Whether you’re the manager of a destination resort or the owner of a boutique hotel appealing to a specific type of guest, your hotel digital marketing strategy sets the stage for how your guests perceive their potential stays. Online travel agents (OTAs) are a great way to get the exposure, but they don’t help you get more direct bookings.
If you're looking to drive more direct bookings in 2020, it might be time to take a step back and rework your hotel’s digital marketing campaigns. Check out these seven tips for connecting with guests via digital marketing.
1. Do a Site Audit
First things first, let’s take a look at your hotel’s website. In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you are. There are two ways you can audit your hotel's website design and performance.
- Make sure your website is optimized for search engine discovery. If you haven’t performed an SEO website audit for your hotel, get your free website inspection here. This audit will quickly analyze your site to find all the desktop and mobile SEO issues that may be keeping your website from ranking in search engines.
- Evaluate the user experience your site provides for guests. Put yourself in the shoes of your guests and visit your site. Is it easy to navigate? Are there clear calls to action that lead guests through the booking journey? You want to make guests' research and booking journeys as easy as possible. Make sure your unique selling points are easily identifiable, so guests can clearly see what makes your hotel so special.
2. Understand your Competitive Environment
The next tip is to understand the environment in which your hotel is competing. Knowing how your site performs is great, but how does it stack up? It’s time to create benchmarks.
Who are your competitors and how are they getting their guests? Visit their websites and see what they’re doing to add value to their guests. Analyzing your competitors' efforts is a great way to get ideas on how to outperform them, as well as to identify segments with which they fail to connect.
If you have access to SEO software such as SEMRush, you can run reports that show your competitors’ site metrics. Viewing these reports gives you a deeper knowledge of their hotel digital marketing strategies. Analyze their link profiles. Check the keywords for which they’re outranking you.
Getting a better understanding of your competitors’ digital marketing strategies will allow you to adapt yours to perform to its full potential. Take your competitive analysis to the next level and learn how to spy on your competitors’ Facebook ads to see how they’re connecting with guests through digital advertising on the Facebook social media platform.
3. Social Media Marketing for Hotels
The travel industry thrives on social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Why? Social media allows businesses in the travel industry, such as hotels, to reach users with the right messages from the moment they start dreaming about their next vacation up until they return from their trips with stories to share.
A strong hotel social media marketing campaign will effectively target users at each stage of the customer life cycle. This requires listening to what guests are saying about their stays.
Check the online reviews your guests are leaving. Reply to comments, even the negative ones, to maintain your presence and further nurture guest relationships. These interactions can open the door for you to deliver value, increasing both brand awareness and equity.
4. Embrace Your Specialization
Once a guest has established a layer of trust in a hotel, the next stage is deciding which hotel will give him or her the best experience for the best price.
What’s your “secret sauce”? If your hotel has beautiful scenic views, make sure you have stunning photography on your website and promote it on social media.
If breathtaking views aren't your property's strong suit, that’s perfectly fine! You might be in the heart of a historic part of town or close to local attractions. Showcasing whatever it is your hotel provides guests that your competitors don’t, or simply can’t, is a great way to differentiate your property.
5. Target your niche
Now that you know where you stand and have a better understanding of what your hotel offers vs. the competition, it’s time to find out who this appeals to. Keeping track of customer reviews and opinions with a customer relationship management (CRM) software is a must to analyze and segment the guests you attract.
If we take a look at the hotel inbound marketing framework, you can start to develop a killer content marketing strategy for your hotel. Content is anything that keeps the conversation going between you and your guests. It’s paramount that your content provides value to your guests' booking journeys so you don’t lose their attention.
As you can see in this hotel online marketing mix infographic, content is the backbone to any hotel inbound marketing strategy. It’s what you promote on social media and through emails, and what's seen in the search engine results pages, to attract new guests and keep loyal ones coming back time and time again.
A strong content marketing strategy for hotels focuses on the wants, needs, challenges, and opportunities guests face when deciding on a hotel to book. Anticipating and answering guests' desires is what differentiates you. Big brand hotel chains are more focused on filling their rooms than providing the right guest with the right experience. By taking an inbound approach, you can deliver value before a guest even sets foot in your lobby.
6. Personalize the Guest Experience
Sharing content that is relevant to a guest's current stage in the booking process will show that guest you are listening.
People don’t like to be sold to. It makes them feel like you only care about the money in their wallets. Hotel inbound marketing works because it eliminates the typical corporate feel that larger hotel chains include in their experiences.
With this approach to hotel marketing, your content does the selling for you, and since it’s not a direct-selling tactic, it becomes more of a conversation. It allows guests to spend time upfront with the value they’ll get when they book their stays at your property.
It also facilitates discovery, and empowers guests to make their booking decisions themselves.
7. Reward Loyal Customers
Your job doesn’t stop once a guest checks out. To continue to make data-driven marketing decisions, you need to get feedback on your guests’ experiences.
Schedule an email to go out a few days after each guest's stay to help him or her relive the great time had at your property by providing a quick and easy way to leave a review. You can even incentivize feedback with a special offer redeemable during the guest's next visit.
Create a guest loyalty program that gives members exclusive offers and deals to encourage more bookings in the future. Send prior guests emails with hotel updates. Offer them free room upgrades or VIP access to your hotel’s amenities. Anything that makes guests feel more important than they did when they first walked through your doors will increase retention rates as well as build brand equity for your hotel.
When it comes to hotel digital marketing campaigns, it’s all about attracting as much traffic to your site as possible. Download our hotel marketing guide so you can make sure your plan is set for success. Feel out what your competitors are doing, and find out ways you can create content that leverages your unique selling points to grab guests’ attention and keep them focused on the rewarding, personal experiences your hotel delivers.
As always, if you need help, don't hesitate to reach out to an experienced digital agency - like THAT Agency - who provides hotel marketing services. Our job is to stay on stop of the latest hotel trends and deliver campaigns that provide you with results. Call us today at 561.832.6262.