Research shows social media impact on first and last touch points pales by comparison

I came across some research that speaks volumes about how social media is impacting overall marketing efforts. While I do take a position that social media deserves a place in almost every marketer’s budget and marketing plan, I am astounded at how (arguably) limited resources are disproportionately being assigned a bigger and bigger role in social media at the expense of mature distribution channels. The research that caught my attention was published by Bizible, indicating how many different first points of touch available to shoppers contribute to bring these shoppers into what was stated as “the very first online marketing touch” in the shopping process. For social media in the travel sector, the study results showed that less than 1% of marketing efforts at both first and last points of touch influenced purchasing behavior.

Arguably, most travel purchase decisions are complex and may involve influencing attributes from multiple channels for a single purchasing decision. It is not my intent to argue that social media marketing is a waste of time or money. It’s the proportion of resources allocated to social media marketing where I take issue. Instead of viewing social media as something hip, new and fun, it is well time that marketing efforts deployed into social media are measured using the same metrics that are assigned to more mature channels. Is anyone holding your marketing team accountable for resources assigned to social media? If not, it is past time to do so.

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Does your hotel have a channel management strategy?

For most hotel marketers, there does not appear to be much science regarding the decision on which distribution channels are used, as well as the ongoing management of those channels. Most hoteliers appear to have adopted a strategy that seems common across much of the industry, whereby channels and companies within those channels are added with no thought as to thei impact on the hotel’s profitability. While it does make sense to have the widest possible product distribution in many cases, there are several criteria that should be evaluated when determining whether or not to add (or delete) a distribution channel. Adding high maintenance distribution channels or companies without a clear return on investment is not good marketing practice. Managing all channels effectively requires evaluating how the hotel’s target audience prefers to do business and how they can effectively be redirected to booking channels that are more profitable to the hotel.​

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The pros and cons of rate parity

​Most hotel marketers that I have spoken with are convinced that rate parity - offering the same rate to all distribution partners is something that must be done to ensure successful distribution. While rate parity can make sense for some types of hotels and distribution channels, I believe that there are multiple scenarios where rate parity is a bad strategy - one that can cause lost revenue. There are multiple factors that should be examined before determining that a “one
rate for all channels” strategy will generate the most revenue for the hotel.

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Why automated content management systems are costing you lost revenue

For the past 10 years or so, the use of content management systems has become standard among most reservation services providers. While the promise of populating one database that in turn electronically updates several other databases sounds like a great idea, I believe it is in fact a very bad idea. Before I explain why, understand that most reservation services providers have thousands of hotel customers. Each of these hotels has a myriad of descriptive, policy and other marketing information that needs to be loaded in several databases, including four separate global distribution systems, the Pegasus hotel content database and the central reservations system that usually powers the hotel’s website and call center operations. So, from a pure productivity perspective, it is easy to understand why these companies quickly adopted automated content management tools, given the mountains of ever-changing information that they have to process and update.

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