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Closer cooperation between Cologne’s top-class hotels and the Cologne …


Closer cooperation between Cologne’s top-class hotels and the Cologne Convention Bureau

Vicky Karantzavelou – 25 October 2012, 14:56

Almost two decades ago, the big hotels in Cologne — five at that time — formed a partnership under the Take Five banner.

COLOGNE – Take Five, the marketing association of Cologne’s top-class hotels, aims to have its activities completely integrated into the action plan of the Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB) by 1st January 2013. Because the partners’ cooperation has been so good, they have already combined many Take Five and CCB projects during the past year. In particular, increased competition in the fiercely contested conference, congress and incentive events market has brought the Cologne hotels into a closer alliance with the Cologne Convention Bureau.

The new cooperation also aims to include future-oriented initiatives. As early as 2013, the partners intend to pool their efforts to market Cologne as a congress destination, both in Germany and abroad. At the signing of the agreement Wilhelm Luxem, spokesperson for Take Five, Stephanie Franke, Head of the CCB, and Josef Sommer, Managing Director of KolnTourismus GmbH (Cologne Tourist Board), all said that they were pleased with the outcome, as it takes into account the goals of all the parties concerned.

Almost two decades ago, the big hotels in Cologne — five at that time — formed a partnership under the Take Five banner. The original goal was to raise domestic and international awareness of Cologne as a destination for conferences, congresses and events. Out of this grew an intensive package of measures for location marketing. Important milestones along the way included joint activities such as participating at trade fairs and organizing promotional events, as well as organizing joint events with partners such as travel agencies and airlines. At the same time, the partners developed a service that responded within 24 hours to interested parties’ requests for information about the availability of space for conferences and accommodation. The service found out quickly and unbureaucratically which spaces would be available during certain dates, in a process that integrated all of the member hotels. Today the partnership has grown to include 13 Cologne hotels that all have an interest in cooperating on behalf of Cologne as a destination — despite intense competition among themselves. Take Five has become a brand that is synonymous with top service in Cologne. After the foundation of the Cologne Convention Bureau as an extension of the activities of the Cologne Tourist Board, the next order of business was to seek out possible synergies. It was quickly realized that the members’ strengths should be combined in order to optimise limited resources. The harmonious cooperation that was created has flourished to the benefit of the city.

Due to the increase in the number of inquiries, the CityMarketing Association  took over the coordination and implementation of the daily activities at Take Five in 2005. Upon signing the agreement with CCB, Wilhelm Luxem expressed his gratitude to the employees of the CityMarketing office for their positive collaboration in the past. In future, the contact person at Take Five will be Jurgen Wirtz, the new spokesperson for the ERFA Group and the Director of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cologne.

The Take Five hotels are:
Ameron Hotel Regent, Barcelo Cologne City Center, Dom Hotel, Dorint An der Messe Koln, Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Hotel Mondial am Dom Cologne, Hyatt Regency Cologne, Cologne Marriott Hotel, Maritim Hotel Koln, Pullman Cologne, Radisson Blu Hotel, Cologne, Hotel im Wasserturm, Dorint am Heumarkt.

Chula Vista dissolves tourism marketing district – U

— The Chula Vista City Council voted to dissolve the city’s Tourism Marketing District Tuesday night in response to a petition from hotel owners who said it was not accomplishing its goals.

The special tax district, established in 2009, was promoted to hoteliers as a way to generate more business for them by marketing the city as a tourism destination. The Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce entered a five-year contract with the city to run the district and has collected $1.1 million via a 2.5 percent room tax from fiscal year 2010 through this year.

But earlier this year, several member hoteliers petitioned to get rid of the room tax, citing abuse of the funds and ineffective marketing strategies.

At the time there were no formal rules governing the disestablishment of the district, so the City Council spent several meetings this spring and summer drafting a procedure the hoteliers could follow to petition for its elimination.

