The marketing and business landscape is very different today from what it was 10 years ago (or even 3 years ago!). We all know how the flight of Airbnb and the need to have everything at an instant has or is affecting the travel industry. Travellers today use apps, not maps, they find recommendations on social media, not guidebooks, and they book vacations with just a few clicks. It’s no secret that the times are changing and your business’ success largely depends on your ability to adapt to these changes.
We’ve put together our top, most effective tips and tricks for the ultimate hotel marketing strategy that will guide your hotel in the direction of success!
Developing Your Hotel Brand Strategy
One of the most important components of your marketing strategy is to establish your brand identity. Think of your brand identity as how you were feeling coming out of college – unsure of who you are and where you’re going… or was that just me? The clarity came once you set yourself definable goals that were in line with what you wanted, what you wanted to see and where you wanted to go, and when you realized what type of person you wanted to be.
Your brand identity encompasses all the things that you want your business to be and how you envision your business growing. Defining points like your unique selling point (USP), your target market, goals, and your brand persona will help you clarify a strategy that is both on brand and in-line with your target market.
Defining Your Target Market
Look, you may have read or heard some conflicting views on this point I am about to make but defining your target market has to be your first step to developing your marketing strategy.
How can you create a strategy if you don’t know who you’re creating it for? Makes sense, right?
Your target market is made up the customers that you want in your hotel. Dream of your ideal customer and let this thought flourish.
Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Look at your current customer base: who did enjoy your services? Who did you enjoy serving? Do you have any returning customers? Why do they return?
- Look at your competitors: are they doing anything to target specific groups? What kind of customer are they attracting? Is that in line with who you want to attract?
- Look at your offering: does your pricing play a big role in attracting your customers? Or is it location? Do you offer services that would be beneficial to different tourists, like having staff that are fluent in Chinese?
- Do some research into demographics: demographics are factors such as age, location, gender, income level, marital or family status, ethnic backgrounds, and occupations that will affect your customer’s purchasing decision. By figuring out which of these factors make up your target market, you will be able to simply and focus your marketing strategy.
- Evaluate: with any marketing strategy, you will find that you follow a circular flow – research, define, evaluate, question your decision and drink wine, and start again. Consider if you are happy with the target market you have defined, do these people need your services and if this target market is beneficial to your hotel.
Defining your target market is the hardest part of creating your hotel marketing strategy. It’s only onwards and upwards from here!
Defining Your USPs
What’s a USP? Your USP is the core of your identity, and it’s what makes you special. Take a minute to think about this one, it’s a biggy.
What makes your hotel better than the rest? Do you offer any experiences that cannot be experienced elsewhere? Why would a foreigner searching Google for the best places to stay, stop and linger on your site?
Got an answer? Great! Now stick to that. That is what sets you apart and what will fuel your strategies going forward.
Your USP is what will attract your customers, it will make a connection with them and create a sense of need or desire for them to come and enjoy your facilities.
Defining Your Goals
So, we’ve laid down the groundwork and now it’s time to get into the good stuff. Defining your goals can be tricky because let’s face it, we all have a common goal: To Make Money and Not Fail.
Getting your goals together has to be a balance of short term, medium term, and long term goals that will contribute to your overall goal like making money, for example.
Set these goals with intention and purpose. Think about who these goals will benefit and how will your hotel grow from them.
Here are some examples of goals that your hotel could look at including:
Short term goal: To activate social media accounts
Medium term goal: Increase following to 1,000 people on Instagram
Long-term goal: Increase amount of bookings through social media
By defining your goals, it will make it easier for you to focus your marketing strategy. After all, your hotel marketing strategy should be assisting you reach your goals!
Communicating Your Brand
How you communicate your brand’s identity could make or break your hotel. Now that you have analyzed your target market, you should be able to picture the exact type of person who will be attracted to your hotel and what they would like to see in a hotel.
If you are attracting more of a business, formal target market, these customers might go for a cleaner designer where the facts are laid on the table. If you are attracting young millennials that are hopping from country to the other, they might look for a brand identity that is more fun and that can offer them an experience.
Take this business card, for example. A traveler will keep this with them throughout their journey for a quick “how-to”. Your hotel stays front of mind and will probably
Whoever you are attracting, keep them in mind when communicating your brand. Are their questions being answered? Is your tone of voice inline with your brand’s identity? Is your hotel decorated to fit your target market’s needs?
Keeping Up With the Hotel Marketing Trends and Developing Your Hotel Marketing Plan
Optimizing Your Website Design
Your website will more often than not be the first point of contact for potential leads, best it looks enticing!
Whichever marketing strategy you decide on, one thing will remain the same. Your website will be the place where potential customers go to learn more about your hotel and will ultimately make their booking decision.
Here a few key points that will help optimize your website:
- Make Your Site Multilingual – Allow for all types of customers to come and visit your site and feel at home. This will make them feel comfortable and think that your brand can accommodate their needs with ease.
