Whether you are a seasoned hotelier or brand new in the hospitality industry, you know marketing plays an essential role in attracting as many travelers as possible and optimizing the success of your hotel. You need a marketing plan that brings together many strategies to increase revenue for the hotel by accessing and managing multiple channels to reach the customers best suited for your business. The right hotel marketing will help you promote your business, attract travelers and sell your services. This guide outlines various marketing strategies in the hospitality industry to help you decide on your priorities and create the best marketing plan for your hotel.
Let’s start by listing online and offline hotel marketing channels that can bring guests to the hotel. Developing each channel takes time, but the more of them you have, the wider is your access to potential customers.
Many hotels consider the hotel website the number one marketing distribution channel as it can be a primary source of bookings. You have complete control over the content, and you can curate the guest journey. Include high-quality photos and interactive content through videos, testimonials, and virtual tours of hotel facilities. Make the most of this channel to communicate your brand and show guests what makes your hotel unique on the market. You should consider a live chat for the hotel website to connect with more customers.
Online travel agencies (OTAs)
OTAs are an integral part of the hotel booking process as they are popular platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com, or Expedia. While you might not have direct control of your hotel on an OTA platform, you can work on optimizing the listing by highlighting exclusive amenities, attractive offers, competitive prices, and high-quality photos. Make sure to provide as much information and rich content as an OTA allows to make the most of the potential of this channel.
Global Distribution System (GDS)
GDS is a channel to connect with travel agents. They use this system to see the availability of rooms and view rates. Some of the best-known GDSs are Worldspan, Sabre, and Travelport. This distribution channel ensures you keep your hotel’s information up-to-date with various travel agents and update real-time pricing and room availability.
Direct phone bookings
Target audiences like event planners, travel agents, and older generations of customers find booking through phones the preferred way to get in touch with the hotel. Phone bookings are also a good option for customers with specific requirements and queries. The call center, front desk, and reservation line are all channels for direct phone booking establishing a human connection. However, they require a lot of resources and have limits on the volume of bookings they can process over time.
Sites like Tripadvisor, Google Hotels, or Trivago charge hotels and OTAs on a pay-per-click or commission basis for bookings. The user experience is smooth on metasearch sites and has a simple booking process with easy-to-search information about the hotel.
There are various hotel marketing strategies to drive growth in the number of bookings and increase revenue. It is dominated by digital marketing as it is the easiest and most cost-effective way to reach large volumes of potential customers. However, offline advertisements on television, radio, in newspapers, magazines, or on posters in a city can bring fantastic results too. Choosing the right marketing strategy for your hotel needs to consider several aspects, such as available resources, staff, target audience, location, seasonality, and more. Most likely, you will decide on using a combination of several strategies to penetrate the market and reach all segments of your target audience.
With the prominence of digital media consumption these days, hotel marketing is mostly done online. Any difficulties with finding your hotel online will have a negative effect on the number of bookings. You should establish your hotel's presence on the key relevant online platforms so that people can find you in seconds from the comfort of their sofa and make bookings. Over 75% of travelers use search engines to find places to stay, so you need to be on top of your SEO game. Use trending hotel keywords in the website content and set aside a budget for paid ads since the search engine results page is dominated by ads concerning hotel-related queries.
Dive into the website analytics, research where people are booking from, and then target those platforms by engaging and creating a competitive presence. Investing efforts in particular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and travel websites is a proven strategy to increase your website traffic and conversion rate. You might not excel on every platform, but your presence will ensure that people using different digital media forms can find you.
The dominance of mobile bookings has been a trend for a few years now, in line with Google’s announcement that user queries on their search engines are higher on mobiles than on desktops. Hoteliers need to adopt strategies to make their websites mobile-friendly to attract global travelers. How the website responds to smartphones is essential for hotel mobile marketing. To improve the mobile performance, appeal, and user experience on your website, you should consider the following:
- Content should be precise, and the font should be mobile-friendly.
- Limit the use of pop-ups and Adobe Flash.
