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UAE: World’s first Warner Bros hotel to open in November

Guests will be able to ring up their favourite Looney Tunes characters for room service brought to them by Bugs Bunny himself.

The WB Abu Dhabi hotel is all set to open its doors to guests on November 11 this year. Located on Yas Island, it will allow visitors to see their favourite stories and characters brought to life through unique hospitality experiences.

Featuring one of the finest collections of Warner Bros archives, guests will be treated to a journey of discovery through film and television, enjoying the entertainment group’s rich history and library of timeless productions at every touchpoint from arrival to check-out.

Visitors can listen to familiar piano tunes from Westworld while dining in one of five restaurants on the property — or ring up one of their favourite Looney Tunes characters for a room service treat brought to them by the Wascally Wabbit, Bugs Bunny himself.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Miral, said: “We are proud to be launching another first with the opening of the only Warner Bros hotel in the world.”

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UAE: World’s first Warner Bros hotel to open in November

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Guests will be able to ring up their favourite Looney Tunes characters for room service brought to them by Bugs Bunny himself

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Warner Bros is opening its first hotel in the world. And its home will be none other than right here in the UAE.

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The WB Abu Dhabi hotel is all set to open its doors to guests on November 11 this year. Located on Yas Island, it will allow visitors to see their favourite stories and characters brought to life through unique hospitality experiences.

Featuring one of the finest collections of Warner Bros archives, guests will be treated to a journey of discovery through film and television, enjoying the entertainment group’s rich history and library of timeless productions at every touchpoint from arrival to check-out.

Visitors can listen to familiar piano tunes from Westworld while dining in one of five restaurants on the property — or ring up one of their favourite Looney Tunes characters for a room service treat brought to them by the Wascally Wabbit, Bugs Bunny himself.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Miral, said: “We are proud to be launching another first with the opening of the only Warner Bros hotel in the world.”

What to expect

The experience begins right from the time guests of The WB Abu Dhabi hotel pull up to the property, where they are greeted by digital screens that span the height of the building and that play original content created for the hotel.

Before entering the hotel, they can make a quick stop at the iconic “Friends” fountain, while the storytelling continues after they cross the lobby, with guest room corridors displaying a curated gallery of artwork.

The curated guestroom artwork will be inspired by three themes. The first theme, “From Script to Screen”, highlights standout moments from Warner Bros’ movies and shows and documents the journey from the written page to the final shot. The second theme, “Artist Confidential”, celebrates a variety of talent in front of and behind the camera in some of Warner Bros’ favourite productions. The third theme, “The Vault”, features rarely-seen images from the Group’s most memorable archives.

Some of WB’s world-renowned characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and others will participate in entertaining activities throughout the hotel, providing memories that will last a lifetime.

The WB Abu Dhabi is located adjacent to the award-winning Warner Bros World™ Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest indoor theme park which features six immersive lands, including DC’s Metropolis and Gotham City, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch and Warner Bros Plaza.

Source: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/uae-worlds-first-warner-bros-hotel-to-open-in-november

Expert’s Voice: Top ten F&B revenue-management tips for hotel restaurants

Silvie Cohen and David Israel of hotelAVE suggest practical measures that hotel restaurants can adopt to boost their top lines and minimise the impact of spiralling costs.

As restaurants emerge from the Covid19 pandemic, operators remain challenged by nationwide labour shortages, the rising cost of wages and the increasing cost of goods.

To mitigate these bottom-line issues, just like hotels and airlines deploy revenue-management techniques to push sales, there are strategies F&B teams can deploy to optimise their top line as well. This article takes you through F&B revenue-management tips to help restauranteurs improve profitability.

Top ten F&B revenue-management tips for hotel restaurants:

  • Prix-Fixe menus: Explore offering a fixed three-course menu for a set price, which will help drive average check. This is a popular option for weekday lunch as well as weekend brunch (bottomless brunch) or family / holiday meals.
  • Dynamic pricing: Evaluate surge pricing based on demand levels or meal period to drive incremental revenue (weekday versus weekend, lunch versus dinner). Given the increased use of digital / mobile menus (eg utilising QR codes), this strategy can be implemented with minimal cost.
  • Entrée additions: Highlight certain additions to entrées on the menu. For example, provide the option to get bacon added to a burger, a fourth taco (if the dish serves three) or egg-white substitutions amongst other combinations for an additional upcharge. If it is highlighted on the menu, guests are likely to order it.
  • Time management: Consider the length of time customers sit at their table to maximise the amount of turns during service. Set table limits or provide express meal options (eg one-hour power lunch) to optimise the number of covers the restaurant does during certain meal periods. Offer additional points or incentives via reservation systems (OpenTable, Resy, etc) to motivate guests to book at off-peak hours. Allow guests to pay via mobile QR code to expedite the checkout process.
  • Hotel cross-collaboration: Incentivise hotel guests to come to the restaurant via offering different benefits. Destination fees: If the hotel has a destination fee, include F&B offerings within the fee to encourage guests to come to the restaurant. Data suggests a modest discount or free drink / appetiser generates substantial incremental revenue from hotel guests when offered. Prioritise hotel guests: Offer guests priority seating and reservation access to drive covers.
  • Competitive price shop: Complete a quarterly shop of comparable food, beverage and event prices within the competitive set. Be sure to evaluate if menu prices are too low or too high and adjust, as necessary.
  • Find menu ‘stars’: Evaluate product mix (PMIX) and menu costing to understand which menu items are highly profitable and sell (eg French fries). Train servers to understand which items they should be selling in real time based on inventory and pricing (eg avoid guacamole if there is an avocado shortage). Eliminate loss-leaders during high-demand periods and eliminate menu items that take a long time to cook or require additional culinary / front-of-house resources to execute.
  • Lucrative happy hours: Provide enticing happy-hour offerings to increase foot traffic in the early hours post-work. Another creative option includes offering a ‘reverse happy hour’, which is reduced pricing during later evening hours (starting at 9pm versus 4pm). Utilise limited menus with enticing offers (US$1 oysters, half-off cocktails, etc).
  • Ancillary spend: Give guests the option to purchase their favourite restaurant items to take home (eg homemade cookies, make-it-yourself pasta kits, Bloody Mary mix, etc).
  • Flexible seating: Evaluate flexible seating options to ensure four-tops can be turned into two-tops to mitigate lost revenue due to differences between party size and available seating.

