Almost everyone who holds a position within a hotel company or technology provider has his or her own thoughts on the types of content that need to be delivered to score the best results. Does user-generated content figure into the mix? Do images provoke an emotional and measurable response versus room details provided in a textual format? How well do short YouTube videos perform versus still images? Ultimately, the question that needs to be addressed is: What are travelers looking for when it comes to content? There are insights and reports available, so of course, the effectiveness of content can be analyzed. However, by no means are these measurements entirely indicative of the booking experience.
It is important to consider all the variables to developing effective content. Travelers can assume many different identities or “personas” when they travel. When traveling on business, a potential guest may not have the luxury of selecting their stay based on preferred options as they must adhere to a budget or particular brand as dictated by their respective employer. However, when that same individual is traveling for pleasure, the access to content may be the most influential element in determining hotel choices. They will likely want to view the room itself, the hotel lobby or the pool. They may want to look at the menus associated with the on-property restaurant and spa services. In concert with these categories of content, local attractions, as well as the tours and activities available, may be important. The list goes on and on.
When it comes to delivering content to travelers, an article produced by trivago in June of 2017 states, “The evidence of the impact of images is staggering: Hotel profiles featuring high-quality images receive 63% more clicks than those with low-quality photos. Profiles with a high-quality main image—the image that will appear on a list of search results—attract 96% of all clicks on trivago.”
Images are easily digested and have high emotional value. If represented correctly, they can enable a traveler to spend more time on the hotel site, boosting the chances of conversion. Attractive images also allow hotels to charge higher rates because of the perception of greater value.
The challenge that our industry faces related to content is the fact that so many different people and departments “own” the content initiatives for a hotel or hotel brand. This diversity in presentation creates confusion from a guest’s perspective. There is a tendency to deliver content based on how hotel companies are organized, and this is not synergistic with how consumers engage with them cross-channel. One major hotel chain has found the ownership issue nearly impossible to address, so they introduced a new position—a customer advocate -who has a seat at the table when content decisions are being made. It is a novel idea. Customer advocates are a welcome addition to the fray. However, there continue to be broader issues around channels, translation, new technology and emerging distribution models that still need to be addressed.
Again, we all have opinions on the types of content that need to be delivered to the consumer. That’s why HEDNA’s (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Content Workgroup is tackling these issues, and much more, head-on. We’re making significant progress and encourage you to contribute your input to the discussions and decisions. If you would like to know more about HEDNA’s Content Workgroup, just click on this LINK. The more people and companies that get involved, the better it is for the entire hotel industry.
Anne Cole is an accomplished content strategist and travel distribution executive with more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry. Prior to joining SDL as a Digital Customer Experience Business Consultant heading up their travel vertical, she held the position of Vice President, Content Strategy and Operations at Wyndham Hotel Group where she initiated a practice to leverage content as a strategic asset. She developed an enterprise content management methodology to orchestrate global content contributions, syndication and translation initiatives focused on the creation of relevant, compelling and search-centric content. Previously she held innovative leadership positions with Hilton Worldwide, Sabre Travel Network and American Airlines.