2015 in Review: Hotel Industry Trends, Digital Hotel Marketing and Revenue Management

December 23, 2015 Martin Soler

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Every year hotelmarketing.com publishes a review of the most read articles in the past year. Going through the list is somewhat of a treasure trove for hotel marketers and revenue managers. It may not predict future trends but it certainly helps us understand what the industry is focusing on and how we might strategically react.

So with that in mind, we've gone through all of 2015's most popular articles and categorized each of their most popular posts of 2015 based on their content... A light analysis for your holiday season! Read on for 2015's trending topics in Hotel Marketing and Revenue Management.

What made the list?

New Call-to-actionThe End of Rate Parity caught everyone's attention

Some 17% of the most popular articles were related to the unfolding story of rate parity and how it is being taken down. Many are targeting Booking.com which I would say isn't totally fair as rate parity isn't their invention. Surely some people stand to gain or loose from this. The fact is, rate parity isn't a natural equilibrium and nature has a tendency to change things like this.

Direct Bookings are as popular as ever

Hotels love direct bookings and this is more obvious than ever. I don't recall a year where direct bookings were more popular than now. Interestingly enough Booking.com does believe they are the cheapest source of revenue for a hotel. Arguably rate parity is about direct revenue, but we've decided to split the two.

Marketing innovations are less interesting than revenue optimization

Interestingly, marketing innovations are only third place when it comes to popular items on hotelmarketing.com. One would think that new ways to market one's hotel would top the list, at least in our frenetic digital society. Ultimately, this is a good thing as optimizing is certainly an important element. Nevertheless, our industry could use more innovation here.

Metasearch evolution got people worried

To be fair, Google and TripAdvisor owned the stories on meta-search last year. Their shift from pay-per-click model to commission model concerned more than one hotel marketer, wondering if they will remain meta-search engines or if they are turning into OTAs.

OTAs dominate

The dominance of OTAs in the hotel marketing and revenue management space has hoteliers watching. The duopoly of Expedia and Booking.com and their growing power on hotel distribution was interesting enough to keep readers clicking. Hotels are rightfully concerned, especially that there doesn't seem to be much happening to change that fact.

Airbnb and the disruptors of the future

Hoteliers, hotel marketers, distribution managers, and revenue managers are keeping a lookout for who will be the next big industry disruptor and it looks like everyone agrees Airbnb is it. Between Expedia buying up competitors and Airbnb clones (owned by Booking and TripAdvisor) - the fact remains that Airbnb is on the path to disruption carefully following the "rules of disruption" to the letter.


Travel Tech's consolidation didn't go unnoticed

Thank goodness it didn't, this is the year Sabre announced they are buying Trust, Expedia bought Orbitz and Travelocity, and Marriot bought Starwood. One would have expected this to be on the top of the list, since 2015 can probably go down history as the biggest hospitality tech consolidation year ever.

What didn't make the list?

Do it yourself hotel websites

This topic doesn't seem to make too many hoteliers concerned today, except for maybe those with too little money to invest in custom websites and those innovators who have already discovered that one doesn't need all the bells and whistles, one just needs websites that work - extremely well.

Big Data for hotels

Some innovators such as HeBS, SnapShot, Xotels, Duetto, ForwardKeys, citizenM, Accor (yes them too) have been on the Big Data path for a while, but it seems hoteliers and hotel marketers aren't yet too concerned about what to do with their data and how to use it. It could be exactly the point- nobody seems to have a broadly applicable solution that works for everyone.

The real costs of hotel marketing

Talks of increasing direct bookings and reducing OTA influence are hot topics. But few if any hoteliers understand or know what their real cost of distribution is. Kalibri Labs, Xotels, SnapShot and formerly Yeeld Solutions have been working on solutions for this for quite a while and hotels should begin to look into it. Once one starts to clearly look at what it really costs to pay for advertising, sales teams, commissions, transaction fees and the likes, it paints a very different picture of what the most profitable hotel marketing channel is. Some revenue managers already know the answer, and maybe that's why they aren't jumping onto every shiny marketing object that comes their way.

Who dominated?

54% of the list mentioned one of more brands in the title, proving people like big names. Posts that were "pseudo-branded" with words such as OTA weren't taken into account. Of the most popular, the brands that took home most visibility in 2015 were:

  1. Booking.com with 38%
  2. Google with 20%
  3. TripAdvisor with 15%
  4. Airbnb with 13%
  5. Expedia and Marriot with 5% each

Overall, what a year for hotel marketing and revenue technology!