Information and tips on the ways digital technologies and marketing tactics can support hospitality enterprises in their efforts to achieve growth were presented by Greek tourism industry experts at the trademark Xenia 2017 exhibition, which took place recently in Athens.
During a panel discussion held within the framework of Xenia’s “Digi Hotel” conference, tourism professionals referred to the latest global trends in the fields of digital communication and marketing.
‘Reviews are the king’
“Until recently content was the king… Today, however, reviews are the king,” said Greek Travel Pages (GTP) CEO Maria Theofanopoulou, referring to the online content of websites, social media and other digital platforms. “The reviews matter at the end of the day,” she said, adding that hotels should immediately respond to negative reviews or comments posted on digital platforms and social media in order to prevent or manage a crisis.
According to Theofanopoulou, today’s travelers seek true experiences, therefore through texts, photographs and stories hoteliers must be able to express feelings and experiences. Furthermore, the content should be targeted to the specific audience engaged on each digital platform, whether it is a website or a social media account.
Distribution channels change
As competition is growing and distribution channels are changing, hoteliers should allocate part of their annual budget to improve their “digital footprint” and calculate the return on investment, the panel’s participants underlined. The goal for hoteliers is to engage the traveler, boost direct bookings and ultimately optimize their channel distribution strategies.
“Hoteliers need to reorganize their strategy… The distribution channels will be a lot different in ten years from now,” said Giannis Tsakalos, marketing director of Electra Hotels & Resorts, also referring to the mobile phone as the latest distribution channel.
Tsakalos also said artificial intelligence is currently applied on tourism services worldwide. “Today approximately one third of online researches are conducted by voice. It is estimated that by 2022 the 50 percent of online bookings worldwide will be made using our own voice,” he said.
In regards to online content, Stelios Sofianos, partner at marketing and communications company My Spectrum, said the “economy of attention” is dominant. “A hotel, a tourism enterprise or a brand must draw the attention of a person and try to retain it; it must also be able to regain the attention in the future. This is the purpose of content marketing,” he said.
Digital marketing tools
The participants of the “Digi Hotel” underlined the importance of texts and images in digital marketing, including 360-degree photographs and live videos.
“In order to increase direct bookings, we need to make people dream of being in our property,” said Greek photographer Christos Drazos while speaking to hoteliers.
Furthermore, according to Michalis Charalambidis, creative director at production company Babyblue, videos should include short dynamic scenes in order to intrigue the audience.
Moreover, digital public relations tools are essential in order for a hospitality company to gain momentum and increase direct bookings, according to Chariton Brousalian, sales and marketing manager at Greek Travel Pages (GTP). “Digital public relations combine the traditional PR practices and marketing, content, social media and search engines,” Brousalian underlined.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) was a strategic media partner to the Xenia 2017 exhibition.