Meanwhile, a grand jury report released in May found that 72 percent of the TMD money had gone to pay the salaries of Chamber of Commerce employees.

In August, in accordance with the new guidelines for disestablishment, 12 hotel owners representing 53 percent of the district’s total assessments submitted a second petition to get rid of the Tourism Marketing District.

After a lengthy presentation by Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Cohen on the merits of the Tourism Marketing District and its activities over the last three years, council members granted the majority of hoteliers their wish to see the tax ended, with a 3-2 vote. Councilmembers Rudy Ramirez, Steve Castaneda and Patricia Aguilar voted in favor of abolishing the district; Mayor Cheryl Cox and Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan opposed.

For hotel owners, that means they are now responsible for their own marketing efforts. For the Chamber of Commerce, it means a $500,000 bite out of its budget, effective immediately, and an almost certain loss of jobs.

Tourism Marketing District revenues cover 100 percent of the salaries for both the chamber’s Convention and Visitors Bureau manager and a bookkeeper. They also fund one-third of Cohen’s salary, as well as one-third of the salaries for a visitor center manager and an information specialist.

For future hoteliers, it means a loss of potential development bonding to improve the city’s tourism infrastructure.

“It’s a sad day for Chula Vista,” Cohen said after the meeting. “You just saw bonding power walk out the door.”

“We will have to look at the impacts of this decision. Some people will lose their jobs, but I don’t know how many yet. It’s going to be very difficult.”

Cox spoke on the district’s behalf, pointing out that any organization in its infancy is bound to experience “hiccups.” She asked her colleagues to consider allowing the district to remain in place through the remaining two years of the city’s contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

She also cited recent steps the chamber has taken to improve transparency and accountability for the district and to involve hoteliers in the decision-making process.

Enyi Odigbo bags Marketing Edge’s 2011 Brand Personality Award

Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)– Mr. Enyi Odigbo, the Chairman Casers Group, a leading advertising group in Nigeria has been crowned the Brand Personality of the Year 2011 by Marketing Edge, Nigeria’s leading brand  marketing magazine.

The event which took place at the Banquet Hall, Sheraton Hotel Lagos on Tuesday night also witnessed the unveiling of the special edition of Marketing Edge publication on Odigbo.

Publisher/CEO, Marketing Edge, Mr. John Ajayi congratulated Odigbo, saying, his choice for the award was born out of his “doggedness, thoroughness and indeed incomparable but admirable entrepreneurial spirit which he has demonstrated over the years.

“Odigbo’s recent nomination as one of the world’s top agency innovators and breakthrough thinkers at the 2011 Global Innovators Summit in New York clearly places him in the elite group and pantheon of advertising agency executives and marketing leaders worldwide.”

The Chairman of the event, Mr. Willy Nnorom compared the success story of Odigbo to that of eagle that is always in a continual flight of success.

“He will only rest when he is tired of advertising. So keep watching out for what he is going to do next,” he said.

 The event also witnessed a dinner talk by Mr. Idorenyen Enang, CEO, Corporate Shepherds.

He identified four major important qualities that make up an icon as, authenticity, staying power, consistency and relevance.

According to him, “if you are authentic and you have a staying power and you are consistent, it will bring about trust.”

He also stressed the importance of positioning, a way of differentiating brand from the competitors in building a global brand citing Odigbo as a good example.

In his reaction, Odigbo thanked Marketing Edge for the honour bestowed on him, adding that the success of his companies could be attributed to the men and women working for him.

He therefore challenged other corporate organizations on the need to take the welfare of their staff very serious.

“I believe that if you develop the people around you, you are richer than if you are the only person towering above everyone,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Publisher/CEO, Marketing Edge, Mr. John Ajayi described the event as a memorable and appreciated God for making his publication a leader in the brand marketing sub-sector, adding that venturing into a magazine solely dedicated for brand marketing was informed by the need to “expand the frontiers of marketing and advertising knowledge”.

