With people turning increasingly to their smart phones to conduct all manner of business, it comes as no surprise that the hospitality industry is getting its share of mobile e-commerce traffic. Here are some of the hot digital trends for hotel marketing in 2014.

Time to combine the elegance of yesteryear with the digital trends of today

Social Media
Whether it’s Facebook, GooglePlus, Twitter, or any of the other platforms out there, there’s little argument that many people out there have some association with social media. This is a good time to focus some marketing efforts at social media, and that includes creating profile pages for hotels.

More Video
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video enhances that value. According to one source, 81% of online travel bookers checked out videos before committing to a purchase. Fact is, if you have a good product, video shows it off better (think walk-through tours!), and makes potential customers more inclined to buy.

Mobile Usage Trends Upward
Daily Travel News predicts that by 2017 half of direct online bookings will be done by mobile devices such as smart phones. Strong growth is predicted for 2014 as smart phones and tablets supplant the PC has the go-to way of accessing the Internet.

Website Load Speeds
Google is using load speeds as one way of determining search rank results, and it’s in your best interest to have your hotel’s website show up at the top of the page. Furthermore, visitors expect faster load times, and if your website can’t keep up, they will simply leave and find one that is faster.

GooglePlus
While some critics say that GooglePlus’ rollout has not snared as many people away from other social sites as expected, it’s a cold hard fact that Google favors GooglePlus when it comes to search engine results. Therefore, expect GooglePlus’ role in SEO to increase in 2014. If your hospitality business doesn’t have a page there yet, you’d better get moving.

The Importance of Remarketing
Remarketing is the process of targeting those people who visit a website without converting into a sale, and bringing them back. It’s a staggering truth that 96% of people who visit a website leave without buying anything. This includes featuring ads that people would see when they conduct a search or use mobile apps.

A Lot More Not Provided Keywords
A not provided keyword means that Google is not sharing some search information with you, namely the key words or phrases that the searcher used to find you in the first place. This is being done to protect the users’ privacy, but it also puts a big dent if your analytics are based on keywords. As it stands now, about 80% of Google searches come back as “keyword not provided”. Expect this to reach one hundred percent by the end of Q1.

Direct Bookings Over Online Travel Agencies
The travel industry has sure changed from the days of schlepping down to the local travel agent and booking a trip. With the explosion of the Internet, agencies brought their act online as a means of evolving, but even this measure may not be enough as meta-searches, strongly branded websites, and social media make it easier to simply do direct bookings.

The Rise of Meta Search
Metasearches allow users to search over multiple search engines at once. Hotels that want to take advantage of this function need to adjust their marketing to work with meta searches, therefore pulling traffic away from OTAs and bringing visitors directly to their sites.

Geo-Targeting
This one’s a natural for the hospitality industry. With geo-targeting, you determine the location of a website visitor and offer them content and deals that are tailor-made for their particular locale. For instance, if someone is in Detroit and they are traveling to Boston, having a deal for Red Sox tickets or duckboat tours would be a valuable asset, whereas it would be totally useless to a customer who’s in Seattle and is traveling to San Francisco. Geo-targeting lets you focus your ads on the right demographic, and prevents time (and money) wasting mistakes.

There are other trends to keep in mind of, but the above list is a good start. With the continued hotness of mobile computing, 2014 should prove to be an interesting year full of change. Those businesses that stay on top of those changes will be the ones that emerge successful.

This post was contributed by John Terra, who has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from SEO tips to smart phones. He’s fond of checking out content on sites like Synscort.com.

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz

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