From Brand Awareness to Lead Conversion and everything in between.
If you as a Hotel have relied on Traditional channels in the pre pandemic era and during the Pandemic most of your Business came to you from OTA’s then the chances are that your Brand may not have high recall rate which in turn means you need to first invest in Brand Awareness.
People go to OTA’s to see a rate comparison and OTA’s in turn close the business by discounting the price. The more you are willing to discount your rates the higher the chances of your getting a room sale. This may help you in short term with your cash flow but it is extremely harmful for both your Top and Bottom line and not to forget your Brand.
This may be a great time for you as a Hotel or as a Hotel Chain to build a Brand Awareness aimed at driving in more direct Business. You achieve this by leveraging the Social Media Channels.
Though Social Media is the answer but do not expect Social Media to give you instant results, you may get a few wins as a part of audience may be ready to buy and just needs a little awareness to push them, but a large part of your audience needs warming up. We recommend an Initial Period of 90 days for the Hotels to warm up the potential pool of audiences.
It is imperative that you give yourself time to warm up the Potential Guests (Audience) as everyone may be in a different stage of the buying Journey.
Fact to remember
An Average person is targeted between 6000-10000 times a day online with Sponsored content, this has led to digital fatigue, where the time taken to create a brand recall is now between 10-15 touch points.
The First step would be to get all your department heads together and define what the Quarterly objectives of each department are.
e.g. F&B may be running Food Festival week and wants to build a greater awareness to this regards. We would recommend starting with promotion 30-45 days in advance to get optimum results.
You may have excess inventory to sell and may want to go direct here, we recommend using a Mix of Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing here to drive in more direct bookings. Your Email List of guests who have stayed with you in the past can be a gold mine in driving people back and also building future audiences for your room sales.
Define the Objectives of each of the Departments.
Second Step: Once each Department has clearly defined objectives for the next 90 days, we create a Social calendar for the next 30 days which covers the Objectives of each of the department as approved by your GM / Marcomm. The Social Calendar serves as a Guideline for both the Marketing and the Hotel and brings everyone on the same page as to what is being posted where and what to expect.
Third Step: We recommend a mix of Organic and Paid Marketing. Organic Marketing is more of a necessity as we need to have content on our wall/Page. The reach of Organic Marketing however is very limited, On Facebook only 5.2% (Estimate) of your connected audience would ever get to see your posts, this means 1 in every 19 people, and that too if the post generates an Engagement. Unfortunately who gets to see it first is defined by the Algorithm and no one, not the agency or your team has any control over it. On Instagram though everyone connected to your Brand would see the Post but since Instagram lacks a call to action, the results are not optimum. Unfortunately the Likes don’t convert to Sales, Link clicks do.
To really harness the potential, you need to invest in Paid Marketing, these are the sponsored posts that you see when you are browsing on the social media platforms. Leveraging Paid Social we can build the Buyer Persona and unlock the Demographic and Psychographic Data. This helps us in reaching to a wider audience and put your brand in front of people who are most likely to engage with your Brand.
When we start posting a Mix of Organic & Paid Content we have taken the first step towards building Brand Awareness.
Brand Awareness has to lead to Engagement. To achieve this a Hotel should have multiple videos which can be leveraged for Retargeting of Audiences who have seen / engaged with our content in the first phase. Retargeting is where the Brand starts to get a Brand recall and once people start engaging with your content it helps us warm up the audiences.
A great thing to do during the Brand Engagement phase is to get the potential customers data like Email and Mobile Numbers by promoting a Freebie / Contest, For a Price of a Meal / Room Stay you can collect contact details of thousands of potential clients, which would help with Email Marketing and building further touch points.
The Data from Email Marketing can also be uploaded to Facebook Audiences and separate promotions can be run for these. Specially helpful in promoting F&B and Direct Room Sales
At the Brand Engagement stage you should have a clearly defined objective, people at this stage are at the top of the Marketing funnel where they need to be engaged on regular basis and on Multiple channels. The higher the engagement the faster they slide down the funnel and convert.
The real difference for your Brand would come at the Brand Engagement phase, where you can differentiate yourself from thousands of others. Most people do not see beyond 90 days of paid marketing when building a Brand Awareness and Recall. However the Magic happens on the otherside of 90 days. That is where the warmer audiences start moving down the funnel and that is where every department needs to be crafty with the messaging. The Right messaging here can be the difference between how fast the conversion happens.
Marketing whether being done inhouse or through an Agency can only be effective if your Hotel feeds them with the right content at the right time. For your Marketing to be effective you need to keep on churning fresh content on regular basis. Understand a simple fact, the audience which has moved down the funnel needs to see fresh content so that the Brand has a top of mind recall. Similarly people already connected to your Page / Brand also need fresh content to bring them back to your Brand. Repeat Business is where you start getting return on your Investment.
Lastly, majority of the Hotels big or small do not have a referral system in place, when someone is referred to your Hotel by an existing customer, that person moved right to the bottom of funnel and converts much faster, this in turn means the cost of acquisition is very low. If you do not have a workflow in place which solicits referrals then you are actually missing out and leaving money on the Table. Remember the simple Stat: 91% of your customers would gladly give a referral but only 11% of Sales people ever ask for one.
Conclusion: Effective Social Media Marketing strategy is the key for the Hotels today to reduce dependence on third party channels, the commission you pay the OTA’s can serve you much better in building your Brand and an effective Marketing strategy will help you reduce your dependence and increase your Direct Business.
If your Hotel would like to build a robust Strategy for Marketing and increase the Direct bookings but don’t know where to start, connect with me and let me show you how in as little as 90 days you can be on your Way to more Direct Business.