Hotel marketing helps you reach out to prospective guests and promote your business. And without it, you would struggle to succeed!
This portion of your daily job is probably the most important. As a hotelier, you must promote your hotel’s facilities and services, attract new guests, and encourage loyalty. Sound simple?
Well… hotel marketing is much more than that!
Considering the hotel industry has over 700.000 hotels worldwide, investing your time (and money!) in an effective hotel marketing strategy is paramount. Although travelers’ needs change over time and global events affect the way people travel, all in all, the hotel marketing principles remain the same.
In this article, I’ll offer you a complete overview of hotel marketing so that you can successfully promote your hotel.
What is hotel marketing?
Hotel marketing refers to the tools and strategies set in place to promote a hotel. The purpose is to bring in as many new guests as possible, and to retain past customers.
In simple words, potential guests are eager to travel and possibly visit your hotel. All you have to do is show them your hotel’s best features!
Knowing your target audience and your competition well will help you achieve your goals. If you succeed, then your hotel will be taking more bookings than ever before.
Why is hotel marketing important?
Without guests, there’s no business. Showing potential guests that you are available and why they should choose you over your competitors is the role of hotel marketing.
Additionally, it’s your chance to build a brand your customers trust. And if they trust your hotel, then they are more likely to tell their friends, and book with you again for future stays!
- Knowing your guests
Once you understand what your guests want, it will be easier to offer exactly what they are looking for. So, how will you find out your guests’ deepest desires?
Well, a good place to start is with the online reviews for your property! You’ll have an insight into as to why they booked a room at your hotel. Also, you can find out what services your guests enjoy the most. Was it the superb dinner they had in your restaurant? Or the relaxing massage in your spa? Perhaps it was the wifi connection speed?
With this information, you can offer each guest precisely what they’re after!
- Showing your hotel off
Making guests aware of your hotel’s best qualities is crucial. It might be sprawling gardens in a country estate, a stunning beach view, or something else unique at your property.
Making potential customers familiar with the best things about your hotel is key to winning them over. Some common ways to raise awareness to these things is to use email marketing, social media, or user-generated content.
Another way to do it is using promotions and special offers. Everyone loves a good deal, and I’m sure your guests are no different! When business is slow, presenting lower rates or a complimentary room upgrade will definitely capture your customer’s attention.
- Keeping your guests close
Top-notch service is the key to success. But in order to encourage a guest to return, you must keep them close. How? Using modern-day technology, of course!
Digital marketing plays a key role when it comes to customer engagement. Through social media, you can show your long-time customers what you’ve been up to. And through email marketing, you can send them exclusive one-of-a-kind offers!
Digital marketing in the hospitality industry
The rise of the internet was a turning point in world history. Every business worldwide faced a new challenge: adapt or cease to exist. As a result, marketing strategies changed drastically. They became more focused on the company’s online presence and customers’ buying intentions.
Considering people spend most of their time online, most hotel marketing campaigns happen on the internet. If you are not using digital marketing, then you’re missing out on incredible opportunities!
- It’s measurable
Through digital marketing, you can actually measure your campaign’s effectiveness. Explore Google Analytics to learn more about how your visitors discovered your hotel. This is also a great tool to find your target audience, understand user behavior, analyze conversion rates, and improve ads and SEO content.
- It’s cost-effective
In the old days, marketing was only accessible to big companies. Advertising was expensive, leaving small companies out of the competition. However, since digital marketing is considerably cheaper, any hotel can benefit.
- It helps you find your audience
Through online marketing, you can find specific customers. Depending on their demographics, location, and preferences, you’ll have the chance to develop a strategy focused on promoting your hotel to the right visitors.
- It’s where people spend most time
According to “Digital 2022” report, an average internet user spends around 7 hours online! Whether it’s professional or personal usage, we spend most of our waking time browsing the web. This is why the internet is the perfect location to promote your hotel! People go online to search for accommodation options, compare rates or check on guest reviews before booking a room.
- It’s personalized advertising
With online marketing, you can direct your message to specific groups of customers based on their preferences and make them feel you are speaking directly to them. Email marketing is the most used option when it comes to personalization. You can segment your audience, and provide personalized information on promotions and services that truly captivate your guests.
Hotel marketing strategies
Over the last century, travelers’ needs shifted, and the hospitality industry needed to adjust on several occasions. As a result, hotel owners are avid “people-readers”, constantly identifying new trends that satisfy the modern guest and lead the hotel business forward.
Define what makes you different
Research your competition. Learn how they work. Find out their strong points and weaknesses. Finally, ask yourself some questions: Why is your hotel better than the one down the road? What do you offer that your guests won’t find anywhere else?
