Hotel Industry Blog

Mobile Revenue Continues to Grow in Q3 2018 - Are You Prepared?

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, November 02, 2018

​Mobile is very much the present, no longer the future

We’ve shown on these pages before how mobile traffic and revenue grew in the first half of 2018 and we now update that for the first three quarters of 2018. The continuing change has created immediate opportunities for hotels. Or we can put it another way - it creates immediate and real problems for hotel sales if hotels are not prepared for the mobile mindset.

The figures below show the mobile phone, tablet and desktop traffic share (unique sessions) recorded for hundreds of Bookassist hotel client websites across Europe in the first 9 months of 2018. Notable are that for the Ireland/UK and the Spain/Portugal regions, desktop is now 50% or less of hotel website traffic. For other regions, desktop has been stable or marginally declining year on year. Mobile phone growth is mostly at the expense of tablet traffic this last quarter.

The figures, and the change year or year, indicate that we may be reaching a stable balance between mobile device traffic and desktop traffic in most regions. Desktop cannot of course continue to decline forever, at least while companies and workplaces continue to use desktop and laptop machines despite the ever-increasing shift in personal use to mobile devices.

Mobile traffic and its annual change year to end September 2018
Mobile traffic and its annual change year to end September

This relative balance achieved in traffic this year is not however reflected in revenue generation. Here we see double-digit growth in revenue generation on mobile, and decline in desktop revenue generation across all markets. The data shows that there is a clear increase in confidence in mobile users when it comes to transacting on mobile devices and this trend is continuing upward to narrow the gap with desktop. Revenue generation on mobile still has a long way to go to reach relative desktop levels, but it’s clearly getting there sooner rather than later.

Mobile-generated revenue and its annual change year to end September 2018
Mobile-generated revenue and its annual change year to end September

Responsive is no longer good enough

Taken together, the data here show that having an optimised and fully functional mobile website and mobile ecommerce platform is critical for hotels who want to tap into higher-margin direct business. The mobile experience is clearly different from the desktop experience, and therefore needs to be treated differently and quite specifically.

Having the same experience on desktop as on mobile, a typical “responsive” approach, is simply not good enough anymore. Each platform, whether desktop or mobile, needs to be optimised for its users and for its user experience capabilities and user expectations. This is exactly why Bookassist has developed and launched the V10 Mobile booking engine experience, a uniquely app-like approach to mobile booking that is proving extremely effective at building hotel revenues on mobile.

It’s time hotels stepped up to the mobile challenge - and the opportunity it brings.


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 4 - Email Marketing

By Editor | On Wed, September 12, 2018

In this, the last of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success, we’ll take a look at pillar 4, Email Marketing. Read about pillar 1 SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), pillar 2 Paid Advertising, and pillar 3 Social Media.

Pillar 4 | Email

In 2017, there were 3.7 billion recorded global email users. This number is predicted to grow to up to 4.1 billion users by 2021[1]. It’s been 40 years since Ray Tomlinson sent the first email and it continues to be one of the most effective digital media channels, surpassing social media marketing according to research conducted by SmartInsights[2].

In a head to head comparison with Facebook and Twitter, email is still the preferred platform for receiving promotional messages[3].

While customers may be more proactive on search engines or social media, they are more likely to be reached and willing to interact with a brand through email. This is why email is still the preferred method of communication between brands and their audience, and a key pillar of digital strategy. If social media is your platform for personalised customer engagement, then email is what you can use to solidify that relationship. It simply engages recipients in a way that other platforms cannot. Customers are able to read messages in their own time and respond at their convenience. It keeps better record of conversations and access to email content is not restricted to a particular device or region. Email can also be easily forwarded and used to reach groups of people simultaneously.

Email continues to have a wider reach than social media. Only two percent of people may see a post on their social media feed, but ninety percent of emails reach their intended inbox[4]. And in a post-GDPR setting, where many marketers have seen their email lists significantly reduced, it is important to remember that customers voluntarily sign up to a brand’s email list, allowing email marketing to reach those who have already expressed brand consideration and purchase intent.

With an average return on investment (ROI) of $38 for every $1 spent[5], email maintains its relevance as an accessible and affordable digital marketing channel and lead nurturing tool.