According to him, “when we came into the market, we see a lacuna between passive journalism practice and professional news reporting of marketing and advertising beats and a mere intellectual publication of contemporary topics and issues in the industry.”

Ajayi said the magazine in the past 10 years had consistently helped in transforming the industry through promotion of the brand idea, adding that he is not in the business to satisfy self ego, but for the passion for it.

The annual Brand Personality of the Year Award which began last year with the crowning of Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, Chairman, Troyka Group, he said was to identify and celebrate personalities and individuals who have impacted greatly in the business of brand management.

Corporate demand remains strong for Reading hotels

Hotels in Reading say demand from corporate businesses remains strong despite the effects of the recession.

And now bosses and managers aim to consolidate their position with a new association.

While weekends remain slow at most local hotels, Alec Jeeves, director of sales and marketing at the 206-bedroom pentahotel, reports midweek corporate business on the up.

He said: “I would say it’s more buoyant than last year. Weekends remain a challenge but Christmas parties are promising.

“We have got a good number of covers and bookings for Christmas parties. We are doing a Wonka Christmas. It’s called Winter Wonkaland and people of Reading seem to have a sweet tooth. It’s hit the nail on the head.”

The market in general, he said, was benefiting from the healthy local economy.

He added: “Reading seems to be fairly popular, purely and simply because Reading has lots of companies moving in, putting extra pressure on the demand for bedrooms.”

Stuart Hall is the general manager of both the 76-room Mercure George Hotel in King Street and the 52-room Quality Hotel in Duke Street.

He said: “During the week the corporate business is fine, there are never any issues with that. If there are any issues it’s always weekends. That would be the same for all the hotels apart from the Reading Festival, Henley and Royal Ascot, but that’s about it.

“You just try to find anything you can. We get on to tour operators and groups.”

Mr Hall, previously manager of the Quality Hotel in Oxford Road which has since been rebranded as a Travelodge, has seen big swings in demand in Reading in recent years.

“Every time a new hotel opens in Reading everybody gets hit,” he said. “It sorts itself out eventually but it always lowers the average room rate. Fifteen years ago it was more expensive to stay in Reading than it was in London. There were so few hotels and so much demand. Now it’s gone the other way. Then you couldn’t find a room in Reading on Tuesday or Wednesday to save your life.”

He said the knock-on effect of full hotels in London would force trade towards Heathrow and trade there would end up in Reading.

For Mr Hall, much of the Christmas rush centres on the hugely successful Royal Tandoori at the Duke Street Quality Hotel.

Meeting rooms on the ground floor of the hotel open up for numerous Christmas parties at the tandoori.

Last year it was so popular the hotel decided to open it on Christmas Day. Around 30-35 people, many of them Asian, ate there and Mr Hall is considering opening again this year.

Occupancy at Reading Hilton’s 210 bedrooms remains strong on weekdays and general manager Stephane Weit even reports a small increase in numbers on Mondays, although rates have stayed similar to last year. He puts the success of the hotel down to the town’s economic strength.

He said: “Reading business parks are still growing, however it is clear that controlling cost, due to the difficult economic climate, is paramount to the wellbeing of every company.”

However Mr Weit agreed weekends remain difficult.

He went on: “It continues to be the most challenging part of the week for all of us. With the town lacking many of the attractions of other towns in the Berkshire area the only way that this may change is by making Reading a place to be at the weekend and bringing business to the area for events such as Reading Festival which is a great success, and proves Reading can host events of all scales.

“There is much work that can be done in this area and others such as a local theatre for example which would bring a different client base. This is not easy. However I can see that many venues and organisations are working hard to make a difference such as Reading UK CIC and Reading Borough Council.”

Mr Weit said Christmas bookings at the Hilton were coming in very late with companies preferring to book a minimum number of people and increase it nearer to the date rather than commit to numbers. That he said, can be “very challenging”.

He added: “We can host dinner parties for up to 330 people as well as more intimate events. Christmas lunch with us is very popular, especially Fridays in December.”