This exercise is the perfect opportunity to realize how your hotel will stand out among others. Focus on showing potential guests something that your competition lacks.
Are you targeting families? Or maybe you offer pet-friendly accommodation, where families can enjoy their vacation at your hotel with their fur babies!
Map the booking journey
A customer journey map is a powerful tool since it helps you understand why some of your guests take long before completing a reservation. Additionally, you’ll have a clear insight into your customer experience and how you can improve. So how do you go about it?
- Create a buyer persona
- Define your goals
- Identify the touchpoints and stages
- Retrieve data from customer surveys to compare results
- Map future customer journey stages
Reward direct bookings
Every hotelier knows how important direct bookings are to hotel revenue. Besides saving a massive amount of money each year, direct bookings are also proof your guests trust your business!
So, why shouldn’t you thank them?
A complimentary room upgrade, a fruit basket in their room upon arrival, or a special discount are small gestures your guests will definitely enjoy! Let them know you appreciate their preference. That they are valuable to you. That you care about their happiness!
Promote the location
Marketing your hotel is important. However, potential guests aren’t booking a room only because of the amazing and expensive décor! They want to explore the surroundings. To explore your location’s history and culture!
Show your customers why they should stay at your hotel:
- What is there to do?
- What can they visit?
- What tips can you offer that only a local would know?
To complete this “information package”, you can build partnerships with local businesses. This way, you can offer services that you don’t provide on your hotel property and will help your guests learn more about your location.
Invest in the marketing budget during the reservation peak season
Do you know when your property’s occupancy is at its highest? If you don’t, then you’re missing out!
Knowing the time of the year when your customers book more rooms is a great marketing opportunity! Explore the advantages of email marketing or social media advertising to reach your target audience and get more bookings. Is there a world-class event happening close to your property? Learn what that specific audience is looking for, and present your hotel as a perfect solution.
Improve your customer service
Yes… I know you’ve heard it a thousand times… But, the truth is that your customer service must be top-notch from the very beginning and even after your guests have checked out!
You might have a bullet-proof marketing strategy, but if your customer service fails, all your efforts will be in vain. Ensure that your staff are well trained. A customer-first mindset is a key to guaranteeing your hotel is successful. However, to accomplish this goal you must provide your employees with the right tools.
Build a customer loyalty program
Repeat business is important to any organisation. But in the hotel industry, it’s essential. Having returning customers means that you’ve successfully met their expectations. So, providing them with exclusive offers, such as special rates or free room upgrades, is a way to reward their loyalty. Additionally, you’ll ensure that they will keep coming back!
Most hospitality businesses segment their customers into different levels, depending on the previous number of stays. Each new reservation will grant points or discounts that can be redeemed on the next reservation. Find out which enrich your guest experience and what services you can offer.
Take advantage of technology
Nowadays, visiting a distant hotel is easier than you think! With virtual reality, you can offer potential guests a guided tour of your property. Show them the stunning facilities and incredible services you have at their disposal in promotional content.
Provide guests with the means check-in online or visit a virtual concierge. This way, your customers will be able to make restaurant reservations and spa appointments or check for information on activities and places to visit from the convenience of their own smartphone or computer.
5 ways to successfully promote your hotel
Although marketing offers several strategies to promote your hotel, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Regardless of the approach you choose, it must be aligned with the campaign goals and property needs. To help you get started, I’ll let you know the best ways to make your hotel stand out!
1. Build a strong online presence
Most of your guests are miles away from your location. Yet, you can still keep in touch! Developing your hotel’s digital presence will help you reach a wider audience while updating your most loyal customers. How?
- Web design
This is your digital “home” and where you present your hotel to potential guests! So, it’s important to guarantee they will easily find what they’re looking for. A user-friendly web page will help your guests virtually explore your property and make a reservation.
- Content marketing
Your website can be so much more than showing great hotel photos and booking a room! Along with your user-friendly website, you can build a blog and offer video content, presenting the services provided, your location, and events happening in and around your hotel.
To do so, I’d suggest getting a content management system. It will help you organize and schedule our posts and avoid duplicate content. The best part is that it is so easy to use you don’t need a team of experts to take full advantage of its potential.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In today’s digital world, SEO is definitely the most powerful tool you’ll find!
When people search online for their next destination, they often choose the first results appearing on the search engine results page. Why? It’s simple! Travelers understand Google ranks the most reliable options for their search query first. In their minds, booking a room with a hotel raking first place is likely a safe choice.
Because of this, if you’re looking to outrank your competitors, then you must definitely invest in SEO. It will help you please Google’s algorithm and lead you to top page results.
- Use on-page SEO so that Google sees you as a reliable source of information. Keyword research, optimized visual content, and backlinking are a few strategies that will definitely help you.
