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Top 5 Digital Marketing Predictions for Hospitality in 2012

by Pedro Colaco
December 27, 2011

The end of the year is the perfect time to look back and plan the year ahead. Technology for the hospitality industry in 2011 moved at the speed of light. Social, local, mobile (SOLOMO) is the hot topic of the year.

But as consumers tighten their purses and look for truly unique experiences, hotels will need to use 2012 as a pivot-year to becoming truly guest-centric in their digital marketing efforts.

Below are my top 5 predictions for hotel digital marketing in 2012:

1- Last minute will be back

As consumers brace for a not-so-good 2012 in many markets, especially in Europe, last minute booking is going to make the lives of hoteliers more difficult in 2012. Forecasting models will put price pressure on revenue managers to achieve decent RevPar performance.

Independent hotel managers will need to be more flexible in their digital marketing and adapt to changing market conditions in order to stop leaking revenue to OTAs. The direct channel will be the largest investment area and new opaque pricing products for mobile and social, as well as groups and meetings and conventions will play a bigger role in how larger hotels perform.

2- Mobile same night business will explode

Mobile is exploding and 2012 will be the year of Major OTAs and specialized competitors will get into the business but will be able to maintain its lead.

In addition, hotels will start offering same and next day specials on their direct channel and these rebates will drive even more last minute buying behavior.

3- Pre-paid rates are going to be the norm

Pressure from consumers to lower prices will drive revenue managers to exchange cash-in-hand for higher ADR. Pre-paid rates, already prevalent at hotel chains will emerge as one of the growth areas for independent hotels in 2012.

Widespread adoption of pre-paid rates will drive massive adoption of payment gateways by independent properties and cash upfront will compensate for lower price points. Lastly, this trend of better rates on hotel websites will finally help start the drive of consumers away from an already too-powerful, especially in Europe.

4- The boutique segment and channels like will be the bright spots

Boutique offerings from, and will experience significant growth by offering unique experience-driven products. Expect ties to other niche offerings like for wine-related travel, for eco travel, etc.

Hence, we will see many hotels repositioning into experience brands and boutique offerings, redesigning their websites to be inline with a modern look and boutique-type consumers. Rich media and video will play a distinct role in communicating the boutique experience.

5- Buyer-driven marketplaces are going to emerge in 2012.

From basic social marketing, hotels will need to evolve to guest-centric marketing. Personalized marketing will be the key to a successful 2013 and beyond. Destination marketplaces where consumers can post their needs will emerge much like that has become the local bazaar that brings together consumer needs with willing service providers.

The challenge is that customer acquisition for hotels will need to be more personalized and expect tools that address the multi-channel market to gain importance in 2012.

An important note

In conclusion, what is important in 2012 is to not be intimidated by the apparent complexity of hotel digital marketing and to embrace the challenge. While the digital marketing space is indeed complex (with many time-sucking activities that do not improve brand positioning or bring in extra revenue), there are also an increasing number of digital marketing tools and specialized agencies that help hoteliers separate the wheat from the chaff.

All resources provided courtesy of GuestCentric. For more information please visit:


Pedro Colaco
President and CEO
  196 Haviland Court
Stamford CT 06903
Phone/Cell: (203) 517-0721

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