Make Your Emails Matter

Post-GDPR, it’s critical to consider the type of email communication that can make the most impact. Transactional emails or emails that are a result of an action on the customer’s part such as downloading a brochure, completing a booking, or filling a form, have become significantly more important[6]. Not only do they give you a valid (and GDPR compliant) reason to reach out to your customer, they also prompt you to communicate with your customer just as they’ve recently interacted with your business, while your hotel brand is still fresh in their minds.

Why Make Email Part of Your Marketing Mix?

First, email tells you a lot about your target market. The way that your recipient list responds to your business gives you indispensable market data. Email allows you to gauge user interaction and segment this data to create detailed buyer personas[7]. These personas can, in turn, be used to flesh out the rest of your marketing mix, e.g. to optimise PPC campaigns, to generate social media material and website content, resulting in higher quality leads.

Second, email works well with mobile. Mobile internet traffic is continuously poised to overtake desktop and, as of April 2018, already accounts for 51.2% of webpage views worldwide[8]. Emails can be easily adapted for multiple mobile devices thanks to its minimal formatting options, making it easier for you to reach your target audience on their preferred device.

Third, email is easily personalised. Because email can provide you with a lot of information about your target market, it also makes it easy to create a personalised experience for them. Automated behavioural trigger emails can be used to keep your readers engaged with your business[9], while landing pages on your website customised according to your buyer personas can more successfully prompt users in your email lists to engage with specific aspects of your brand. These activities help strengthen your site’s online presence through customer engagement and retention, resulting in a more authoritative website.


Samantha Salazar, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.


[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/

[2] https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/state-email-marketing-infographic/

[3] https://optinmonster.com/email-marketing-vs-social-media-performance-2016-2019-statistics/

[4] https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2016/01/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/

[5] https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/ecommerce-marketing/

[6] https://marketing.toolbox.com/blogs/peterkowalke/5-ways-gdpr-changes-marketing-071318

[7] https://sleeknote.com/blog/buyer-personas

[8] https://www.statista.com/statistics/306528/share-of-mobile-internet-traffic-in-global-regions/

[9] https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/behavioural-email-marketing/triggered-email-campaigns-infographic/



The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 3 - Social Media

By Editor | On Wed, September 05, 2018

In this, the third of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at pillar 3, Social Media. Read about pillar 1 on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and pillar 2 on Paid Advertising.

Pillar 3 | Social Media

By Sara Santos García

About 30% of all time spent on the internet is spent on social media, an average of 2 hours each day per person[1]. As of July 2017, Facebook was the most popular social networking site with an impressive 2 billion active daily users[2]. The potential to tap into this number of active online customers and to seed influence cannot be ignored, and social media channels should be a key pillar of any hotelier’s marketing strategy.

Figure 1: Average Daily spent on Social. Image credit: MediaKix

The use of social media builds social authority for your business. It does not directly impact your organic ranking on Google or other search engines, but it can give a boost to your online presence.

Social media can be a powerful channel for hoteliers if utilised correctly. It should work alongside your SEO and paid advertising strategies in order to create awareness, increase interactions with your brand, engage, delight, and therefore help increase bookings for your hotel. Hoteliers need to understand that using social media in conjunction with all of your other online strategies in a coordinated fashion is what makes it so powerful[3].

Social media works best in an “assistive” capacity, a perfect tool for the top of the sales funnel. But it can also provide prospective customers with insights about where to stay and gives hotels a great opportunity to put their best foot forward in terms of their public image online. It is also about you being present during the buyer’s journey to purchase, reinforcing their decisions, influencing the user throughout the different touch points and ensuring their experience with your brand throughout the buyer decision journey is as easy and simple as it can possibly be.

Paid Social Advertising

Organic social media is a cost-effective and long-term solution for your business. But don’t forget that paid social media advertising can additionally offer immediate results that are worth paying for. Facebook has ramped up their advertising capabilities in recent years and features very strong segmentation that can suit the hospitality business very well. Facebook-owned Instagram also has progressed its advertising platform and can also be quite effective depending on the message you want to push. Creating a strategy for organic and paid social media marketing is something that every hotelier should explore[4].

Why include Social Media as part of your Digital Strategy?

