This week, the industry put storytelling in the spotlight. Report after report indicates that the future isn’t a “spray-and-pray” ad approach, and it’s no longer about the hard sell. Instead, hotels that get ahead are the ones that can tell a story, create an experience and build strong relationships with their guests.

Here are 4 articles filled with information and advice for independent hotels who want to tell their story and drive direct bookings. We also scooped up a trends report on spending in travel, which indicates that while direct traffic (the kind that comes from clicking a link in an email, going to a bookmarked page or typing the website into the address bar) is growing, ad spend has decreased from last year.

All of these articles point to an overarching trend: people don’t want to be sold  a room – they want an experience.

The Best of Times for Independents Who Know Storytelling

A recent report called “The New Rules of Luxury Living” is filled with exciting news for independents. The basic message: this is the best of times for independents that are masters of storytelling.

The report says: “More and more, high-net-worth people prefer brands that work independently from the mainstream. The trend is popular because of a commonly held belief that independent companies rely on their ability to provide better service, better training for staff and deeper local connections that big-market, big-brand companies don’t always provide.”

How do consumers decide where to spend their money and what offerings to ignore? Stephanie Pfeffer Anton, an executive vice president at Luxury Portfolio International, wrote this in Luxury Daily: “Story, it turns out, is essential to courting today’s affluent consumer.”

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Hotels Don’t Sell Rooms. They Sell Experiences

Hotels aren’t just places to sleep. They’re places to experience.

That’s how the newest generation of travelers are viewing hospitality and – in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Airbnb and HomeAway – hotels are having to adjust to meet the expectations of their discerning new clientele.

The ‘Meet Cute’: Instead of Counting Interactions, Build Relationships With Your Customers

A new report from Sabre and TrendWatching identifies Human Brands as one of the six mega-trends with the largest impact on the hospitality industry. More specifically, this mega-trend identifies key components often overlooked when it comes to the discussion of loyalty. For hoteliers, the big question remains: How do I get guests to keep coming back?

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Direct Booking Tips: How to Offer More Value than an OTA

The battle for direct bookings has been escalating over recent months, with large hotel chains going into open, outright competition with online travel agents (OTAs). Hilton’s Stop Clicking Around campaign is the biggest marketing campaign in the company’s history, and Hyatt and Marriot International are offering discounted rates for members of their respective loyalty clubs who book direct.

Smaller chains and independent hoteliers are also feeling uncomfortable about their increasing dependence on online travel agents to keep rooms full, but how can you compete with the OTA giants? Here are two detailed strategies.

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Online Paid Search and Display Ad Spend Down in Travel

A major analysis of the leading websites in the US has painted an interesting picture of some significant changes taking place in online travel.

Web audience metrics provider SimilarWeb examined five categories in the industry – airlines, cruise, accommodation, intermediaries and review/recommendations – to try and understand what is happening around areas such as digital marketing, traffic flows and device usage.

Here are some of the overarching findings from the study:

  • Mobile market share has grown year-on-year overall, although some sectors have seen a slight fall.
  • Decrease in spend on paid search, as well as display ads.
  • General fall in social media traffic to travel websites.

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