Effective hotel marketing is the difference between potential guests booking a room at your hotel—or somewhere else.
The single greatest challenge that many hotels face is their competition, and there’s plenty of it out there. If you want to familiarize the world with your hotel brand and gain more direct bookings, you’re going to have to set yourself apart from the rest.
So, how do you set yourself apart from the competition? You can start by reading our updated hotel marketing guide for 2020.
Hotel Marketing in 2020
There are two major keys to success in hotel marketing. The first key involves making a good impression on potential guests before they plan their trip. The second key is providing current guests with an experience they’ll want to have again.
That second key is also known as hospitality marketing. It’s a significant component of all marketing strategies for hotels. Of course, hotel marketing is made up of several components, which all depend on your hotel brand and your target guests.
You must first ask yourself what type of experience you’re trying to sell, and second, what kind of people do you want to be associated with your hotel brand? Once you answer these questions, your hotel digital marketing strategies should become easier to refine.
Now, let’s talk about the necessary marketing strategies:
Customer Experience Marketing
The customer experience is your top priority in marketing for hospitality in the hotel world. Remember, your guests aren’t paying for their room—they’re paying for the experience. That means it’s your responsibility to get to know your guests’ most common and uncommon needs.
Tapping into what people want most out of their hotel experience will make them feel as if you’ve read their minds. Those wants and needs could be anything from changing up the room service menus often, discounts on spa services or other amenities, complimentary espresso, and so on.
Promote Positive Guest Reviews
It’s safe to assume that all potential guests will read the reviews about your hotel and use that to make a final decision. The reviews people leave about their experience in your hotel can make or break your business. That’s why it’s crucial to get eyes on your best reviews.
The best way to accomplish this is by putting those top reviews on EVERY page of your website. It’s equally important to follow up with them as well. Take the time to respond to each review, especially the negative ones.
Optimize Your Website
From small boutique hotels to large chains, having a strong web presence is essential in attracting guests. Your website should be eye-catching and easy to navigate through. But, even that’s not enough.
If more direct bookings are what you’re after, then you must optimize your site for search engines. One way to do this is by creating relevant content to bring in more organic traffic. You also want to make sure that your site has a quick load time. People tend to click out of websites that take too long to load, and a high click-through rate will hurt your ranking.
Most importantly, you want your site to be mobile-friendly. Mobile device hotel bookings account for 42% of all bookings, and 70% of all last-minute bookings.
Include Voice Search
Voice search applications like Google, Alexa, and Siri are a growing trend in hotel digital marketing. People love convenience. Whether that means using a voice search application to find a hotel that suits their needs or to book a service, you need to capitalize on that.
All you have to do is make sure that your website is optimized for voice search applications. It’s also a good idea to integrate smart hubs and speakers in your hotel rooms. Having a voice search application available to your guests will further the notion of comfort and convenience.
Combat Booking Abandonment
It’s very common for potential guests to begin the booking process only to get cold feet when it’s time to fill in their credit card information. How you follow up with booking abandonment makes a huge difference.
You’re going to have to do some digging and retrace their steps. Take a look at the room they were viewing and their other searches throughout your site. From there, you can take a tailored approach when contacting them to address their concerns.
Try offering them a better rate, discounted services, or complimentary items based on your findings. A personalized follow-up will draw potential guests right back to you.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Every business today has some sort of social media presence, which helps to show a personal side to their brand. It’s also great in terms of digital marketing for hotels because you can turn it into a direct booking channel.
All you have to do is implement a direct booking engine within your social media platform. From there, potential guests can get the full website experience while scrolling through and book a room directly.
In addition, you can enlist the help of an influencer. Influencers are like small-time celebrities in the social media world. Once you find one that fits your brand, you can pay them to advertise your hotel to all their followers. You may even be able to pay them in a free stay.
Start a Loyalty Program
Half the battle of getting more direct hotel bookings is making sure your former guests return. By creating a points system that allows guests to redeem them for rooms, services, and other perks is a great way to ensure they do.
To create a loyalty program, you’ll need to figure out what’s most important to your guests’ stay. For example, couples may be interested in a romantic dinner for two while families may be interested in nearby kid-friendly attractions. There are plenty of incentives out there that can help create a long-term relationship with potential and former guests.
Use Metasearch Engines
Metasearch engines allow potential guests to compare hotel rates from various booking sites and online travel agencies (OTAs). When you get your hotel listed on multiple metasearch sites such as Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Google, it serves as an opportunity for more direct bookings.
Once potential guests find a rate they like, all they have to do is click on the link, and they’re brought directly to your website. It’s one of the most efficient hotel digital marketing strategies out there.
Offer Up Some Freebies
Believe it or not, getting eyes on your website is the easy part. Getting that direct hotel booking, again and again, is the hard part. That’s why once your potential guests are in the realm of entering their information, you’ll want to give them a compelling reason to keep going.
Perks and freebies are very compelling when coupled with direct bookings. For example, you could offer a free room upgrade, a discount on spa services, a complimentary bottle of champagne, and so on. Research shows that perks and freebies sway about 45% of all travelers during the booking process.
Use Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are other popular trends in hotel digital marketing. You can use VR to give your potential guests a virtual tour of your rooms, facilities, pools, and so on. With AR, you can provide your guests with interactive maps right from their room, which will give them tourist information in a virtually real way.
You can learn more about AR and VR here.
Try Out User Generated Content
User-Generated Content (UGC) means real reviews from real guests—talking about the little details that potential guests want to know. It’s an excellent way for your potential guests to get answers from a trusted source.
Think of USG as micro-influencers that you don’t have to pay. As long as you’re providing exceptional service and exceed your guests’ expectations, they’ll be your best advertisement. It’s even better if they post their photos and videos along with their reviews.
To gain USG, you’ll need to encourage your guests to leave a review on your website or an associated travel site. You can do so by politely reminding them to give your hotel a review upon check-out. It may even help if you’re offering an incentive for them to leave a review, like a discounted rate on their next booking.
The Right Hospitality Marketing Agency Can Help
All of the above marketing strategies for hotels can and will attract more guests and increase your hotel’s direct bookings.
Hotel marketing is no simple feat. However, with the right people behind you, it’s a breeze. When you’re ready to take your hotel brand to the next level and get more bookings, contact us. We’re the hospitality marketing company that can get you there.