- Make click-to-call functionality available.
- Enable Google maps so people can find a route to and from the hotel.
- Link the logo of your hotel to the homepage.
- Enable auto-fill for forms of returning visitors.
- Make the site attractive by creating a contrast between photos and colors.
- Ensure your search bar is easy to find and navigate.
These steps are essential as they add to a great user experience and quick loading speed of the website, which Google values. As 85% of people say that the information they find on their smartphones helps them in making decisions, be proactive in showing the information to mobile users. People first search for prices, photos, nearby activities, and read reviews on their mobiles, so make sure to display all the relevant information in simple terms to stay ahead of your competitors. Implement a mobile-friendly booking engine directly to the mobile-first website.
Email marketing is one of the cost-effective and viable ways to reach your guests and boost direct bookings. First and foremost, you need to optimize our mailing list, which should have many prospects. They should be quality leads that can be determined by analyzing past results. This process can be helped through easy-to-fill forms on the website and asking your customers in person during the stay. After having a sizable pool of target audience, you can implement the following advice:
- Targeting repeat guests is more cost-effective than forming new leads. Statistics show that attracting new guests can cost 5 to 8 times more than retaining old clients. Offer special deals and packages to old guests to increase the revenue and build better customer relations.
- Peak seasons have higher booking rates, so take advantage of holiday-themed emails to attract potential guests. Offer discounts and personalized incentives to send targeted emails during peak periods. Send theme-based emails to your previous clients, especially those who spent money on upgrades and upsells. Streamline your list with the help of identifying the niche and customer base to have an effective plan.
- People remember 80% of what they see, so attract them through visuals in the mail. Bring the focus of your guests through stunning photos of your hotel and increase engagement. Combine it with short and direct subject lines to entice the customers to open the mail and see what’s inside.
Social media is the biggest channel for attracting potential customers and creating hype for your hotel through customer engagement. Statistically, 52% of people say the travel pictures of their friends and family inspired them to travel. 40% of consumers under the age of 30 prefer a place that is Instagram-able. About 97% of millennials share photos on social media during travels. Posts that tag locations have 79% more engagement. 71% of travel agencies report better interactions with customers after committing to social media strategy.
Facebook marketing strategies for hotels
Research suggested that 55% of Facebook users like the pages related to the type of trip they are planning. Facebook ads bring in $55 billion yearly revenue, so you can estimate the kind of influence marketing on Facebook has. Before you start influencing potential customers on Facebook, you need to have a substantial number of followers that can be gained organically and through paid advertising.
You can start building an audience for your hotel organically by inviting friends and contacts in your professional networks. You can link your Facebook page to the website and emails. Offer regular incentives and encourage engagement through contests. Go with the 80-20 rule: talk about the local area in 80% of your posts, and dedicate the remaining 20% to your hotel. Do cross-promotion between different social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Leave positive comments and thank you notes on posts that mention your page.
After establishing a Facebook page with a good number of followers, you can use advertising tactics to grow bookings. You can succeed at developing the Facebook conversion funnel through the various tools provided by Facebook to advertise your business.
- Dynamic Ads for Travels (DAT) lets you advertise for users who visited the site but did not book. In this, travelers are tracked through the browser, and offers associated with your hotel are shown when they browse other sites.
- Dynamic Ads for Travel for broad audiences is one step ahead in the game. This feature is mainly for hotel advertisers and allows them to reach potential guests intending to travel.
- Trip consideration is another feature that sends content to people planning a trip with no particular place in mind.
You can increase direct hotel booking through Facebook by offering top-notch service to even one traveler, and their word of mouth can bring significant revenue. If the traveler is impressed and shares photos, and good reviews with their Facebook followers, it is much more powerful and less expensive than ads.
You can also encourage direct booking by giving a sense of exclusivity to your followers. Offering deals and reduced prices to only those who have liked your page is also a great way to ensure direct bookings. You can even connect the booking engine to the Facebook page, so the guests do not even have to go to the website to book a room. You can have a ‘book now’ tab in your Facebook ads that directly link with your online booking engine. Such call-to-action posts can drive bookings on Facebook. You can optimize this marketing channel further by integrating AI-powered chatbots with your social media accounts.