- Have an Attractive Design – Visitors should be able to search your site with ease and be clearly navigated in the right direction. Your website should communicate your brand identity and follow your brand guidelines.
- Be Mobile Friendly – Create a seamless mobile experience with fast loading times to cater for those who prefer browsing on the cell phones or tablets. This is a huge trend to incorporate into your hotel marketing plan!
Why not take this a step further and look to develop a mobile app? After all, 60% of transactions have been reported to be from mobile bookings.
- Incorporate Live Chat – Live chat offers an instant communication channel between your hotel and potential customers. This tool can increase your conversions by at least 20 percent while effectively generating new sales leads through communication.
Look, we couldn’t feel more passionate about the use of live chats in the digital age. In fact, we felt so passionate about it, we wrote about it!
- Optimize for Direct Bookings – This factor is super vital when it comes to balancing your OTAs. We will get into this later but for now, just know that by providing a direct booking feature, you will be making the process a lot more seamless and appealing for potential leads!
SEO & Content Creation is Key
We’ve optimized your website design, we’ve made it user friendly and we’ve got it communicating all the great things about your brand, but how do we convert this to sales? Through SEO and content creation.
Let’s do this one step at a time and focus on SEO. SEO is your not-so-secret weapon that is one of those silent but deadly tactics. This is a complex process but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!
SEO uses the combination of strong keywords and content to rank your site higher on Google. This means that when a potential lead searches, for example, top places to stay in Italy, your website might feature due to its use of the relevant keywords and content.
Sounds great and so easy, right? If only! SEO takes a lot of effort and nurturing but it is completely doable and worth the investment.
SEO isn’t just all about searching for the relevant keywords and phrases but it is about increasing the amount of backlinks that are directed back to your site. This is where your content creation comes to play!
Creating content that solves your customers’ pain points or sparks an emotional connection will increase the possibility of your links being shared. Having shareable content will not only establish your authority within your market but will also attract potential leads to investigate your site and linger longer.
These are all things that will help your SEO and ultimately increase your ranking on Google.
Harness the Power of Social Media
If you’re not using social media, are you even living in the present?
The importance of social media cannot be emphasized enough! Social media acts as a direct communication channel to reach your customers and discover insights.
Social media is free, it is instant, it is relevant and 3.196 billion people, worldwide, use it! Think of that reach!
Use platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube… the list goes on… to connect with your relevant target markets. Share your latest promotions and deals, show them how stunning your hotel is, take them on a tour of your surroundings, and answer the queries instantly.
As you can tell, social media can be powerful and holds incredible relevance to how your hotel flourishes. It is something that needs to constantly maintained and stays on brand for the most optimum effect.
Grow Through Email Marketing
If you’re on the fence about harnessing the power of email marketing, let me leave you this – “for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI”. Campaign Monitor
Email marketing can feature all of the wonderful selling points that your hotel has and enhance your relationship status with your customers. You are able to share your unique attractions and even promote potential bookings by creating callout boxes and aspects that will draw the readers’ eye to your sales funnels.
Look to design a content calendar that will map out what each newsletter will highlight to reduce the risk of writer’s block.
Here are a few things that you could look to include in your newsletters:
- Share Your Latest Blog Posts – Now that you’re creating content that is attractive and acts as a guide for your potential customers, share it further in your newsletters.
- Share Any Promotions – According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media.
- Showcase Your Hotel – Take your subscribers on a journey of your hotel. Showcase your rooms and location with added detail to spark their fancy!
- Got news? Share it! Remind your subscribers about why your hotel is fantastic and look to share the latest things that have happened to your hotel. This could be an inclusive reveal to a new renovation, introducing a new team member or sharing a customer’s experience.
The Strength of Online Ads
At Dawning Digital, we love a good online ad that doesn’t feel like an ad. They are quick, simple and straight to the point, and that’s exactly why you should use them to provide valuable content.
There are many ads that you could look to include: Google Ads, PPC, Pop-Up Ads, and Facebook Ads.
- Google Ads – Recently, a feature called Google Hotel was added to Google Ads. What does this mean for you?
You are now able to promote your hotel on Google Maps, reach and engage YouTube users, promote products with shopping ads and reach specific potential leads that have shown interest in your website, your topic and services.
- Facebook Ads – Not to sound biased but Facebook Ads are super effective! Facebook allows you to target your audience to just about their favorite type of bread.
Facebook Ads are simple to use and can be very cost effective. The only kicker is that you have to have a Facebook account to activate them. But, to be honest, if you don’t have a Facebook account, you should seriously consider re-evaluating your marketing strategy!
- Pop-Up Ads – No, not all pop-up ads are spam! Pop-up ads can prove to be very effective in your hotel marketing strategy.
Use pop-up ads to increase your amount of newsletter subscribers, highlight promotions, or act as a buffer before potential leads leave your site without booking.
- PPC Advertising – In the most simple of terms, no clicks = no payment. This is great if you are advertising on a budget!
These are the ads that show up on the top and the right side of your Google results page after a user has searched the relevant phrase.
