Hotels in North America are doing digital marketing blindly. Why?

Recently, the tourism industry has taken a huge hit from COVID with travel restrictions and the lockdown in various cities and states. With that said, we have seen hotels in North America not only shut down temporarily or in some cases permanently, but also succumb to the perception that there is little or no demand for travel and that revenues will never be the same as last year. Well, let us say this, that mindset above is totally erroneous. If you own a hotel or a tourism destination company, you should know that the lead time for booking has changed but the demand has always been there and there is a captive audience for you to market to. If your brands and corporate companies cannot give you the answer to the lead time and the segments and the demand generation segments, that is when you have to admit that you are in a rut and will not come out from it unless you choose to and to open your eyes. Explain to me and the other hotels that we have worked with that have not only stayed open but generate profitable earnings despite the COVID news and the lockdown in various cities. This is because these hotels know where the demand is, where to market, how to market and how to price, and the lead time to conversion. I’m sure as an owner of the hotel or a management company of the hotel properties, your brands and corporate companies are ripping you off and giving you excuses because they have no idea what they are doing. It’s about time you took the reins of demand generation and the digital marketing of your properties.

Here is what we found

1) The owners and the management companies have no experience and understanding of digital marketing and they get hoodwinked.

Let’s face it owners and the management companies of properties are not digital marketing savvy and are more investors than digital marketers. They may have recruited marketing teams internally to manage the marketing of the hotels however those folks have grown up in the hospitality and tourism industry and are used to the arcane marketing strategy. The marketing team has never even seen the digital marketing strategies that are at the forefront of their industry. This results in what the owners and the management companies accepting the “marketing” they are doing as a tick, “oh yes, we do digital marketing, oh yes we have someone helping us on our website, ads, and social media”. If they don’t have a marketing team-worst still, they approach the brands and they get a bunch of marketing jargon thrown at them by the brand marketing organization just to make it sound like their credible and are “really doing the work”. If you ask me, the brand marketing teams themselves need a total revamp and you should know that it’s not comforting to know that you are being supported by a brand marketing organization that has years of hotel and tourism experience. That would be a red flag. You should be worried that you are being supported by marketing specialists who have been in the hotel and tourism industries for many years because the fact is, the hotel industry was one of the last few industries that kept up in the digital marketing era.

2) The hotel brands and corporate companies that are supporting the owners and properties in marketing, actually have no idea what they are doing.

The kind of marketing that is being done by hotel brands and corporate companies are rudimentary, obsolete, and archaic. If you are still writing content, descriptions, keywords, choosing images, and targeting ads with no data analysis prior, wow you are way backward then anyone I know. Folks are already thinking of optimization strategies that are pushing the boundaries with segmenting, targeting, and converting while leveraging data to drive content development. If you have not surveyed the market, the consumers’ perception, needs, insights, barriers, purchase intent drivers, and classify these consumers or audiences into segments and clusters in the last 3 years, you are as blind as your hotel brands when it comes to marketing.

3) Owners and the management companies are recommended by the hotel brands and corporate companies to work with selected agencies that are completely erroneous in their attribution models.

This is the classic and most common way hotels have been engaging. So the hotel brands and corporate companies recommend agencies for you that not only do not share their attribution model and conversions definition but they send your reports showing how that they have achieved ROI of 1: 10 etc. without proper ad strategy. Again, this is the fault of the owners and the management companies for not fact-checking and catching up on the digital marketing lexicon. What was the attribution model for the ROI? Was it impressions, clicks, CTR, booking page triggers, actual bookings? and how? was there a UTM that was tracking the actual booking or conversion? or was the ad targeted at a lower-funnel strategy to a customer that already had>90% intent on staying with your hotel? Or was the sales done through an OTA service provider and sales attributed to the agency? If they really can churn ROI 1: 10, simply ask them to share the demand generation segments and the segmentation targeting strategy, trust me, you will get a blank stare.

4) Owners are the management companies are also to blame. Because they more often than not, take the excuse of the brands as the holy word, i.e. demand generation does not exist in times of COVID and that COVID and the lockdown have affected our revenues or future revenues and we are closely monitoring the recovery.

You hear this from anyone, run. Run far away from them. They wait for the market to pick up again and the economy to restart and then they start giving you ways to spend your advertising dollars on “marketing” and whatever results come in they will either say “ we are recovering and we see positive signs” or “see our marketing efforts are working”. This is the biggest BS we have heard. As mentioned above, during COVID and the lockdown, some hotels were opened and profitable, you need to do your research and targeting, you can’t rely on the brands because they have never truly understood digital marketing.

5) Owners and management companies are not aware of where to look for digital marketing services especially services that are tailored for their business and so they rely on B2B partnerships and OTA platforms to help them out.

Well, OTA platforms themselves are the problem. OTA platforms are all about the push marketing strategy as opposed to the pull. Most if not all are aggregators of the hotel offerings and they will play a price point game to get a sale. The thing is when you are in the COVID and lockdown situation, you have the opportunity to price high as opposed to low because the demand, purchase intent, size of purchase, and lifetime customer value is there (if you know where to look and how to target — that’s what we do at marketibble) and the supply is even lower with hotels closing and hotels not operating and the lead time for booking shorter and longer in some cases. So you short change yourself for the interim bookings and future bookings by falling into the OTA trap of getting your prices of rooms as low as possible. It helps the OTA, does not help you, and it does not help the industry.

The bottom line is that the marketing teams sitting in the brands and corporate companies are not going to help you in any effective way but rather confuse you with a ridiculous spin on marketing support and services, and it’s about time you run your business yourself.

You can reach out and you can start taking action for your own business. It’s up to you.

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