not only brought profits to the hotel, but also to nearby businesses featured in Maxine’s travels.
Google has been experimenting with a new way of advertising, according to Nicholas Ward (2016), CEO of a digital marketing agency. Every time a person searches for information about a hotel, or when they want to book a room through Google search engine, nearby deals will be shown at the top of the list. People will be able to click on them and more information about the hotel will be shown. Also, when changing the check-in and check-out dates, the deal will also change just like any other booking websites. Moreover, Google is trying to make the search engine better to their users by offering not only the best deal but also hotels that are similar in rating for people to compare. Users will be more well informed, and this will make their booking experience more satisfying.
These new ways of advertisement will influence the sales of many hotels in the long run. On the other hand, it is important for hotels to understand this processes and to know how to employ each mean of advertising. For instance, for the hotel to thrive, it would be beneficial for the hotel to be seen in the nearby deals under Google’s search engine. This is because many millennials seek inexpensive hotels with a good location. Social media advertising can also be difficult but not impossible if they have a good sales marketing plan. I believe if done well, a hotel could increase its sales due to these new ways of advertising. What would the advancement in technology affect sales in the future? Would televised advertisement cease to exist? If so, why or why not?
About the Author
Enmy is a Chinese who was born in Venezuela. She loves to travel, discover new places, and plan events. These are the reasons why she chose hospitality management as a career. Enmy is fluent in Spanish, English, and Cantonese, and she is also in the process of learning Mandarin. Enmy is now a senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and she is expected to graduate in Spring 2017. She is very interested in event planning and wants to own her own event planning company in the future. She is diligent and cooperative, and she currently works at Wokcano, Pasadena as a host.
“Every business interacts with a variety of publics: consumers, the general public, the financial community, the organizations’ employees, government, the media, suppliers, and many others. Public relations is the process by which the relationships with each to these publics is managed.” --- Reid and Bojanic, in Hospitality Marketing Management (2010, p. 492). Just recently at my workplace, there was an incident regarding one of my coworkers. It turns out that he used Facebook’s personal messaging system as a medium to exchange harsh words with another person. This person was not in any way connected to our company, but after finding out where my coworker worked through my coworker’s Facebook profile, this person decided to post on our company’s public Facebook profile what my coworker had said to them for anyone to see. It appeared that my coworker said things that were not nice; and even though he thought he was having a private conversation via personal messaging with this person, this person exposed publicly what was said. The person also accused our workplace of hiring a person that was disrespectful and crass. The incident was handled by management, in essence it was a minor job in public relations, and as such the post was deleted, the person contacted by management, and after conducting an investigation, my workplace decided that my coworker must be let go. This incident first made me think about our first amendment --- our freedom of speech. While my coworker said disrespectful words, was it right for the other person involved to accuse him at his workplace, to expose him on the company’s Facebook profile? Was it the correct decision for the company to let my coworker go? Secondly, I thought of the issue of public relations for company. A company’s public relations team might be an external company or it could just be an owner or a manager. Nowadays, companies should provide guidelines in employee manuals that refer to social media use, especially usage regarding the company. Even in the mentioned incident, where the private discussion was not about anything related to the company, the way someone projects themselves when speaking to another person, regardless of the medium, can be measured against the values of a company. While our company did have social media guidelines regarding the use of these tools concerning the company itself, and while there was nothing explicitly mentioned on the employee handbook about conducting oneselfappropriately when speaking to other people outside of work, it was implied in our manual that we must conduct ourselves professionally in and out of work. In the early days of Facebook, I wouldn’t think twice about posting any kind of status update, much less what I wrote in a personal message. In those days, while we still valued anonymity and privacy, as a society we were slowly changing. There was no Instagram or Yelp, and most people remained anonymous through nicknames and online handles. With the advent of social media sites, starting with Myspace, social media began to change. We started posting selfies, carefully manicuring our personal profiles, and increasingly communicating with one another online. Facebook came along and at first it was a college student only website. With the expansion of Facebook to encompass anyone in the world, including our parents and bosses, there were some issues that we began to deal with. Do we have to self-censor nowadays? If we do, does it inhibit part of our personality? What can companies do to protect themselves from incidents such as my coworker’s? As future managers, we will have to deal with issues such as this, and we must learn how to handle them effectively.
About the Author
Marlon Wong-Granados is a transfer student and Hospitality Management major at Cal Poly Pomona. His focus is on Restaurant Management. His ultimate goal is to be a restaurant operator and make a positive impact in the restaurant industry. He enjoys food, soccer, boxing, and travel. References Reid, R.D. and Bojanic, D.C. (2010). Hospitality Marketing Management (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.