Source: https://tophotel.news/experts-voice-top-ten-fb-revenue-management-tips-for-hotel-restaurants/

The 2021 Shandong Conference on Tourism Development to be held in Yantai in late September

This conference aims to be a unique, high-level tourism event that combines universal participation with openness and sharing, achievement demonstration, exchange of experience, innovation and development, and publicity and promotion.

Yantai, China – The 2021 Shandong Conference on Tourism Development will be held in Yantai from September 22 to 24. This conference aims to promote the high-quality development of the cultural tourism of Shandong Province by focusing on the theme “Welcome to Coastal Wonderland – Enjoy the Hospitality of Shandong” and starting with the marine and cultural tourism projects. The conference is hosted by the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee and the People’s Government of Shandong Province and organized by the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, the CPC Yantai Municipal Committee, and the People’s Government of Yantai.

This conference aims to be a unique, high-level tourism event that combines universal participation with openness and sharing, achievement demonstration, exchange of experience, innovation and development, and publicity and promotion. The overall conference arrangements include four major activities: the opening ceremony, the large-scale cultural tourism show “A Solemn Pledge of Love for Yantai”, the working meeting, and the project observation in addition to four minor ones: the display of cultural tourism achievements made by 16 cities of Shandong Province, the Yantai cultural tourism experience activity with the theme of “Love for Traveling in Wonderland”, the 2021 International Coastal Leisure Tourism High-Quality Development Forum, and the Grand Yantai Carnival.

When the day comes, representatives of the cultural and tourism departments of some provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities), representatives of some coastal cities, key distributors, investors, trade association leaders, cultural tourism experts, foreign consuls in China, and the heads of relevant international organizations will be invited to attend the conference. The guests and attendees will participate in the conference both online and offline. The number of the offline participants will be strictly controlled and various epidemic prevention and control measures will be carefully implemented to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.asia/the-2021-shandong-conference-on-tourism-development-to-be-h

These are the best hotel rewards programs of the year

If booking a hotel room this summer left your wallet significantly lighter, chances are you’re thinking about joining a hotel rewards program in hopes of saving a few bucks, or at least getting a few perks.

But with so many options, how do you choose a program to join? U.S. News & World Report today announced the 2021-22 Best Travel Rewards Programs which included ranking 15 hotel loyalty programs. 

“Wyndham Rewards takes the No. 1 spot on the Best Hotel Rewards Programs ranking thanks in part to its large network of hotels in popular vacation destinations and high award availability,” the publication said in a media release. 

“Additionally, any member of the program can book a free night with as few as 7,500 points. World of Hyatt, No. 2, scores well by offering low points redemption requirements and a variety of ways to earn and redeem points. Marriott Bonvoy came in at No. 3 because it offers a multitude of properties at various price points in destinations across the globe, plus ample benefits for members.”

Best Hotel Rewards Programs for 2021-22 

1. Wyndham Rewards 

2. World of Hyatt 

3. Marriott Bonvoy 

4. Choice Privileges 

5. IHG Rewards 

6. Radisson Rewards Americas 

7. Best Western Rewards 

8. Sonesta Travel Pass 

9. INVITED 

10. Leaders Club 

11. Hilton Honors 

12. ALL – Accor Live Limitless 

13. Omni Select Guest 

14. Stash Hotel Rewards 

15. I Prefer Hotel Rewards

U.S. News & World Report ranks 15 loyalty programs associated with major hotel brands that have at least 50 properties, 10 or more of which are located in the U.S. For a loyalty program to be in the list, it must allow members to join without prerequisites. “For example,” U.S. News & World Report said, “a potential member should be allowed to join a loyalty program even if he or she has never stayed at a participating hotel. All programs that appear on our Best Hotel Rewards Programs list offer members the ability to earn rewards and privileges each time they stay at a participating property.”

This year, U.S. News said it also considered each travel rewards program’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and factored in how flexible and accommodating each airline and hotel program was for members.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/travel/best-hotel-rewards-2021-2022

Kid-free restaurant in Istanbul causes controversy

The owners of a restaurant in Istanbul have fuelled a discussion on social media as they refused a woman to enter with her child, saying, “We are a kid-free business.”

The woman targeted the restaurant on Twitter, blaming the owners of the business for “discrimination.”

Social media users, business owners and even the psychologists intervening in the discussion were divided into two, some supporting the idea of a kid-free restaurant, some opposing it.

