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Crystal Ball Gazing: Hospitality Marketing Communications Trends for 2020

By Matuli Madhusmita Swain, Senior Hospitality Marketing & Communications Professional

Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 17:14 Hrs  [IST]

Green Stays:
As climate change and it's after effects loom large over us, holidays no longer come with just a price of hotel booking and travel tickets. It now comes with a conscience that we cannot afford to ignore. Every holiday comes with carbon footprint, an ecological and economic cost that more and more travellers are taking into consideration. Hospitality majors have to tap into this mindset by reviewing their environment commitment in the most authentic fashion. Going beyond tree planting measures and energy saving initiatives, hospitality majors have to become the leader-pioneer-adaptor in 'green economics. Guests will be increasingly selecting hotels on this metric and the marketing message that has started gaining root is 'How green is my stay?'

Social Media to Social Sales:
Hospitality sales and the decision to opt for a particular hotel is governed today by two major factors – peer reviews and online influence. Hospitality majors need to think beyond social media and actively pursue social sales. Hospitality sales is today a 'virtual-factual-actual' model where the product consumption comes last and buying an impact comes first. This 'virtual-factual-actual' marketing model has to be more in sync and tightly woven, seamless so that the customer experience is as close to the one that he/she is being sold. Social media has to be now looked at from a sales perspective – the virtual reality coming as close to the actual one. Beyond a post or an update, is a social media sales pitch that has to be closely connected to the marketing message

Data based marketing, customizing marketing messages:
A decade ago, hospitality sales was clearly benchmarked into corporate, FIT, leisure, business and MICE travel. Know a segment and your sales pitch to sales strategy could be clearly drawn, mapped and followed. In the age of AirBnBs, OTA best deals and homestays – how will hospitality brands compete to remain sales driven, revenue positive and cost effective? Data will play a major role in marketing messaging and a key trend for 2020 will be customization and personalization. Marketing and communication messages have to be specific, targeting customer's voice, their demographics and spending preferences, reviews and pain-points.

Content Creation – Video and Audio:
Content is indeed the queen today and customers are more discerning on what brand story they connect with and consume later. Travel,hospitality is purely experiential, lived first in the mind and hence this itself lends to a great opportunity for story-telling and content creation. Video and audio will rule next year and hospitality brands would do well to invest in content that is worthy of re-shares, evocative and travel-stay inspiring! The story-telling has to move beyond just rooms, food and beverage, facilities and amenities to be more holistic.

Incorporating Local Immersive Experiences:
Hotels aim to contain a guest within the property, offering a plethora of dining, wellness options. Hotels which encourage guests to explore local experiences will win the hearts of its guests. Tie ups with local artists/artisans/ experiences will enable the hotels to create a stay that will truly allow the guest to fully experience the hotel and its services. A guest would love to come back to a great dinner, turn-down service and a well-made bed after a day of recommended sight-seeing. Hospitality majors can tap into this trend and have some tailor-made local immersive experiences for their guests.

Online reputation management vertical:
A job that requires skills, attention and constant focus and needs to be more than just a quarterly review. Online reputation needs to be developed into an independent marketing vertical where content management, content updates and customer engagement are done pro-actively, persistently and consistently. With hotels needing to be listed across more than one platform – be it OTA, events, weddings, travel, lifestyle etc. – online reputation management needs to be viewed as a growing, independent marketing stream.

Smart Marketing Collaterals (use of virtual reality, A.I, analytics, data):
Marketing collaterals are often the most under-utilized segment for championing sales and directing influencer marketing. As decision-making for travel/trade becomes increasingly tech-influenced, marketing collaterals can become a great opportunity for innovative brand story telling. Brands should earmark budgets for creating marketing collaterals that are not the run-of-the-mill hotel brochures but rather customized, cutting edge, content driven and engaging sales' tools – giving the sales squad a leverage that is hard to beat.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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