Instagram marketing strategies for hotels
Instagram is a great marketing tool since it has a clean, simple feed that is completely mobile-friendly. It is particularly one of the favorites among travelers. Instagram upgraded advertising for businesses with features like ‘call,’ ‘get directions,’ and ‘email.’ Many companies will be able to have ‘book,’ ‘reserve,’ or ‘get tickets’ call-to-action buttons too. Businesses can now see important customer messages in the main inbox for direct messaging. Implementing automated conversation tools can help process the volume of messages and boost direct bookings.
The highly complex algorithm of Instagram is now based on a Facebook-style news feed algorithm. As a hotel marketing strategy, strive to provide high-quality content that Instagram users seek to reap benefits.
Follow these guidelines to make the most of your hotel’s presence on Instagram:
- Create a brand story through your posts that should compliment each other. Post images that reflect the lifestyle of your target customer base.
- Connect to the human element by introducing the followers to the hard-working staff. Share photos of food, interactions between staff and guests, and guests having fun to show the dynamic atmosphere at the hotel.
- Share content about the nearby attractions and local areas to provide a sense of the environment of the place. Go beyond the hotel and share images of scenic views and surroundings. When you upload an image, use the ‘photo map feature’ and specify the location to make the images searchable.
- Don’t forget to use hashtags. Since you cannot add links to the post, hashtags become necessary for searching for content. Start and engage in conversations by liking and commenting on users that use your brand’s hashtags. Create personalized hashtags for your hotel and use them in your posts.
- Since beautiful pictures of travel are one of the highlights on Instagram, experiment with various filters and layouts to enhance the beauty of your hotel photos.
Using instant messaging services for marketing is a great way to build guest engagement and provide seamless customer service. Since we spend so much time on our mobile phones, opting for SMS marketing effectively gets potential guests and reaches existing clients. Over 98% of SMS are opened within the first 90 seconds, making it a fantastic channel to communicate with your target customer base.
Consider the following for SMS marketing campaigns for hotels:
- Earn customer permission for sending marketing SMS through Opt-in text messages. Follow the guidelines given by Opt-in to protect the business from legal fees and costly fines. This also ensures that you send SMS to only a genuinely interested customer base. You are likely to see results in higher engagement rates.
- Set an automated message for welcoming new guests. To strengthen your relationship, you can remind them about their reservations, available services and upgrades, and local attractions.
- You can use the SMS platform for confirming reservations, which are particularly useful if your hotel is going through a busy season. You can send automated texts to the guests so the staff can focus on other things.
- You can use SMS marketing to answer your guests' questions and queries. You can save frequently asked questions as templates to enable automated answers for specific keywords.
You need to prioritize the key features of Search Engine Optimization to make your hotel visible on Google and other search engines. 90% of all traffic is received on the first page of Google, so the importance of good SEO to appear there should not be underestimated. Here are a few pointers to bring your A-game for optimization:
- Research keywords
Use the guest's perspective and think about what they might be searching on Google when looking for hotels. Develop a list of keywords accordingly and use them in your website content. Keep track of how much traffic they bring before implementing them. Start with a list of 10 keywords and track their performance to see any growth.
- Set up your Google My Business account
This free listing lets your hotel information into the right areas and makes it easy to find. Provide correct and detailed information about your hotel, such as an address, phone number, photos, reviews, the list of relevant amenities available, and any other content that the platform allows.
- Use Google Ads for hotel marketing
This is a paid service, but you only pay once the ad generates a booking or a click. It isis an effective way to make your presence known on Google maps and Google search engines. The booking rates are higher with this as it streamlines the requirements of travelers and shows results specific to their needs.
- Keep track
Keeping track of the SEO performance is essential for maintaining the rankings. This strategy requires monitoring and tweaking accordingly. You need to track the search and demand trends of your area and then build a strategy for content on the website. Since seasons significantly impact bookings, you need to change keywords that reflect on the blogs, promotions, and packages.