- Paid advertising will only take you so far. For Google’s algorithm, organic traffic is much more valuable since your website gets visitors without you investing money. You’ll get better results if you improve your website content and use social media to promote your business.
Google Analytics provides clear information to understand user behavior and intention. By monitoring your SEO strategy, you’ll be able to make needed changes that will help you reach your goals.
- Conversion rate optimization
Once potential customers visit your optimized website, you must do everything you can to ensure they don’t leave without booking a room!
Improving your CRO, or conversion rate optimization, means that you are actively guiding your visitors through the sales funnels and convert them into paying customers. You can set an e-mail marketing campaign and dedicated landing page providing an exclusive offer, or developing an optimized website and prompting visitors with calls to action.
Remarketing is another strategy you can use to bolster your conversion rate.
Imagine someone visiting your website. You can clearly see what they were looking for but, for someone reason, they left without booking a room. Why did that happen? Maybe they found a better offer elsewhere? Or maybe, they just didn’t have enough time to complete the reservation!
With remarketing, you’ll be reminding your visitors about their buying intentions so that they return and finish the booking process. Email marketing campaigns and social media ads are usually the most used options.
2. Manage your guests’ preferences
In a people-centered business such as the hotel industry, knowing your guests well will help you succeed. As your hotel brand grows, so to does your customer base. For that reason, it becomes increasingly harder to know every guest by name.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the perfect tool to help you meet your guests’ expectations. Besides saving contact details, you’ll have the opportunity to collect detailed information on their preferences and reservation records.
With a CRM platform, you’ll have a unique database to keep your customers engaged. Besides, you can use this valuable information to build a loyalty program and boost repeated guest reservations.
3. Email your guests every now and then
Email marketing campaigns are a cost-effective strategy that’s perfect for up swinging direct bookings and increasing customer loyalty.
However, before reaching out to your customers, ensure that you have their permission to use their contacts for marketing purposes. In Europe, the United States, and Canada, for example, there are strict regulations when it comes to data protection.
A CRM tool is key to building an email marketing campaign. You can segment your guests and offer them valuable and exclusive offers they will love.
4. Engage your customers through social media
Scrolling through social media has become a routine for most of us. Without even realizing it, we find ourselves reading the news headlines, checking on what our friends have been up to, and following our favorite celebrities.
In fact, users stated they felt inspired to travel after seeing their friend’s social media posts. And more than 70% said that they post photos of their vacations on social media.
For hotels, this is the perfect opportunity to promote business! Besides posting content on hotel facilities and services, you can use it to engage with customers. Offer last-minute deals or limited availability for exclusive offers. The fear of missing out will be so overwhelming that your guests will definitely book a room!
5. Work side by side with third-party channels
I know that as a hotelier, commissions are at the front of your mind when it comes to third-party channels. Even though you might be eager to convert these commissions into direct revenue for your hotel, they do serve a purpose: third-party channels help you gain visibility with a broader audience that you would struggle to find on your own!
- Global Distribution System (GDS)
Travel agencies and travel operators use this system to get better deals with hotels when making a reservation for their clients. For hotels, it means defining contract rates, allotments, booking windows, and blackout dates that no other partners will have access to.
If you’re new to the hotel industry, this might seem tricky. Yet, with a channel manager, you’ll be able to upload the contract information to the system. This way, your hotel availability is always updated.
- Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
As a traveler, if you haven’t booked a room with a tour operator or directly with the hotel, chances are that you used an online travel agency. The same happens to your customers!
Popular platforms, such as Booking.com or Expedia, show your property to millions of potential guests worldwide. By defining the search filters, travelers will find your hotel, among others ranking for similar rates, services, and location.
Because of that, you must use high-quality photos of your hotel and encourage guests to leave positive online reviews on their stay. Hopefully you’ll outrank your competitors, and potential guests are more likely to book their stay with you!
Another way to use third-party channels to your advantage is using metasearch. Ever heard of this before? In a few words, metasearch engines, such as Trivago or TripAdvisor, gather information on hotel rooms and present it to potential guests.
For guests, it’s easier to compare rates and services and find the best deals. However, their journey to complete the purchase will be longer, as they will be redirected to different third-party websites.
To overcome a high abandonment rate, guarantee that guests will see the same rates for each room type or use a remarketing strategy. If your guests get lost along the journey, they will easily get back on track to complete the reservation.
How to build a solid hotel marketing strategy
Designing a marketing strategy is key for your business to succeed! Whether it’s a boutique hotel or an international hotel chain, you can get great results with proper planning. Now that you know which marketing strategies professionals use, it’s time to put your knowledge to good use!