The Holiday Inn at Winnersh says many of the Christmas bookings for this year’s 1920s themed parties are repeat business from last year. And to cater for all markets, its offer ranges from a low-cost option of food-only to a pre-dinner drinks and wine with the meal.

General manager Nick Parry said: “We all appreciate that money is tight.”

Almost every Friday in December is already full.

Corporate lunches at its two AA Rosette restaurant need to be booked in the run up to Christmas and Mr Parry said he expected both the restaurant and a New Year’s Eve black tie event to fill as happened last year.

At the boutique end of the market business at the 23-bedroom Forbury Hotel is consistently strong.

General manager Peter Farquhar says business custom during the week is pretty much the same as last year with a small upturn in weekend trade.

He said: “It’s pretty much like for like. Rates move a little bit but we don’t really have to discount our rates.

“If anything, weekend trade is stronger than last year.

“That stems from our marketing. It’s a different market and we have been driving it forward.”

Mr Farquhar said discounting at a hotel such as The Forbury would devalue the product.

He added: “Maintaining the product is critical.”

Next month the Heart of Berkshire Hospitality Association plans an official launch. So far it has 18 members (17 hotels plus The University of Reading) and following a meeting on Friday, October 12, has appointed Jacqui McMillan, general manager of the Novotel, as chairwoman, Mr Weit from the Hilton as deputy chairman and Sue Brackley, destination manager at Reading UK CIC, as secretary.

For Christmas bookings at the Hilton, visit and for bookings at pentahotel call (0118) 958 6222.

Why Marketers Need To Channel Captain Kirk

Twelve years ago, my flight home from Cleveland to San Diego was cancelled due to blizzard conditions. Continental Airlines ostensibly did me a favor by giving me a hotel and meal voucher for a Holiday Inn 30 miles from the airport. As I crawled to the hotel front desk at 1 a.m., I spotted a group of Trekkies walking in my direction. For a brief moment, I felt as if I had been transported to an alternate universe that resembled the Starship Enterprise.

This is how I felt while attending the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit in Baltimore. Although the event was touted as a marketing conference, it felt as if I were transported to a technology meetup.

The well-planned sessions got me thinking: Are CMOs and senior marketing executives orbiting this new “data galaxy” out of necessity, or out of curiosity? While many of my contemporaries wholeheartedly believe that IT and marketing are rapidly converging, and technology must be top of mind to keep us relevant, I think this belief is fraught with danger. Here’s why:

  1. Marketing is expected to play a bigger role in the buying cycle–yet buyers don’t buy based on Facebook “likes.” According to Charles Gold, CMO of Sonatype, “we are seeing a shift from sales push to demand pull.” Demand pull relies largely on building trusting relationships, something that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can only facilitate. They do not replace the need for B2B professionals to become more socially aware and adept during live interactions. A strong content marketing strategy may get buyers in your funnel, but they cannot keep them there without sincere human connection later in the buying process.
  2. Content marketing still requires discernment, risk-taking, and experimentation. It was only two years ago that social media “experts” insisted that in order to gain a thought leadership market position, you needed to blog a minimum of three times per week. The Summit B2B Marketing Panel disagreed with this premise. Today, savvy marketers and executives now measure outcomes, not output. While B2B Marketing posits that content marketing is the number one priority and method for generating B2B demand, few Summit participants have implemented a successful content strategy.

In addition, Summit panelists such as Leigh George of R2integrated stressed that visuals play a major role in helping our brains retain information–yet companies have not yet found the optimal mix of text, infographics, photos, and video.