“Children should go to bed by 10 p.m. Of course, you should not go to a restaurant with a kid at that hour. What is a child doing there at that hour?” Yeşim Akıncı, a psycologist, told daily Hürriyet on Aug. 20.

Arif Verimli, a prominent psychologist in the country, directly opposed the idea of a kid-free restaurant. “I find a world without children a little beastly and not chirpy. There may be people choosing a way of life without kids, but such a concept does not fit me,” he said.

Clinical psychologist Emre Konuk is on the side of people finding the discussion “weird.”

“As if there is only one restaurant in Turkey and it does not allow kids to enter,” he noted.

Another psychologist, Ozanser Uğurlu, raised the bar on the discussion, defending that the situation was a “cultural matter.”

“We have a children-based culture. We were nomads first, then with the start of agriculture, we settled. Just at this point, people saw children as an object that widens and keeps the family tight. Motherhood is sacred, so is childhood,” Uğurlu said.

When asked if he supported the owners of the kid-free restaurant, Uğurlu replied, “As parents with children face no problem for dining in any restaurant, some businesses may choose to ban kids.”

Other than children, he also blamed their parents. “A child will show its childhood anywhere. The problem is the parents. Some raise kids without limits and responsibilities.”

Defending the idea of a kid-free restaurant Akıncı said, “At restaurants, people smoke and drink alcohol. Also, there is loud airplay in the place… All these would badly affect kids.”

However, Verimli highlighted another bad effect of being rejected at the door of a restaurant.

“It is quite embarrassing not to be permitted to enter. Both for a mother and a child,” he defended.

Daily Hürriyet’s two columnists, Orkun Ün and Cihan Şensözlü, also participated in the discussion by being on the side of the restaurant.

Another columnist, Fulya Soybaş was on the woman’s side.

“The tranquility of public space can not be solved by disclaiming a child, a woman, or any other from a religion or a race,” she wrote on her column on Aug. 20.

Uğurlu admitted that he found the “discrimination” allegations “a little exaggerated.”

“Calling this event as ‘discrimination’ is overstepping the mark, isn’t it? As a result, a kid is not a race or gender,” he said.





Source: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/kid-free-restaurant-in-istanbul-causes-controversy-167229

Marriott Bonvoy Relaunches Moments Platform, Bringing Back Money-Can’t-Buy Experiences To Members

Members Can Create Memories with Pinch-Yourself Experiences Like Exclusive Access to NFL Kickoff, Walking the Red Carpet at the MTV VMAs or Designing a Wedding Gown with a Top Bridal Designer

Following more than a year of physical isolation and missed connections, Marriott Bonvoy – Marriott International’s award-winning travel program – is ushering in a refreshed version of the Marriott Bonvoy Moments platform to help members who want to make up for lost time. Launching today, Marriott Bonvoy’s new offering of mind-expanding, money-can’t-buy Moments with both new and long-standing collaborators aims to serve as a vehicle for travelers to discover the world around them and be forever transformed by the places, experiences and people encountered along the way.

With 66% of people saying they were inspired to create a bucket list because of the pandemic1, the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program gives members ways to check items off their list with those closest to them. Using Marriott Bonvoy points accumulated from travel and everyday activities such as credit card spend, ride-sharing, or food delivery, members can gain VIP access to concerts, culinary experiences, premier sporting events and more all over the globe. Members may redeem their points for either fixed-price experiences or use them to bid on experiences through auctions using the revamped, easy-to-navigate platform.

“After so much time spent unable to do many of the things we enjoy, our members are eager to get back out on the road – not just to escape, but to discover all the people, places and experiences the world has to offer,” said David Flueck, Senior Vice President, Marriott Bonvoy. “We are excited to relaunch Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which has always been one of the most beloved elements of our travel program, and to give our members access to money-can’t-buy experiences where they can make memories, forge new connections and expand their minds.”

Marriott Bonvoy Moments span a wide variety of passions, from sports to culinary, and from music to professional development and more. Moments in both virtual and in-person settings are available on the platform. Examples of Moments available for bidding at launch include:

Sports

Cheer on the start of the 2021 NFL season with an exclusive NFL Kickoff Experience
For the first time ever, Marriott Bonvoy members can celebrate the start of the NFL season with exclusive access to the NFL’s Kickoff celebrations – including tickets to the NFL’s Kickoff Eve Party the night before the game, as well as the VIP Concert Viewing Party leading up to the game on Thursday, September 9th. The experience will culminate with game tickets to watch the opening game.

Improve your tennis skills at a clinic hosted by former #1 Andy Roddick and attend the Laver Cup
The Laver Cup is an unrivaled men’s team competition that showcases six of the top players from Europe against their counterparts from the rest of the World. Join former world no. 1 Andy Roddick on the Laver Cup practice court for a tennis clinic in the morning. Learn how to dominate your opponent with Roddick’s trademark strokes, including his iconic wrist-snapping forehand and ultra-powerful serves. Then spend the afternoon watching some of the best players in the world compete at the Laver Cup. This is one of many unique Laver Cup-related packages available.

Music

Walk The Red Carpet at MTV’s Video Music Awards
Be among the A-List at MTV’s iconic Video Music Awards, with the opportunity to access the red carpet before you take your seats to the show.

