Lodging Daily News

NEW YORK—According to a new TravelClick survey, more than half (57.31 percent) of hoteliers said that they are increasing their marketing budgets for 2016, with an increased spend on search engine marketing (23.17 percent), website update/redesign (20.73 percent), online advertising (12.20 percent), and mobile (17.07 percent). In fact, about one-third (35.37 percent) of respondents said that they will experience the most growth in mobile bookings, compared to any other direct booking channel, in 2016 and are increasing spends on mobile specifically to capitalize on this trend as a result.

When asked where hoteliers will place the most resources with respect to mobile, 46.34 percent said that they plan to enhance/improve their mobile websites, 24.39 percent said that they plan to improve their mobile search and 21.95 percent said that they plan to put resources toward social media. Additionally, because mobile will be so popular in the coming year and beyond, nearly half (48.79 percent) of respondents are spending more money on mobile than in previous years.

“It’s clear from the data that hoteliers are expecting to see the most growth in 2016 bookings through hotel websites via mobile, as well as through the GDS and OTA channels,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst, TravelClick. “This is consistent with what TravelClick has seen as part of its quarterly North American Distribution Review reports and shows both the relevance and impact that mobile continues to have on hoteliers around the globe. It is no longer acceptable for hoteliers to leave out mobile as part of their marketing strategies, and the data reflects hoteliers’ acceptance and embrace of mobile as an important way to significantly move the needle for their properties and reach a new group of consumers simultaneously.”

Hospitality comings and goings

Michelle Lardizabal has been named vice president of sales for Club Med. In her new role, she will join the executive committee and worldwide leadership committee to lead the sales team and focus on the brand’s global expansion efforts. With more than 20 years of sales experience, she most recently was vice president of sales for City Wonders, a European guided tour company.

Here is a look at more notable job moves that took place this week:

The Landings St. Lucia has welcomed hospitality executive Wilbert Mason as general manager of the AAA Four-Diamond luxury all-suite beach resort. Mason is a veteran career manager of luxury resorts in the Caribbean and is now assuming his role as manager from Kathy Taylor, interim manager and executive committee chair.

Hotel Equities has recently made expansions, assigning two regional directors of operations to manage their growing portfolio of assets. Joe Sebestyen and Tim Goodman have been added to the Equities roster. Sebestyen has over 30 years of operation and sales experience and Goodman boasts over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry with experience conducting multi-million dollar renovations and brand flag changes.

Travel Alliance Partners has elected a new board of directors during their annual 2016 planning and 2015 review meeting in Minneapolis. Kevin Murphy was re-elected as president for a second two-year term, as well as newly elected director at large, David Burns. The elected board members include secretary and treasurer Richard Arnold, vice president Jack Hintz, and director Jim Warren.

Donna DeClementi has been appointed as the director of sales and marketing at Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore, responsible for spearheading all sales and marketing efforts. She joins the company with more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and customer service operations, with a specialty in hotel group, catering, and conference sales.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts veteran Peggy Williams-Smith has received a promotion to lead the SafeHouse restaurant brand as senior vice president, leaving behind her previous role as corporate vice president of food and beverage.

The Fairmont Hotel Claremont Club & Spa has appointed Nicole Hankton as marketing manager. She has worked with brands including Gap and Marriott during her 14-year career.

Lawrence Tuck has joined Four Season Resort Nevis as resort manager. He most recently served as resort manager of the Hilton Seychelles Tabriz Resort and Spa.

The newly renovated Western Fort Lauderdale has announced the new members of their senior sales team, with Deanna Sylvestri assuming the role of director of group sales and Matthew Echevarria as director of catering and conference services.

The Sheraton Altanta has announced the appointment of David Sukala as acting national accounts manager for the Midwest. He has decades of hospitality experience, ranging from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to Baha Mar in the Bahamas.

The Marriott-Starwood merger was one of the biggest hospitality stories of 2015. However, most people don’t know the long and winding road it took to get to that point. Marriott was one of 30 contenders who expressed interest in Starwood after the company announced it was for sale in April. And, even though Marriott met with Starwood early on, the company was hesitant to move forward, even withdrawing from the process in August. It wasn’t until about two weeks before the final sale that Marriott jumped back into the game before closing the deal on Nov. 16. To learn more about this story, click here.

Franchise employment growth finished strong in December, adding the second most jobs of any month in 2015. According to the ADP National Franchise Report, U.S. private-sector franchise jobs increased by 48,600. Restaurants had their second biggest month of the year and accounted for two-thirds of the jobs added in December. The accommodations sector increased by 0.5 percent. Private sector small business employment also experienced a bump, increasing by 95,000 jobs from November to December, the ADP Small Business Report reveals.

By all indications, the dollar will remain strong for the foreseeable future, which means that it will continue to create headwinds for foreign visitors interested in coming to the United States. International travelers often stay longer and spend more than American tourists, so their business is much needed in gateway cities. Of 56.5 million visitors to New York last year, about 1 in 5 came from abroad. At the end of last year, the strong dollar hadn’t reduced the number of visitors coming from abroad, but it did put a dent in spending per traveler. But with so many foreign travelers now booking their trips farther in advance, the impact of the strong dollar along with the ongoing weakness in overseas economies could finally make a noticeable impact on guest bookings from overseas. Read more here.

Goldman Sachs has invested 4.4 billion rupees ($66 million) for a significant minority stake in Indian hotel investment and development firm Samhi Hotels, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday. Samhi, which operates 10 hotels and is developing 16 more, will use the money to grow its portfolio to about 30 to 35 properties, the company’s CEO Ashish Jakhanwala told Reuters. Samhi’s hotel properties are operated by major global hotel companies such as Marriott, Accor, Hyatt, and Starwood under their brand names. A gradual recovery in India is boosting demand for hotel rooms. To read more, click here.