Want to appeal to your website visitors and inspire them to make bookings? It’s not enough to post a few static images of your hotel or luxurious infinity edge pool and hope for the best. Second only to internet advertising in accelerated growth, content marketing now accounts for more than 20% of hotel marketing budgets. That’s why a great content marketing strategy is key to effectively promoting your hotel online.
The CMA‘s definition of content marketing is:
Content marketing is the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.
An essential part of your reputation management and overall online distribution strategy, content marketing empowers your hotel to engage with guests – here’s how:
Tell your story
Every business has a story. To bring that story to the front and differentiate yourself from the competition, you need to identify your hotel’s unique selling points (USPs) and talk about it in a way that creates an emotional connection with your guests.
For example, recognising the need for greater human connection, does your hotel offer a WiFi-enabled lounge where travellers can hang out and meet? Are you a progressive hotel with a state-of-the-art spa or business centre? Is your hotel quirky or dog friendly? What about your amazing staff? Through the use of visual storytelling with professional images, video tours, and real guest feedback and testimonials – you can more powerfully and immediately convey your message to web visitors.
According to skift.com, “Hotel groups like Thompson, Kimpton, Joie de Vivre, and SBE rely on interesting online story narratives to help sell their on-property experience much more so than larger corporate brands during the consumer research phase. Kimpton Hotels launched an all-new version of its website in the summer of 2014 to interact with viewers on a deeper and more personal level, while engaging them longer on a year-round basis.”
For greater effectiveness, be sure to focus your content around your specific objectives such as building more online exposure or driving more direct bookings. And remember, email is key to building your audience – make the most of your existing customer lists to drive repeat business and customer loyalty.
Go for content quality, not quantity
When it comes to effective content, quality is far more important than quantity, so don’t skimp. Hire professional writers to work closely with your marketing team to create high-quality, SEO-optimised content for your hotel’s website and blog that is targeted to your specific audience and age group: millennials, generation cohort, gen y, gen x, business guests, or families. Give readers what they want by providing useful “insider information”, with a focus on local and trending topics, while simultaneously meeting your specific objectives. Be sure to use relevant key words whenever possible and update your content regularly to rank higher in search engine results.
Push your content across all platforms
For even greater impact, content from your hotel website should be pushed across all of your social media platforms, as well as your offline mediums including print advertising, hotel guides, and directories. On your social media channels, share your hotel’s promotions and information on “micro-local” events, and encourage users to promote and share your hotel’s content with their friends and followers. And always include a great photo – studies show that photos can increase your Facebook interaction by 87% and your re-tweets by 35%.
Depending on where your traffic is coming from, localisation requirements for your website need to be taken into account, for example, by offering booking options in multiple languages and currencies. By offering the best possible experience to guests on your website and social media channels, you can differentiate your offerings from your OTAs and other channel partners, helping to drive more direct bookings.
To encourage more traffic and sales, always make it easy for guests to access your web presence across any device – be it an iPhone, Android or Blackberry smartphone, tablet, or laptop. With 40% of users abandoning websites that take more than three seconds to load, guests don’t have patience for slow or clunky mobile experiences. To increase your level of mobile conversions, use responsive design for your hotel’s website (Google’s recommendation), and ensure that your booking engines are fully functional across all mobile devices.
Focus on the customer experience and loyalty
Consider gearing your website’s content towards the different stages a traveller experiences throughout the booking process, for instance: inspiration, research and planning, booking, pre and post stay. To encourage guest loyalty, always create personalised, compelling, and timely content with a focus on locally curated topics. Promote your special offers, seasonal promotions, and leading events on your website, social media channels, and email and appeal to potential guests via the use of incentives and personalised offers.
Convert more guests with content marketing
With so many digital channels in use today, hotels must step up and meet the demand for personalised and appealing content that competes with OTAs and meta-search engines. By creating valuable, useful, and interactive content for your potential guests, you can go a long way in creating brand awareness, trust, and a more positive evaluation of your property.
Hoteliers need to ensure they empower their hotel with the kind of content marketing that drives bookings, brand and personality, and reflects the needs and interests of potential guests at all times.