2018 Digital Marketing Trends in the Hospitality Industry

Hospitality is a growth industry. The sector, which includes everything from accommodation, food services, online bookings, to luxury hotels etc., is expected to see continued growth throughout the next few years. In fact, in 2017 the global restaurant sector alone was worth $2.1 trillion. Feeding this movement is  international tourism which continues to increase year after year, with a staggering 1.45 billion departures in 2016. The Internet has been an enabling tool for the industry, allowing it to find new and innovative ways to engage customers and create digital marketing success stories. This love affair with technology will continue into 2018 for the hospitality industry as it explores new ways of achieving a great customer experience from the start of their journey to its completion.

Five Technology Trends in Hospitality:

As well as being a growth industry, Hospitality is highly competitive. The effectiveness of a specific brand is dependent on how attractive they are within that competitive space. One way that an organization can keep a competitive-edge is to innovate around marketing. The following tech trends are expected to give the hospitality market players the edge they are looking for allowing them to build effective digital marketing campaigns:

●    Mobile-first.

2016 was a special year – it was the year that  global mobile usage surpassed desktop use for Internet access. Reaching out to a local, national or even global audience, requires you to have a mobile-first approach to website optimization. Company  Maruedr found that 49% of customers went online before booking a restaurant. If your website is not optimized for mobile you may lose customers – this is borne out by research which found that 90% of customers using a mobile to browse would switch to another more mobile-optimized site if that app or site didn’t meet their needs.

●    Experiential marketing.

In hospitality, it is all about the experience. People will pay a premium and return if the experience is great.  But customer experience encompasses the entire process, from booking to travelling to checking in and out. Experiential marketing has a number of new digital mediums that can be used to improve customer experience. For example, the  Marriott hotel chain allows customers to use Virtual Reality (VR) on their smartphones and at hotels to check out restaurants and hotel rooms before booking.

●    “Near me” search interest.

Grabbing hold of that competitive edge is hard, but using data to give you insight into how your customers behave will help. For example, “micro-moments” were used to evaluate the touchpoints of a travel customer across their travel experience. From an analysis of those data points, it was found that 85% of leisure travelers decide on acti

vities only after they have arrived at their destination. This information is invaluable in capitalizing on a marketing plan that offers localized needs.

●  The rise of chatbots.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the guise of a chatbot has entered the hospitality industry. It has the potential to improve customer experience from booking onwards. AI can also improve operations by handling 24/7/365 customer engagement and offering localized language. AI, alongside data analytics, is a way of evaluating customer behaviour and trend analysis too, giving the industry a way to optimize customer experience.

 ●   Video content and social media marketing.

If a picture paints a thousand words then a video is the equivalent of a book. Over 8 billion videos are watched on Facebook every day. Visual content is king in an industry such as hospitality where it is all about the experience. For example, 52% of users say that friends Facebook photos influence travel decisions.

In a saturated marketplace where competition is fierce, creating delightful customer experiences and turning a journey into a more enjoyable experience for the customers is a fundamental business choice. Having the right package in place that drives customers to your brand and then keeps them in the loop means you have to use smart marketing. Digital marketing is the way forward for the successful hospitality vendor but understanding how to use them effectively is a skill.

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