Experience Firefly Music Festival Like a VIP
With Super VIP Weekend Passes, get the best views of main stage performances with access to the front row and the side viewing loft, as well as artist lounges with private bars and complimentary snacks. Relax at the end of a day in your glamping tent, with access to Camping Hubs — featuring additional artist performances, camping entertainment, activities, shopping and more.

Culinary

Secure A Table at The Hottest Spot in Town
Get a guaranteed reservation at top restaurants including Thomas Keller’s Per Se (New York, NY) & The French Laundry (Yountville, CA), Enrique Olvera’s Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico) and Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat (Los Angeles, CA). Some packages also include a private dinner with the Chef.

Learn How to Grill Like a Master
Impress your guests at your next cook-out after a lesson from a Weber Culinary Grillmaster, the brand of grilling equipment for TownePlace Suites hotels.

Personal & Professional Development

Master Public Speaking with Training from TED’s Director of Speaker Coaching
Learn how to master the art of communication – whether in person or virtual – with help from TED’s Director of Speaker Coaching, Briar Goldberg, thanks to Marriott Hotels’ long-standing relationship with TED. In an online class, TED’s public speaking expert will teach valuable communication skills – along with actionable tips and takeaways – through engaging exercises that will help you identify your audience, keep them engaged and inspired and convey your message confidently.

Bring Order to Your Home with The Container Store
At most TownePlace Suites hotels, longer-stay travelers can spread out, settle in and get organized with a custom ElfaÒ closet exclusively from The Container Store. Now, you can get the chance to create the “Ultimate Closet” at home with items from The Container Store and guidance from one of their organizing and custom closet experts.

Arts & Culture

Make Your Special Day Extra-Special with a Made-To-Order Wedding Gown Designed by Justin Warshaw of Justin Alexander
No gown for your re-scheduled wedding? No problem! Come and enjoy an indulgent day helping design the wedding gown of your dreams that will be made to order from Justin Alexander.

Attend a New York Fashion Week Invite-Only Presentation
Be the first to see the fashion brand alice + olivia’s Spring 2022 Collection at an invite-only presentation during fashion week, and have the opportunity to shop the collection.

Marriott Bonvoy will continue to debut one-of-a-kind Moments in new locations around the world throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond. Members will be able to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences once again as Marriott Bonvoy resumes activations under its long-standing relationships with the NFL, Manchester United, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, the National Park Foundation and many more.

All in-person Marriott Bonvoy Moments will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control or the equivalent in the country/region where the Moment takes place with regard to mask-wearing, testing and other COVID-19 protocols.

To explore Marriott Bonvoy Moments, please visit https://moments.marriottbonvoy.com. For more information about Marriott Bonvoy or to enroll as a member for free, visit here. Join the conversation @MarriottBonvoy and #MarriottBonvoyMoments.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4105870.html

Travel Advisors React to Travel Companies Mandating COVID-19 Vaccine

Headlines about mandatory COVID-19 vaccines are proliferating around the country and the world.

Cruise lines, airlines and many other leisure and hospitality companies are now grappling with whether or not to require coronavirus vaccines for employees and customers.

While vaccines are quickly becoming a hot commodity with many Americans lining up to get their jab, there remains a large part of the population that is hesitant to get a shot for such a new virus with a vaccine approved only for emergency use. However, despite vaccine hesitancy and scarcity, companies are already considering vaccine requirements for both customers and employees—some have even announced new policies along these lines.

Because vaccines provide a clear path to reopening travel, TravelPulse spoke with travel advisors to see what they thought about vaccine policies and requirements.

Importantly, many advisors noted that safety was a top concern.

Beth Rasor of Vacation Daze, who practiced pharmacy in community and hospital settings before becoming a travel advisor, praised the science that created these vaccines but also sees both sides of the issue for clients and companies. However, Rasor cautioned against vaccine mandates.

“Deciding to receive the COVID-19 vaccination should be a personal choice, not a mandate for travel in my opinion. Each person has to consider the risk of contracting the

isease and make the best choice for his/her situation,” she said. “As distribution of the vaccine is still limited, vaccine mandates will be hard to implement anytime soon. Additionally, the vaccine isn’t yet approved for all patient populations such as children.”

Rasor also noted that vaccinations alone will not stop COVID-19 from spreading.

“Vaccine distribution isn’t the solo golden ticket to getting ‘back to normal,’” she said. “As with most viruses, viral mutations make vaccine development difficult and cause vaccines to lack efficacy. Therefore, sound cleaning protocols, effective air filtration systems, diligent hand washing, wearing face coverings when necessary, symptom monitoring and testing should continue to be our main focus in stopping the spread of the disease for those choosing or needing to travel. Vendors also need to maintain or adopt flexible cancellation policies for guests needing to cancel at the last minute due to illness.”

Miki Taylor, founder and CEO of Taylor & Co. Travel, suggested that it could be more equitable to use medical passports since vaccines remain elusive to many and some people will not be able to take them.

“I think having the vaccine to travel would protect everyone that travelers would come in contact with, but at the same time, the vaccines need to be more readily accessible to everyone,” said Taylor. “Also, I feel that if someone has an underlying medical condition that could potentially put them in even more danger should they receive the vaccine then this is where the medical passport could come into play because it isn’t fair to tell someone who could potentially have an adverse reaction to the vaccine due to an existing medical condition that they can’t travel unless they put themselves at greater risk and get the vaccine.”