1. Build a business summary
The marketing plan intends to provide clear information on your hotel to marketers and other professionals dealing with the communication strategy. For that reason, start by clearly identifying your hotel. Include the hotel’s name and location. Additionally, state your mission, vision, and values.
2. Conduct extensive market research
A comprehensive analysis of your competitors and customers will help you identify the right resources to reach your target audience.
Identify the market and your competitors
Start by researching the current state of the travel industry. Then, decide which date is most important and how you’ll use it to predict future trends and growth projections.
At this point, you can use a SWOT analysis to identify your competitors. It will be your chance to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You’ll be able to state what their business lacks and how you can fill in the gaps.
Identify your target audience
Your ideal customer will be the one buying your services. That’s why you must know who they are! Once your market research is complete, it will be easier to identify who is more likely to stay at your hotel. That will be your target audience.
Demographic information, such as age and gender, will help you understand your customers. However, it is also important to consider their location, profession, education level, preferences, and needs.
3. Define your marketing goals
Your goals should be crystal clear! People around you must understand your vision and what you hope to achieve. Besides which, it will be easier to analyze your campaign success in the future.
One way to master your goals statement is to use the SMART strategy. This method stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
How does this apply to you?
Let’s say that for your next marketing campaign, your goal is to increase your revenue on direct bookings by 15% until the end of the year. Using the SMART strategy, it would look something like this:
- Specific – ask yourself who should be in charge of this goal and what you need to accomplish it. Be as detailed as possible.
- Measurable – using numbers is a great approach to attain a measurable goal. In this example, the 15% increase is as clear as it can be.
- Achievable – identify which strategies you must put into action to attain your goal. It can be offering a lower rate for repeated guests or walk-ins or depend less on online travel agencies.
- Relevant – for your plan to succeed, it is important that your goals are meaningful to your company. It will allow you to focus on what’s important.
- Time-bound – when mentioning “until the end of the year” you are identifying until when you will take this goal into action.
4. Pinpoint your budget
Establishing a budget is a crucial phase where you guarantee you have enough resources to accomplish your goals. Once you’ve done your market research and identified who’s your target audience, it is time to decide how much you are willing to spend. A well-designed financial plan will help you decide on the marketing channels.
5. Marketing channels
Now is the time to set your plan in motion!
Decide how you want to reach your audience. If you’re just starting and are lucky enough to have a big budget, then go for sponsored content, pay-per-click, or native advertising. On the other hand, if you’re managing a hotel with a small budget, then put all your efforts into social media, email marketing, and personalized advertising.
With these tips, I’m sure you’ll create a thriving marketing plan!
Key concepts you must know
- Allotment – refers to a number of rooms hotels must always have available to a specific travel agency.
- Blackout dates – Upon signing a contract with a travel agency, the hotel defines specific dates that cannot be booked by travel agents.
- Booking window – refers to the period between a reservation being made and the guest’s arrival.
- Brand awareness – refers to how familiar customers are with a brand and its products or services.
- Conversion – refers to the moment when a visitor turns into a paying customer.
- Consumer behavior – studies how customers satisfy their needs and desires when choosing, buying, and using goods or services.
- Marketing channels – refer to the activities, people, and organizations that promote products and services to customers.
- Personalization – refers to using personal information to promote products and services to a targeted customer.
Hotel marketing plays a vital role in today’s travel industry. Considering accommodation is one of the largest expense people have while planning a trip, it is no wonder it quickly became a multi-billion dollar industry.
For this reason, hotel marketing has the job of connecting the right guests with the right services. It offers them the opportunity to enjoy the best customer experience, starting with the booking process.
However, the success of any hotel marketing strategy lies in other equally important factors. Impeccable customer service will highly affect your guests’ intent to return. Consequently, it will affect your ability to attract new customers and increase revenue. And, with a less income, it will be harder to improve your hotel facilities or pay better wages for high-performing employees.
As you can see, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in potential customers and win repeat business. Yet it still matters to all departments within your hotel.
Guaranteeing your strategy is aligned with the service provided isn’t always easy. However, GuestJoy will help you achieve your goals effortlessly. With GuestJoy, you can present upsell opportunities, concierge services like online check-in, collect feedback an encourage positive reviews online, and much more. Take a moment out of your busy schedule and request a demo today!
For further readings, we recommend you the following articles:
- Hospitality Statistics – https://hoteltechreport.com/news/hospitality-statistics
- The future of hotel marketing – https://www.cvent.com/en/blog/hospitality/hotel-marketing-trends
- Modern History of the Hospitality Industry – https://hoteltechreport.com/news/modern-history-hospitality-industry
- COVID-19: The great hospitality reset – https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/great-hospitality-reset