Different promotion strategies can be used to do this business. With the usage of appropriate marketing skills, the hotel business can be promoted in many ways that can yield lots of profit. Here are some ideas that can be applied to manage the marketing program for the hotel business.
There are two types of people: those who love staying in hotels and those who hate it. I must say that I lean more towards the latter, and often find myself choosing Airbnb over hotel stays when traveling for leisure. Why? It’s often more affordable, feels less sterile, and can offer unique touches that make the place feel homier. However, if the hotel can market themselves right, offer a reasonable price, and treat me like a queen, then this decision could easily shift.
The challenge of being in the hotel marketing industry is the overwhelming amount of competition. Especially with the growth in popularity of websites like Airbnb and Home Away, it’s become even more challenging to stand out against the competition to gather more bookings. While hotel marketers are all too familiar with these challenges, they are still tasked with hitting (and hopefully exceeding) their metrics, which are often tied to bookings.
So what can a struggling hotel marketer do? How do you make sure people can find your hotel in the first place, and then get so excited they can’t wait to book their stay? Have no fear: here are 10 no-fail tips to hotel marketing success!
Be Easily Searchable Online!
Let’s face it, technology has taken over. Long gone are the days of travel agents. Today’s travelers are empowered to do their comparative research without even leaving their beds. So if your hotel isn’t easy to find online, no wonder your bookings are few and far between. You need to be EVERYWHERE relevant online for potential bookings so people can find you in the window when they need to book a place to stay.
Travel companies have high CTR’s and low costs on mobile in particular
But don’t rely on organic optimization alone! The SERP (search engine results page) for hotel-related searches is heavily monetized, meaning people will see ads first. In the example screenshot below, the whole screen is taken up by ads. You need to be bidding aggressively on Google’s Search and Display Networks (don’t forget hotel ads!), Bing, social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and websites like Trip Advisor and Kayak.
Don’t limit yourself to just one social platform, search engine, or travel website. While it might not be necessary to have a strong presence on every website imaginable, you should dig into your website analytics, find out where people are typically booking form, and create an engaging and competitive presence on those platforms.
Remarket, Remarket, Remarket
Did you know that the abandonment rate for booking hotels online is 75%?! That’s right, a whopping three out of four people start the booking process, get distracted, and abandon their experience. Who knows whether it was the pizza man interrupting their purchase, or a suspicion that they might be able to find a better deal elsewhere. Whatever the reason may be, this does not mean you should give up as a hotel marketer.
Remarketing is a critical component for hotel marketing because travelers are distracted not only by everyday distractions (like pop-up phone notifications and crying babies) but to the fact that there are hundreds of other options they can choose from.
With remarketing, you can lower your abandonment rate and close more bookings by showing enticing display ads to people who recently visited your site, to remind them you’re there and lead them through the process. Try showing them a deal for a little extra incentive to book with you instead of your competitors, and make the booking process as easy as possible.
Ensure You’re Targeting the Right Audience
What type of hotel are you marketing, and who is your typical guest? There needs to be a different strategy for marketers of a Super 8 Motel off Route 9 compared to the Ritz Carlton on the sandy beaches of the Caribbean shores. These people book differently, travel differently, and have different budgets. That’s why tools like income targeting will come in handy. While this might seem obvious, there are even further ways to break down your audiences when it comes to marketing your hotel.
Many hotels have a variety of customers of different income levels, since they may offer rooms on the more extravagant side (like the presidential suites) and other rooms that are often sold at discount prices. These two audiences need to be broken down and targeted separately. There is even a difference for the same hotel chain in different locations. All of these things are critical to consider when crafting your marketing campaigns.
If necessary, you may need to split your audiences into two, three, or even four separate campaigns to ensure you’re sending the right message to the right prospect. And of course with tools like Facebook’s targeting options, this is not as complex as it once was. Just ensure you spend the time to define your audiences so you can craft the right message to the right person at the right time!
Take a look at this Facebook ad, for example – probably targeted at a savvy business traveler with a relatively high travel budget.
But if you work at a hip hotel in LA’s Koreatown, you might want to target a younger demographic of single people, for example.
Provide Incentives to Get People Interested
Why should I stay with you over the hotel down the street – or one that’s more conveniently located or better priced? Your hotel needs to have a reason that leads your prospects to choose you over your competition.
If there are not any obvious reasons, like having the lowest prices or the best reviews, brainstorm some unique incentives and offers you can provide to prospects. For example, you could offer all first-time guests a 15% discount. Incentives are also great for creating a sense of urgency to spur people to book with you before they miss out on a special limited-time offer.
