Having the right Hotel Marketing strategy is the need of the hour in this post Covid-19 world. However many Chains and Boutique Hotels have yet to understand why they need a proper Hotel Marketing strategy.
Table of Contents
The Old Model is Dead
The Traditional way of doing business has undergone a radical change. The Old Model relied heavily on B2B and in person Sales calls both with Travel Trade and Corporate Clients. The Hotels wanted Direct business but were reactive rather than pro-active.
The forced lockdowns pushed people more towards technology and even a generation of Travellers who was not very comfortable with Online, had no choice but to adopt. As a result today we see people are more comfortable in doing research online.
The changed landscape and being out of work for nearly 2 years many Travel Companies having downsized or gone out of Business, Corporate Clients have become more comfortable with Online meetings and calls.
All this suggests that Hotels need to also reinvent themselves and in this New Normal, Marketing needs to take the lead and warm up the audiences for Sales to close.
Source Markets have Shifted
The new normal also brings a huge shift in where we got the Business from, For a lot of Hotels it was a rude awakening as they had largely relied on Inbound Tourism and with International borders closed and no Brand Awareness in the Domestic Markets they were at the mercy of OTA’s and had to resort to heavy discounting to become visible.
This calls for a better planning for the future and define what buckets need to make it to the Hotel Marketing strategy and how best to plan your Outreach campaign to stay relevant in the New Source Markets.
This would also be the perfect time to work out an action Plan targeting the New Age travellers, primarily Millenials and Gen-Z who are likely to have the highest LTV for your Hotel.
Selling Where the Buyers are
Over 95% of your potential guests are likely to be online. But the Question remains, where online? Different Demographics have different likes and dislikes and are on different platform.
As a Hotel Direct to Consumer should be an integral part of your Hotel Marketing strategy, you need to connect directly with the end consumers and sell to them where they want to buy.
The First step in this process is to define your Ideal customer, get insights into the likes and dislikes, figure out what platform your buyers hangout on and is best suited for your Hotel and engage with the customers on that Platform so that you get the Highest ROI.
Remember, to sell to the Today’s Consumers you need to not only make them aware of your Brand but also engage with them. Awareness leads to Engagement which leads to Conversions.
Understanding this in a little more detail.
Brand Awareness: How the future guests / prospects perceive your Hotel. Do they consider it as an Option for their stay? Are they aware of your existence in the Segment they are searching for.
Examples of this can be
- Travellers having knowledge of your USP’s.
- A social media user having awareness of your Promotion and knowing the Destination.
- Travellers choosing your Hotel specifically over others, even if there are cheaper options.
- People typing your Hotel name in the Search engine directly rather than searching for Hotels in the Destination.
Brand Activation: Hotels need to build relevant campaigns, experiences, or events that enable the Hotel to interact directly with the future traveller with the intention of creating a Brand recall and building brand loyalty and a community around the Hotels offerings and services.
Examples of this can be
- Use of VR to create immersive experiences.
- Your Hotel offers experiences randomly to Hotel guests and takes a Video feedback from themon the same.
- Your Hotel delighting the Guests and making their stay memorable
- Creating experiences like anniversary specials, where guests choose your Hotel over others because of the Awareness of said experience.
Brand Engagement: Hotels need to build campaigns with the purpose of creating an Engagement with the Future travellers and reconnecting with existing ones. Leveraging multiple tools like Contests, BOGO, Pay 2 stay 3 and VIRAL Campaigns against free stay Hotels need to build robust engagement across the geographies to achieve an engaged audience.
It is imperative for the Hotels to understand the 40-40-20 principle and make it a part of their Hotel Marketing Strategy.
40% of success comes to the Hotel when it gets the Targeting right. Targeting also means getting your audience definition right, having the right Buyer personas and different departments can have different personas.
Your Room Stay outstation guests could be a completely different buyer persona than your F&B Local guests. Each department needs to put their thinking cap on and build the Buyer persona best suited for them.
40% of success comes when the right offer is created. If you get the 40% targeting right and is properly defined, creating offers that are likely to appeal to these buyers should not be difficult.
20% of success comes from the Copy, the colours, fonts call to action buttons.
In over 90% cases Hotels have this backwards, they are more worried about the Copy, fonts and colours. The offers they create are more generic in Nature and then they wonder why they don’t get a good response and why their Hotel Marketing strategy is not working.
As a Hotel you should be more worried about the 1st 40% i.e. your Audience Targeting, followed by is the offer relevant to the Audience. If you get these 2 right even a mediocre copy would convert.
SEO & SEM
SEO perhaps is another neglected part of Hotel Websites. SEO or Search engine Optimization for Hotels looks very different than for other Businesses. Remember 95% of searches happen on Google so all you need to do is get your SEO right with Google.
- 1st Step in this direction is making sure that your SSL certificate is valid. If your SSL has expired and has not been renewed modern day browsers display a warning and this can impact your Google Ranking.
- Secondly get your Google My Business profile right. If as a Hotel you get this part right you would still have a good chance of getting Organic Traffic if someone searches for you by name and you stand a chance of scoring a direct visit.
