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Hotel marketing: Strategy guide with tips

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 29/05/2024

What is hotel marketing?

Hotel marketing is the process by which you ensure that your hotel appears in front of the right people, at the right time, with the right messaging, to encourage them to book with you and not your competition.

It encompasses a huge array of topics, skills, and strategies that hoteliers like you need to be aware of – and also master – if you want to succeed in optimising the success of your hotel business and attracting as many travellers as possible.

Effective marketing in hotels means potential guests and customers alike will be impacted by your brand wherever and however they choose to research, plan, and book their trip.

The modern path to purchase for travellers is now so broad, you have to put a lot more focus on exactly who you’re trying to catch in your net.

This blog will help you understand the full breadth of hotel marketing categories, giving you clear lessons and examples on how you take a major step forward this year and outshine your competitors, engaging prospective guests before your rivals get the chance.

Table of contents

Why is hotel marketing strategy important?

A robust hotel marketing strategy is the backbone of your hotel success, crucial for attracting and engaging guests in what is an ever-evolving, and increasingly competitive, industry. With a comprehensive strategy, your hotel can effectively communicate why guests should – even must – book with you (and not your competitors). The right hotel marketing strategy helps you appeal to the right audience, at the right time, in the right way, ensuring not only that you get the guests your business needs and deserves, but continue to stay top of mind through tailored and targeted remarketing campaigns that build guest loyalty and construct a strong reputation through reviews and word of mouth.

In short? An effective hotel marketing strategy is the difference between a good hotel and a great one.

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How to craft your hotel marketing strategy

There’s much to consider when developing a hotel marketing strategy for your hotel. The scope and opportunities are massive in our current climate. What offline channels are still available and useful to you? What online channels should you prioritise? How do you optimise the tools you use? 

How do you track and measure results to make adjustments? Who do you work with to help achieve your potential?

These are all very valid questions. However, before you reach this point there are two more important decisions to make. You must decide on:

  1. Your brand message
  2. Your key target market

If you don’t know what voice to speak with, or who you want to hear it, business is unlikely to boom. These two focus points will then inform how you plan the rest of your hotel marketing strategies, and both are linked to each other. The brand message you run with will ultimately impact the kind of guests you attract.

For example, if you want your hotel to be trendy and steeped in innovation, you should think of marketing your property to young travellers and couples. Other factors will also come into play, including the location of your hotel, its size, your budget, and the budget of travellers and their purpose for travel.

It’s important that you know your target market, so you can craft your marketing strategy and be tailored in your messages to potential customers.

Consider these traveller categories, and see which one/s align with your hotel:

1. Value Seekers

Want to get the best out of their trip. Often travelling with young children, they have a medium income and largely fall between the ages of 25-34. They rely heavily on reviews to help them find what they need, preferably a trip near the beach, and usually research on a smartphone.

2. Luxury Travellers

Are focused on enjoyment and willing to spend more to obtain it. They often travel as a couple aged 25-49. They seek cities that are hot and coastal and tend to look closely at online reviews.

3. Social Travellers

Focus on sharing and engaging with others, usually travelling in friend or family groups. Their groups often include children so they appreciate babysitting and child services. While they have high to medium income they put a lot of faith in word of mouth and recommendations from other travellers. They tend to fall in the 25-49 age group.

4. Independent Travellers

Like to have a lot of control over their trip and thus love to travel solo looking for adventure and cultural experience over any particular climate. They’re usually low or high earners who are relatively young and quite likely to share reviews and engage with social media.

5. Researchers

Maintain a very particular approach to booking their trips. They want to make sure their experience is as good as it possibly could be. They not only thoroughly research their destination and accommodation but also restaurants and activities. Given this, a lot of it is done on laptop devices. They’re commonly higher earners travelling as a couple aged 25-49. Each stage of the journey is usually backed up by listening to the voice of other consumers through sites like TripAdvisor.

6. Habitual Travellers

Look for simplicity and convenience by travelling to the same destinations repeatedly. They place more stock in relaxation than activities and are commonly in the 35-64 age bracket. Mostly male, they tend to be lower income travellers.

The type of hotel you run – budget, boutique, luxury, independent, or a chain – will make a huge difference to how you market your hotel and who you market to, so the initial research and analysis you do is extremely important.

Once you have confirmed your brand and target market, that’s when you can divert your attention to all the nuts and bolts of marketing your hotel and making it a visible, viable booking option for travellers.

Image explaining Hotel Marketing

Where to spend your hotel marketing money

No matter how big the hotel, every hotel marketer is limited by three things: time, expertise, and budget – and budget is probably the most important of the three. Nobody works with a blank check, and an effective marketing strategy is nearly always defined by how efficient you can be with the limited resources you have.

These days, budget efficiency is more important than ever, with potential guests having seemingly endless options for finding and booking your hotel. The fact is that most hoteliers are spending more on marketing their properties, but where is that money going?

