What you need to know about new media right now

This article, written by eCornell CEO Christopher Proulx, was originally published in HotelsMag.com.

As the marketing landscape explodes with new media channels, hospitality marketers have an increased number of methods by which to raise the visibility of their brands. Gone are the days of relying solely on static print ads or run-of-the-mill television commercials. Instead, in the world of new media, hotels can reach customers in a more dynamic and engaging way. Finding the ways in which to maximize this opportunity starts with an in-depth understanding of the new media landscape.

Here are the top three things every hotel marketer needs to know right now:

Evolving media brings more opportunity for creativity

As dollars continue to shift away from traditional media to new media channels, there is a world of opportunity for marketers to shine from a creative perspective. By leveraging new media tools, hotels can offer guests a chance to more fully engage with a brand before making a decision to book travel. For example, some hotels provide virtual tours of rooms and unique property features (such as world class pools, water slides, spas). This allows customers to try before they buy in a way that’s much more meaningful than a static marketing piece. Video has also become an integral part of new media marketing as we see premium brands create professional pieces in an effort to convey what a guest might experience during a hotel stay. (The Ritz Carlton does this very well). Because there are now so many new ways to connect with customers, creative elements can go a long way in a new media campaign. Now more than ever, generating creative social media content needs to be built into a hotel’s marketing strategy.

Consistent messaging is key

With the increase in marketing channels comes the increased need for hotels to monitor their marketing message. One major change as it relates to communication is the consumer’s ability to influence the brand. Consumers routinely recommend hotels online, and reviews, both positive and negative are widely accessible online. That means that variation in the way that a hotel is discussed online should both be anticipated and addressed. In addition, the way a hotel is described through social media channels can differ from the rest of the messaging if the social media strategist is not working closely with the brand team. The result? A diluted message about what a customer can expect from a particular hotel experience. Now more than ever, hospitality marketers must be mindful of all marketing communication, including monitoring online reviews and discussion, responding where appropriate, and develop a tight messaging to be used throughout all channels.

The importance of search will continue to grow

Over the last several years, search engine optimization (SEO) has become critical to the hospitality industry. According to a recent Google study, 78 percent of all hotel transactions involved search at some stage of travel selection by the consumer, and 61 percent of people making online hotel transactions were directly referred to a hotel website by a search engine. With the migration fromhorizontal search (i.e looking at options a thousand miles wide but one inch deep) to vertical search (i.e. looking more narrowly at one particular point in the search process), the specific focus on the travel industry and the introduction of social filtering through search, today’s hospitality marketers must understand how to leverage search marketing in order to stay competitive.

The bottom line is this. In the fast-paced world of new media, hospitality marketers must stay informed and nimble. Each day is a new opportunity to reach potential customers in a meaningful way, which is why a deep understanding of new media tools is a must for hospitality marketers.