To keep up, hotels must employ a variety of strategies that increase visibility and position them as the best available choice to consumers.
Here are eight strategies your hotel marketing company should be using.
1. Get Your Website in Order
Your website is an extension of your hotel brand. It should be informative, attractive, and easy to use. An outdated site or one that doesn’t work correctly gives guests a poor impression of your hotel. This suggests that you might not have the amenities they are looking for—ie. You haven’t kept up with changing technology.
If that’s the case, guests go in assuming you don’t offer fast WiFi or mobile check-ins, which could be a big turn off.
The goal of the website is to represent the experience they’ll have when they arrive. Here are the most important elements of a good hotel website.
Ease of Use is Critical
Customer experience or CX has become a big deal in all industries, but hospitality especially depends on delivering top-notch service at every touch point. As such, it is vital that you make it simple to book a room on your website.
Be sure that your pages load fast, that customers can immediately see how to book a room and checkout, and that you offer plenty of photos and helpful content that answers any questions they might have.
Finally, this means that your site should work just as well on desktop as it does on mobile. More and more users rely on smartphones for booking and skipping out on mobile means you’re losing sales. If you’re not optimized for mobile, your hotel marketing will suffer for it.
Include a Video Tour
Travel and hospitality, by nature, are incredibly visual. We now have technology at our fingertips that can create breathtaking images and videos for a minimal cost.
Pictures may not be enough to seal the deal. Customers want to see what their room will look like before they enter their credit card details. By providing a visual tour of the rooms and the facilities, customers have a good idea what they’re getting into.
This example from Panoptic Group lets guests navigate through the hotel with their mouse, and even includes clickable options to book a room.
2. Make Sure People Can Find You: Evaluate Your Hotel Marketing SEO
Today’s travelers don’t rely on agents to do the legwork. Instead, they’re researching on their own. You’ll want to make sure that your site is easy to find so that potential customers can quickly run their comparative research with minimal effort.
Improve your marketing by first improving your SEO. When looking at keywords, consider the terms people might use to find your hotel.
Are you going for affordability or luxury? Are there in-house amenities like a spa, full restaurant or bar? These are the types of descriptors users will search for to meet their particular expectations, and should be included throughout your website to help your site surface for these types of searches.
Because hotels are tied to a physical location, it’s extremely important that all hotel marketing companies pay special attention to local SEO.
In particular, they should be looking for opportunities to land local SERP features like the Local Pack.
You’ll also want to look at how to rank for “near me” searches. Though According to this 2016 WordStream list, most of the top hotel marketing terms include the names of top hotels like Hilton or Marriott. But, terms like “hotels near me” might be worth a shot to land a spot in the Local Pack SERP feature.
And of course, you’ll need to pay special attention to claiming and fully filling out your Google My Business listing (more on that momentarily).
Beyond traditional SEO, you may want to consider focusing on voice marketing, as well.
The rise of digital assistants has been especially interesting when it comes to hotel marketing. If a hotel can advertise a digital concierge, for example, they’ll have a better chance of differentiating themselves from the competition – and may win a customer on intrigue alone. Check out our article on voice search in hospitality and travel for more info.
Additionally, try using Google Image search to your advantage. Hotels have a wealth of visual content at their disposal. Read more about turning your images into traffic here.
3. Personalize Your Hotel Marketing Efforts
No matter how you feel about Airbnb and its impact on the hotel industry, this added layer of competition is a reality your hotel needs to face. Peer-to-peer booking sites offer a more “personal touch,” and big hotel chains and boutique inns alike can learn from this.
To stay competitive, you’ll need to make sure your staff is prepared to offer a tailored experience for each guest.
For example, there’s the case of this lost stuffed animal at the Ritz-Carlton.
A family’s young child left a stuffed animal at the hotel. Hotel staff took some pictures of its adventures around the hotel and sent them to the family before returning the toy. The family received a tailored marketing campaign, which shows above and beyond customer service. And, the father ended up blogging about the experience and spreading the word about the personalized care they received.
That’s pretty great customer service and hotel marketing, if you ask me.
4. Develop a Loyalty Program
We’re doubling down on personalization. Customers want brands to personalize online advertising and are more likely to share their personal info if they receive a tailored experience in return.
Loyalty membership doesn’t make for a blindly loyal customer. 50% of loyalty members at elite hotels say they’re likely to book with another brand. And over two-thirds of loyalty members say they would switch to another loyalty program if there were a better offer available.
