Yesterday alone our guests uploaded 144k hours of content to YouTube and 350M photos to Facebook (and 70M to Instagram). They contributed 165k reviews on TripAdvisor and watched a staggering 42.5B hours of Netflix. Needless to say, our guests are bombarded with content and it’s making life more difficult than ever for our marketers.
You’re probably thinking, “but it’s so much easier and cheaper to attract guests on Facebook than it was on TV” and you’re completely right. The problem is that the exponential growth of content has outpaced the gains made by innovations like programmatic and social media advertising.
In 1997 there were 200B ad impressions served to consumers and by 2011 that number skyrocketed to 500T. With 500T competing ads – are your hotel’s promotions breaking through? Unfortunately, the answer is no. During that same period ad response rates have dropped from 7% down to 0.1%.
We have digital marketing agencies on monthly retainer driving our social media and display ads, tuning our SEO and strategizing our SEM. We’ve plucked the low hanging fruit of ad retargeting, but retargeting just like every other ad innovation is losing steam as consumers fatigue. The guest that visited our website also visited the four other hotel websites in our compset and we're all showing the same message – a generic promotion that sits somewhere between BAR (best available rate) and marginal cost. It’s no wonder that 57% of them are headed back to the OTA to make their booking while more than 82% of prospective guests visited our websites during their respective booking journeys.
There’s one more piece of low hanging fruit waiting to be exploited and thankfully this one has a sustainable competitive advantage. That opportunity is in experiential packages: By refocusing on experiential packages we can improve the content our agencies use to connect with prospective guests.
Experiences increase conversion from our marketing while building deeper relationships with our valued guests. We’ve all seen the ads that have no clear objective beyond lowering price to increase sales.
“15% off rate when you book in advance”
“$50 food credit with your room”
"Free upgrade upon availability"
Experiential packages tell our brand’s story. Who are the local businesses we associate with? What kinds of experiences should guests expect while staying at our hotels? What kinds of guests will they interact with in our lobbies, restaurants and hot tubs?
These packages not only help us deliver better experiences for guests but also enable us to increase metrics like tRevPaR by upselling those experiences and taking a commission.
Corporate hospitality has mastered the art of value ad partnerships like SPG/Major League Baseball and Hilton/Live Nation – but the real opportunity to create value is in local, it’s connecting into our surrounding communities. When we create a bachelorette package featuring a private karaoke room with bottomless mimosas and pancakes for a pajama party at a hip local joint – we signal to prospective groups that we deeply care about delivering incredible experiences for bachelorettes.
By bundling a romantic gondola cruise with our Valentines package we demonstrate an extra level of care that the generic flower and chocolate offer never will (despite the convenience provided).
Experiential packages are the holy grail of hotel marketing. They are the foundation to great brand storytelling and they should be our top priority. Rather than focus on how we’re going to lower rates in 2019 and run profit killing promotions, let’s start the year fresh by thinking about how we can tell aspirational stories in our marketing and deliver incredible experiences to our guests.