Research from leading industry analysts Phocuswright, co-sponsored by SiteMinder, took a deep dive into marketing trends in US and European hotels. The findings, published in the ‘Independent Lodging Market Report’, reveal some fascinating insights and stats into the way hotels are spending their marketing dollars. We’ve broken them down by location below, so you can dig into the details and find inspiration on how you can best manage the spend behind your marketing mix.

Where are European hoteliers spending their hotel marketing dollars?

  • 48% of independent European properties are investing more money into social media marketing, while 7% are investing more in traditional print media.
  • 45% of independent hotels in Europe are focusing their efforts on improving their presence on online review sites, such as TripAdvisor.
  • 52% of independent European properties have implemented a mobile website, and 21% of revenue for independent hoteliers in Europe is generated on mobile devices. But unfortunately, about 48% are held back in their ability to compete effectively because they lack a proper hotel technology solution.

Where are American hoteliers spending their hotel marketing dollars?

  • 34% of independent hoteliers in the United States believe the most effective way to increase online bookings is to invest in SEO marketing.
  • 49% of independent properties in the United States are increasing their spending on social media marketing. This lines up with the fact that 54% of independent U.S. hoteliers believe that managing the brand’s presence on TripAdvisor is the best way to generate online bookings.
  • 29% of bookings in the United States in 2015 were completed on mobile devices.
  • About half of booking distribution is split between the two largest OTAs in the United States: Expedia and Booking.com. This means a lot is paid in the way of commissions to OTAs.

Hotel marketing examples

Theory is great, but what about some practical applications? Below, we’ve put together some actionable hotel marketing tips across a variety of digital channels, including:

  • Digital
  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Mobile
  • SEO
  • Email

Hotel marketing for digital acquisition

Digital marketing is something no one can deny and it encompasses the everyday lives of travellers. People now manage their interactions almost exclusively via smartphones, social media channels and email, with reports saying that online bookings make up almost 60% of all bookings; half of which are booked through a mobile device.

The great thing about being online is that there are so many different ways you can engage with travellers. Statistics will tell you a strong social media presence is essential, as is a strategy around video marketing. Read more to learn about some of the key hotel b2b marketing tactics.

What is hotel internet marketing?

Hotel internet marketing may also be referred to as hotel digital marketing, hotel online marketing or even be part of the  hospitality marketing definition. The main focus is on building and advertising your hotel’s presence for your business online, including social media platforms.

What is the hotel internet marketing process?

The main hotel marketing processes include defining the market you’ll operate in, who you will be targeting, what makes you different and deciding on your main hotel marketing platforms you choose to market your hotel.

Because of the many different platforms within digital media, the potential for hotel marketers to be creative is much greater and enables them to connect with a lot more customers. In some cases, it might be the only way to reach customers on the other side of the world or specific markets like China.

Some travellers engage with beautiful images, some prefer videos, others are content to take a deep dive into written information. Digital media allows your hotel to create this variety of content, on brand, all at the same time. Think about what your unique selling points are and the best way to communicate these to your audience.

Most importantly, everything you communicate must be personalised wherever possible. What this means is that what you say and what you offer to customers must be tailored to their specific demographic group. If they’re a young female businesswoman, you must know what a young female businesswoman wants and communicate accordingly. 

Personalisation is something guests thrive on and in today’s market; not providing it spells danger to your reviews and repeat business.

Hotel marketing for social media

With social media becoming so important in the everyday lives of consumers there is no doubt that it presents a significant opportunity for hotels to capture the attention of potential guests.

Scrolling through social media feeds has become part of the everyday for most people now, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Not all content will engage them but travel-related content likely will because it activates your guest’s imagination. Used creatively, travel content on social media can have a transportive effect on viewers, inspiring them to go on their own journey.

Social media also offers your hotel business a range of options when distributing your content, meaning strategy and targeting uses become extremely valuable.

The main things hotel marketers should focus on with social media to increase engagement include:

  • Aesthetic appeal with high quality images, a prominent logo, slick design
  • Accurate and up-to-date information and descriptions
  • Quick response time to messages, posts, and comments
  • Instant booking options
  • Launching hashtag campaigns and competitions
  • Include media such as videos to inform, entertain, and entice bookings

Organic hotel marketing strategy for Facebook

Engaging with travellers on Facebook has never been easier or more valuable. Consider these statistics:

  • 52% of social media users said their friends’ photos inspired travel plans
  • 76% post their vacation photos to social media
  • During research, 55% liked pages relating to the trip they were planning
  • 69% of ads use images while 18% of ads use video

Before you can influence travellers on Facebook, you need to grow your following. You could accelerate this process through paid advertising, but you should grow your audience ‘organically’ as much as possible.

To get more likes through organic traffic there are a number of things your hotel can do on Facebook. Take note of these quick wins:

1. Invite contacts and friends

People you already know will be more than willing to support you and you can quickly bolster your likes this way. You can even use the ‘Build your Audience’ feature to import all your email contacts and invite them to your page.