Social media is (of course) highly personal. It helps you communicate who YOU are through your photos, videos and direct customer engagement. It helps to create realistic expectations of what to expect when a guest stays at your hotel and can therefore be used to reduce negative feedback due to false expectations. Most importantly, it builds relationships and connects with your audience and gives your business a personal identity and voice. Having a dedicated Social Media team will also ensure a strong framework for your overall online reputation management.

You may not see the real impact that social media is having in your business at first, but over time, and with a commitment to creating regular content, responding to customer queries, and engaging with your target audience, there can be great implicit and explicit returns. Be sure to dig deeper into Google Analytics to see how social media is playing an assisted role in your online conversions.

Sara Santos Gracia, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/27/facebook-2-billion-users/

[3] https://www.e-marketingassociates.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-why-social-media-is-important-for-hotels-pt2

[4] https://medium.com/@the_manifest/how-to-create-strategies-for-organic-vs-paid-social-media-marketing-ce4e754606f7


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 2 - Paid Advertising

By Jason Kelly | On Tue, August 28, 2018

In this, the second of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at pillar 2, Paid Advertising.

Pillar 2 | Paid Advertising

By Jason Kelly

It’s easy to be cynical about paid advertising on search engines, which today is almost like a visibility tax that you have no option but to pay. We’ve already seen how Google is monetising the SERP more and more, but the bottom line is that paid advertising still works.Aggregated data from Bookassist indicates that traffic from paid sources accounts for 35% of hotels’ website revenue. What’s more is that when used together with SEO, paid advertising can actually help SEO[1].

Paid Advertising and SEO - The best of friends

There is a common misconception that paid advertising, particularly on brand search terms, can cannibalise organic traffic. Bing published a study for the travel sector in 2015 on the value of running search ads on brand name terms[2]. The key findings from this study were:

  • An increase of 27% in overall clicks (paid and organic combined) when a brand ad was present.
  • Competitors received almost 40% of clicks when no brand ad was present.
  • Competitors received just 12% of clicks when a brand was present.

Clearly, you need to be present for brand paid advertising.

Paid advertising, particularly search campaigns, also works as an excellent keyword research tool for SEO. The data you receive from search campaigns is invaluable for your SEO strategy. We can get a very clear idea of what phrases people are using to search for hotels, the size of the market for particular niche search terms and more importantly, what search phrases are leading to conversions. This data can then be used to optimise content on your website for terms with high conversion potential, i.e. focus your content on answering the questions people tend to be actually asking.

First things first. Where to start with Paid Advertising?

With an ever increasing number of paid channels, it may be difficult to know where to spend your digital marketing budget. At its most basic level, paid advertising should be used to convert users who have shown strong intent to book a room at your hotel; for example they have searched for your hotel’s name on Google or viewed your listing on Trivago or TripAdvisor. This is where you need to start – your brand name.

Running paid campaigns on your brand name should be the cornerstone of your paid advertising strategy. OTAs, used correctly, can be used to create awareness but if you do not have a presence in the final stages of the customer’s journey, you will lose out on direct bookings, no question.

Expanding your reach. Creating awareness of your brand and acquiring new users
Paid channels should not merely be considered as a tool for converting people who have already made their decision about where they want to stay. Campaigns on search engines and metasearch platforms allow hotels to be present in any and all stages of the customer journey and can, over time, help to reduce hotels’ dependence on OTAs for creating awareness.

The amount of money you invest in each stage of the customer journey is dependent on your goals and the extent to which you have mastered the basic essential elements of a direct booking strategy - an attractive, responsive and fast website, optimisation for desktop and mobile, pricing and channel distribution. There’s little point in investing in brand awareness through display campaigns for example if you have severe rate parity issues. But if you have mastered these essential steps, paid advertising, particularly at the stage where there is commercial intent, can bring a new audience to your website that may have only discovered you on an OTA website.

Jason Kelly, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] on search engines and on metasearch platforms

[2] https://www.slideshare.net/bingads/brand-term-bidding-an-offensive-defensive-strategy-travel-edition


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 1 - SEO

By Editor | On Mon, August 20, 2018

Pillar 1 | Search Engine Optimisation

By Rumenigo Fernandes

In this the first of a series of four articles on The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at the critical area of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is one of the main foundations for website success as it drives bookings at the lowest CPA[1] (Cost Per Acquisition) and therefore helps maintain profitability.

