It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost upon us. While that might mean it is time to think about gifts and holiday meals, fall also starts the planning process for 2019. As a hotelier, what technologies will help you get the most out of your budget in the coming year? To a large extent, the answer will depend on your business goals. Are you trying to shift OTA share to boost your bottom line? Looking to drive higher engagement from past hotel guests? Regardless of your goals, however, there are 10 technologies that will impact how you prepare your budget for the coming year:
Not just responsive, but mobile-first
It’s no secret that mobile is king, 60% of searches are now mobile. Milestone’s own research shows that on average, Milestone hotels get 60% or more of their traffic from mobile. To stay ahead, is a responsive site enough? Not even close! Having a “responsive” site does not define whether your site is friendly to mobile users, responsive programming is simply code that formats the site in a way that is “friendlier” to a mobile device. To be effective, consider moving to a mobile-first design. Your mobile-first website should be responsive, but it should also provide an app-like user experience to make finding rooms simple, checking rates easy and, most of all, encourage bookings.
Get device-friendly, with PWA
Once you’ve got your mobile-first design with an app-like experience, it’s time to complete the equation by adding Progressive Web App (PWA) capabilities. This fast, simple change will make it easier for hotel guests to download your website to their device. This incredible technology lets them access your site even if they are offline. Better still? You can enable push-notifications to interact with them as if they were in a mobile app.
We recently wrote a blog article about the core benefits of AMP pages. Check it out if you want the full story. The short version? AMP pages are a great way to maximize exposure to those early stage consumers that are just beginning their search. AMP is one of the best ways to deliver faster content to users today and AMP websites render 15% to 85% faster than the standard HTML sites, leading to rich consumer experiences and better engagement and conversion.
Schemas on your website
If you are a Milestone customer and have a website developed by us on our Milestone CMS content management system – then you can already check this one off… your website is probably already rich with schemas. What if you are not a Milestone client? Why are we so bullish on schemas? Because schemas are the heart of how the web works. Schemas give your content, contextual significance – they tell search engines what your content is about. With schemas, when a customer searches for “king size rooms in NYC,” you are more likely to show up if your “room pages” have the right schemas. But be careful! Many website developers tag your hotel’s address with a “hotel” schema and call it a day. That’s not enough! There are hundreds of schemas available for everything from your business type to the products you sell. Make sure you get the right ones!
We could spend an entire week talking about the technologies you’ll need in 2019 that relate to voice. Why voice? By 2020 comScore estimates that 50% of search will be voice-powered. According to Gartner, consumers will get 30% of website content without a browser in the same year. So how do you stay ahead? Start by making sure you’ve invested in technologies like FAQ modules for your website. Also, make sure you’ve got a partner that can connect your website content with the questions people are asking on systems like Alexa and Google home. Building “skills” for Alexa or “Actions” for Google is not a simple task – it takes a lot of steps and the right partner with the right technology to make it all work!
“Do you have any smoking rooms?” How often does your hotel staff get that question? Why not give the users on your website the answer right away? In 2019 Chat Bots will continue to make greater inroads. But to be effective, your Chat Bot must be able to solve the single greatest problem faced by Chat Bots – learning. Your Automated assistant should be able to pass unanswered questions to live agents and then learn from that experience so that the next time the question gets asked, the Chat Bot has the answer! The more question the chat bot gets, the smarter it gets, the easier on your hotel staff.
Local search platform
What’s your hotel’s address? Is it listed correctly everywhere people search? Are you sure? Did you know systems like Yelp power the location-based searches for agents like Siri and Alexa? There are literally hundreds of online directories where your business information should be accurate and free of duplicates. But dig deeper than just the basic functionalities of your local search software. Does it provide suppression of duplicate addresses? Or will it remove duplicates? Will your restaurant get flagged as a duplicate address? Or does the software support “store within a store” features so it’s listed as a separate entity? In 2019 your hotel needs local search software – but more than ever – it needs the right one.
The world of digital marketing is getting increasingly complex. In 2019, more than ever, keeping an eye on your competition will be critical. That’s why in 2019 your digital marketing team will need a platform that can help them compare their own performance to that of their local rivals. Are there keyword opportunities? Are they targeting your brand name with paid marketing? Is your website technology ahead of theirs? Your competitive insights software should let you perform these comparisons – and more – easily.
What campaign got that consumer to click? How do you successfully attribute your revenue to the right marketing efforts? It’s a problem any Hotel will face in the new year. Platforms that support multi-touch attribution and that can provide customer journey analysis of your digital marketing performance will be a must-have to stay ahead of your competitors.
Throw away the toolbox
Look at your collection of digital marketing software and tools? Does it resemble a “collection of spare parts flying in close formation?” Are you spending more time figuring out which tool to use than using them? In 2019 it will be time to move to a Digital Marketing Platform. Better yet, as a location-based business, hotels should move to a Presence Platform – a digital marketing platform that merges all the needed digital marketing tools you want and need into one central, secure, fast and easy-to-use platform. Want to see what that looks like? Check out the replay of our recent webinar that introduced our upcoming Milestone Presence Cloud to the world.
As you plan your 2019 strategies and budgets, this list of key technologies should provide you with some guidance on what the prioritize and how to select the vendor. Whether your hotel is and independent property, affiliated with a brand, upscale or a hotel chain, many – if not all – of these recommendations still apply. Want to get more detail? Get in touch with one of our consultants who will be happy to discuss these technologies, which ones your hotel can enjoy most, and how Milestone can help.
Got questions? We are happy to answer, just reach out to [email protected] or call us at +1 408 200 2211.