- Make sure you are Mobile Optimized. Today over 90% of traffic comes from Mobile devices, make sure that your website is responsive, i.e. It offers the same experience on Desktop and Mobile, it has been checked for readability on a Mobile and nothing is broken. A lot of times websites look great on Desktops but horrible on Mobiles. Also Google pulls its search rankings from Mobile first.
- Content is still the King: Make sure that you have quality content which covers your Geographical advantage, showcases your experiences in great detail, talks about your rooms. An essential part of Hotel SEO is having Content on the location/Destination that is unique and offers value. (I have a Video on Content for Hotels here which can help you figure out what kind of content your Hotel may need)
SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a great tool to get found even when people are searching for your competition or destination. A great SEM strategy would call for researching what keywords are being searched for when people search for your Destination / Competition and having a right AD to show up above their listing.
This strategy can get expensive very quickly as you can sometimes have upto 20-30 top performing keywords and Competitors, so it is best made by someone who knows what he/she is talking about.
Email is not dead, as a Matter of fact Email Marketing still offers the best ROI viz a vie all other Social Channels. A Good Hotel Marketing strategy should give a lot of weightage to Email Marketing.
There are multiple tools you can use for this, If your Hotel has a Large Database there are selfhosted tools as well (find out more here)
Dont know which tool to use – I have a detailed Video for the same here
If you have all your Data in a Single place, this Video would help you bring your Data back to life. (Its a little Longish video but if you follow it till the end you will get excellent results.) If your Data is all over the place then collect it and segment it first and then follow the Video to bring it back to life.
Data and Analytics
Data and Analytics, always guide you in the Right direction. If you take Insights from the Data that can collect from your Website, Social Media handles and Facebook Pixel, you would be able to make informed decisions.
For example, Google Analytics can tell you what geography is working best for you, what is the demographic mix of people who engage most with your content, what type of conte is most popular and how much time people spend on your Website. This alone can help you fine tune your offerings as you get the audience persona right and that contributes 40% towards your success.
Social Insights can also tell you what platform is working best for you and what type of content is being appreciated so that you can curate more of that.
Ideally your website needs Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, LinkedIn Insight Tag and a HeatMap tag installed on your website to measure your traffic and the data received should influence your Hotel Marketing Strategy.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing has 2 parts to it, the Organic posting part if what you are posting on your Social Handles to engage existing audience and by using #hashtags try and get new followers.
The 2nd part of Social Media Marketing is Paid Marketing, This is where magic happens for Hotels who want to go direct to the customer. Organic has a limited reach as it primarily deals with audience who is alrady connected to your Page. Paid opens the whole world for you.
People willingly share their likes, dislikes and personal information on Social Media. A vast majority of websites have Facebook Pixel installed on the website as a Tracking code and this code records how people engage with the Data on that website or their shopping habits on e-commerce websites.
When you go with Paid marketing, Facebook or Meta as they are now called, owns Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, you can leverage all the data that Facebook has recorded and use it to your advantage.
Paid Marketing should be an Important part of your Hotel Marketing stragey as it would help you lower your cost of acquisition and increase your direct sales by building awareness with future potential travellers.
Retargeting your Visitors
An average human in todays digital age sees between 4000-1000 ads every day. So how do you create a Brand recall? By Re-targeting!! We have all had that experience that we have searched for something online and after that where ever we go an AD appears for that product.
This is called retargeting, even if it annoys you, it is doing its job, making you aware of the Brand and/or the product. Once you become aware of it, the chances that you will convert increase significantly.
As a Hotel you need to do the same, specially for people who have a higher intent to purchase.
There are 2 ways you can do this.
A) Set up a retargeting AD on Social Channels targeting people who have visited your website but not purchased. This would help them become familiar with your Brand.
B) Setting up Retargeting On Google on Similar lines.
What this does is, it shortens the time it takes to create a Brand Recall and speeds the sale closure.
Though this sounds like a no Brainer you will be surprised how many Hotels have no Feedback plan as a part of their Hotel Marketing Strategy. People buy from People. If you see someone like you who is recommending a Hotel or an experience it helps shorten the Awareness to Engagement phase.
If you can have a Video feedback strategy in place you will see excellent results in the shortest possible time.
User Generated Content
If your Hotel has photo points, you need to highlight these by placing Instagram frames and asking people to use your #hashtag and a destination hashtag. This helps the Hotel scale up on Social channels by the power of user generated content.
When people start posting content using your hashtags it shows up in the feed of their friends and family and helps you reaching out to audience without extra effort on your part.
User generated content always scores better than content you may be posting. The Content you post helps drives awareness but the content users post actually helps in engagement and conversions.
All this sounds a lot but it is rather simple to implement, All it needs is a process and a regular follow up mechanism in place. Every person in your Hotel should be contributing to this, from the Doorman who can showcase the arrival experience to your chef who can showcase thevisuals of F&B.
If growing your Direct Business is important for you, and a proper Hotel Marketing strategy can get you upto 30% Direct business and you believe you need help. Get in touch with me. I will design a detailed Marketing strategy for your Hotel, showcase the USP’s you can promote and put your Direct to consumer strategy in place.