2. Add links to Facebook on your website and emails

This is a simple way to give your Facebook page more exposure, especially to potential guests. Always ensure your links are correct and functional.

3. Put up signs

This is as simple as putting small displays on tables, on the front desk, or in rooms inviting guests to like you on Facebook. You could even add links on the bottom of receipts.

4. Offer incentives and host contests

Even something as small as a free coffee will encourage guests to visit your page. This will give them a chance to look at your posts and like your page. When it comes to competitions, make sure one condition of entry is that people like your page.

5. Post good quality content consistently

Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of posts should be about the local area and only 20% should be about the hotel itself. Use Facebook Insights to see the type of content your fans enjoy, and post between three and 10 times per week.

6. Cross promote your page on other social networks

If you have Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media accounts for your hotel, post a frequent call-to-action for those users to jump across and like your Facebook page as well.

7. Fill your profile page with searchable information

Add as much information as possible to your profile page and add as many relevant categories to your page. This information helps Facebook serve up your page to people in various ways across the site. It’s also good for search engine optimisation so use plenty of relevant keywords.

8. Thank you messages

When people sign-up for your local tourism guide or fill out your contact form, redirect them to another page thanking them for getting in touch. Add some text and a Facebook button to the page asking them to join you on Facebook, while you have their attention.

9. Engage on posts that mention your business

If another local business or organisation mentions your hotel in a post on their Facebook page and tags your page, thank them, like the comment, and join in with the conversation. Facebook is a community and so a sharing mentality here will serve you and your hotel well.

Paid hotel marketing strategy for Facebook

After this you can begin experimenting with paid Facebook advertising. Start with a small budget and set up a campaign that targets those who have been on your website the past 30 days, who also meet other criteria, such as age or gender.

Once you have established a credible Facebook page and following, you can start using advertising tactics to get more bookings through the platform. There’s plenty of advice to offer in this respect.

To start with, Facebook has a number of tools designed specifically to help you advertise your business and nail the Facebook conversion funnel. People spend 5x more time on Facebook than on travel-related apps, sites and searches. More than 50% percent of respondents to a survey found trip ideas while browsing on Facebook, so the guests are there to be won.

Dynamic Ads for Travel

Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT) allows advertisers to engage with users lower in the funnel who have already visited your website but are yet to convert. Travellers are tracked through their browser so they can be shown an offer for your brand when they’re browsing different sites. This kind of retargeting can often prove quite useful in securing bookings from travellers who are still undecided.

Dynamic Ads for Travel for Broad Audiences

Dynamic Ads for Travel for Broad Audiences takes this a step further. This is a feature created specifically for hotel advertisers that allows you to reach people with travel intent – even if they’re yet to visit your website or app. You’ll need a Facebook pixel implemented on your website, and use dynamic ads for travel events to report which properties from your catalogue are being searched, viewed, and purchased.

Facebook Travel Ads

Facebook Travel Ads are a clever tool for hotels looking to boost their bookings, designed specifically for hospitality industry marketing. They use Facebook’s vast data to connect you with potential guests who are already daydreaming about their next trip. It’s like having a digital billboard that only shows up for people who are most likely to book with you.

Through Facebook Travel Ads, you can retarget guests and stay top of mind as they work through their journey towards booking, get your hotel listings in front of people who have already expressed interest (or already booked) flights to your area, expand the reach of your existing ads by using prospecting audiences, and much more.

In conjunction, focus on these five steps:

  • Correctly define your hotel’s audience
  • Use the right content for that audience
  • Target ‘lookalike’ audiences – those who have a similar profile to your existing audience
  • Use retargeting tools
  • Give warm leads your top quality content

But how does one increase direct hotel bookings via Facebook?

Since a friend’s recommendation is more powerful (and less expensive) than any ad, focus on word-of-mouth strategies first. Even giving a single traveller the best possible experience could result in thousands of dollars more revenue if they’re impressed enough to share your hotel around their social circles. This could be triggered from as little as one message or comment from your business to the customer that leaves them impressed with your service.

Enticing customers with exclusivity can boost your volume of followers and engagement on Facebook, by treating your page more like a ‘club’. Offer promotions and deals that are only available to those that have liked your page. Here’s a simple example:

Simple promotions like this can often be the only small push travellers need to book directly with your hotel.

Simple promotions like this can often be the only small push travellers need to book directly with your hotel. Source: Argus Luxury Apartments

You should also try establishing your hotel as a traveller’s guide by:

  • Posting reviews
  • Giving travel advice and tips
  • Keeping a running list of local events
  • Using captivating images and videos to provide insight or direction

Like this:

Here’s an example of a hotel that is generating extra traffic by tagging another local business while also offering helpful advice to visitors and guests.

Here’s an example of a hotel that is generating extra traffic by tagging another local business while also offering helpful advice to visitors and guests. Source: The Jazz Corner Hotel

Directly connect your booking engine to your Facebook page to drive bookings from your followers.