  1. Offline community engagement drives your brand. Steve Sommers, VP of Global Brand Marketing for Under Armour, did a fine job demonstrating its new “What’s Beautiful” campaign. It was designed to reach a new market for this male-dominated athletic wear company: female athletes in the 25-35 age group. Under Armour created a social media-driven competition, which then fostered regional athletic meetup events. What they discovered was that videos drove curiosity, but the real campaign benefit surfaced when women formed sizable workout events across the U.S. Under Armour garnered over 300,000 Facebook likes within nine weeks. While technology played a key role in the “What’s Beautiful” campaign, the live events made it stick.
  2. Few people are discussing “silent social” in public and in marketing conferences. I define this term as “what people are saying about your company, culture and brand informally using channels that you cannot track.” For example, we cannot measure how many times a wrongfully terminated employee excoriates our firm, or how often our company webinar was shared via email, Skype, or LinkedIn. When my private CMO groups gather to discuss their most pressing concerns, social media seldom makes the agenda. Their biggest challenges are attracting and hiring great people, improving communications with the C-suite, and leadership. We are pushing aside the importance of these topics as we watch IT, marketing, and sales converge. Much like I saw at the Summit, we are becoming seduced and distracted by the latest shiny pennies: marketing automation and social media.

Captain Kirk, the Starship Enterprise commander, was respected for balancing his intuitive and logical qualities. Marketing organizations need to honor their Captain Kirks. We will always need intuition to help us resolve moral dilemmas and complex social situations. Without intuition, we will suffer from technology overindulgence and social strife. Chris Cullen, a Marketing Summit panelist and CMO of Johns Hopkins University, reminds us that, as seasoned marketers, “We are under pressure to stop leading and allow data to drive all of our decisions.” This is akin to relying exclusively on Vulcans to ward off the Klingons.

Related articles:

Why Too Much Focus on Marketing ROI Can Limit Growth

Make Marketing Connections in an Interdependent World

Six Questions CMOs Need to Ask Themselves

Dubai hotels top occupancy and average revenue


Dubai hotels top occupancy and average revenue

Shekhar Niyogi – 25 October 2012, 11:46

As a result of strong hospitality growth in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has ranked first in the world in occupancy and average revenue per available room (RevPAR), according to reports from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), in January 2012.

Hotels in Dubai attained 86.2% occupancy, up from 75.4% last year, ranking first among 15 top performing cities in the world. RevPAR climbed to US$ 232.7, also the highest and up from its fifth position level of US$ 169 in 2011.

Average room rate (ARR) of Dubai hotels at US$ 269.9 was second only to Paris. The number of Dubai hotel rooms increased to 74,613 in 2012, a substantial increase from 56,599 in 2008. The data on Dubai’s hotel performance is as per STR Global report.

This distinction has placed Dubai higher than other high performing cities like Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Toronto and Sydney in 2012.

Carl Vaz, director, DTCM India said, “India represents the second top source market for inward visitor traffic into Dubai in 2011 (after Saudi Arabia) with the total number of Indian visitors amounting to 702,142 in the year 2011 as opposed to 638,100 Indian travellers in the year 2010.  This 10 per cent increase in growth rate is a result of a large segment of Indian visitors utilizing hotels and hotel apartments in the U.A.E ranking India consecutively as the top source market globally for visitor traffic into Dubai.

Rajesh Sethi, managing director, Carnation Travel Services, New Delhi, said, “Dubai has increased the joint campaigns with the trade and this has resulted in better promotion of Dubai as a destination for Indians. Emirates Airlines frequency of flights from key Indian cities has been very beneficial.

Digital Alchemy Launches Mobile Life Solution for Hotels

Digital Alchemy, a provider of customer
relationship management (CRM) and e-marketing solutions for the
global hotel market, has launched Mobile Life, a comprehensive set
of cloud-based mobile applications designed to meet virtually
every hotel marketing and guest service need.

