Trends Watch 2022: What hotel marketers need to prepare for in the year ahead
With another year soon to be in the rear view, we’re looking ahead to 2022 for the most impactful trends in hospitality marketing. These trends fall into three core buckets: the evolution of privacy and the importance of data consolidation, finessing the marketer’s operational playbook, and advancing the guest experience.
Marketers are now masters of data, leveraging a deeper understanding of data flows to ensure that it’s being captured cleanly, shared seamlessly and parsed profitably. Data drives results. In 2022, the question for marketers is how best to turn that data into results.
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Thanks to shifting attitudes towards privacy, marketers face a dramatically different landscape in 2022. There are a few key trends that shape both high-level strategy and ground-level tactics.
The impact of Apple’s privacy changes
Email marketing was forever changed with the release of Apple iOS 15. No longer able to see when a subscriber opens their emails, hotel marketers must adapt to a new privacy paradigm.
After downloading the new iOS 15 software, users will be prompted to opt-in to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature. MPP prevents pixels from being loaded whenever a user opens an email, which in turn affects metrics. Since open rates can no longer be reliably tracked for iOS users, marketers must level up their sophistication in analyzing email marketing performance.
The end of third-party data
We’ve been talking about the end of cookies for a while now, as Google originally announced the elimination of cookies by 2022. However, this got pushed to 2023, giving marketers more time to adapt to a world without cross-site behavioral tracking.
The upcoming end of third-party data is the perfect moment to pivot to first-party data. These are data sources collected directly from your hotel: website clicks, booking patterns, search behavior, and everything captured in your rich guest profiles. All of that data should be used to optimize, personalize and augment your efforts and initiatives across other tools and platforms.
The marketing operations playbook
While marketing has long been the domain of creativity and cleverness, it’s now also a requirement to have a firm grasp on marketing operations. With data driving so many decisions — and influencing the effectiveness of a given marketing campaign — marketers are now one part creative, one part clever and one part data master.
The rise of the Customer Data Platforms
The end of third-party data signals the dawn of the Customer Data Platforms (CDP), which will get a major boost into 2022. Starting in 2022, many hotels will prioritize a holistic CDP strategy to control their own destiny and build a more resilient marketing engine. These core marketing assets have become must-have assets in a world where organizations must rely on the data they capture themselves.
A Customer Data Platform pulls together all of a hotel’s data into a single spot, cleansing it into a standardized format that can then be distributed to other tools in the tech stack. This puts hotels in charge of how data flows between tools while also ensuring that new tools have access to accurate data.
Proper data hygiene
“Garbage in, garbage out” is the mantra for data-driven marketers. In 2022, that mantra moves from aspirational to essential, as the ability to capture clean first-party data is key to a successful transition towards a more personalized guest experience and a shift away from relying on third-party data sources.
Since hotels can no longer rely on third-party data to augment their marketing efforts, they need data that’s accurate and consistent. Data standardization cleans up your data so it can be shared across your hotel’s tech stack. That data interoperability is a key part of proper data hygiene, as it enables data sharing that improves results across your marketing initiatives.
Effective marketing in 2022 requires a bespoke channel strategy that’s driven by each channel’s unique traits. From basics like demographics and engagement rates to more advanced areas like the types of ad units available, a channel-driven marketing strategy optimizes for value based on each channel’s specific characteristics.
A holistic, channel-driven marketing strategy also requires close alignment with Revenue. In a data-driven world, it’s not enough to define marketing strategies and channel tactics based only on demographics. Profitability must also be top-of-mind — a channel that produces fewer, more profitable bookings may be better than one that drives quantity. Close alignment with Revenue puts channel profitability in focus.
Advancing the guest experience
The third focus area for marketers in 2022 is advancing the guest experience through data-driven personalization. Of course, personalization has cemented itself as a core guest expectation. That being said, the notable development is that advancing the guest experience is now a marketer’s remit alongside operations.
Strengthen loyalty with bespoke perks
To strengthen loyalty, empower guests with choice around which perks they prioritize. These choices give guests control over their own experience, and requires less guessing from marketers.
There’s an added benefit: flexibility. Not every stay is the same and guests may want different perks according to a given mood, need or trip type. By adjusting offerings according to each guest’s unique profile and trip type, marketers can deliver a more nuanced experience that bolsters short-term word-of-mouth and long-term loyalty.
Upgrade your CMS
Your hotel website remains your portal to more profitable direct bookings. Yet there’s more to an exceptional hotel website than a functional booking engine.
As you rethink direct, it may be time to rethink your website. Each guest should be served a content personalization experience that optimizes the on-site journey. This content experience emanates from your first-party data, using what you know about a given customer to personalize website messaging and special offers.