Nearly 60% of hotel bookings are made online, meaning that if you don’t have a hotel marketing strategy that includes online, you are missing out on more than half your customers!
In the US alone, 88% percent of Americans prefer to book their hotels online. This means it makes absolute sense that online marketing is an integral part of any hotel marketing strategy.
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Hotel marketing strategy types overview
Different types of businesses require different strategies – and the same goes for hotels. They are all a bit different and have a USP. The same way that you decide to decorate a hotel with a certain “theme”, your marketing strategy also needs to incorporate this special “theme” in order to convey your individuality as a brand.
The key is to choose the suitable online marketing methods. First, let’s go over the different types.
Social media is a large part of the average digital user’s life. Whether they are using Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or even LinkedIn (think corporate/business travel), they see what others are posting when it comes to their travels and hotel usage. Seeing what others do often leads to a booking because they become inspired by their friends, family and colleagues. As a result, more than 50% of them want to do the same and end up making bookings.
People also often consider whether their vacation destination is “Instagrammable”, which drives purchasing decisions. Furthermore, over half of travelers also begin following pages after they book, making it easier for hotels to maintain customer loyalty.
All this doesn’t even include the possibilities that social media ads can accomplish. If you have landing pages on your website, simply want to bring more customers to your booking platform or promote your own content, paid ads are the perfect way to bring in customers with an easily trackable ROI.
SEO, or search engine optimization, involves the process of using your website’s content to increase your chances of appearing in Google search results. We’ve got an extensive guide here. In shorter terms, this is typically done through a blog, or other long-form content on a website using unpaid keywords. Particularly relevant for the hotel industry is travel blogs. One study showed that in the 12 weeks leading up to a trip, there are 3x more experiences searches than hotel searches.
So for example, you may have more success by having a blog that focuses on destination experiences, which then links to an online booking platform for your hotel instead of trying to promote the booking platform directly. A general rule of thumb is that content that sounds less like selling often sells more!
If you do decide you want to promote your platform directly, then you can use Google Ads. While SEO uses unpaid keywords, Google Ads uses paid keywords. This means that you choose certain keywords to describe a certain landing page (a page you want to drive traffic to) and then describe it with those keywords. Google Ads also provide an easily trackable ROI.
Did you know that you adding a video to your website increases the chance that you will appear on the first page of Google search results by 53 times? Videos are also the most shared and engaged with form of content across the internet. No matter whether you’re using social media, SEO, ads, email marketing, or a combination, there’s a good chance using a video will skyrocket your results.
Email also has some pretty striking statistics for the travel industry. Mailchimp found that the travel industry is one of the top industries utilizing the powers of email marketing. Furthermore, people plan their trips as much as 84 days in advance, meaning that email marketing can be used to help them make their decisions about where to book – when you provide the right offer of course.
Email marketing for hotels has many purposes including:
- Booking confirmations and cancellations
- Offering the possibility for reviews
- Offering discounts for former and new customers
- Providing general customer support
- Inspiring further bookings through content marketing
Directories & Local SEO
One should also never forget the power of using local directories, especially hotels. This means using platforms such as Trip Advisor, Booking.com, Expedia, etc to make sure that when someone does a search, your hotel is listed on that directory for that location. Using these directories also offers a fantastic place for reviews, which help a hotel to rank higher both on that directory and on Google search.
Google My Business in particular is of extreme importance when it comes to local SEO, not only for your search ranking, but reviews are also a big influencer when a customer makes a decision on where to book.
How to create a hotel marketing strategy
#1 Research your target market
Any well-thought out marketing strategy begins with target market research. This includes looking into demographic information about your customers. This includes for example, age, language, gender, and interests. This data allows your to understand how to reach this customer specifically, such as which platforms to find them on, which tone you should use, which images/videos will speak to them and much more.
It’s also worth it to do an audit of your current website. HMBB provides audits to help out with this. If you’d like to give it a try yourself, basically it means sorting out what is working and what isn’t. Which pages get the most traffic and from where? Which social media gets the most engagement? When are the popular engagement times? Is it better to use written text or video, or a combination?
#2 Decide on the appropriate platforms to use and create a campaign
Once you have deciphered more about your target market, you can use that data to know when, where, and how to promote yourself. Focus on reaching the customers you’ve had the most success with so far. If something worked in the past, do it over and over and you’ll likely have successful results.
#3 Monitor the campaign
Monitoring your marketing efforts is absolutely crucial for achieving success. If you start a campaign, but you don’t check its progress, you’ll have no idea if it worked or not. The majority of the marketing process involves testing things out to see what actually works. This takes time, patience and consistency. Overnight successes may look as such, but a lot of the time the people behind them have been testing and experimenting for ages before they found their recipe for success. So, take the time to try out different methods, different types of marketing, maybe even marketing to different types of customers and see what works best for your individual business.
One common method for this is to use A/B testing so you can compare multiple campaigns, or types of marketing, and easily see which one obtains the top results.
A quick tip is that one of the best tools for monitoring campaigns is Google Analytics – and it’s absolutely free!
#4 Make adjustments and improve for the next campaign
Save all the data you have from the monitoring process (another reason why Google Analytics is great because it makes this possible). Once you see where you’re receiving the best results, restructure the next campaign so it includes those elements.
Tips to improve your hotel marketing strategy
Get an awesome website
First and foremost, all businesses should have a website.
This includes businesses who do zero online selling. The reason is that a website gives you the opportunity to showcase reviews, offer content to potential or existing customers, explain the values behind your brand and simply entice people to come to you.
But having just any website isn’t going to help if it’s not done well. A poorly done website can even have a negative effect on your customer outreach. It’s highly worth it to work with experienced web developers, graphic designers and copywriters to ensure that your website matches your target market and is formatted for online marketing.
Use SEO whenever possible
As mentioned in the SEO section above, SEO is an essential part of hotel marketing because they have a local basis. Use local SEO elements to your advantage, including having listings on all popular directories as well as having a Google My Business page.
Let your individuality shine
Showcasing your USP is important so that customers know why they should choose you over others. Use what you know about your target market to craft your website and marketing strategy around this. Speak directly to those customers through your graphics. Provide content they want to read.
Get recommendations from others
Having a recommendation from a third-party source helps to establish your credibility. Travel bloggers, for instance, often review the hotels they stay in. If they enjoyed their stay, they can include a link to your hotel in their blog, which can in turn increase your bookings. Take a look for different bloggers or other websites that may be willing to give you a review within content with a backlink for customers to book with you.
Connect with travel agencies or tour operators
Travel agencies and tour operators with overnight stays are always looking for the best possible accommodation for their clients. These are also a great source for a third party recommendation, but you can in addition offer package deals or discounts so that they book with you most often. If you establish long-term partnerships, that’s an easy way to ensure a steady stream of income for your hotel, plus a whole lot of good reviews.
Find dedicated marketing & sales personnel
Take the time to actually do proper marketing. Many businesses make the mistake in thinking that just because their website exists, then that’s all they need to do for marketing. Wrong! Your website and any other platforms you promote on are living and breathing elements that require consistent updates. Finding the appropriate sales and marketing personnel ensures that these channels are managed properly and meet your target market, which of course means more business for you in the long run.
HMBB is happy to provide a lending hand if need be!