Stephen Scott, luxury travel advisor for Protravel International, sees vaccines as the fastest way to getting travel back on track and points out that those who don’t want to be vaccinated don’t have to go to places where inoculation is required.

“Our goal in tourism needs to be to reopen with the least amount of damage to the health and the economy of our travelers, the employees within tourism, and also the people in the destinations we travel to,” said Scott. “Right now, this is the way to meet both of those needs.”

He also pointed out that travelers who don’t want to be inoculated can choose not to go.

“I see this as the fastest opportunity to re-open theme parks, cruise lines, and tourism districts,” said Scott. “The Yellow fever vaccine may already be required for entry into certain countries in Africa and South America. That means, if you don’t want to take it, you don’t have to go there. The same thing will apply for any companies or countries that add this new vaccine to their list of requirements. If you don’t want to take it, then you don’t have to go.”

Kim Cook of Love to Travel in Overland Park, Kansas, noted that testing for COVID-19 is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus and pointed out that testing is very accessible right now.

“Currently, I think the testing requirement is more important for slowing the spread of Covid,” Cook said. “Testing is widely available in the U.S. and in the international destinations we sell. From everything I am reading, it is going to take a while for the general population to be vaccinated with some choosing not to take the vaccine. If having a vaccine is required for travel, I think it will slow tourism’s recovery. Eventually, I can see a vaccine requirement for international destinations but not until it is widely available.”

While we wait for vaccines to be more widely available, testing certainly will play a major role in reopening travel. However, it is unlikely that, at least in certain parts of the travel industry, there won’t be vaccine requirements in the future for COVID-19.

Source: Christopher, J. (2021) | https://www.travelpulse.com/news/travel-agents/travel-advisors-react-to-travel-companies-mandating-covid-19-vaccine.html

How to keep your direct guests and steer the traveler booking motivations away from the OTAs?

A recent study conducted by Expedia Group claimed travelers are 57 percent more likely to book a hotel via an OTA than before the pandemic, as a result of emerging traveler booking motivations such as:

  • To get the best nightly rate (69 percent)
  • To get the best room (40 percent)
  • To compare properties in one location (35 percent)

Other motivations include earning reward points (32 percent), one-stop shopping (28 percent) direct promotions (26 percent), and buying a bundled offer, such a flight and hotel, in one transaction (25 percent).

Needless to say, this is a very self-serving study with less than stellar methodology (audience polled of only n=500 US consumers).

Unfortunately, there is some truth to Expedia’s claims and the hospitality industry is partly to blame for at least some of the emerging traveler booking motivations cited above. Here are some of the advantages the OTAs undoubtedly have in the post-crisis period and the tactics hoteliers can deploy to neutralize these advantages, hold on to their direct guests, and ultimately outsmart the OTAs:

1. Calamities make the OTAs stronger

Traditionally, the OTAs have emerged stronger after all of the previous crisis and calamities: 9/11, SARS, MERS, the recession, ZIKA, H1N1. The main reason is that travel suppliers – especially hoteliers – panic too easy, shut down their marketing efforts due to budget cuts, and run for help to the OTAs. In post-calamity periods, hoteliers are more willing to work with the OTAs, to discount and provide the OTA with sales promotions (24- or 48-hour sale, etc.) without promoting these same sales via the direct channel due to lack of marketing budget. All of this allows the OTAs to convince the traveling public that they can find the lowest rates on the OTA sites/apps – rates they cannot find elsewhere.

  • What can hoteliers do? Hoteliers should continue to maintain rate parity and invest in omni-channel marketing campaigns. All discounts or promotions you provide to the OTAs should also be promoted in the direct channel: Hotel website, content marketing, SEM, online media, social media, CRM and loyalty marketing. Travel consumers are shopping around (45 digital interactions before making a hotel booking – Google Research 2019) and omni-channel marketing gives the hotel an equal to the OTAs chance to engage the travelers throughout the Digital Customer Journey and its five phases (Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing Phases), eventually acquire and retain them.

2. COVID-19 accelerated the shift from offline to online

eMarketer reports that US e-Commerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. E-Commerce sales in Europe have exploded as well. The pandemic drastically accelerated the shift from offline to online commerce, a shift that will also impact how travel is being researched, planned and booked in the future. Because of the shelter-at-home mandates around the world, the vast majority of the population – even late adopters – were forced to use online services to communicate, work and study remotely, search for news or information, purchase goods and services, order food, chat with friends and family, watch streaming services and entertain themselves.

This “online planning and purchasing education” has created millions of converts and believers in online services, which will inevitably affect how they research, plan and book travel in the future. This new wave of online converts will benefit online travel players like the OTAs immensely at the expense of brick-and-mortar travel agencies and traditional tour operators and wholesalers.

  • How about hoteliers? This “forced” conversion from offline to online can also greatly benefit smart hoteliers who continue to invest in digital marketing, cloud technology and applications and “reach out” to these newbie online travelers vs shutting down their marketing and technology budgets. Recently I wrote an article outlining a hotelier’s action plan for maintaining online presence that does not require significant investments Can Hoteliers Afford to Ignore Google in the Post-Crisis Era?

