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NYU Investment Conference 2015 : 3 takeaways for every hotel marketer

 

Every June, hospitality giants from around the world get together in New York to discuss the future of hotel e-commerce - examining the key issues surrounding investment, marketing, and any hot gossip in-between.

This year, the best and brightest hotel executives had the opportunity to spill the beans on the next big trends that will impact the sector. Married together with an almost unprecedented amount of optimism, it quickly became apparent that the industry had come on leaps and bounds since the days of post-recession gloom. Price-driven value is still taking time out. The customer experience, however, will be pushed one step further - as hotels compete to incorporate their brand into every aspect of their guest’s trip.

With this in mind, there’s quite a lot to absorb from the NYU Investment Conference 2015. So, if you missed your invite in the post, then here are a few lessons to take away.

 

  1. Customer experience goes beyond the hotel room
     

Okay, so this one might not seem very ground-breaking. But if you look at what luxury brands like Four Seasons are doing, then it’s pretty evident that hotels are becoming increasingly inventive in an attempt to improve guest satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Four Seasons, for example, recently launched their own Jet service - an ‘end to end’ PR stunt that encouraged guests to utilise the hotel brand throughout every moment of their stay. One Four Seasons executive put it nicely: “We want our guests to ‘live in a Four Seasons bubble’ for their entire trip – not just when they’re on our property.”

 

 

This revolutionary take on hospitality is expected to have a trickle-down effect on non-luxury brands too. But interestingly, it won’t come with the same exorbitant price tag.

Digital media and content marketing, for instance, will continue to rule the waves in 2015-16 - especially as more hotel brands look to connect with customers and generate touchpoints outwith the 11am checkout time.

This desire to offer an experience beyond the bedroom, so to speak, also goes hand in hand with many hotels and their wider desire to be seen as a lifestyle brand. InterContinental and Marriott Hotels are both doing this exceptionally well, competing to offer their guests exclusive city insights and customisations that heighten their holiday experience - not just their hotel stay.

Have a look at our recent blog post if you want to see more about what InterContinental and Marriott are doing.

 

  1. Customer feedback is more important than ever
     

Most of us have stayed at a hotel and been asked two or three weeks later, usually by email, what we thought about our stay.

Although this method is helpful for some, it’s not enough for brands that want to stay ahead of their competitors. Customer feedback and data will become increasingly important in the next 5-10 years, especially as hotels strive to resolve customer concerns during their stay - not after in the incident has occurred.

This real-time approach to hospitality is already being pioneered by business like Expedia, but traditionally hotels themselves have been slow to pick up on the trend. At the NY Investment Conference, however, AirBnB solidified its commitment to focussing its efforts on ‘relationships and databases’.

As hotel guests are able to customise virtually every other aspect of their consumer lives, from their coffee to their car, it appears increasingly likely that hospitality brands will soon begin to do the same. AirBnB promises to leverage ‘guest intelligence’ to create customer experiences that go above and beyond usual expectations. And it’s expected that guests won’t have to wait until afterwards to rectify any potential problems.

Of course, this move towards collecting consumer feedback is good news for AirBnB guests - who will receive a more personalised, responsive hotel service. But it’s even better for in-house marketers who can use this data to get under the skin of customers and create campaigns with unrivalled audience understanding.

The only question is this: will other budget hotel chains that fail to collect guest data fall by the wayside?

 

  1. Crowdsourcing marketing and design is changing everything

 

As you probably guessed from the Create AirBnB campaign, hotel guests now have more control over how they interact and do business with a hospitality brand than ever before.

But if hotel chains like Zoku Loft are anything to go by, then the ambiguity between home and hotel will transform in the next generation. Crowdsourcing design is promising to be invaluable for this Japanese company, who have quickly realised that the modern day work-play dynamic requires a new hospitality solution.

 

 

Zoku Loft will offer highly customisable spaces that can be used exactly like a home, with a focus away from the bed and towards comfortable living and entertainment. There will also be public spaces within the hotel complex which can be used to ‘facilitate professional and social connections’, helping to offer a 360° guest experience.

It comes as little surprise, then, that crowdsourcing was a theme at the NYU Investment Conference this year - with brands like Marriott utilizing this trend as part of their wider corporate strategy.

And judging by the buzz crowdsourcing generated this year, there is every reason to believe that the evolving nature of people’s professional and social life will shape how we utilise hotel spaces in the future.

 

NYU Investment Conference 2015

 

The next 12 months look increasingly positive for the hospitality sector.

As the NYU Investment Conference was quick to demonstrate, there is a feeling of renewed optimism and stability amongst many of the major hotel brands. The increased investment alone is giving shape to new and innovative ways of communicating with guests, creating certainly some of the most interesting marketing campaigns of the last decade.

But if the conference has really taught us anything, it’s this:

  • Hotel brands will need to do more to offer guest experiences beyond the basic stay in order to remain competitive

  • Consumer insights will be key to achieving this goal, particularly in the form of customer feedback and real-time problem solving

  • Crowdsourcing your marketing and design will potentially be one of the biggest trends in the next year - if brands want to offer an effective solution to the changing nature of guests’ work-play dynamic

Regardless of what you choose to take away from this conference, one thing is for certain. It has never been a more exciting time to be a brand or marketing manager in the hospitality sector.


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