Just navigate to your Facebook page, create a ‘Shop on Website’ button by selecting ‘Add a Button’ below the cover photo and then choosing ‘Shop on Website’. Finally, paste your booking engine URL so guests are directed right where they need to be to make a booking.

Finally, always remember to interact with and reward loyal followers. All feedback, be it negative or positive, needs to be responded to. Reply to comments and messages in a polite tone. Any new visitors will be looking at the way you deal with customer feedback and studying your reviews. A helpful way to handle this is to migrate your communications to Facebook messenger and encourage followers to also pursue this avenue of communication. That way, any negativity or hostility can be resolved in private.

Hotel marketing strategy for Instagram 

Within the hospitality industry, specifically for hotels, Instagram is an effective social media platform to boost marketing efforts, with it receiving 58x more engagement per follower than Facebook. 

Popularity of the platform continues to grow and has had a massive impact on social marketing. With various tools for businesses and boasting near 1.5 billion users, it’s the perfect opportunity to reach a wider audience. Instagram has become a go-to source for travellers and explorers all looking for their next getaway; from exploring potential destinations, types of holidays they want to experience and accommodation options. 

With the ever-growing world of technology, consumers’ attention span continues to shorten, Instagram provides visually engaging content in short snippets. Hotels can promote products and services through content that aligns with their brand, connecting with people who have similar passions or hobbies that relate to the business. Instagram continues to expand so that businesses have plenty of opportunities to grow. Hotels should jump at this free tool where 81% of users will use the platform to research new products and services.

Implementing an Instagram marketing strategy into your hotel’s social media marketing is so beneficial and can be a fairly simple process. Be sure to:

  • Build an audience for your Instagram profile
  • Set up your Instagram profile for businesses
  • Sort out a sales funnel to target different audience personas
  • Create a compelling Instagram bio
  • Ensure your content showcases your hotel as ‘Instagramable’ as possible
  • Create a content calendar, schedule content and post regularly

With more of the travelling workers being made up of the younger generation, driven by millennials, hotels should take advantage and target this audience. Instagram is the best opportunity to do so, with 71% of users falling into the millennial demographic. Looking to explore and discover more about themselves, hotels can position themselves on Instagram where audiences are able to relate. What’s more, purchasing through social media platforms is becoming more common and online shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable doing so, with 74% of millennials completing purchases through the app.

We’ve listed some simple yet effective ways your hotel can create Instagram-worthy content:

1. Highlight your hotel’s unique selling point

Be sure that your Instagram profile highlights what sets your brand apart. Instil this into every post so that users know what makes your brand unique in comparison to others. Make them see what they can experience at your hotel that they’d miss out on by staying elsewhere.

2. Take inspiration from the industry leaders

Before getting stuck in with creating content for Instagram, research competitors and successful hotels on Instagram that align with your business model, style and audience personas. Think about where you can take inspiration from that can help you save time on trialling different practices that could work for you.

3. Attention to detail is important

Hotels should ensure that they pay attention to all the details of their property; from something as simple as breakfast spreads and room design, to visual appeal of restaurant dishes and bar cocktails. Not only can these be useful content to showcase the hotel and its amenities, but can also encourage guests to take a photo at any moment.

4. Showcase your hotel

No matter the hotel, be it a small nature B&B or a large beach resort, properties can leverage every aspect to their full potential. Highlight beautiful views, event spaces, restaurants and bars, and any seasonal changes or exclusive recreational services. Take advantage of all the photo opportunities your hotel provides just by showing it off.

5. Collaborate with influencers and travel bloggers

Working with influencers is one of the most impactful ways to market your hotel and ‘influence’ audiences. Influencers have high volumes of followers on Instagram and are an effective way to market your hotel, generate more engagement on your feed through ‘influenced’ audiences. 

6. Create a theme for your feed

Follow brand guidelines or align content with your brand story, but be sure to stick to one theme for your Instagram feed. Mixing your feed with posts that show no relevance to each other or your brand can lead to lack of user engagement and limited account growth.

7. Use reels to create short tips and tricks that hotels use

Take advantage of your hotel team’s skills and expertise. If they have any tips, tricks or creative ways to handle situations, processes or events, share them with your audience. For example, bed making hacks or kitchen prep tips can be well received, as it’s something that viewers can definitely relate to.

8. Encourage user engagement and user generated content 

If your hotel has any events or collaborations with influencers, always encourage guests to post content and tag your hotel. User generated content sees a 4.5% higher conversion rate in comparison to branded content. To further encourage user generated content, think about hosting events or competitions, and getting followers involved.

9. Create interesting captions with CTAs

Write captions that capture the audience’s attention. Think about ways you can keep them interested so they continue to view your profile, and tease them where possible. Use call to action phrases in the caption so users know how to follow up or engage further with the brand outside of the post, especially if it can lead to bookings.

