Airbnb, Priceline and Expedia are garnering more consumer attention than traditional hotel sites, and those travel marketers are fighting back with big “book direct” digital and social media campaigns. Loyalty, they say, is rewarded with the lowest possible rates.
“Holiday Inn is just the latest to launch such a campaign, though Hilton, IHG and Marriott have all created similar efforts in the past year,” reports eMarketer on April 14.
In the article “Hotels Allocate More Budget for Digital Marketing and Social: Goal is to boost awareness amid threats from Airbnb, Priceline and Expedia,” Jeremy Kressmann writes, “48 percent of respondents said they planned high spending to go toward digital marketing, while 44 percent said they intended to designate high investment in social media strategy.”
The stats originating from research conducted by hospitality marketing platform SiteMinder notes that sites like Priceline and Expedia are known for charging hotels “commissions for customer referrals.”
Despite the commissions cutting into hotel profits, these marketers recognize that their online spends may be big gambles.
eMarketer links to a Feb. 28 article on Skift.com:
“What happens this year will be especially pivotal, as hotels see whether this strategy is truly sustainable, and whether they can afford to keep investing in these types of campaigns and discounted loyalty member rates.”
At the same time that bookings sites are a threat, a bigger worry looms.
eMarketer notes that most consumers visiting accommodation sites in Q4 2016 actually searched on Airbnb. With 88 million visits during that quarter, Airbnb topped its Q4 2015 numbers by 42 percent.
That said, the SimilarWeb figures eMarketer cites show adding Priceline and Expedia numbers together brings a total of 147 million visitors during that quarter.
Still, the “booking direct” campaigns may be taking hold. The Marriot and Hilton sites are ranked in the top five most popular accommodation sites from Q4 2016, with more than 117 million visitors.
What do you think, marketers?
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