When you look at the data, it’s easy to assume that you can’t expect customers to remain loyal. You have to earn their business over and over. Customers prefer brands that take their preferences seriously.
Younger travelers will seek out reviews to check out your website before booking. And, today, most guests trust online reviews, scanning sites like TripAdvisor for the amenities that keep them satisfied. Make sure that your entire staff is engaged in customer service and is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep your guests happy.
5. Look at Your Content Mix For Better Hotel Marketing
It’s not just social media that matters. Inbound marketing, too, is a great way to get online users to visit your site.
Hotel marketing has evolved well beyond the days of banner ads and annoying popups. Today’s hotels must offer a creative, on-brand experience whether that’s through video content, blog posts, or long-form guides.
Create Local Guides
Digital guides are another way you can connect with your audience. This generation of travelers is unlikely to buy a travel guide or carry around a paper brochure. But that doesn’t mean these customers don’t want advice about local haunts.
So, modernize your approach to the guide.
If you’re in a big city like NYC or Chicago, or smaller ones like Portland or San Diego, there’s a ton of stuff to do, but guests may feel that there are too many options to choose from. Create guides that center around local festivals or changing seasons. Consider publishing an annual round-up of the best restaurants in your city.
Beyond helping guests, spending the time to create well-written, informative guides can help you raise your profile. Locals and out-of-towners alike may stumble upon your content and keep you in mind later for your expertise.
Focus on the Hotel Blog
The hotel blog is your opportunity to make your website more engaging, infusing personality, along with helpful information. The blog should serve to answer questions, generate traffic, and serve as a way to improve your brand image.
Kimpton Hotels do a nice job covering local events and attractions, as well as wedding content and food and drink. The Standard Hotel kicks it up a notch with awesome visuals, plus interviews, and music recommendations.
Both hotels take a different approach to blogging, but they each stay on-brand. The Standard caters to a hip, younger crowd, while Kimpton might play host to weddings or serve as home base for business travelers.
Often brands skip blogging because they feel that nobody cares about a business-run blog. And it’s true, people won’t care unless you create something awesome. But, hotel blogs can tap into travel and hospitality trends that appeal to anyone, thus offering the potential readership that most businesses can only dream of.
Hotel Marketing Should Include Offline Content
I cannot emphasize the power of technology enough here. And, it’s okay if you’d like to focus your efforts on creating high-level blog content and engaging on social.
Look at Four Seasons. The luxury brand has created a magazine (it’s available online, too) that showcases the “Four Seasons lifestyle” around the world. The brand creates content for their magazine, which gives guests a look at the brand’s other properties, as well as what they can do while they’re on their next vacation.
6. Step Up Your Social Media Game
Social media is a must in this digital era.
Not only do you need to have a high-quality website, but you also need to meet customers where they like to hang out. Facebook and Twitter present opportunities in hotel marketing to highlight special offers and events, while allowing you to stay on top of questions and complaints posted on these channels.
Remember, there’s no point of launching a social media effort unless you plan on maintaining it. So, consider which channels make the most sense for both your brand and marketing bandwidth.
Leverage Staff as Brand Ambassadors
We’d venture to guess that your employees have an untapped well of knowledge that you’re not taking advantage of. Hospitality staff are pros at making recommendations and connecting with guests.
Customers like getting a little taste of insider info. And, any company can use this strategy to form tighter bonds between staff and customers.
So, ask staff to create an Instagram Stories series where they share their top dining recommendations, the best place to grab a drink, their favorite late-night spots, and hidden gems. Not only are these tips that customers can use during their stay—you’re also presenting a “local’s opinion” on what’s worth checking out in your city.
Use Instagram for better Hotel Marketing
Instagram is a dream platform for hotel marketers.
Boutique hotels are teeming with eye candy from poolside views to fun events, local hotspots, and lots of food and drink. Look at Urban Cowboy BnB, which offers an Earth-toned view of the hotel’s many bathtubs and woody rooms. Or Portland’s Society Hotel, which has a minimal, high-end feel, complete with crisp white linens and specialty cocktails.
Customers look toward Instagram while planning a trip. It’s a useful method for research as they can see for themselves whether the hotel’s website is an accurate depiction of what the rooms look like. We’ve all been in a situation where we show up at a hotel only to find it isn’t exactly what we signed up for.