- Create quality content
Google loves high-quality content so ensure you use fresh content and keep updating it to increase the chance of a conversion. Content also includes visuals, so use high-quality images to attract attention to your hotel website. You can attach keywords to images for SEO optimization. The better the content quality, the more it appeals to the Google algorithm, which increases the traffic flow to your website.
You can use Google Analytics to track data and learn from it. You can identify the aspects of your website that need work and develop a website optimization strategy accordingly. Get started with finding and monitoring the following information:
- Which keywords bring the most traffic?
- See the page views of your content
- Check where the traffic is coming from
- What devices are bringing the most traffic?
- Which traffic source is responsible for the highest conversion rates?
Video marketing is a particularly effective strategy in the hotel industry. Let’s look at some statistics. Over one billion people watch more than six billion hours of video content monthly on YouTube, and people share video content ten times more than other forms of content. 80% of people will watch a video with content more than simply reading the same content. Travelers take inspiration for their travel plans through videos, as suggested by 54% of people using videos when deciding on hotels. Your website has a 53% higher chance of appearing in Google search results if you include videos. If a video tour of the hotel is included, then booking chances increase by 67%.
While focusing on appealing visuals is crucial, you should not miss out on an opportunity to connect with potential guests emotionally. Share the hotel story and include beautiful images to drive traffic and attract potential clients. Videos are a fantastic storytelling tool with enormous potential, so be sure to allocate appropriate resources to this strategy to create high-quality content.
Throughout the pandemic, we could observe a shift in hotel marketing strategies. We saw considerable growth in digital marketing, contactless services, and reduced interactions between guests and staff to ensure utmost safety. Some of these changes are here to stay, and new trends are rising.
Customer experience marketing
This marketing strategy depends on focusing on experiences rather than products or services. It involves techniques implemented by hotels that enhance the guest experience while they stay in the hotel. Hotels can improve customer experience marketing by offering an upgrade in room selection or leaving a care package for the guests to make them feel special and create a memory of a positive experience during their stay. It’s all about providing superior quality services and upgrades while the guests are on the property or interacting with the business. By tapping into the experience aspect, hotels build a strong relationship with their clientele and ensure a long-term relationship.
Technological advancement has seen rapid growth in voice search as a marketing trend. Customers now can book a hotel simply through voice commands on their smart home devices. Hotels should now start monetizing this technological aspect. Voice prompt commands can also be installed in the hotel rooms enhancing the user experience and attracting clients. Installation of smart speakers and smart hubs in hotel rooms can let the guests know about nearby attractions and book hotel services without picking up the phone or pressing buttons. Voice search also shortens response time, and all the information will be up to date so that it will be more accurate than human interaction. A hotel will appear like an advanced, technology-literate brand making it seem above the competitors.
This strategy refers to reaching out to people who have a significant social media presence. Their online presence will get the hotel’s marketing messages to the audience that you want to target. Influencers have established fan following, which mainly consists of specific demographics so that they can influence the decisions of their audiences. Hotels can collaborate with influencers from travel niches and others to make social media posts, videos, and written content to promote their property.
This marketing idea is based on the content created and shared by customers of the hotel. User-generated content includes videos, photos, and reviews shared on social media and personal blogs. This ensures a solid user base since the positive feedback comes from real everyday customers and not some big-time celebrity or brand. This increases audience trust in the business, and they are more likely to convert into customers. Hotels can take advantage of this by creating hashtags for their hotel and promoting them on Instagram. Hotels can install visually appealing photo booths around the property, encouraging the customers to take pictures and videos.
It involves delivering promotional content to a specific targeted individual or audience. This is mainly done through data collection, digital automation, and data analysis, where the end goal is to show content relevant to each individual. The data collected for personalization marketing is through records, browsing history, or internal databases. The conversion rate in such marketing is higher since it resonates with individuals looking for specific needs, services, and interests. There is more consistency throughout different marketing channels, whether it is emails, social media, or recommendations while browsing other sites.
