Getting your name out there is a hard enough job, let alone navigating the endless digital tools and avenues which are meant to take the pain out of marketing. Throw in the supercharged competition of the hotel industry and you have a recipe for the greatest challenge of your entrepreneurial life. The age of online marketing is rapidly heading into its maturity which means there are tried and true strategies which are known to deliver results when planned and executed with thought and purpose. Before picking and choosing the tools and avenues that will launch your hotel’s presence in the online world, it’s necessary to examine some of the basics first.
The First Essentials to consider…
Who is your Target Audience?
Who are the people who book your hotel? Are they business travellers? Families? Young couples? Having a good sense of who your target audience or core customer is will allow you to make more strategic decisions in how to execute your marketing strategy.
What do your guest's value and care about?
Knowing this information can help you to better tailor your services and communication tactics. Any information collected from satisfaction surveys from past guests can be valuable intel for future marketing activities.
How did they find out about you?
Was it through a third party booking site? A recommendation from a colleague or friend? This information can tell you what avenues are most lucrative and what needs more work to improve conversion rate.
Now that you have some vital information about your customers, you can then make some decisions about where to allocate your marketing resources. When online marketing is planned and executed effectively, it can bring tremendous returns. Some key decisions need to be made to ensure that your spend is maximized, which brings us to the Other Essentials...
Do you have a substantial database? Do you have tactics and strategies in which to grow this? Are you maximizing the potential of your database? Customer relationship management is the cornerstone of running a hotel business and utilizing your database to communicate with your customers whilst learning more about them is an essential part of your online marketing strategy. You can also use automation features in your email marketing platforms to automatically send out emails to relevant segments eg. a welcome series to new guests, a nurturing series to potential customers, to take out the manual aspect of email marketing.
It is all well and good to have thousands of likes and a high engagement rate on your social channels, however, the ultimate objective is to convert your online audience to actual guests. Social media is great for feeding curiosity and stumbling upon things of interest, especially when algorithms can now predict what a person’s tastes might look like. The best way to leverage social media, apart from the obvious self-promoting broadcasts, is to give your audience a reason to take the next step and reach out to you, whether it’s by signing up to your newsletter, visiting your website or downloading a lead magnet. Social platforms are the best way to capture the masses, and you can use the appropriate channels as the open end of your sales funnel.
How many times have you heard that ‘content is king’? This phrase may be overused but it is because there’s a lot of truth in it. Customers are always in search of information. It has never been easier to compare prices, find bits of advice and the most attractive offerings in the global market, by merely plugging in a few search terms on your commute to work, at your office desk or in your bed just as you’re about to call it a day. Therefore, it’s not a matter of who is able to offer content, but who can offer the most relevant, compelling and helpful content.
Google is often the starting point for anyone looking for a hotel so AdWords can work really well in the hospitality business. By selecting keywords that people would generally use when searching for a hotel you can create an ad which emphasize your USPs (Unique Selling Points) Google has recently added new features to enhance this service for optimal results:
- Create a Google My Business page and make sure the hotel's Google Maps is optimized
- Join Google's Travel Blog which is for travel marketers, and stay ahead of the competition by being first to know the new features and relevant travel news.
- Highlight your features, special offers, and upcoming events. These should be highlighted in all your marketing but can be especially useful if someone is searching for a Christmas Party for example or a Naturist Beach.
- Sign up for a Google Business View which they promise to set up in 5 working days
- Google also has an invaluable tool for marketers within its AdWords service which allows you to build a user-list through its remarketing tag. This list can include:
- Visitors to your website, targeting people who have clicked on your website
- Visitors who took specific actions, either enquired or booked through the website
- A similar User List can be automatically created by Google to target users with similar interests
- Customer match email address lists - hotels with a comprehensive CRM can upload bulk emails to create Logical User Email lists
Another paid advertising tactic is to target your Facebook Ads to existing contacts, allowing you to engage with people by name who are aware and have interacted with your brand. You can use incentives such as discounts or pitch offers which are of a specific interest to them.
By using a combination of these online marketing strategies you are on your way to maximizing the potential for your hotel to be seen and heard in the vast world wide web. There is no hard and fast formula that can be prescribed to achieve your dream conversion rates, but when you discover your own winning strategy that works for your business you will certainly be able enjoy and influx of guests all year ‘round.