To gain a competitive advantage, hoteliers will need to identify niche markets, develop their competencies and transform themselves into special purpose hotels.
Over the past year, Google made major inroads into the travel and tourism sector, changing the layouts of Google Flights and Hotels and, as a result, it’s hard to differentiate these from online travel agencies and metasearch sites. Further, Google Trips now offers discounts for tours and activities, and allows users to create folders for future travel plans. This option could help Google identify the travel intentions of consumers early in the planning process and make relevant suggestions based on the travel history.
Certainly, Google’s footprint in the travel ecosystem is expanding. Depending on hoteliers’ digital marketing competencies and budgets, some hoteliers will leverage Google to increase brand awareness and gain bookings. Nevertheless, Google is not free and serves as another paid channel for hoteliers. Given the dominance in the market of Google and the major OTAs, hoteliers will find it even more expensive and difficult to reach travellers. Discussions about the cost of customer acquisition may switch from ‘between OTAs and hotels’ to ‘between hotel brands and hotel owners’.
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