 Mobile Life is
comprised of four products – iNeed, mXpress, XpressGuide, and

iNeed is a guest-facing
application that makes it easy for guests to digitally submit
service requests for common needs such as housekeeping, room
service, valet, meeting room service requests, and maintenance.
Each request is instantly pushed to the hotel’s guest response
system, displaying the request on a central dashboard for hotel
management and staff to view. This dashboard interface allows
management to assign requests to proper staff members or set up
automatic notifications and track the status of each request in
real time. iNeed is integrated with the hotel property management
system, giving staff instant knowledge of the guest’s identity and
profile. Digital Alchemy offers full customization of iNeed to
individual hotels and groups, allowing for user interface branding
as well as changes to the service forms and icons.

 mXpress, provides a mobile micro
site for smartphone and tablet users. These mobile micro sites
provide consistent branding,
helping guests to stay engaged while being directed to a
property’s most popular and profitable amenities. mXpress can be
transformed for uses with spas and golf courses and even
save-the-date wedding planners. Notable conveniences of mXpress
include interactive maps, photo galleries, clickable phone
numbers, and email addresses. Staff members maintain mXpress
through a powerful CMS interface at their desk or make changes via
their phone’s browser.

Focusing on the tradeshow
and exhibition audience, XpressGuide serves as an interactive
mobile conference guide or a customized and dynamic group website.
The solution delivers session schedules, exhibit floor maps, info
on speakers and sponsors, transportation information, event
details, and more directly to attendees’ smartphones or tablets.
This saves the venue from overproducing costly print materials for
each trade show and offers built-in advertising opportunities for revenue generation. Information can be dynamically updated
anytime, even via the meeting planner’s mobile phone or tablet.

 mSurvey allows
guests to submit surveys such as feedback for example from their mobile devices. The solution then provides real-time reports for hoteliers, giving
them the ability to respond quickly to areas that require attention or recognition. As a benefit of using mSurvey, hotels
can positively impact their presence on internet review sites,
such as TripAdvisor, by posting top reviews directly from the
reporting module.

A key differentiator of Digital
Alchemy’s Mobile Life Suite is that the solutions are web browser-based rather than forcing hotel guests to download and install an
app on their mobile device, making the experience significantly
more seamless and convenient.

“Mobile Life is a revolutionary way to enhance the
guest experience,” said Don Hay, Digital Alchemy’s CEO. “It
provides a seamless experience for hotel guests that will make
them enjoy their stay and increase the odds that they will return
and share that positive experience with others. It also provides a
host of revenue opportunities for the hotel that begins the moment
reservations are made and continues through to checkout and
beyond. Because the solutions are integrated and interfaced with
the PMS and guest response system, they maximize the use of guest
data to benefit hoteliers in as many ways as possible.”

All of Digital Alchemy’s mobile solutions links can be
delivered in various ways, such as in reservation confirmations,
pre- stay emails, or even embedded on the hotel website. iNeed,
mXpress, XpressGuide, and mSurvey can also be accessed through QR
codes on keycards, door hangers, room signage, and other marketing
materials. Mobile Life’s intuitive technology automatically
detects the device accessing it and serves up the mobile phone,
tablet, or desktop optimized version for a more user-friendly

See other recent news regarding:
Airline Traffic,
First Class,
Business Class,
New Hotels,
Visitor Arrivals,
Free Deals,

Sports Tourism,


Haunted-Hotel Marketing Scares Some, Profits Others

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Embarking on a ghost tour given year-round at The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., participants are taken on a tour of the hotel while given a history lesson.

The hotel, which opened as a luxury resort for the very wealthy in (surprise) 1886, was later closed and reopened as a girl’s finishing school. People are taken to Room 218, the hotel’s most haunted room, where it is thought a young mason named Michael fell to his death as the building was being constructed.

Another story includes a young student of the girl’s school who was thought to have jumped or was pushed from around the fourth-floor balcony. The eager audience is told a local policeman even saw an apparent apparition jumping one night around 10:30.

It is its’ third incarnation as a cancer treatment hospital in the late 1930s to the 1940s which gives fodder for many of the ghost stories.

“Dr.” Norman Baker, who wasn’t a doctor at all, told the wealthy he could cure their ailments. Instead, it is thought that up to 300 people died at the hotel and some may even be buried on the property.