3. The OTAs now have a formidable reward membership base

Unlike the previous calamities, this time the OTAs have a significant new advantage: very robust Reward Programs comparable in popularity to the loyalty programs of the major hotel chains. Booking’s Genius Program has more than 100 million active members; Expedia Group and its three reward programs (Expedia, Hotels.com and Orbitz) have approximately the same membership count. The OTAs have been investing heavily in their reward programs over the past 3-4 years with the hope to increase repeat business, which is 10-15 times cheaper than acquiring new customers and decrease dependency on the expensive performance marketing (read Google and metasearch players like Trivago and TripAdvisor). Before the current pandemic, the OTAs have been spending in excess of $11 billion a year on performance marketing.

Many of the current OTA initiatives – for example Expedia Partner Recovery Program – require hoteliers to provide special discounted rates to the OTA’s reward members if they want to benefit from the OTA’s recovery program initiatives. All of this creates a vicious cycle where hoteliers are forced or enticed to provide lower rates and discounts to OTA reward members, which in turn increases the membership and further convinces the traveling public that the OTAs have the lowest rates and are the place to book their next trip.

  • What can hoteliers do? Focusing on your past guests and repeat business should become a top priority vs chasing new customers. Past guests and loyalty members are already familiar with the property, its location and product, the only thing now is to convince them that the property is safe to stay at. Past guests and repeat business will rule the next 24 months!

Hotel chains with loyalty programs should not participate in OTA reward member discounts and should provide any discounts and promotions to their own loyalty members instead. Due to weak travel demand, loyalty member initiatives, such as loyalty marketing, CRM initiatives, upsells and cross sells, should be top of mind for any branded hotelier as opposed to chasing new customers.

Independent hoteliers should focus on bringing back their past guests and creating a guest recognition program to reward any repeat guest. A simple program based on giving free nights based on X number of roomnights stayed can go a long way today. Hotels.com has 50 million members in its simple, but very effective reward program, which gives one free night with every 10 nights stayed at any hotel. Independents should also strongly consider implementing a cloud CRM technology and create a CRM program to increase repeat business, engage last and current guests and turn them into future guests.

The big question is what else can hoteliers do in this environment of weak travel demand and severe budget cuts? I believe selling on value vs selling on price alone can compensate to a great extent the budget limitations and online dominance by the OTAs. Hoteliers must remember and relearn how to sell on value vs price alone! The OTAs are the masters of selling on price, hoteliers have no chance outwitting or outspending them in their marketing efforts. But selling on value? This is where hoteliers can truly outwit the OTAs and provide real value to their customers. Do you have cooking classes, weekend specials, coronavirus de-stressing packages, spa packages, family packages, activity packages, special occasion packages, wine tastings, F&B packages and promotions, work-from-hotel packages, etc. that you can use to target your local, short-haul and drive-in feeder markets?

Especially now, it is not difficult to be creative and figure out what your customers want and need – they, like all of us, have been locked at home for most of the past 7 months. We have all been there and you can easily come up with enticing packages and special offers based on what your guests would love to do and experience at your property and its surroundings in the current environment.

Remember, the OTAs have one huge disadvantage: in spite of all of their technology and marketing might, they do not know your hotel product and your destination like you do.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4101163.html

Hotel Branding: How to Take Your Hotel Brand to the Next Level

Seldom businesses can thrive nowadays without carefully-planned marketing strategies: not to say in the hospitality industry where there is at least one new property opening somewhere in the world almost every week. Moreover, the ubiquity of technology and the replicability of products means that branding has become one crucial differentiator for hospitality businesses. A hotel may be a superior service provider with its renowned facilities, but the customers need to seek a way to know about the hotel and its service quality out of all its competitors. As the market is saturated with countless hotels, brands and offerings and that consumer tastes have caught onto the industry, crystallizing and differentiating the brand vision is crucial to lead a new generation.

As the hospitality market is overloaded with advertising messages, how can hotels work strategically to gain customers’ attention and to, ideally, create the right premise of a loyal customer base?

Hotel branding tip #1: Create a strong narrative for your hotel

In a nutshell: Turning your hospitality differentiator into a story can be a powerful business tool. 

Business case studies across the years have proven that focusing solely on product, such as room types and facilities, is not sufficient. Such tangible features do not leave a lasting imprint in consumers’ minds and are unable to generate enduring desires.

Hospitality is about selling a dream and creating a lasting experience, and that is why truly successful hotel brands focus on their brand stories.

Humans are wired for stories as they lead to a better understanding, trust, comprehension and receptivity. Unlike facts and statistics, a story engages both the brain and the body, eliciting emotional responses, which people are more attracted to.

The narrative – or the magic operator of your story – creates the desire: well-developed brand narratives traditionally touches on a brand’s history, mission, values or people. The story must be authentic, based on truths, and then built upon to create the dream and aspiration which capture clients’ needs and wants. In that way travelers are significantly more likely to build a connection with you, and to embrace the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with your brand.

Industry example – Novotel, Beijing:

Novotel hotels in China is a great example which realizes successful brand differentiation through strong storytelling. General Manager, Thierry Douet, of the Novotel Beijing Peace Hotel says: “Twenty years ago, when we first arrived in China, the concept of traveling with children was not very common. Also, mid-scale hotels for pleasure or business did not really exist here. Our story was very foreign to the Chinese, but we took advantage of our French origins and built upon this. We were able to differentiate ourselves by offering a family place of leisure, where you can also conduct business meetings and events. We focused on the needs of the family and have continued to tell the story based on family.”

Hotel branding tip #2: Set up the premise of a good loyalty program

In a nutshell: Remember that your guests are your brand ambassadors.

