"For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today", says a famous proverb...and what better fit to apply this than in the world of technology and marketing?
The breakneck speed of tech evolution is inspiring (and often scary) but the two keywords that will set winning developments apart from the ‘also ran' are ‘love' and ‘simplicity'. It doesn't take a degree to understand that people adopt technologies that fuel their imagination & passions...and the rate of adoption is in close sync to the simplicity of its interface and operation. Great technology needs to adapt to the needs of the user and future breakthroughs will bear testament to this.
Given another 5 years of development and refinement, here are 5 developments I think we'll see in the world of online hotel marketing and distribution:
1. Choice is king.
The clear winners of the online distribution race will be suppliers and 3rd parties that provide the most choice to the customer. "Experience building" will become key to the looking and booking process online. This will mean that successful suppliers (hotels) will have to break down elements of their inventory like rooms, dining, sports, spa and supporting services into individual units that can be booked and packaged both internally and externally. The more elements you provide to what I like to call the "Experience Engine", the better the choice available to customers to personalize and tailor their experiences. This creation of experience units will also allow tourism industry suppliers to collaborate more effectively online, as well as spur the evolution of 3rd party providers who provide superior experience engines, taking destination marketing to a whole new level.
2. Search rankings become irrelevant.
Currently, with the heavy emphasis on search rankings and generic paid search, this statement may come as a bit of a shock...but surely, this is the natural evolution of search. The days of pure search are already on the way out. Try a search on Google today and the evidence is there...a mashup of text, images and video results. That's not all...if you're signed in with a Google account, you'll probably see different search results and rankings based on your past search behaviour. Combining personalization, multimedia, social bookmarking and niche search, it's not hard to see that the way we place importance on search rankings today may need a dramatic rethink. Aggressive paid search and website SEO to get at the top of Google search results just won't cut it. Successful hotel search marketing of the future will be more about optimizing content of all types and reaching the right audience through the right niche and social search channels.
At work, Jitendra Jain (JJ) is employed with Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Dubai as an E-Commerce Manager and handles hotel online marketing & distribution. At play, he is the founder of various online initiatives like www.hotelemarketer.com, www.thetalentjungle.com and www.younghotelier.com (among others) that dream, connect, educate and share all that is glorious about hospitality, technology and most importantly...the people that define our times.