For example, if you had to search “Cape Town Hotels”, you will notice a few ads popping up on the side.
Personalize Your Product
There’s nothing a person loves more than knowing that something has been customized for them and has been crafted with their needs in mind!
When personalizing your offering, you can go as small as providing your guest’s favorite teas or as big as creating loyalty programmes best suited to their needs. No matter how big or small your efforts are, personalization is a key point in hotel marketing trends.
- Build a loyal customer base that see your hotel as number one by personalizing your marketing strategies! – This a pretty simple one to start off with, engage with your guests and learn what they want.
A simple strategy for this is to utilize your social media. Interact with your guests’ experiences when they share content on social media, share their posts, like their pictures and comment on any relevant content! This will keep the relationship going and keep your hotel front of mind when they are returning to your location.
- Reward Your Returning Customers – Create an incentive for your returning customers to keep on returning. Perhaps look at offering discounts or group deals when they have returned to your hotel over a number of times.
- Target Your Ads – Vizergy.com states that 47% of travelers say that personalized ads save them time and effort. By targeting your ads and personalizing your messages, you can target specific customers! People have mixed feelings about ads… but if you target effectively and provide useful content, you’re attracting, not interrupting.
- Look At Your Product Offerings – After analyzing your hotel’s target market, you should have a clear indication of what your guests look for in a hotel. Use this to craft special and attractive product offerings that will draw them in.
For example, if you are looking to attract more families to your hotel, incorporate a family discount package or highlight free breakfast.
By showing that you are accommodating to these personal needs, guests will feel welcomed and well looked after.
Be a Leader
For your hotel to be authoritative, to be a leader within your market, you need to establish trust. Your offerings and services have to be accounted for and appear to be the very best that the hospitality industry has to offer!
So, how do you do this?
One of the strategies that you could look at including in your hotel marketing plan is using influencers to encourage trust and a need for your services.
What are influencers? Influencers are popular social media personalities that share their opinions and experiences with their audience. Many people use these opinions to shape their own and to help them make their purchasing decision.
Influencers are a great tool to leverage as part of your strategy. Their voice is trusted, their content is strong and there are many benefits that you can reap. One of them being, receiving exposure across a wide audience through a trusted voice.
People follow influencers for a reason and you can learn more about this marketing strategy here.
Establish your presence across online platforms
Another way you could look to enhancing your sense of authority is by managing your online reviews and participating in discussion groups. Scour sites like Facebook or Quora for discussions where people are looking for input on where they should go, what they should do or where they should stay in your area.
The trick here is to not push your sales pitch straight away but to rather offer advice and open up communication between your hotel and potential leads. Instead of looking like spam by posting your latest deals on this group, your hotel brand will actually look like it cares for the wellbeing of tourism and their experience within your hotel. The benefit lies in the fact that by creating this relationship with online users, they will be more likely to book at your hotel as you appear to be informative, accommodating and that they already have established a relationship with your hotel.
Owning Your Brand with OTAs & Traveling Listing Sites
With over 76% of bookings happening through Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and travel listing sites, it is clear that they play a key part to your hotel marketing plan. But, don’t fall into the trap and let these platforms overshine your brand! Create a balance between the two so that your brand is the hero.
There are many benefits to listing your hotel on OTAs and booking sites. Exposure, easy bookings,
We know what you might be thinking, “if these OTAs are bringing in bookings, what’s the problem?”. Well, the problem comes in where the OTA site takes over your website and becomes the point of contact for your hotel.
Instead of your website and your services being the direct point on query, potential leads may turn to these listing sites which will affect your Google ranking.
This might not seem to be a big deal but trust us, it is. You are looking to grow your brand, to be a front runner in your industry and to become the first point of contact when visitors are looking to book a hotel.
As intimidating as this may seem, we’ve got you covered! By following our strategy of owning your brand on OTAs, you won’t have a problem.
Here are a few tricks and tips to owning your brand on listing sites:
- Manage Your Profile
Upload attractive images and provide eloquently written descriptions.
- Take Pride in Your Reviews
Respond to each review and direct them back to your site.
- Choose the Right OTA
Look at popular OTAs in your areas and see which sites travelers turn to most for bookings, these are the ones you want to focus on!
- Limit Your OTAs
Remember, quality over quantity! Don’t risk over exposure and focus on a select few listing sites.
- Maintain Your SEO & Content
The risk of falling in Google rankings definitely won’t be a threat if you’re keeping up your SEO!
- Trademark Your Brand
Protect your brand by trademarking it.
Looking for a Unique Hotel Marketing Strategy?
There’s a lot to consider when crafting your hotel marketing strategy and at times, it can be overwhelming.
Dawning Digital understands this, we’ve seen this and we’ve grown from this! As an agency that has had an insider’s view into the hospitality industry, we know your pain points and we know how to market your hotel in the best way!
Whether you have a question about this article, need a little guidance on your marketing strategy, or would like our help in implementing the advice above, feel free to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a virtual coffee date with us!
Download our free hotel marketing guide below!