On your end, Instagram presents an opportunity to make a great first impression. On the customer side, your feed is a mash-up of user-generated content posted by other guests, as well as a chance to get familiar with the brand.
Beyond the usual hotel snaps, consider creating some Instagram-friendly spaces in the hotel. If there’s a white wall, commission an artist to paint something guests can’t resist. As guests snap pictures in front of your new art display, they’ll likely start tagging you on Instagram, too. This links your brand to positive memories and helps generate organic reach and loyalty.
Respond to Comments
A lot of companies fail to respond to every comment, mention, or complaint on social channels and review sites. Respond to your audience, on all platforms. Thank guests for positive reviews and attend to those who were less than satisfied.
Get to know these people and reward those who take the time to engage. After all, it’s a lot more cost effective to retain customers than keep chasing new ones.
Twitter is another great opportunity to reply to customers. One, it’s fast and convenient, two, you’re responding on a public forum, so your comments are an opportunity to show the world that you care about your customers.
7. Tap into the Influencer Landscape
Often, marketers shy away from influencer marketing because they think it’s overly expensive or hard to pull off. That doesn’t need to be the case.
You might not be able to book the Instagram Egg or a Kardashian, but you can still work with smaller influencers. According to a study from marketing agency, HelloSociety, influencers with fewer than 30,000 followers had 60% higher engagement rates than their celebrity counterparts.
Do your homework and seek out what’s called micro-influencers. Follower counts vary based on niche, but often, these personalities respond to comments quickly and offer authentic brand partnerships.
Offer a Complimentary Stay
Okay, there are some cases where blindly offering free stuff in exchange for a post isn’t a good idea. However, done right, working with bloggers or favorite Instagram personalities can help you increase your reach.
Do your research and make sure you’re looking at writers or social personalities with an engaged following. It’s also crucial that you choose influencers who make sense for your demographic. Choose the right partners, and chances are, you’ll get a fair review and a little extra exposure.
8. Leverage Local
People don’t often go on a trip to stay in a hotel. That part is second to the vacation or conference they’ve already got on the books. Create a link to your community by partnering with local attractions.
Get in touch with the local tourism board, and make sure you’re marketing both your hotel and the local area. People want to do more than hang around the hotel.
Cross-promote local events like a music festival or a live show. So, develop relationships with the museums and cultural centers, the hot new restaurants, and the ghost tour companies.
Provide some space for local businesses to promote coupons and specials. Or, ask local businesses to link to the hotel website to take advantage of hotel deals. These partnerships won’t cost you anything, but they’ll pay off in spades when local businesses point customers your way.
Check Up on Google My Business and the Local Directories
Reviewing online directories isn’t the most exciting marketing tactic, but it’s low-hanging fruit that makes an impact on your local SEO strategy.
Check out your Google My Business and make sure all hotel information is up-to-date. This includes pricing, room information, photos, reviews, and contact details. Taking this small step increases the chances that your hotel will pop up when potential customers start looking for a hotel in a certain area.
Beyond Google, you’ll want to make sure all of your details are updated on local business directories. Several tools can take care of this for you. Yext and Moz Local are a couple examples that can help you automate the process of getting on the map.
Offer Unique Programming
Hotels have a unique opportunity to offer their guests a unique experience that they won’t forget.
Airbnb and other online booking sites promote a real bare bones approach to travel. With this option available, the boutique hotel needs to offer something a bit different: the whole experience.
Studies have found that millennial business travelers are looking for more than a warm bed and a few cable channels. In response, hotels are beginning to cater to these guests by creating social events like happy hours or yoga classes, even hotel scavenger hunts, and pop-up tattoo parlors.
This list appeals to a few different demographics, but it’s up to you to figure out how you can deliver a winning experience that clients won’t forget.
One more thing: while in-hotel socials are great (and convenient) consider partnering with local establishments like restaurants, theaters, and musical venues. That way busy guests have something to do—outside hotel walls—that doesn’t require a ton of planning on their part.
Wrapping Up Hotel Marketing Company Strategies
Hotel marketing is challenging due to high customer standards and stiff competition. But this industry allows for so much creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and endless opportunities to connect with your customers.
Some of the ways you can increase your reach include influencer marketing, being active on social media, and offering guests unique, unforgettable experiences.