A loyal customer base, captured by novel reward programs, is essential for a brand’s development. The kind of brand you want to be has to be directly related to the type of guest you want to target.

All the brand activities you undertake should be consistent and authentic, rooted in the needs and expectations of your customers. 

Just like in any relationship where trust is essential, it is crucial for hotels to fulfill their promises in order to maintain a loyal customer base. Rewards programs, recognition and redemption become drivers of your loyalty force. When a guest stays at one property of your brand, they deserve to be recognized on their returns to any other property of yours. Their previous information should have been stored and protected, then reapplied to ensure preferences are respected and remembered.

Such a high-level of global recognition conveys a sense of belonging for your clients. With such sense of fulfilment, these returning guests will depart the hotel as brand ambassadors, spreading recommendations through word-of-mouth and online reviewsAs some of the most prominent hospitality players nowadays, you could even go a step further and offer opportunities for engagement and redemption outside of your own brand’s world.

Industry example – Kimpton Hotels:

Lead by the core idea of “good things come to those who stay”, Kimpton Hotels has a long history of using recognition and redemption to give guests something beyond expectations. Its reward program, Kimpton Karma Rewards, is a new approach to loyalty. Karma’s style is Kimpton’s style and the program is composed of name, identity, messaging, digital touchpoint and small details of identity like icons that represent program levels. These patterned icons have subtle numerical references, but also tie into color, textile and design patterns found recurring across hotel interiors. The loyalty program and the properties weave together a physical and digital experience highlighting Kimpton’s brand personality. Database technology communicates with digital devices to deliver personalized experience; from the front desk to the mobile phone or tablet, Karma is a more personal, contextual, meaningful rewards program. Kimpton Karma Rewards is an innovative way that goes beyond traditionally loyalty to become a true brand relationship platform. For example, guests may get credit for liking things on Facebook or get served what seems like a random perk unexpectedly anytime during their stays.

Hotel branding tip #3: Deliver hospitality and service excellence

In a nutshell: Creating a strong hotel branding and brand personality is about defining your offerings. 

Aside from the basic offerings such as the quality of the rooms, facilities, or service delivered by well-trained staff, the best hotels should stretch their definition beyond these elements to incorporate the concept of hospitality.

Hotels are in the business of taking care of people and a hotel’s staff should aim to deliver a transformative experience for customers.

All great brands begin with a customer-centric perspective and experience mapping is a great asset which helps to identify and rollout universal touchpoint of brand experience. The delivery of hospitality should create cherished memories, enrich clients’ experience and become part of their life story.

As world-renowned sommelier Bobby Stuckey defines it, service is “what you do to someone” and hospitality is “how you make someone feel”. When care is offered, it provokes a feeling and builds a connection which transmits such feeling between people. Hospitality is the genuine care which is capable of changing one’s mood and perspective. Successful hotel brands should truly nurture hospitality and service excellence – the very concepts upon which they are built – and integrate it into its brand culture.

Industry example – The Peninsula Beijing:

The Peninsula is one brand which creates transformative experiences through delivery of hospitality. The General Manager of The Peninsula Beijing, Vincent Pimont, explained his concept of hospitality:

“Anticipating the needs of your guests. Guests arrive from all around the world. It is vital to go beyond cultural difference by not judging the difference, but to deliver the care even before the guests know they are in need. Hospitality in Asia is different than in the West. It is about care, I mean really caring. Our brand originates from China and we respect our brand’s origins. We train our staff to embrace and manifest our cultural difference.”

Source: https://www.hotel-online.com/press_releases/release/hotel-branding-how-to-take-your-hotel-brand-to-the-next-level/

Measuring product lifecycle and witnessing innovation in social media

Pinpointing the position of social media in its product lifecycle in hospitality was the topic of conversation last week at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, as a group of marketers and business owners from across the hospitality industry gathered in Ascot.

The discussions centred around where different restaurateurs, product and service suppliers, hoteliers, caterers, industry associations and lobbyists see social media now within their wider marketing activity. Linked to where they see the hospitality industry’s position in terms of social media’s product lifecycle.

The crux of the discussions focused on returns on investment achieved. One delegate shared how restaurants had been filled through Instagram and the strategy and tactics deployed to achieve that goal. Others reflected on the return on investment versus time savings for communications in large teams of people.

Delegates looked at the different channels used, old and new, ranging from the established Facebook to the emerging TikTok, with strategic and tactical lessons shared.

Tone of voice, images, sources of images and image testing, video and calls to action were all reviewed as were use of emoji’s, grammar and punctuation. All had a clear impact on the different objectives and campaign measurements applied. Attention to small details had a big effect.

The objective of any such event is to ensure delegates leave with ‘take-aways’ that can be applied post event.

The observations ranged from seasoned attendees who have shared their experiences previously, enabling a familiar framework to measure by, to newcomers who shed light with a new, different and helpful approach.

One of the delegates taking part that has done previously on many occasions was Simon Esner FIH FIoD, Director, WSH LIMITED. WSH own and operate some of the best known brands in hospitality including BaxterStorey. Commenting on the morning Esner said: “The whole event was extremely well organised and the team at Coworth really made everyone feel welcome and relaxed immediately.

“The attendees were a terrific group of business professionals who all had significant involvement with the discussions, which resulted in me having several ‘take-aways’ that I know I will be able to utilise personally and professionally.

