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Wyndham Hones in On the 'Hottest Trend of the Year'
By Pamela Whitby
Thursday, 10th April 2014
 

Is your hotel hyper-local enough? Are Google service-level agreements cramping your style? Can content deliver ROI? Pamela Whitby finds out.

  • Geo and hyper-locality: the hottest trend of the year
  • Pinning ROI to content is still a challenge and the industry could do more
  • Brands can sell more direct by creatively linking to local events and attractions
  • The day of the bog-standard hotel pic is over!
  • Could it be time to challenge Google’s three-month service level agreements for a more strategic approach to content? 
In 2006, Wyndham Hotel Group considered itself to be something of a pioneer. At the time, it mandated hotels to put photographs on their websites and other distribution channels. But that was 2006 and we all know how things have changed since then.

Until recently, Wyndham hadn’t really kept up but 2014, says Danica Boyd, the group’s senior director of content operations, will be “the year of digital media”.
 
The team has mapped out a three-year digital roadmap with a strategic focus on three core trends in content.
 
1. Gearing up to be geo-local and hyper-local: the ‘hottest trend of the year’ 
 
Most hotels are not the destination. So many brands - and Wyndham is no exception - are partnering with the likes of Bing, Google or Georama to show consumers where their hotels are on a map in order to make the best choice. At Wyndham, one big project has been to develop an explore city function that lets customers search for ‘things to do’ without leaving the brand website. “The same functionality exists across each of our 14 brands,” says Boyd.

4Hoteliers Image Library

Wyndham launched this functionality in December and is currently tweaking the page to see what works and what doesn’t.
 
Another project has been to link to events in a particular area from the hotel’s own website. “The aim is to get consumer fully engaged on our website and not go to the competition,” says Boyd. “If we give them innovative content, then hopefully they will book with us and not through the OTAs or third party channels.”
 
2. Getting away from shooting the ‘brand standard’: video and images that stir emotion and deliver on detail
 
In 2014, a major strategic focus is video. “We are pushing individual hotels to do new high-res photos/videos that stir emotion, work well for our tablet solution and are appropriately tagged for SEO,” says Boyd. “We’re moving away from shooting the brand standard.”
 
However, with 14 different brands ranging from economy right through to top-end luxury, Wyndham has had to come up with a set of specifications – for length, music and so on - that are flexible enough to work for all.
 
Two major video campaigns are set for release this summer. The first is focused on one specific brand in the US, which will then be expanded internationally. The second will work across all brands with, for example, a micro vignette that shows customers how to navigate to the deals and discount page.
 
Key performance indicators for video campaigns include:
  • Number of shares
  • Length of time on page
  • Where next did the customer go in the path to booking
4Hoteliers Image Library

As part of the drive to build a stronger digital presence, Wyndham has implemented a new content management system and robust digital asset library using Adobe Experience Manager. “This has given us the tools and resources to do a better job of putting ourselves forward on all channels,” says Boyd.
 
One specific opportunity to raise their content game is in the ‘economy’ sector where typically hotels have produced bog-standard photographs. “Customers didn’t get [from this approach] that a hotel has, for example, a fun Belgian waffle on the menu or where they can plug their iPhone in,” explains Boyd, who in Miami will be sharing examples of how they are aiming to answer guest queries as they arrive at a property.
 
3. Linking return-on-investment more closely to content: the industry ‘can do more’
 
There is a constant evolution when it comes to text and Wyndham is using multi-variant testing to find ways to tweak copy, add value to icons and so on, to see if that stirs the customer to move further down the booking path.

“Content is one of the hardest things to measure specifically to ROI,” admits Boyd. That has always been a challenge, but Boyd is hoping that as analytics improve, they will better understand whether it was a promotion, hi-res photo of that Belgian waffle, or detailed property description that moved the customer closer to booking.

4Hoteliers Image Library

A big challenge, says Boyd, is working out how are you going to frame the story and then being consistent with that. Another big challenge is working out how to partner better with Google to get content uploaded faster and more strategically. “One of our challenges - and not just for the travel industry – is that Google have too many ways to receive content or data, and their service level agreements for making changes are up to three months.”
 
Like or not, travel brands have to play by Google rules – and that is constraining.
 
Join us in Miami for EyeforTravel’s Online Marketing Strategies for Travel where Danica Boyd, Wyndham Group Senior Director of Content Operations, will be speaking, alongside a number of other leading travel executives.

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