Over time, we have seen how Google has made changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with the intent to monetise it as much as possible. Increased number of ads placed above organic search results, greater integration of Google Hotel Ads within the SERP, and demotion of organic search results show that pay per click (PPC) is their priority. However don’t think SEO is dead – it remains equally relevant, if not more so. A study conducted in 2018 found that 70% of link clicks from search still go to organic listings[2] (see figure 1a)

Our own figures in Bookassist support this research finding. Based on data from our partner hotels, organic drives 38% of overall website traffic and accounts for approximately 45% of all bookings and revenue we handle for our clients (see figure 1b). SEO is most definitely alive and thriving.

Figure 1: (a) Data on SEO adapted from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-se-statistics/42665/ , (b) data from Bookassist partner hotels.

Getting SEO Right – The SEO Pyramid For a hotel website to gain a high volume of SEO traffic, the site needs to be listed on page one of the search engine results page (SERP), as most users don’t look beyond first page results (especially on mobile). Unlike PPC where you can pay to be seen on page one, with SEO search engines will only list organic website links if the website is seen as an authoritative site. To be regarded as an authoritative site takes considerable time and effort.

Understanding the SEO Pyramid[3] is the key to building an authoritative site (see figure 2). Good SEO begins with a website that is designed so that it can be easily read by both potential customers and search engines. It’s important to keep both these audiences in mind as the ease with which they reach and navigate your site, combined with the frequency and length of their interactions, are what define an authoritative website.

Figure 2: The SEO Pyramid (adapted from https://seocustomer.com/how-to-use-the-seo-pyramid-strategy/)

Second, you need to focus on keyword research and on-page optimisation. Keywords for a hotel can be broken into two main categories: brand and non-brand terms. Non-brand terms can be further broken down into key hotel selling points such facilities, local attractions etc. These segmented terms should form the basis of page content that can be further optimised to ensure that your site ranks organically on search engines.

Third is link building, which involves getting a backlink from another relevant website with a key term or phrase related to your brand, e.g. “hotels near Dublin airport”. Every backlink you get is like a vote for your site on that specific term. The more backlinks you have, the more votes you have, the more recognition your site gets for that term. The more backlinks your site has, the higher a search engine will rank your site[4].

Google does not rank every backlink in the same way. You will be penalised if you get a backlink from a site with low quality content, a site that is not relevant to your users, or for buying links. So build relevant links from high authority websites and target those that add value to your customers.

Fourth and finally, the use of social media builds social authority. Social media does not directly impact your organic ranking on Google or other search engines but it does give a boost to your ranking[5].

Follow the principles of the SEO Pyramid for a structured and long-term SEO strategy. With 70% of clicks still coming via organic channels, a focus on SEO will lower your direct CPA significantly. It’s a no-brainer for digital marketeers.

_

Rumenigo Fernandes, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/
[2] https://neilpatel.com/blog/seo-dead/
[3] https://seocustomer.com/how-to-use-the-seo-pyramid-strategy/
[4] https://searchengineland.com/how-to-use-the-marketing-funnel-for-seo-inbound-marketing-173663
[5] https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-seo-experiment/


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success

By Editor | On Mon, August 20, 2018

The Four Pillars of Digital Marketing Success
The Four Pillars of Digital Marketing Success

We know that getting the basics right for search engine optimisation directly enhances your efforts in email marketing, social media and paid advertising by providing users from these channels with a better website experience. And we know that delving into the data from your paid advertising and email marketing campaigns will provide excellent insights into what content brings users to your website and the type of content users engage with on your website on your social media channels.

An effective and successful digital marketing strategy for your hotel is therefore built on four separate yet intrinsically-linked digital marketing pillars: search engine optimisation (SEO), paid advertising, social media and email marketing. Each one of these four pillars has an important part to play in the quest for direct business but the real magic happens when they all work together.

While OTAs continue to assist in generating overall hotel revenue, they are only a segment of the diverse digital ecosystem that customers now explore and engage with. Establishing and strengthening all four digital marketing pillars gives hotel brands the opportunity to connect with customers at multiple stages of their online journey and reinforce the brand from the moment they research their destination to the time that they book their stay.