Hotel marketing strategy for video

Even without taking a deep dive into the statistics, one could safely assume video is becoming an increasingly popular medium with not only hotel guests, but all consumers. It’s engaging, easy to digest, and easy to share with others. Take for example YouTube, the second largest search engine, where viewers are watching more than six billion hours of video each month.

Video content is continuing to grow internet traffic with no signs of slowing down. Video content offers a combination of impactful media content that harmoniously tells your hotel business story in a captivating way, so it’s no wonder video marketing should be included in any property’s internet marketing. Marketers who leverage video content into their campaigns, be it on social media or organic search, experience 34% higher conversion rates. So, it would be a missed opportunity for hotels to not put resources into this effective strategy. 

The best way to engage with humans is on an emotional level, and what better way to convey this than through video imagery, effects and sound. 

Video content is one of the top ways travellers research their next trip, choosing a destination, activities and accommodation. Here are some important statistics to start your case for video marketing:

  • 70% of YouTube viewers have made a purchase from a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube 
  • 84% of video marketers are using Facebook as one of their main video marketing channels
  • 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
  • More people are watching more videos online than ever before, with the number having doubled since 2018
  • The click-through rate for introductory emails that include a video increases by 96%
  • 88% of people would like to see more videos from brands in 2022
  • Travellers love to find inspiration through video, with around 65% of them watching video when thinking about taking a trip and choosing a destination

These are just some of the reasons as to why all hotels need a strong video marketing strategy within their digital marketing plan. Not only can hotels highlight their properties to guests and potential customers prior to booking, but build brand reputation, awareness and establish stronger emotional connections with your audience. If consumers have a strong emotional connection or like what they see, they’re more likely to complete a booking.

Hotel marketing tips for mobile

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 attracting 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 show you need to focus on these traveller 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 doing a search of common queries you can see if your property features in any of the results and optimise 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 travellers most often search for prices, hotel reviews and pictures, flight lengths, and available destination activities, with 69% of travellers 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 travellers 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

Travellers 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 travellers feel more loyal towards a brand that shares useful information with them during their trip, it’s a good idea to offer travellers 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 time spent manually updating inventory and increase time spent on the more important things.

Hotel marketing plan for SEO

If there’s one thing that can complicate and disrupt the booking journey for hotels, it’s the ever-changing search engine landscape.

Considering the first page of search engine results receive more than 90% of all traffic, for your hotel to be found on Google you need to prioritise key components of ‘search engine optimisation’. The first page of Google is such a competitive battleground and your hotel needs to get everything right to be in the eyes of prospective guests.

With Google constantly updating its algorithms and strategy, traffic coming in from multiple devices, and inconsistent SEO practices from travel websites, it’s hard for hotels to get a clear picture of what is working and what needs to be done to increase traffic and conversions in the future.

Here’s six ways to keep Google happy:

1. Plan your keywords effectively

This requires you to approach the task from the guest’s perspective. Think about what travellers would be searching for on Google when planning their travel and looking for hotels to book in your area.

Once you’ve thought about this you can develop a list of keywords you want to sprinkle throughout your website and analyse the traffic they drive before you implement them. A list of 10 is always a good start. It makes it easier for you to research and evaluate their effectiveness, and quicker for you to integrate them into your site.

2. Create a ‘Google My Business’ account

Google My Business is a free listing that optimises all your hotel’s information into the right fields and makes it easier for travellers to get the details they want. This includes your hotel’s address and phone number, Google maps geo-marker, hotel photos, guest reviews, and other relevant information such as amenities.

Providing you complete your listing properly, with the features listed above, Google My Business makes your hotel website instantly more accessible to travellers searching on Google.

3. Consider using Google Hotel Ads

While Google Hotel Ads is a paid service it’s an effective way to get noticed on Google and Google Maps, and it allows guests to immediately begin the booking process.

The other benefit is that you’ll only pay once your ad generates a click or a booking, and will only appear when travellers are searching for something that meets the specifics of your property.

It allows travellers to filter their results to suit their needs, meaning the ratio of bookings you get per click is likely to be higher and worth your investment.

4. Track demand and search data

SEO is not a set-and-forget strategy. Hoteliers must be constantly on their toes to ensure they maintain their ranking. By keeping track of search and demand trends for your city, you can make more intelligent decisions about the content on your website.

Remember that seasonality plays a big role in what travellers search for so changing your keywords to reflect updates to your packages/promotions or blog posts is very important. It will also mean you’re setting your rates accurately.

5. Treat content as an essential

High quality content is always going to please Google’s algorithms and it will increase your chances of converting site visitors into bookings too. Maintaining a blog is the best way to do this and ensure your content is always fresh. Consider publishing a post at least once a week, sharing it on your social media pages, and sending emails to your database too.

To get the most out of your blog, make sure you:

  • Link to your blog from your main website, as this will help you increase your rankings in the search engine results and drive unique traffic to the site where guests can book with you directly.
  • Share new posts that you add to your blog on your social media pages. This increases engagement and interaction with your customers, and provides them with an opportunity to share information about your brand with their own followers.