It works by altering the reality around the user by using computer technology. It can be compared to Virtual Reality (VR), although it differs as VR replaces the physical surroundings completely. Augmented reality enhances the real-world surroundings in real-time. It can be experienced through smartphones, headsets, or tablet devices. Hotel owners are implementing this strategy since it enhances the hotel and hotel room environment they are selling. It also amplifies the exploration experience of the surroundings. Many hotels are implementing AR technology to attract customers to have an elevated experience.
As many as 81% of website visitors abandon the site before booking a hotel, so remarketing becomes essential to increase the conversion rate. Remarketing is an excellent way to connect with users who interacted with the business and visited the site. You can target those users with specific marketing messages, like showing them the images of the room they were looking at. Remarketing strategy works since the hotel knows the user showed some interest and then got distracted and abandoned. You can remind them with enticing offers and display ads while they browse through other sites and bring their focus back to the booking. Remarketing strategy can reduce the abandonment rate and help in closing more direct bookings.
Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in hotel marketing can boost direct bookings and improve customer experience as they provide a more personalized experience even before the booking process starts. They make intelligent recommendations based on guest preferences which are beneficial for both customers and the hotel.
Improve guest experience through chatbots
Using chatbots as a form of customer service can help a hotel provide high-quality service. It is a technologically advanced way of setting up automated answers for common questions relating to bookings, room service, available facilities, and local attractions. This feature helps in interaction with clients even if the staff is unavailable. Customers have high expectations for hospitality service, so a chatbot is a great way to provide 24/7 customer service with instant responses. The chatbot feature also supports detecting multiple languages and automating translation to remove language barriers.
Elevate the guest journey with AI-powered solutions
The modern hotel industry is employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as one of its key components in marketing. AI chatbot provides instant responses to customer queries at any time of the day. These are more sophisticated as they respond to customer questions according to their language and communication style. AI also helps hotels send personalized marketing messages to a curated list of customers. Even AI-driven robots can be employed in the hotel to provide a futuristic experience to the customers. AI can also be used in data analytics and speed up the process for more personalized customer service.
It is essential to know the target audience and speak their language as a form of marketing strategy. You need to create a brand and appeal to a niche of travelers for your business to boom. Here are some ideas that focus on marketing based on categories of travelers.
Luxury hotel marketing
Luxury hotels focus on people who spend more money to enhance their experience. These mainly consist of the age group 25-49 and travel as a couple. They want top-notch luxury rooms and customer experience to relax and enjoy. They mostly depend on online reviews and testimonials for making the selection. People expect luxury amenities like valet service, spa, concierge, salon, and fine dining within the hotel. Luxury hotel rooms are generally between 430-4,000 square feet with high-quality linens, branded products, and jetted tubs, so the guests feel indulgent. Luxury hotel marketing should be more personalized, focusing on what the guest wants and targeting them with marketing messages tailored to individual interests and levels of disposable income.
Boutique hotel marketing
Boutique hotels are also luxurious hotels, but with less expensive rates. They are also generally smaller, with less than 100 rooms than the big chains. They offer a more personal experience and have a unique style. For marketing a boutique hotel, you should focus on giving the customers an authentic local experience by including local art and locally sourced food, writing about hidden gems in the area, and highlighting your hotel’s connection with its surroundings.
It is all about creating an experience that the customers will take home and remember. Engage local artists and musicians for shows, talk about ongoing nearby activities, and promote healthy living by creating personalized wellness packages. Run highly tailored marketing campaigns targeting particular interests like spa enthusiasts or foodies.
Global hotel marketing
Since international travelers have different necessities and preferences, the marketing strategy also requires a different approach. The first thing to attract international tourists is to make your website multilingual. The content of your website should be written in a more straightforward language so it can be more accurately auto-translated to different languages accommodating travelers from other countries. Draw attention to local attractions to appeal to global tourists. Add blogs about the events and activities in the hotel's surrounding areas to appeal to international travelers looking for an immersive local experience when visiting a new country.
