The online challenges facing hotel marketers are constant and many. With technology taking giant strides forward and travellers becoming more savvy when it comes to online environments, standing out from the crowd has never been more difficult.
Here are three of the major online marketing challenges currently facing hotels.
1. Are tried and true methods becoming outdated?
Even though email marketing is proven to be the most effective way to engage with customers and prospective guests – and many stick by it – is it destined to fall by the wayside?
Two-thirds of the Baby Boomer generation are now online and the younger Generation Y group already see email as a slow and boring way to communicate. For them, it’s about video content, text messaging, and smart technology. If anything is certain, it’s that the mobile revolution has now well and truly succeeded.
Emerging enthusiasm for, and knowledge in, technology opens up a veritable minefield for hotel marketers. Since there’s less history to base results on, how do you know what the best strategy is?
The future is even harder to predict with new ways to connect popping up seemingly each day. However there’s plenty of opportunity to capitalise on the evolved audience. With new technology comes more chance to experiment and implement unique marketing strategies that may cut through the noise. It’s important to continue the trend of marketing to individuals rather than generalised groups of guests.
2. Hoteliers have less influence on guests than before
The unrelenting rise of travel sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) has the potential to limit the impact hotels can have on the decision of a guest.
TripAdvisor’s website alone gets 20 million visits each month, with over seven million online reviews left for hotels. Each of those reviews has the power to influence the decision of another traveller, with very little input from the hotelier at all.
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Hotels can also struggle to gain control of their profiles on OTAs. Algorithms and ranking systems can restrict the visibility of certain property listings and there’s also no guarantee on how much guest information an OTA will share with the hotel.
Staying attentive to these channels will help, but it also positions direct bookings as an even more important challenge for hotel marketers to conquer.
3. Getting on top of data is a must
The more data you have, the more strategic you can be. That’s the simple mantra for hotels, but it’s not always so easy to analyse large volumes of data and make the right decisions.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing and finding accuracy within keyword strategy results can be difficult. If a large proportion of revenue relies on search engine rankings, an inconsistent landscape, it’s a dangerous position to be in.
It’s also almost impossible to accurately track a visitor’s experience throughout the buying process. Guests search on multiple devices across multiple platforms over potentially long periods of time, making it hard to track a sale back to the original or most prominent source. Analytics can often tell you both Facebook and Google converted a sale.
All of this is without even mentioning the overwhelming presence of social media. It’s unclear if any company, big or small, has completely figured out a foolproof social media plan. Hotels must constantly ask themselves what content they should be producing, how they produce it, and who they’re producing it for. Then, it has to be tailored slightly differently for every social channel they use.