Phantom nurses have been spotted pushing gurneys and a woman thought to be a patient is often seen in period clothing outside of her room on the fourh floor fumbling for her keys. The ghost tour ends in the basement in what was the morgue, where ghost seekers can even be shut in the “cold” room, a once refrigerated locker used to store corpses.

Pheed may be the new Twitter

Hipmunk lists private air taxi options and Google reveals that how Indians search mobile maps differently from Americans — all are in our roundup of the stories making news and driving opinion on 22 October.


Is paid-content site Pheed the new Twitter? The week-old real-time media platform already has a million users many of whom are attracted to the idea of being paid for micro-blogging by charging followers fees.

pheed tnooz travel

Out of the gate, Pheed may be merely a celebrity platform. But travel marketers may want to reserve place names for brand name handles just in case it blossoms further.


Did you know that this year travel search site Hipmunk began listing private air taxi services by Linear Air as an option for northeastern US routes? Well it didand apparently the business model for air taxis is maturing.

In case you missed it: Online-accommodation rental service Airbnb may be in talks “with venture capitalist Peter Thiel about a roughly $150 million investment that would value the start-up at around $2.5 billion,” says the WSJ.


Google research has revealed that Indians tend to use their smartphones differently than other nationalities when it comes to searching on maps. Lalitesh Katragadda, Google India, Country Head (Products), says Indians often look up locations not to visit them but to use them as landmarks to find the places they actually want to see.

“The entire concept of adding landmarks as a layer or feature on maps, globally, was an idea conceived in India,” says The Hindu. Users in other countries more commonly search by destination.


Friends and family most influential for hotel, TripAdvisor catches up but apparently social media nowhere

Hotel guests still rely heavily on recommendations from friends and family, but the impact of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter is negligible.

Or so World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP) found in a recent survey of almost of almost 20,000 guests during the second quarter of 2012, asking them how they heard about a hotel.

The study was carried out OFFLINE – an important consideration as many surveys are often produced over the web, so more often than not the results are skewed towards those that actively use the internet.

The “other” in the study is probably where search engines figure.

WIHP ran a similar survey last year, so while the differences aren’t huge they are interesting in terms of what remains a low factor.

Here’s a table giving a comparison to the same data from the previous year.

Channel 2011 2012 % change
Friends and family 24.1% 22.9% down 1.2%
Online travel agencies 20.2% 20.7% up 0.5%
TripAdvisor 16% 18.2% up 2.2%
Other 17.2% 17% down 0.2%
Repeat guests 11.8% 12.3% up 0.5%
Travel agent 2.7% 3.1% up 0.4%
Magazine/newspaper 2.1% 2% down 0.1%
Facebook 2% 1.6% down 0.4%
Blog 2.7% 1.5% down 1.2%
Travel guide 1% 0.5% down 0.5%
Twitter 0.1% 0.2% up 0.1%

The biggest change year-on-year is TripAdvisor, which increased by 2.2% and has moved up to third position from fourth place in 2011.

But, as Martin Soler, marketing director of WIHP, claims, social media “isn’t winning at this race”. This, he claims, points to the “low level of ROI” on social media marketing.

WIHP believes social media is not a good marketing tool, but serves well as a “great public relations tool”, meaning hotels must use it primarily as a channel to communicate to customers and potential guests.

But what makes for a good headline might also be illustrating where there is an increased blurring of the lines between what is seen as the influence of pure-play social media and how it effects “normal” (and offline) conversations and purchasing decisions.

Friends and family might be losing and social media gaining some of their respective influence as channels in the survey y/y, but discussing a recent hotel stay within a personal social network (such as Facebook) is also probably recorded in the minds of others but not necessarily as being considered as the trigger for research further down the line.

At that, annoyingly for marketers, is what makes social media so tricky to measure and, inevitably, often justify back upstairs to the board members in the leather chairs or bean counters in the accounting department.