January 2009 - Following on from the earlier articles, Back to the
the hotel guest of 2020 (September 2008) and 5
Future Developments that will revolutionize Online Hotel Marketing
(October 2008), here are some thoughts on the role of Choice in successful
Hotel Marketing of the future. I presented these ideas at the recent Revenue
Management and Pricing Middle East Conference in Abu Dhabi.
As we mature into the Web 2.0 world and slowly inch our way to a more
Semantic web, technology has made collaboration, connectivity and finding
what you want easier than ever possible before. Combine available technology
with the challenges posed by the recession and the timing for a Revolution
of “Choice” is absolutely perfect!
Today, hotel guests have the option of various online tools that aid
transparency, search and booking. However the research and booking process
can still be pretty clunky and fragmented. I believe we need to move beyond
the era of Search and Booking Engines to building superior “Experience
The idea behind an experience engine is remarkably simple. Break down
the units that constitute a guest experience like hotel rooms, spa treatments,
restaurant meals, sport reservations, sightseeing, etc and make them bookable
so guests can CHOOSE exactly what they want and BUILD an experience.
The advantages of Experience Marketing are many-fold:
So there we go… the great thing about the Internet is that it’s changed
human lives irreversibly in just a short span of time (It’s been barely
6,000 days since the technology was born…and the Web we know today began
to spread in earnest just 3,000 days ago). The reason we love it so much
is because it breaks down physical boundaries and allows us to BE, to EXPLORE,
to LEARN, to COMMUNICATE….and to CHOOSE.
A leap in guest targeting – pull vs push: Going beyond the current
sledgehammer approach of intrusive marketing to attracting guests. With
experience engines and choice marketing, you’re offering something that
guests WANT – a much easier way of ‘pulling’ customers to you.
Personalization to the max: This goes beyond building standard brand
packages and what YOU think guests want. This is the long-tail created
by guests themselves…after all, who knows guests better than guests themselves?
Letting guests build their own experiences is the ultimate way of personalizing
Internal and external dynamic packaging: When you break down your
experience units, you can use them both internally on your own systems
as well as deploy them for sale on 3rd party systems, thereby increasing
your reach, flexibility and ability to squeeze as much return as possible
out of your yieldable products & services.
Ability for suppliers to discover which services and amenities work
and which don’t: Again, the simple act of breaking down your experience
units gives you an idea of what works. Those units that consistently perform
well represent great opportunities for yielding and enhancement, while
those that don’t get booked very much need a relook. Scrapping add-ons
and services that don’t get booked is also a great way of trimming the
‘fat’ and making your business leaner, meaner and more profitable.
Total Revenue Management becomes a snap: Most savvy Revenue Managers
now agree that just deploying yield management on rooms is too narrow a
focus. Total Revenue Management basically considers the big picture and
looks at guest potential based on overall spend history and likelihood…just
the way it should be. Creating experience units, then, greatly simplifies
the ability of Revenue Managers to deploy a Total Revenue Management strategy.
The evolution of OTA’s focused on providing superior experience engines:
There’s no reason why existing Online Travel Agencies and 3rd Party Suppliers
can’t adopt the choice model too. In fact, given their tech expertise and
considerable reserves of marketing $$$, they’d probably be the first to
leap forward and build GREAT Experience Engines, featuring a variety of
options greater than ever possible through individual suppliers. Who knows…the
Expedia of today may be the “Experia” of tomorrow!
A new era of online destination marketing: Choice marketing and
experience engines can bring us into a whole new era of destination marketing
too. Destination sites that offer the greatest variety of bookable experiences
combined with destination information and rich, immersive content will
do superbly! Imagine going to just ONE site when visiting a destination
for the first time to learn about it’s history and holiday options on video,
take a virtual tour, build your experience and holiday schedule, book everything
and even talk to a service rep in real-time if you have to. Any takers?
The time for Choice to be crowned the new ‘King’ is nigh.
What are YOUR thoughts on the article above? Have you taken steps in
your business to prepare for the upcoming revolution of “Choice”? How soon
do you think we’ll see a full fledged “Experience Engine”? Are you taking
steps in your business to build such model/s? Visit www.HoteleMarketer
to read, share your opinions and collaborate on these issues.
Disclamer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not reflect the views, developments or outlook of Starwood Hotels
the author: At work, Jitendra Jain (JJ) is employed with Starwood Hotels
& Resorts in Dubai as an E-Commerce Manager and handles hotel online
marketing & distribution. At play, he is the founder of various online
initiatives like www.hotelemarketer.com, www.thetalentjungle.com and www.younghotelier.com
(among others) that dream, connect, educate and share all that is glorious
about hospitality, technology and most importantly…the people that define