Independent hotel marketing
Independent travelers love to go on trips solo and prefer to control their schedule over participating in group activities. They are primarily young individuals with different levels of income. They travel to get cultural experience and look for adventures. To market to such targeted individuals, you need to keep up with the latest trends since individual travelers lean to social media for reviews and research.
Building a strong digital presence is highly important to attract this customer base. Share attractive photos and videos of hotel surroundings and guests lounging in the hotel on your social media platforms and digital channels. Engage with potential customers by offering them holiday packages and discounted prices. Always acknowledge reviews left by customers, whether they are good or bad. Create a loyal guest base by curating services tailored to individual tastes and preferences.
The sales team cannot work alone to generate revenue, and the marketing team cannot create the right marketing strategy without the customer data (provided by the sales team). The sales and marketing team needs to work collaboratively and have regular discussions about building business plans that will generate high revenue and contribute to the growth of the hotel.
Importance of a unified approach to boost revenue
Various components need to work together to generate revenue daily. It is about selling the right room to the right client through the right distribution channel at the right price to generate optimal revenue. Different components like demand forecasting, customer segmentation, inventory management, and pricing plans work together to impact the financial growth of the hotel:
- Segment the customer base according to demographic factors, the reason for traveling, stay duration, and booking channel.
- Demand forecasting can be done by studying previous demand and seasonal occupancy, setting the packages on the right distribution channel, and creating promotions accordingly.
- In hotel industry terms, the inventory refers to the room, so sell it through various channels like emails, social media, travel agencies, and direct bookings depending on the customer segmentation. Demand forecasting can help in balancing the inventory with revenue maximization.
- Check booking trends and analyze the market to set optimal room prices to boost revenue. Analyzing demand and setting the rate early is also important since many customers prefer to book early.
How to improve the collaboration and communication between the sales and marketing teams of hotels
The marketing and sales team of the hotel is directly responsible for generating revenue and making the business profitable. They both need to work together to develop a business plan and develop strategies to increase revenue. Improving collaboration and communication in various areas is vital for making profits in different business areas like room occupancy, leisure facilities bookings, event attendance, or restaurant reservations.
Get the sales and marketing team talking to achieve cooperation and synergy. The sales team can provide insight into customer requirements and help the marketing team develop digital and social media campaigns to attract the target audience to notice the property. Use customer relationship management software (CRM) to improve the interaction between different teams in the hotel, analyze data, and streamline the process to increase profits. The teams need to track processes and have regular reviews to check the progress in revenue and make changes if required.
This article explored a range of hotel marketing strategies, digital marketing channels, industry trends, and other aspects of marketing that you need to consider when developing the right marketing strategy for your hotel. Reviewing and researching the best marketing ideas takes time, but there are a few fundamentals that you should get started with as soon as possible, and then you can consider more advanced strategies.
An attractive website
Your hotel’s first impression is reflected through the website, so it should be welcoming, helpful, informative, and user-friendly. Statistically, 65% of same-day bookings are done through smartphones, so optimization is crucial. Add pictures of rooms, bathrooms, and lounge areas so the guests can visualize their stay. The list of amenities should be easy to find and up-to-date. Implementing an AI-powered chatbot is a great idea to engage with website visitors and help them navigate through the website.
Social media presence
Make your social media the resource for guests and locals. Implement different ways to engage your guests on various social media platforms. Ensure you highlight the location, amenities, and staff on your social media platforms. As each social media profile is a new communication channel, you may consider a solution streamlining all messages into a single communication hub.
Hotel Customer Relationship Management
Your effective hotel marketing strategy should include Customer Relationship Management software. Build a strong relationship with your past clients by engaging them and keeping them informed. CRM software can also generate valuable insights into your customers that help shape your strategy.
Hotel reputation management
Once in a while, there will be an upset customer who will leave a negative review online. It can be harmful to the business to let the negative comment unanswered. Build a strategy for reputation management that addresses all feedback constructively.