For Halloween, we asked hotel marketers from coast-to-coast, representing properties of all sizes, what they’re most spooked about right now. Here is what they said:
1. Unrealistic goals on tight budgets
Hotel marketers have always had notoriously full plates. Now, those plates aren’t just full – they’re stacked sky-high with multiple marketing priorities to oversee, manage and implement. This upcoming year, the number of channels, campaigns, audiences, assets and tools will only get bigger and wider. This obviously calls for more marketing dollars, more staff and more assistance, right?
More and more hotel owners are holding their managers and marketers accountable for driving measurable conversions… and demand they somehow top last year’s results. Yet, those same owners are not opening their wallets any wider to fund the needed resources to reach those higher revenue targets. This leaves hotel marketers under an avalanche of pressure to produce more with less.
2. Shrinking margins
Growing supply, Airbnb, fewer overseas visitors and growing OTA bookings all continue to affect margins, leaving hoteliers with less net revenue each month. Hotel marketers have to step up and double down on their efforts to drive bookings from their own direct channel. Otherwise, hotel managers and asset managers will be left wondering why they’re seeing eroded margins, even as your hotel enjoys all-time high ADRs and steady occupancies. It is up to you to explain why your bookings are coming from costly channels vs direct.
3. Predicted slowing pace in ADR and RevPAR
While overall hotel demand in the U.S. is predicted to remain strong in 2017, increasing supply growth is projected to cause occupancy levels to begin to level off. And according to STR, lower growth in the overall economy means a noticeably decelerating pace in RevPAR as well. How will owners react to the beginning of the end of a historically successful cycle? Will hotel marketers be expected to pull rabbits out of their hats?
After their merger, Marriott and Starwood have now become the world’s largest hotel chain with 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million rooms worldwide. However, they are still eclipsed by one other lodging giant – Airbnb, which now boasts 1.5 million listings across 190 countries. Add to that the millennial traveller’s desire for authentic and local experiences outside the traditional hotel model and now you have a force to be reckoned with.
It’s still hard to believe a guest would ever choose a room in a stranger’s house over your renovated guestrooms, valet parking, curated artwork and award-winning restaurants. But Airbnb’s appeal of “live with a local” experiences have managed to steal hundreds of thousands of room nights away from U.S. hotels. Plus, this year Airbnb advanced even more into capturing business travel bookings. BCD Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and American Express Global Business Travel now integrate Airbnb For Business into their platforms.
5. The end of rate parity
Wait, isn’t the demise of rate parity a reason to celebrate, not cower in fear? Well, it should be. However, thousands of hotels across the US have come to rely on OTAs as a crutch for bookings so much that the fear of the unknown would overshadow any jubilation. If hotels were to eventually break free from rate parity and are suddenly handed full control of their own pricing and discounting, they’re nervous that their own lackluster marketing efforts won’t be the magic bullet they assumed it would be.
The end of rate parity is slowly approaching, with France being the first country to completely abolish the practice from its tourism industry. While no other country has taken all the steps to achieve the same, Germany and Italy have already made strides in that direction.
6. Shaky job security
Hotel marketers are expected to know more, do more and react faster than ever before. Hotel owners are mounting more pressure on hotel marketers to contribute their share of the revenue pie. This continued stress on marketers has resulted in an all-time high turnover rate averaging 23 months. Owners now expect bigger payoffs, with a shorter amount of time and funding. Meanwhile, hotel marketers have to fight to stay relevant by mastering rapidly evolving marketing technology, leaving them struggling to keep up, flustered and overwhelmed with an avalanche of marketing channels and tools.