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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 

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What Does 2016 Hold for Sales, Marketing and Revenue Optimization Professionals?


The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Americas Board of Directors members recently offered their predictions for what to expect in hospitality sales, marketing and revenue optimization in 2016. The HSMAI Americas board consists of a wide range of hospitality professionals from all areas of the industry, including representatives of 24 hotels and hotel companies. I’m excited to share some of their insights and provide my perspective into the industry trends and changes ahead.
Prediction: There will be a vast amount of innovation in marketing – especially in personalization strategies.

Consumers are demanding more and more personalization and hospitality has generally been a laggard relative to other industries. The hospitality industry is finally beginning to see various cost effective technologies that should allow lodging to specifically enhance what they are already doing.

Prediction: Evolution of loyalty will be big; new models and new entrants will make us think differently about loyalty.

Loyalty may have a different definition in the eye of every consumer. Traditional hotel brand loyalty programs have followed the airline model: earn points and rewards. These models do not always endear loyalty; they recognize frequency with a currency. Loyalty is a behavior that makes people want to stay with you. Loyalty in the future may not always be about the hotel brands. Today there are booking brands and stay brands. Will consumers be more loyal to a booking brand than a stay brand? Not every lodging establishment is branded. Consumers may look at lodging from an agnostic point of view. When going to Austin, should I book at HomeAway, Expedia, Airbnb, a bed and breakfast site or The booking and distribution journey and even the trip purpose may be more important to loyalty in the future than the lodging product.

Prediction: Watch Cuba – development will probably start with cruiseline visits since infrastructure there is still weak

Infrastructure is already in place and it will be much quicker to add ports of call before new hotel construction with Western world consumer standards can be developed. It may be a new competitive destination for much of the Caribbean, Mexico and even some U.S. leisure destinations.

Prediction: Rate and distribution parity will be redefined by laws in other countries with broad implications.

If future rulings make rate parity illegal like they have in some European countries already, the entire distribution landscape can change dramatically. If consumers really can find better rate or better values when they book direct, how does that change the unique value propositions of the various intermediaries and distribution channels?

Prediction: There will be a rebellion against a level of “second screen” elite – a generation realizing that they were missing something in life because of too much screen time.

This perspective implies that some consumers will reach a point of maximum technology consumption and may want to go into a “detox” program for a weekend, a week or maybe a month. Some consumers may reach a point in their life where they have been so tethered to technology that they feel life has passed them by. Family relations, kids growing up, the passing of a loved one. You can’t rewind everything. Quality of life may resurface as a priority for some consumers or entire generations. Lodging implications are that these are our customers and we need to recognize what they need – or don’t want – when they stay with us.

Prediction: Revenue management analysts will evolve into data scientists.

The fundamentals of revenue management are not just about setting rates in high and low demand times anymore. Many hospitality companies today are already well beyond these fundamentals. They are measuring total revenue management, yielding conference space by the square foot, making channel distribution decisions based on the cost per channel and the net contribution of the room night, implementing variable food and beverage pricing. Any way to optimize revenue and profits will be enhanced by a data scientist, not just a revenue manager.

As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, HSMAI will continue to provide key insights and unique educational programming in order to benefit their members and the industry at large. In 2016, the organization will host seven executive round tables, produce conferences, white papers, webinars and facilitate conversations about emerging issues in the hospitality industry – all of which will be offered around the world in the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and the Americas. 

About The Author
Robert A. Gilbert
President and CEO
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association (HSMAI)

Bob Gilbert is the president and CEO of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association (HSMAI).

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