Social media has become an integral way for hotel managers to reach potential guests, with TripAdvisor recently finding that some 40% of travellers use social networks for inspiration for their next trip while 76% use them to share their experiences with others.
But while social media creates huge potential for sales growth and increased online bookings, targeting guests isn’t as simple as using a hashtag here and there, or generating the most likes.
According to Google, over 60% of leisure travellers turn to the internet for inspiration. So what are the major ways to revamp your online distribution sales to make your hotel stand out from the travel pack?
Here are four key hotel marketing strategies to help you gain a better understanding and, in turn, maximise your direct online sales:
1. Promote your business online with social media
Social media platforms are the Holy Grail of the marketing world. By utilising social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ effectively, you can develop long-lasting relationships with your guests and boost both your brand awareness and loyalty.
It can be surprising how many companies miss the mark when it comes to representing their brand through social media. A boutique hotel that specialises in wellness and relaxation, for example, will have a vastly different target audience to that of a large hotel franchise. In this case, the boutique hotel may be better off being more targeted and posting to lifestyle and wellness communities in order to build a rapport with potential guests in this area.
Another consideration that is often overlooked is blogs. Creating a blog on your website that provides unique and engaging content will help potential guests develop an idea of your brand’s identity, and provide you with great content to post across your social media channels.
It’s also wise to support your online content with visual elements. Chesapeake Hospitality sales manager Clifford Ferrara recently told the Hotel Business Review the internet is “primarily a visual medium, and investing in high-quality photography and video is imperative”.
2. Sell more rooms online via social media channels
While hospitality must remain at the core of every hotel business, the ultimate goal for any hotel manager is, of course, sales, sales and more sales.
Interacting with potential guests through social media channels is the first step.
Start by reaching them in the dreaming stage (the first of the 5 stages of travel), when they are just beginning to imagine their great escape and are inspired by social media posts and travel blogs.
The next step is to take advantage of the high engagement you get on social media. Implementing a booking engine that is integrated with your Facebook page, for example, will mean customers can book with you with ease. It’s also great news for your online booking targets.
3. Use online booking channels to increase sales
Direct bookings are an important consideration for any hotel looking to lower the costs they pay on commissions – and booking engines are crucial in this regard.
However, for optimised reach and exposure, hotels should also look to diversify their online distribution strategy and this is where a channel manager comes in handy. An efficient channel manager solution that connects to multiple online booking channels (or OTAs, as they are more commonly known) and meta-search engines, can dramatically increase your local and global reach and help your hotel engage with travellers when they are starting the buying process. Overall, the aim of a standout hotel marketing strategy is to be everywhere online, so potential customers can’t miss you.
4. Ensure your channel manager and booking engine are mobile-compatible
Research from SmartBrief shows 45% of hotel guests now travel with two devices and a steep 40% with three or more. This emerging shift to portable devices – such as iPhones, Androids and tablets – has changed the way travellers make online bookings, particularly when on-the-go, and made it a necessity for hotels to implement mobile platforms in order to boost revenue and cut costs.
How will you change the shape of your online distribution strategy?