See the example below for a luxury hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They provide an entire area of their website for special offers. The one below shows a deal for 30% off when staying two or more nights, 15% off dining, and 24-hour access to their fancy fitness center. Not bad!
Build Local Partnerships
The chances are your hotel is not located in the middle of a desert. More likely you’re surrounded by local businesses and attractions. Whether that be well-known restaurants, shops, or yoga studios, you need to get to know your neighbors. Making friends with the local business owners is a great way to build partnerships and co-promote each other, especially if you’re marketing a boutique hotel rather than a chain.
For instance, you could partner with a popular brewery and run a contest where the winner gets a free brewery tour and beer tasting along with a discounted stay at your hotel. Building these relationships will lead to easy, effective, and affordable marketing that will increase your booking rates.
Don’t Just Market the Hotel, Market the Location
Chances are many future vacationers are still indecisive whether or not the city or town where your hotel is located in the place where they want to use their precious PTO. This is why you shouldn’t just be focusing on the amenities your hotel has to offer. While, yes, it is smart to promote your top-rated room service and infinity pool, it is just as important to promote your location. What makes your city or town a desirable place to visit? Future visitors want to know this.
Check out this great example from The W Chicago. Rather than solely promoting their modern hotel amenities, they also promote local happenings by targeting a specific audience of festival-goers. Chances are this strategy has helped them attract festival fans who weren’t even considering Chicago as a vacation option. Take advantage of the local attractions and events in your marketing, and promote what your city is famous for!
Ensure Your Website Is Both Simple and Breathtaking
While this might seem like common sense, there are so many hotel websites out there that are slacking in their website design. This is an instant turnoff for hotel bookers. If your website isn’t clean and attractive, then why would your physical location be? The website is often the first impression a person has of your hotel, so you need to make it breathtaking, but also usable. That means it’s straightforward for users (on any type of device) to find the information they need as well as to complete a reservation.
When overhauling your website, focus on keeping the design and navigation clean, crisp, and simple. Ensure your hotel photographs are professional, high-res, and displayed in the correct formats and ratios to work for both desktop and mobile. Keep the language clear and simple, and ensure the booking process is easy to avoid mid-booking abandonment. Videos also tend to work well since they show off your space more thoroughly and engagingly.
Badrutt’s Palace is a great example of a hotel website that embraces all of these clean and attractive design elements. Their background homepage video does an excellent job at showing off the beauty of their destination. In such a visual industry, it’s important to take advantage of the beauty surrounding your location.
Go Above and Beyond in Customer Service Before, During, and After Their Stay
Marketing and customer service go hand in hand, especially in the hospitality industry. If you go above and beyond for your customers, then they are much more likely to pay it forward and do the same for you in terms of stellar online reviews, referrals, and return visits.
So what does superior customer service mean? The first step is ensuring your staff is hired and trained with a customer-first mentality. While working with people can be very challenging, always putting the customer first is critical. For instance, say your hotel visitor is upset with the view from their room and there are no other open rooms available. Try to figure out if you can move them for the remainder of their stay later on, and to compensate for the trouble, provide them with a bottle of bubbly and a hand-written note apologizing for the inconvenience. These types of gestures can make a lasting impact and show the customers how you value them.
When customers are treated exceptionally well they will be much more likely to share their experiences with others, leading to more business for you. Check out these customer service stories if you’re curious about additional ways you can go above and beyond for your visitors.
Hotel video marketing
Even without taking a deep dive into the statistics, one could safely assume that video is becoming an increasingly popular medium with hotel guests. It’s engaging, easy to digest, and easy to share with others.
For hotel marketers, it should be looked at as a priority when creating strategies to attract bookings. A quick look at YouTube and the one billion people watching more than six billion hours of video each month will tell you how popular videos are.
Humans are notoriously emotional animals and the best way to engage them on this level is through video. Consider that people remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they hear and see. So here’s the case for video marketing:
- The likelihood of your site appearing on the first page of Google search results increases by 53 times by adding a video to your website
- People are 10 times more likely to engage with and share video content
- 20% of users read text while 80% will watch a video with the same content
- 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. In two years, the number will rise to 80%
- At your property, bookings are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour is available
- The click-through rate for introductory emails that include a video increases by 96%
- 76% of social media users would share a video if it was entertaining
Travelers love to find inspiration through video, with around 65% of them watching a video when thinking about taking a trip and choosing a destination, with a further 54% using video when choosing accommodation.
