Steve Cox is Hotel and Agency Partner Manager at Swayy, the world’s leading influencer booking, campaign and relationship tool in the hospitality industry. He spoke to us about the latest trends in consumer behaviour, marketing Influencers and how both affect the hospitality industry.
The rise of online purchasing
When it came to doing my Christmas shopping, I purchased everything online. Following a couple of clicks, the purchases were made. I am not unique in doing this. Consumer behaviour has changed in recent years, with online purchasing growing by 18 per cent last year, and by 27 per cent over the past two years in the UK alone, according to BDO (a major accountancy firm).
This is especially relevant to the world of hospitality, particularly hotels. Hoteliers now have a huge opportunity to reach hundreds and thousands of potential customers at a touch of a button, showcasing their brand and values like never before. Hotels need to capitalise on the change in consumer behaviour.
Online travel agencies, or OTAs, have already recognized this. With just a few clicks, consumers can find and book a room via their mobile, making travel purchase decisions easy and convenient. However, selling rooms via this method means both a booking fee for the consumer and commission for the hotelier.
So how do we capitalize on the change in consumer mentality?
Becoming an Influencer
Mobile transactions are growing exponentially, with Intercontinental Hotel Group predicting that “mobile will account for 40% of all travel purchases by 2020.” We need to take note of this change in the consumer purchasing journey, and act upon it now.
To do this, we get the word out that we are there, and are ready to welcome the consumer to our property via Influencer marketing campaigns.
We have all been Influenced by a member of our family or circle of friends, and acted upon one of their recommendations as to where to stay or eat. This is because these recommendations came from reliable and trusted sources. Nowadays, trusted word of mouth has become digital and scalable, and is having a profound effect on traditional advertising. Millennials are looking for authentic advice and unique experiences when making travel purchase decisions and Influencers are helping them do just that.
Travel Influencers are trusted individuals that showcase their experiences from all over the globe on social media and inspire their followers. They are targeting guests that fit the key demographic of that certain hotel, and whose followers will also be likeminded individuals interested in what the Influencer has to say about the property.
Influencer marketing – the new way to promote hotels
Influencers will direct their followers to a hotel’s website, bypassing OTAs, and increasing revenue and profits. Furthermore, empowering guests and using their voice to share positive reviews about a hotel’s property with their peers is essential in the promotion of a brand’s reputation.
After leveraging the most outspoken brand advocates on social media, a hotel must work persistently towards reinforcing loyalty and engagement. Cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship is key to this and can be done by rewarding Influencers with a discount for their next stay or incentivising their followers with a discount for booking direct.
“Influencer marketing is here to stay,” according to Marriott Hotels & Resorts. “It should play a central role in your strategy to win the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers.”
We need to hone in on the direct booking experience by fine-tuning websites and removing any sources of friction that may discourage a potential customer. This means less text, clear pricing and simple options, making it easy for customers to navigate, have their questions answered and, of course, book a stay.
Get in touch with Swayy to find out more about them and what they do.