“Key words, subjects and points for me that will enhance our approach to social media utilisation are ‘Authenticity’, ‘Engagement’, ‘use of algorithms and their specific platforms’ and using Instagram as your ‘Inspiration Platform’.

“Lastly, I’m grateful for the information about image libraries. Having looked at the information I know we will be able to learn more and make better use of our approach.”

One of the newer delegates was Paul Anderson FIH, M.C.G.C Managing Director, Meiko UK Limited who told us: “I was kindly invited to attend H&C Social last week at Coworth Park, in a small yet collective discussion on social media and the part it plays in modern business.

“It’s true I am always pushing the boundaries within MEIKO on social media, and yet I always say I am never an expert. It was so useful to gain ideas and thoughts from great peers of our industry during this meeting that I came away thinking we’ve not even really started.

“The use of media is so fast, so readily available and requires constant attention to ensure it is correct, valid and fit for purpose…. more or less a full time role to support and underpin the image of a company.

“I really found this meeting extremely useful and I can’t wait until the next one.”

The mix of delegates was diverse to ensure as many views and perspectives as possible were considered and learned from.

Pat Thomas is a Founder of and Director at Beyond GM, an independent initiative set up to raise the level of the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the UK and elsewhere, at both the local and national level. Its activities aim to broaden the discussion about GMOs beyond the abstract, and often impenetrable, scientific and academic arena and out into the public arena. The task of broadening discussions on GMO’s is in part achieved through social media, so Pat’s input to our discussion was enlightening.

Thomas was enthusiastic saying: “Social media has become such an important platform for sharing not just sterile pieces of information but connected stories that matter about the values that drive us. The social media roundtables are a lively and invaluable forum where individuals can share ideas, challenges and tips for success. Keep them coming.”

The discussions looked at many channels and LinkedIn was covered by Neil Fillbrook FCII, UK Managing Director of international banking firm Bank Brokers. Fillbrook reflected on the morning telling us: “The round-table discussion this morning with social-media thought leaders from the hospitality industry at the wonderful Coworth Park was fascinating. It was intriguing to learn from both a strategic and tactical standpoint.

“Our execution of Social media within our wider marketing mix will improve as a consequence of taking part. Several things quickly became clear to me and the takeaway’s are many. What on earth is TikTok?!”

TikTok in many ways underlines the incredibly fast changing and emerging technologies across social media. TikTok was launched in 2017 by Chinese business ByteDance, valued at $78 billion in November 2018 and is considered one of the most valuable unicorns in the world. One delegate is already au fait with TikTok and shared his experience and views, Rehan Uddin, Managing Director of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network.

Uddin there representing the 1,500 plus members of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network pooled knowledge and experience from members. His contribution was eloquent and enlightening, his feedback was to the point stating: “At the heart of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network we value and cherish our heritage, but our focus is on creating 21st century dining. Social media is key to everything we do and drives our businesses.

“To get a morning of enlightened discussion and knowledge sharing is not only tremendous use of my time, it allows me to disseminate the learning with our members.

“The conversation was steeped in first-hand experience and it was authentic, I leave today’s roundtable with practical guidance I can apply to my own restaurant business and that of fellow members, thank you.”

The variety of perspective from around the table provided a wide range of references with many common touchpoints, enabling references to be debated, linked and clarified. One common denominator was that all participants agreed on was that the product lifecycle of social media is in its growth stage. So, although the use of channels by delegates was as diverse as the table seating mix, the overall approach and view to the opportunity was very similar.

Commenting on the range of perspectives, Antonia Robinson, Manager, Public Relations & Social Media – EMEA at Preferred Hotels & Resorts focused on all our end customers, the consumers, saying: “It was interesting to focus the roundtable discussion on the social media product lifecycle.

“It was great to connect with professionals from so many sectors of the hospitality industry and learn more about how everyone uses social media differently within their companies to align with their brand messaging and goals.

“I greatly enjoyed hearing everyone’s varied perspectives on how the social media landscape is rapidly shifting and how consumers are crying out for more personalisation and authenticity, which in turn is shaking up how companies are handling their approach across the platforms.”

Independent hotels were represented as well as global hotel groups, Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Dorchester Collection. The independent hotel sector was represented by Robert Richardson FIH, GENERAL MANAGER of The Grand in Folkestone.

Richardson raised a number of points including trolling and how to deal with it positively, especially relevant to the many TripAdvisor advocates amongst the group. Richardson was to the point with his discussions and his feedback saying: Today was excellent in terms of the industry diversity of the group, with each delegate having their own specific social media focus, challenges and successes, which made for an insightful debate and allowed me to leave knowing more than when I arrived. Mission accomplished.”

The morning saw a group of marketers and business owners who are all innovators through what they are doing in social media gather and talk. Innovation is key driver in our fabulous hospitality industry and as such was it a coincidence that most of the attendees businesses are also market leaders in their respective sectors, we think not.

A few words from the business that sponsored the event and have done every year for the past six years, Armourcoat. “Armourcoat were delighted to participate in the recent social media roundtable from H&C News and act as sponsor for the event.

“Benchmarking good practice in marketing, which social media channels offer the best return, and how to effectively measure success are critical when reviewing budgets and considering MROI.

“The value of creating an open forum for debate is of enormous benefit.” Daniel Nevitt, Group Marketing Director, Armourcoat.

Source: https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2019/10/measuring-product-lifecycle-witnessing-innovation-social-media/