Content also means visual content. High quality images will help attract attention to your website on listings and impress your site visitors, and you can attach keywords to your images. You should consider investing in a certified photographer to implement a 360 degree tour of your property. This will appear on your Google listing as ‘See Inside’.

The more content you have the more backlinks and external links you can use to strengthen your appeal to Google’s algorithm and also increase the amount of traffic flowing through to your website.

6. Prioritise online reviews

Managing online reviews should play a pivotal role in your overall hotel marketing strategy. No one is going to book a hotel on face value. You can promote your property all you want but in the grand scheme of things, travellers will always trust their peers over you, at least before the first time they stay.

This is why you need verified reviews visible on search engines and metasearch sites, preferably five-star responses. To give your hotel credibility you need to respond to as many reviews as possible, especially any negative comments. Guests want to see that you care about their experience and are working to improve your service and get to know them better.

Consider requesting reviews from your guests after they leave, either in the form of an automatic email reminder or through an incentive program, which rewards guests for leaving favourable feedback.

Reviews must be continuously monitored and managed, as people frequently rely on popular review sites in order to make the final decision about where they want to stay when they travel.

7. Tracking data and analysis

While not strictly marketing, data research and analysis is an incredibly valuable resource for your marketing strategies. Focusing on data gives you accurate and predictable information on customers, competitors, and the industry as a whole. Without it you won’t be able to track the behaviour, pricing, or trends you want to shape plans of action.

It’s important that you utilise Google Analytics to collect and learn from data. Analysis is important for any strategy you put in place at your hotel. By gaining more information on who might be searching for a hotel like yours and what content is of interest to them, you can really start optimising every aspect of your website.

Google Analytics can help your staff:

  • Assess the traffic volume of keywords
  • Measure page views of content
  • Record where traffic is coming from
  • Decipher what devices visitors are using
  • Understand which traffic sources have the highest conversion rates

Hotel marketing campaigns for email

Increasing competition in today’s online business climate has necessitated more diversified marketing and distribution strategies for hotel operators. 

But while it’s important for hotel marketers and revenue managers to consider both traditional and emerging opportunities, the costs associated with marketing your hotel through multiple channels can add up.

Enter email marketing – one of the most viable, cost-effective methods for reaching guests and increasing direct bookings. Email marketing is crucial for the hotel industry: it’s estimated to return $38 for every $1 spent, making it the channel with the best return on investment (ROI).

Just as travellers can now plan their trip using the endless information offered online, including through Google, hotels can also look to take simple steps to plan for their guests’ arrivals.

The first step in email marketing is to optimise your send lists. You want to make sure you have a sizable pool of prospects, but you also want them to be quality leads. Looking at your current lists and analysing previous results will give you a good indication how you want to grow your list moving forward. Help this process by including an easy form on your website and asking guests in person during their stay.

Once you have a large database to target, here are seven tips for you based on email marketing strategy:

1. Target repeat guests

Not only is it easier to target repeat business than to generate new leads, it’s less expensive too; statistics show that attracting new guests can cost you five to eight times as much as retaining existing ones.

Why not offer return guests special package deals and time-sensitive reward program benefits to increase your revenue?

2. Take advantage of peak periods

Guests are more likely to look for rooms in the run-up to peak periods, so use this time to remind them why they should book with you with holiday-themed emails, special discounts and personalised incentives. 

Lean on your property management system (PMS) data to identify spikes in room occupancy in order to send targeted, seasonal emails – particularly to previous high-spenders. It is during those peak periods that you are also more likely to attract new guests.

Be sure to identify your niche and ideal customer; this makes targeting much more streamlined and effective.

3. Remember customer data is key

Nowadays, every customer who books a hotel room online understands they must be willing to provide their email address (in order to receive their confirmation email and other important information from the hotel). Always collect this data at the time of booking or check-in and use it to follow up with your customers in a timely fashion. For example, by sending out emails with exclusive deals and time-sensitive offers, you can upsell and create cross-market opportunities for increased revenues.

Personalisation is essential. Understanding your subscribers in more detail and segmenting them accordingly allows you to deliver more relevant branding campaigns.

4. Optimise your send times

Personalise and send emails that relate directly to your guests’ needs and preferences. In particular, be mindful of which time zone they’re in and send emails when they’re most likely to be receptive. While Experian research shows that emails sent on Fridays have the highest click-through rate (CTR) and those sent on Mondays generate the most revenue, it’s important to experiment with different days and times to find what’s most effective for you.

By harnessing the power of marketing automation software, you can analyse your CTR and other metrics in order to help fine-tune the timing of your email campaigns.

5. Use short and direct subject lines

To make your emails more engaging, use short and direct subject lines with clear benefits, so customers are encouraged to open your email and find out what’s inside. Using a marketing automation tool you can easily test different subject lines with, and measure your open and click-through rates to compare how different marketing campaigns perform.

