When it comes to marketing at your hotel, it can seem like a wide-cast net. Where do you even begin? On top of the hustle and bustle of the day of incoming guests, rooms to be made, sales and teams to manage, marketing plays an integral part in really tying many departments together. At the end of the day, the bottom line is what matters and encouraging potential guests to book directly will definitely help with raising that bottom line (instead of booking through OTAs). We’ll get into 5 basic strategies that are essential to your hotel’s marketing strategy that will provide a great place for you to start with.
5 essential marketing elements to include in your strategy
An engaging social media presence
Creating engaging content for your hotel marketing is all about knowing your audience and what they want to experience when they’re travelling. High quality stock photos of your hotel just don’t cut it anymore when competing with the online social media competition.
Posting about your hotel, staff, location and amenities are a great foundation but you should be looking for creative ways to look beyond that. Being the local travel guide by highlighting local attractions, great restaurants, bars, and experiences that a traveler can only have if they choose to stay with you is a great addition to your content. But don’t just stop there.
With the rising millennial generation, traveling purchasing habits have also evolved. Millennials are 54% more likely to purchase something based on a social media influencer’s recommendation. When considering including influencers in your marketing strategy, it’s important to select an influencer that resonates with your brand values so research carefully because it’s about expressing the lifestyle of the traveler that stays at your hotel, through that influencer.
It’s the generation of “do it for the gram’” and many travelers are selecting destinations and accommodations based on pictures. Having “instagrammable” or “aesthetic” areas of your hotel are a great way to feature your hotel’s appeal to the rising generation. Include a trendy hashtag that followers can look up, tag their photos with and start following. #makeyourhotelgoviral
And don’t forget to flex those exclusive deals and promotions on your social media channels. This will create loyalty and a following that will drive direct bookings.
Good marketing = good website
Your website is the first impression a guest receives so make it a good one. It should be informative, functional, inviting, and most importantly: user-friendly. Attention spans are decreasing by the day and if a guest does not find what they are looking for immediately, they are already on to the next.
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Skift found that 52% of millennial business travelers booked their accommodations on their mobile device so you don’t want to miss out on that business if your website is glitching on someone’s phone. It’s about making it super easy to book with you.
Make sure your gallery isn’t just full of your hotel’s stock photos. People are looking for a unique experience and are looking forward to taking many photos as mementos of their trip. Travelers are increasingly booking based on photos so ensure you’re offering something unique here.
You essentially want to mimic your website experience to what a guest would experience at your hotel so ensure the service doesn’t just stop at your hotel’s front door and is inclusive of your website as well by making it easy to contact your hotel.
And last but not least, if you’re offering incentives to guests if they book directly with you then ensure that it is visible and clear what you’re offering. This is something you want people to know, not something that should be hiding in the fine print.
Proactive hotel reputation management
Oh those reviews! Online reviews are also in the top criteria when people are making traveling decisions so it’s important to have a hold on what is being said about you and how you’re managing negative feedback. At the end of the day, you can’t make every single person on this earth happy and are bound to get it wrong a few times, but it’s about how you’re managing those few unhappy guests that really make the difference.
We’ve all heard it before, a person is much more likely to spread a negative experience than to share a positive one. Ensure you claim your hotel on all major sites so you can track what’s being said about your hotel.
When you ultimately do end up receiving a negative review, think twice before you post that auto-reply with a “We’re sorry to hear that you had a negative experience” comment. People do not respond well to auto-responses. Instead, approach with a thorough understanding of the situation and be aware that anyone in the world can see this. Know when to defend, offer service compensation, and when to disengage and say nothing at all.
Get a good CRM
A CRM will be your best friend when it comes to formulating a hotel marketing strategy. It’s the one stop shop when it comes to storing data for building relationships. It will log your client’s past information, share forecasts on future purchasing habits and allow you to directly communicate with your valued guests. CRMS are only as good as they are used to ensure training is thorough and your employees know what relevant information to input.
Effective PPC and display Ads
PPC and display ads are a foundational pillar in most hotel marketing strategies, regardless of industry, and it is no different here. The most effective way to drive traffic to your hotel’s website to drive direct bookings is by using search and display ads. Your competitors are most likely targeting similar words in your area though so try to get specific and target keywords that will make you stand out from the competition.
For those travellers and event planners that are in the middle of doing research for the best hotel, use history or interest-based display ads to engage them. Don’t be afraid to get creative and test a combination of different ad platforms, ad copy, creatives and demographics. Double down on what works, and understand why something isn’t working before moving on, to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
Digital marketing and advertising is a long-term strategy so set realistic goals and ad budgets and tweak where necessary. The direct cause and effect won’t be seen tomorrow so start today and see those direct bookings roll-in in the very near future.
It’s a competitive hospitality landscape out there and can be very overwhelming when thinking of where to start. The five above elements are a great place for you to start when building the foundation of your strategy. What’s important here is to not get complacent and to get proactive and creative with it. So take it and run with it!