Hospitality is the kind of industry that’s always going to have customers in demand, but the way that people are choosing where they go and where they stay is changing. For example, recent statistics show that 57 percent of hotel bookings are now taking place online. This means that for a sizeable consumer segment, digital advertising and marketing is going to be the clear way to get the bookings you need.
Here are some essential strategies that you can put into action right away as we head towards 2019 to ensure you hit the ground running.
1. Always be Mobile-Ready
In general, digital marketing is trending toward mobile use, especially for the millennial consumer segment that many hotels are trying to court. Over 50 percent of travellers currently booking digitally are doing this from their smartphone rather than their computers. That means that not only should you be investing money into making sure your website is mobile-friendly, but that your emails and other content are as well.
2. Be Ready to Specialise
The old adage “jack of all trades, master of none” applies when it comes to hospitality. In your marketing communications, try not to appeal to everyone but instead hone in on what your hotel truly excels at and speak to your target personas. It’s also worth it to make sure that you are appearing on all the distribution channels relevant to your targeted niche.
3. Communicate the Benefits of Your Location and Hotel
Depending on where you are based, it makes sense to not only try and market your hotel, but also the city that you’re in. Examples of this include using blog content to try and point out things that tourists can do while they are in your area. Not only does this provide actionable advice, but it shows your potential guests you’re focused on them having a good time rather than just trying to show all the positive qualities of your hotel.
4. Don’t Neglect Email Marketing
Email marketing is still the champ when it comes to ROI in digital marketing. However, you need to decide well ahead of time what type of conversions you are targeting, and how you are going to fill out your list. Hotels have an easier time with this than most due to the face-to-face time they get with their guests during the check-in and check-out process.
5. Use Google My Business
Google My Business is an invaluable way to improve your SEO. Basically, think of this as the modern equivalent of the classic business directory. When your hotel puts in its address and basic info, it will have a listing, and appear in Google Maps searches. However, you want to improve your listing even further by making sure that you add images, links, and try to garner some positive reviews on your listing. This will improve your local SEO ranking and help customers learn more about your business right from their initial Google search.
6. Consider Crowdsourcing Content
Several successful hotel chains have created crowdsourced content initiatives, especially when it comes to photos. This is great because it not only gives customers a way to get involved, but it brings potential content that your marketing team may not have thought of. 60% of consumers say user-generated content is the most authentic and influential form of content. The only catch here is that you need a way to curate and approve content you choose to make sure that everything stays on brand.
7. Bring on an Influencer
Many people follow the words of influencers when it comes to what they buy and where they travel. Partnering with someone to help showcase your hotel or perhaps write content for you is a great way to turn their audience into your audience. Again, though, you need to do your due diligence to make sure that whomever you work with is a good fit for your brand.
8. Keep an Eye on Your Online Reputation
It’s tempting to overreact when you see a bad review, but in many ways, businesses make things worse for themselves by not handling a bad review in the right way. While you don’t want to bend over backwards with people who are being unreasonable, it is good to publicly address issues as quickly as possible. This at least shows that you, as a hotel operator, are dedicated to tackling customer problems. Here are some tips on how to encourage good reviews.
9. Find a Way to Appeal Beyond OTAs
The elephant in the room for a lot of hotels is finding a way to compete with the convenience of OTAs, which are taking up a larger portion of the booking market share. The best thing to do, rather than competing with them where they are successful, is focus on the things they cannot. For example, putting together a loyalty program for people who book directly is a great way to establish regular customers.
10. Have Data/Always be Ready to Improve
When it comes to digital marketing, you don’t necessarily want to find yourself in a trial and error situation, but you do want to be able to keep track of how you are doing. There are a variety of tools that can help you track exactly how your digital marketing initiatives are performing and whether or not they are getting you the conversions you want. If one is more successful than the rest, you may want to lean on that format. If one is underperforming, you can make necessary changes before it’s too late.
The thing about hotel digital marketing is that to see the biggest benefit, you can’t use any one of these tactics or any one digital marketing tool. Instead, you need to make sure that you focus on as many of these things as possible. In order to make this happen, it can help a lot to bring in outside support rather than trying to delegate all these initiatives to your in-house team. Partnering with Blue Beetle is a great way to navigate this issue. Our sweet spot is the restaurant and hospitality industries and can help you find the best digital marketing strategy for your hotel and put it into action.