The webinar focused on key influences shaping digital marketing strategies for 2016. From important factors affecting the hospitality industry as a whole, to how much to spend on digital marketing and each core initiative, to case studies and information about budgeting recommendations, the webinar gave hoteliers the insights and tools necessary to help structure 2016 budgets to generate the highest returns possible and shift share from the OTAs to the direct online channel. The digital marketing expert speakers in the webinar were: - Sara O’Brien, Associate Director of Marketing - Victoria Hsia, Senior Interactive Media Specialist - Jennifer Alberts, Account Supervisor Before diving into the structure and details of 2016 budgets, Jennifer provided insight into the state of the industry. Though all key metrics in the US hospitality industry display growth, the continuing OTA consolidation continually creates more competition in the marketplace. OTAs, typically with high spending power, have increased their digital presence and loyalty programs. The webinar emphasized that in this new environment, while hoteliers cannot outspend the OTAs, they need to outsmart them by utilizing their digital marketing resources in innovate and efficient ways. The webinar outlined some important factors affecting the industry. Some memorable quotes regarding these trends are as follows: - “Mobile is no longer a ‘trend’ or ‘fad’ – it’s a way of life… with more than 21% of online bookings and over 45% of website visitors coming from mobile devices, ensuring your mobile presence as the core of your strategy is extremely important for 2016.” - “Hotels that take advantage of the data they have by applying it to their (digital marketing) strategies and website content, will stand out from the crowd and shift share from the OTAs to their own websites.” - “The traveler’s journey to an online purchase can take 17 days, including 18 site visits. Reaching your target segments at every one of those touchpoints will help ensure you are maximizing results.” - “The main objective of the hotel website is to sell rooms and engage users. Focus on maximizing room bookings and revenues, generating leads, and promoting on-site amenities.” Following, the webinar discussed that 2016 budgets should have a dual focus: direct response campaigns (year-round proven revenue-generators and business-need focused campaigns) and digital assets, strategy, and operations (the foundation). Sara took the webinar participants through the detailed recommendations for the 2016 budget. Some notable quotes include: - On the importance of SEO: “Organic search drives 51% of traffic and in our portfolio, 33 percent of website revenues come as a direct result of SEO.” - “Even though Paid Search / SEM is a tried and true digital marketing method – a lot of things are making it new and challenging year over year. Things like increased competition from the OTAs, aligning campaigns with SEO and multichannel marketing, and accommodating for the booming mobile channel.” - “One of the biggest factors shaping the online media space for hotels is the explosion of the mobile channel. Mobile browsing is expected to reach parity with desktop browsing, and mobile ad spend is expected to surpass desktop ad spend (eMarketer 2015) by the end of 2016.” - “The first action item for email marketing is to implement responsive design: that means a vertical scroll, larger text, and thumb-friendly icons and buttons for mobile viewers.” Victoria detailed how to address seasonal and business needs in 2016. Some notable quotes include: - “Whether you’re trying to reach more meeting planners or drive advanced bookings for Summer, it is important to pinpoint these needs and address them with a multichannel approach.” - “Successful multichannel campaigns promote one cohesive message across multiple channels which may include SEM, display, and social media.” - “A multichannel campaign was developed to help a NYC multi-property boutique hotel brand capitalize on Cyber Monday…this campaign delivered a 6,470% return on ad spend, an increase of 181% year over year.” The budgeting outline ended with a focus on digital assets, strategy, and consulting. With over 55% of hotel bookings occurring online, it’s important now more than ever to invest in the website, ensure its Content Management System (CMS) has the ability to merchandise effectively and allow for new technology enhancements, utilize a strong analytics strategy, have fast optimized pages to result in lower rates of abandonment and higher conversions, and to have a strong partnership with a firm focused on maximizing revenue from the direct online channel. The webinar concluded with an engaging Q&A. There’s no excuse not to invest in your 2016 strategy now – listen to The Smart Hotelier's Guide to 2016 Digital Marketing Budget Planning Webinar and let HeBS Digital help you begin your journey to success today.