Hotel Marketing Podcast Episode 205 – Does OTT Advertising Make Sense For Hotels?

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For decades retailers have relied on a massive sale at the end of the year to push their profitability into the black, hence the term Black Friday.  What retailers have known for years has been slow to be adopted by hoteliers. Even now, far too many hotels and resorts are not participating in the annual shopping spree.  Millions in bookings are lost every year and the sooner hoteliers jump on the bandwagon the sooner revenue projections and rate yielding for next year can take place.

What is OTT Advertising?

OTT stands for “over-the-top” and is essentially television commercials served specifically through streaming services on connected devices. It’s called over-the-top because of advertiser’s ability to go over-the-top of the traditional gatekeepers of this medium which have historically been cable TV providers.  

Where do OTT Ads Run?

These ads run on streaming services such as Hulu, Roku,, Sling, Tubi, Vimeo, Vevo as well as channel specific apps like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX & many, many more outlets. This apps can run on personal computers, mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV as well as apps on gaming consoles. 

Who Would Even See These Ads

The number of people who currently subscribe to streaming services continues to grow. If you use any of these streaming services, you have almost definitely been exposed to OTT ads. According to a Statista survey held in May 2020, 70% of people aged 18-34 subscribe to a streaming service. While this number drops to 49% for those aged 65+, it is still a significant percentage of the population who could be exposed to this type of advertising. 

The biggest and best difference between OTT and traditional TV commercials is the targeting aspect that OTT provides. Consider all of the targeting options you have available to you through other digital media like geographic targeting, demographic targeting, interest based targeting, life event targeting, etc. This is all available to you through OTT and it is what makes this medium so appealing to advertisers who wouldn’t dream of wasting marketing dollars on traditional television commercials through cable providers. 

Does OTT Advertising Make Sense For Hotels?

As with anything, our answer is “it depends.” 

It depends on your current marketing budget. Do you have additional marketing dollars set aside to try new things, or is your marketing budget so tight that you need to focus only on the tried and true, high ROAS platforms. 

It depends on your hotel’s need for demand generation and brand awareness. For example, a new hotel that needs to generate awareness within its area’s top feeder markets would be a perfect candidate for OTT. On the other hand, you may be a well-established, well-known hotel but you want to promote some new feature or amenity you have on property or the fact that you are a title sponsor of an upcoming event.  

It depends on your property’s ability to provide a unique differentiator that would resonate and entice a particular target audience to book a stay based on your video ad. Essentially, do you offer something worthy of this type of advertising campaign?

Examples of Viable OTT Campaigns For Hotels.

  • Your hotel offers a unique wedding venue and you have created a special wedding package. You could target a defined geographic area around your hotel and layer that targeting with users labeled as recently engaged, and/or users who have visited your weddings page of your website. 
    • You could also use the “recently engaged” audience to promote a specific honeymoon package that your hotel offers. 
  • Your hotel offers a unique kid-friendly experience such as a waterpark, on-site arcade, themed suites, etc. You could then target specific known feeder markets for your hotel layered with an audience of Parents with children aged 6-12 with a special weekend getaway package. 
  • Your hotel is in close proximity to a local ski resort. You could layer geo-targeting for your top feeder markets with an audience of Winter Sports/Skiing enthusiasts with a special package that features accommodations and discounted lift tickets & free shuttle service. 
  • You have an annual music festival that brings thousands of people to your area. Your hotel could partner with the event promoters to package accommodations with discounted tickets to the festival. You would then create an audience segment of previous guests who have stayed at your hotel for the festival and show them an ad to take advantage of your exclusive package. 

These are just a few examples of viable OTT tests, but there are certainly many others that may make sense for your offering. The point is that you need to create something that is going to be enticing and memorable enough for people to see the ad on their television, then want to visit your site to take advantage of your offer. You also need to be as refined as possible with your targeting so you know your ads are only reaching people with a high probability of taking advantage of your offer. 


60 Seconds To Success

Dedicate time to review your reviews. This goes for anyone working in the hotel industry. From marketers, to GMs, to front desk & operations. Everyone needs to know what people are saying about their experience on property. It is great to see the praise of the 5 star reviews and also get a reality check from the honest 1 & 2 star reviews. 

When an employee is mentioned in a good review, it should be acknowledged. The feedback from a positive review can also help the marketing team identify & promote differentiators they may not know exist. 

It’s also important to read the honest negative reviews and acknowledge what issues need to be addressed from cleanliness to staff interactions. 

You should also repeat this process for your competitor hotels and see if there are things that people appreciate about them that you could also capitalize on. 

We know that the vast majority of guests read reviews before booking so leaning into the things that generate positive reviews and fixing the things that cause negative reviews will almost certainly increase occupancy.



Choice Hotels Hopes to Finish Out Year Ahead of 2019 Levels

  • $117 million third quarter profit
  • RevPAR in the U.S. was 11.4 percent higher in Q3 v/s 2019 (aka: Pre COVID)


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