6. Utilise beautiful images in your emails

People remember about 80% of what they see, and only 20% of what they hear so don’t be afraid to really draw their attention to stunning pictures of your hotel and destination. It will increase engagement and get them to focus on your content.

7. Use a call-to-action (CTA) and encourage replies

The most effective marketing emails engage the reader with CTAs and incentives, for example:

  • Invitations to book directly on your website in exchange for vouchers and other incentives
  • Requests for feedback in exchange for discounts or the chance to win a prize
  • Personalised, time-sensitive offers and rewards that encourage guests to “act now”

A friendly CTA combined with a personalised message helps to encourage click-throughs and responses.

Email marketing should be an important part of your hotel’s overall, and ongoing, marketing strategy. Remember: with every email you are building a relationship with your customer. By taking the time to send personalised and relevant communications, guests will feel valued and want to book with you.

Hotel marketing guide for retargeting

Only a small number of those who visit your website will end up taking the plunge right then and there and book with you. No matter how incredible your digital experience may be, the reality is that most guests will visit twice, thrice, four times, more times – and will go to OTAs, competitors, and metasearch engines just as much if not more.

This is why retargeting is so crucial and why it deserves its own section in this guide. As few as 3% to 4% of your visitors will make a booking – but that doesn’t mean you just let them off the hook. Retargeting is a strategy that specifically targets those people that have indicated interest in your hotel and could become guests in the future. Even if they don’t book right now, you can aim to stay top of mind for when they’re ready, whether that’s a few days from now or a year in advance.

It’s never too early to get – and stay – on your audience’s radar. There are a few effective ways to make retargeting work for you:

Site retargeting

When someone visits your hotel website, you can attach a specific code to their browser as a cookie. This cookie then follows them and targets them on other sites with your branded ads. This works through a variety of different advertising providers, but likely the most valuable for you will be Google Ads. Setting up retargeting through Google Ads means that your paid advertisements will appear in banners, pop ups, search results, YouTube, and more. Other avenues with retargeting capability include social media sites, with Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and Instagram likely being the most valuable.

Email retargeting

You can also ‘chase’ people who open your email but take no further action in the same manner as site retargeting. There are a number of marketing platform providers that can set up these “nurture workflows” (as they’re sometimes called), and usually involve sending a prospective guest a series of helpful emails stuffed with content, advice, and enticing offers that demonstrate to them why they should consider staying with you when they next have the opportunity. This is advertising directly in their inbox and is incredibly powerful when paired with the right kind of content.

Search retargeting

This takes into account the keywords people use on search engines like Google. If they search for a weekend away in your area, they can be targeted with your ads. This means that if they engaged with your hotel online in the past, but you may have slipped off their radar, you can quickly get back in front of them and trigger a new interaction and, hopefully, a new booking.

Top hotel marketing ideas to stay ahead

Throughout this guide, we hope we’ve answered some questions, provided some things to consider, and pointed out the landmines you must avoid to be successful in hotel marketing. There’s a lot to take in – hotel marketing is a hugely complex discipline! – but let’s focus on some of the key takeaways and strategies that you can use right now to gain more business and out-pace and out-perform your competition.

1. Invest in an incredible booking experience

Independent hotels must optimise their website with clear call-to-actions and rich local content in order to maximise engagement with their website visitors. For instance, by using cloud technology to create a fully integrated booking experience on your website, you can:

  • Create a clear path through the booking process with a minimum of clicks.
  • Reach international travellers with offers in multiple languages and currencies.
  • Make your deals and special promotions more visible on your website.
  • Up-sell with value-added extras (breakfast, late check-out, etc).

Along with clear call-to-actions on your website, having high-quality, SEO-optimised content will improve your search engine rankings and strengthen your value proposition in the marketplace. By focusing on strengthening your web presence, you can increase your level of conversions and revenues through direct bookings.

2. Always look to the next big thing

There’s really no such thing as being over prepared. Keep an eye on upcoming trends, emerging markets, and always confer regularly with a revenue manager to make sure the strategies you’re creating are worth executing. Planning ahead will also identify any potential and upcoming weaknesses.

Obviously you have to possess a thirst for news and current trends. Ideally, you’ll keep track of all relevant industry announcements and any competitor news, in case it impacts your planning. On top of that, you can’t forget to monitor guest reviews and feedback across all channels so you know what guests enjoy about your hotel and what they dislike.

Staying abreast doesn’t have to be complex. Simply setting up a Google Alert to notify you around relevant news for your local area, niche and the overall hotel industry, can be enough to give you the edge.

3. Use data to deliver amazing experiences

Knowing where to market your hotel and who you should market to is undoubtedly step one in hotel marketing. Without a defined audience for any content or collateral you produce, your work is wasted. For instance, being aggressive on mobile marketing could be a lost cause if your intended customer is over 65. Use data to determine who your most likely guest is and market accordingly.