However, you need to do more than create a pretty collage of images with a backing track if you truly want your content to be amplified. Use the storytelling strengths of video to send a real message. Emotions play a massive part so this is where your efforts should be focused. Try to instill awe in viewers with your videos to reach new guests, drive site traffic, and share your hotel’s story.
Here’s an example of video marketing done right.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts: ‘It’s in our nature
This commercial is all about the punchline. Using stunning imagery and increasingly touching music, Shangri-La places the environment as a backdrop to deliver a message on kindness and companionship, showing guests no matter where they come from, they will be accepted and safely harbored within the hotel.https://www.youtube.com/embed/wZeS0Un3jwk
Hotel mobile marketing
The Oxford Dictionary defines a trend as something that is “…developing, changing, or in fashion”. And for a long time, mobile bookings could be determined as all of the above.
Over the last five years, there have been countless white papers, blogs, webinars, and seminars dedicated to predicting the uptake of guests choosing to book hotels via smaller screens. Google recently announced user queries completed on mobiles have surpassed desktop as the majority Google search type. This has prompted it to introduce a mobile-first indexing initiative, meaning Google will now begin to use the mobile page versions of a domain for indexing and caching in search results, and subsequently, for ranking.
Independent hoteliers need to do everything they can to adapt their marketing strategies and take a mobile-first approach to attract global guests.
Everything needs to start with a hotel’s mobile website. The experience delivered to guests before they’ve even booked a room is so important and the way a hotel’s website responds to small devices is the key to mobile marketing success. Ultimately, here are some aspects of your website that should be in place for a good mobile experience:
- Users don’t have to pinch, scroll, or zoom to see information
- Font is legible and content is concise
- The use of Adobe Flash and pop-ups are limited
- Click-to-call functionality is enabled
- Google Maps is integrated so people can find their way to and from your hotel
- Your logo is linked so it’s simple to return to the homepage
- There’s an easily accessible search bar and date calendar
- Forms are auto-filled for returning visitors
- There is contrast between images and colours that make the site beautiful
What this adds up to is speed and ease of use, something Google values very highly.
When it comes to mobile bookings, there are four key consumer ‘moments’ hotels need to be aware of. Findings from Google have shown you need to focus on these traveler motivations if you want to convert guests:
1. I-want-to-get-away moments
In Australia, 38% of travel site visits come from mobile, and even though for 60% of consumers travel is the biggest discretionary purchase of the year, one in three don’t have a specific destination in mind when they first consider taking a trip.
Hotels are advised to be present when inspiration strikes. By searching for common queries you can see if your property features in any of the results and optimize your search engine rankings from there. In millennial groups, up to 50% say they’ve discovered a new travel brand while researching on mobile.
2. Make-a-plan moments
When a plan first begins to form travelers most often search for prices, hotel reviews and pictures, flight lengths, and available destination activities, with 69% of travelers worrying they’re not finding the best price and second-guessing their choices. However, 85% say that information sourced on their smartphone helps them make decisions.
Be liberal with the information you display to mobile searchers. While you want to keep things simple, you also want to give them all the information they need to choose your hotel over a competitor.
3. Book-it-now moments
This is where travelers are still somewhat reluctant to rely on mobile devices. Only 23% are confident they can find the same information on their smartphones as they can on desktop or laptop.
You can ease the worries of guests but giving them the ability to cancel mobile bookings without incurring a penalty. You should also eliminate as many steps as possible on mobile and make it easy for people to contact you. For example, you could implement a click-to-call link or button.
4. Waiting-to-explore moments
Travelers still turn to mobile even after they’ve begun their trip. Around 85% decide on their activities after they arrive and nearly nine out of 10 expect their travel provider or hotel to give them relevant information. They’re looking for weather-specific information, public transport help, exchange rates, and traffic updates along with other relevant news.
Given 67% of travelers feel more loyal to a brand that shares useful information with them during their trip, it’s a good idea to offer travelers tips on what to do or where to eat while visiting their chosen destination.
BONUS TIP: It might sound simple but it’s surprising how many businesses fail to implement a mobile-friendly booking engine into their mobile-friendly website. Today’s booking engines are incredibly powerful and can integrate directly with both your website and channel management solution, via two-way integration, ensuring any direct bookings received are reflected automatically. This means inventory and rates are up-to-date at all times.
By putting a smart engine in place, you will be able to decrease the time spent manually updating inventory and increase time spent on the more important things.
The hospitality business is highly competitive and you can’t go on relying on word-of-mouth and the occasional review on TripAdvisor. You need to build a digital marketing strategy that will deliver qualified leads to your business. This guide will show you how to grow your hotel business using digital marketing strategies.