The Bottom Line

No area in digital marketing operates in a vacuum. Paid advertising and organic traffic will bring new users to your website but social media and email marketing will allow you to develop relationships with these new users and create a genuine conversation. The performance of your business online is dependent on the strength of each of these digital marketing pillars. Strengthening one of these areas will help strengthen the others but strengthening them all so that they work in unison is where the magic really happens.

In this 4 part series we take a look at pillar 1 - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) pillar 2 - Paid Advertising pillar 3 - Social Media, and pillar 4 - Email Marketing.


Mobile traffic continues to grow, but desktop retains revenue dominance for now

By Des O'Mahony | On Thu, July 12, 2018

Though mobile phone traffic continues to grow in 2018, people still prefer to transact on desktop (for now)

Bookassist continues to analyse the changing behaviour of mobile users on over 1000 European hotel websites. Previously, in full year 2017, we saw significant year on year user pattern change in mobile device versus desktop behaviour, both in sessions and revenue generation. Overall traffic on mobile devices exceeded desktop traffic in some regions and was rapidly moving that way in all others. Here we present the same analysis for the first half of 2018.

Mobile Traffic Continues Growth

In terms of traffic (measured as sessions), the switch to mobile has continued though the pace of change has obviously slowed. Desktop traffic is now just 40% of sessions for hotels in Ireland and the UK, and mobile device traffic is approaching par with desktop in Spain and Portugal.

In all cases mobile phone traffic in particular continues to increase, though growth has now slowed to single figures in percentage terms. Interestingly, tablet traffic seems to be dropping rapidly in percentage terms in the majority of cases at the expense of mobile phones.

Sessions on mobile versus desktop for hotels in the first half of 2018
Figure 1: Visitor sessions by device on Bookassist client hotel websites in Europe from January to June 2018, together with the relative change (in brackets) compared to the same period in 2017. Mobile traffic continues to grow but growth is flattening out.

Mobile Revenue Has A Long Way To Go

In terms of revenue being generated through bookings on hotel websites, we see very significant improvement in mobile and tablet revenue generation. Growth in mobile revenue is universally in double digits year on year, though this is still coming off a low base versus desktop.( Despite the number of mobile phone sessions being significantly higher than tablet sessions, the actual level of revenue generated on each platform is similar in most cases.)

Even though mobile revenue is growing in double digits in most cases, desktop still clearly dominates transactions for hotels.

Revenue generated on mobile versus desktop for hotels in the first half of 2018
Figure 2: Revenue share by device on Bookassist client hotel websites in Europe from January to June 2018, together with the relative change (in brackets) compared to the same period in 2017. Mobile-generated revenue continues to grow universally but for now doesn’t reach the same impressive slice overall that mobile traffic does.

Targeting Mobile

When you look at the broader online picture, mobile currently accounts for half of all global web pages served (source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/241462/global-mobile-phone-website-traffic-share/ ). By February 2017 this figure had already reached 65% in Asia.

But clearly, there are usage differences that inhibit actual transactions on mobile, be they habit, usage mode and/or technical barriers. Bookassist has focused strongly on eliminating technical barriers with the release of the new V10 Mobile booking engine in order to help drive mobile booking revenue up. The ongoing roll-out of V10 Mobile, our most advanced booking platform yet, is undoubtedly accounting for some of the growth figures seen in mobile phone transaction revenue here. However the number of hotels that have been transitioned to V10 Mobile since its April release is still too low to show V10’s real impact on the first six-month figures here.

Given the increasingly dominant number of mobile sessions in all regions compared to the relatively low transaction level, mobile is underexploited. We see most providers’ mobile efforts to be poor in terms of quality, speed and usability, which is why we have directly tackled these areas with our ultra-modern and responsive Smart Web system and our new V10 Mobile booking technology.

Targeting mobile transactions in every possible way is the single best thing that any hotel can do to improve its direct booking potential. That includes using the best mobile web and booking technology, built for speed and usability, and adopting a strategy of providing mobile-only incentives. Treating mobile guests as second-class citizens today will cost you dearly.


Dr Des O’Mahony is CEO and Founder at Bookassist (http://www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide, and is a HSMAI “Top 20 Extraordinary Minds” recipient.


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