It’s not just getting people in the door either. Customer service is everything in the hospitality industry so creating offers with your guests at heart is essential. Make sure you give them real value for money and fulfilling experiences – and how do you know what they value and what they find fulfilling? By investing in guest data, market research, and regularly reviewing to ensure that your marketing strategy is aligned.

Lastly, at a hotel, tracking metrics and data is vital. You have to know where your revenue is coming from, what you should be spending more or less budget on, and when you need to make changes. Use your channel manager and booking systems to produce reports and help you analyse particular data sets.

4. Get your hands dirty (maybe literally)

Understanding your hotel, the people you market to, and the staff that you rely on to deliver the experiences your marketing strategy promises, is absolutely pivotal. While there’s huge value in data (see the previous point), don’t be afraid to get on the front line every now and then.

Aim to tour the various parts of your hotel to gain firsthand experience from staff and guests alike, and use those findings to better inform your marketing strategy. This is less about crafting the perfect advertising campaign or optimising your website so it’s faster than a greased cheetah, and more about understanding exactly why you’re dedicated resource to those efforts – and maybe discovering something else that might be even more valuable.

And, as a bonus, remember that energy, enthusiasm, and optimism are all contagious. Staying positive will transfer through your work, to other hotel staff, and eventually guests – ultimately creating a better atmosphere; one that’s exciting and set up for success.

6. Fill your knowledge gaps

Nobody is an expert in everything and trying to tick every box with an under-resourced team – or worse, trying to do it yourself, alone – is a surefire way to end up with a marketing strategy that takes a lot of time but delivers very little.

One of the most important marketing strategies you can adopt for your hotel is one around seeking talent. Social media marketing, website optimisation, advertising strategy, content creation are all individual disciplines unto themselves in hotel marketing. And that’s not even a complete list!

If you want to succeed in hotel marketing, you must learn to uncover and lean on experts, whether they’re new hires, consultants, or hidden gems in your current staffing. Hotel marketing management for executives and general managers should be more about managing your own team of experts, not managing the marketing yourself.

7. Never stop pushing for reviews

Garnering positive reviews at your property is gold for future bookings and brand reputation. Think creatively about how you can convince customers to leave positive feedback. There are many online and offline efforts you can employ to get people talking about your hotel. Here are some tips.

8. Consider every possible digital device

Travellers need to access data on the move, whether it is via smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It’s essential for independent hoteliers to maintain a strong digital presence across a variety of devices.

In a move to capture more of the lucrative mobile market, travel brands like TripAdvisor, Expedia and Booking.com have developed key strategies for mobile platforms. Independent hotels need to follow suit with custom apps that help target and bring in more direct customers. For example, Choice Hotels Book Now! app utilises smartphones’ built-in GPS capabilities to allow travellers to locate over 5,800 properties worldwide, book automatically using previously stored credit card information, and rack up rewards in the process.

9. Stay dynamic with your pricing

Price remains one of the key considerations for any guest. To stay competitive in the transparent booking landscape, independent hotels need to review and re-optimise their pricing regularly. As a case in point, online retailer Amazon makes more than 2.5 million price changes every day in order to provide the most competitive pricing on the web.

Hotels must adopt the same mentality when it comes to pricing, by constantly monitoring competitors’ prices and adjusting their room prices accordingly to maximise revenue per room. Using a revenue management system (RMS) with dynamic pricing capabilities, you can track your competitors’ pricing and, within your specified parameters, adjust prices on your OTAs and meta-search engines automatically with your channel manager – helping you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Airbnb is a prime example of a company that has solved the puzzle of predictive pricing for its customers who often have trouble correctly pricing their rooms. Integrating the basic question of “How do I price my room?” within their pricing algorithms, Airbnb’s pricing suggestions take into account a variety of factors including the type of room, the local neighbourhood (value), and nearby amenities. As their experiments revealed, users that chose to use the suggested prices got three times as many bookings as those who did not. Clearly, better pricing intelligence drives more bookings.

Using your channel manager as part of a cloud-based product suite, you can ensure that your best rates and current room availability are automatically updated in real-time across all your booking channels including OTAs, GDS, wholesalers, travel agents, and your own website – saving you time while you maximise your revenue per room.

11. Incentives, incentives, incentives

Guests that frequent independent hotels will fall into the category of a one-time visit, a regular guest, or an advocate who provides positive word-of-mouth to drive more direct business. But regardless of which category they fall into, guests need incentives to stay again or recommend your hotel and its benefits when booking directly.

For example, complimentary free upgrades, free food and drinks, and redeemable vouchers for local restaurants in exchange for booking direct through your website are just a few incentives that will encourage return visits. Using your social media channels, you can convert more customers with special offers and booking buttons that lead them directly to your website.

When it comes to driving greater efficiencies, hoteliers must make use of all options available, both online and off. By offering more streamlined direct booking options on your website, mobile booking apps, along with competitive pricing and incentives – your hotel will be well-positioned to capture its share of the independent hotel market.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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