Grey HTK Outline
Grey HTK Outline

Thoughts from the 2014 National Hotel Marketing Conference

National Hotel Marketing Conference logoThe 2014 National Hotel Marketing Conference was held on June 11 at The Hilton by St George’s Park, the National Football Centre. I went along to the conference last year, and this year was even better.

Here are some of the highlights and insights that I took away from this year’s event:

The changing face of hotel marketing

Pam Carvell set the scene for the day, sharing her thoughts on how the “7 Ps” of marketing have changed into the “5 Es”:

  • Engagement. Hotels need to meaningfully engage their customers on a 1-to-1 basis, to build a relationship for future business.
  • Excitement. Get people excited! Guest experience can be a key differentiator.
  • Ease of purchase. The website booking experience needs to be simple, seamless and quick.
  • Evaluation. Through social media and sites like TripAdvisor, guests can now give feedback whether you want it or not.
  • Exchange of ideas. Hotels need to listen to what their guests are saying, all the time, and act on useful feedback.

Walking into the Elephant Trap

cheap image

Peter Hancock is always an engaging speaker, and this year was no exception – but he also managed to sledgehammer home a key message about the dangers of “cheap”.

Do a Google search for “hotel rooms” and count the number of times that the word “cheap” appears. This is becoming a serious issue for hoteliers, as consumer attitudes are being shifted towards price rather than guest experience.

Peter made a strong case for hotels to proceed with extreme caution when advertising through OTAs. “Hotels that aren’t cheap are walking into the elephant trap”.

  • Would Porsche do a BOGOF on cars?
  • Would Cartier sell diamonds at 60% off in Argos?
  • Would Waitrose get into the supermarket price wars and turn its back on decades of brand value?

Hotel marketers need to think twice before dumping excess inventory on OTAs. Perishable it may be, but that doesn’t mean it always needs to be sold. Success should be measured by profit, not occupancy for occupancy’s sake.

Peter closed with a prediction that in 10 years time there will be more people with the title “Director of Revenue and Marketing” than “Director of Sales and Marketing”. This is something I agree with, and will be writing about in the future.

Biting the hand that feeds

Joel Brandon-Bravo from Travelzoo asked the audience a great question:

How many of you have asked NOT to bid on your own brand name?“.

If anyone has asked this, I’d love to know the response you got – please leave a comment!

Joel also made some good points about proactively managing demand, which ties back into Peter’s observation about marketing and RM alignment. In his experience, too many hotels don’t properly manage demand, whereas Travelzoo’s data suggests that over half their customers are booking more than 1 month out.

On to the afternoon…

My afternoon was mostly about getting set up for, and presenting our seminar. I was delighted that so many people chose to come along to our talk with Cara Beggerow of Gough Hotels. Together, we told the story of how Gough Hotels have transitioned to a more targeted approach to their digital marketing, and some of the great results they’re achieving. In case you missed it, the slides are worth a look:

And to close… a 360 degree view

Conference organiser, Martin Evans, brought the day to a close with an inspirational talk about 360-Degree Marketing.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Cara Beggerow for joining me to co-present our seminar, and also to Martin Evans for organising another informative and enjoyable conference. We’re already looking forward to next year’s instalment.

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