Most hoteliers understand the importance of marketing and the need for an actionable strategy, but prioritizing your efforts and implementing your plan can be challenging.
The current climate of offline and online opportunities can make this task feel overwhelming. We’ve outlined 11 hotel marketing ideas that should be included in your strategic plan.
1. Revisit your brand message and your target market
Know your voice, and who you want to hear it. Your brand and your target are your lead dogs. Know them, feed them, talk to them, everything else will follow.
Is your hotel a trendy and innovative urban stop, or a quiet boutique? Do you cater to couples or corporate warriors, value seekers or luxury travelers?
Before you start any marketing plan, make sure your message is clear, relevant and consistent in all your marketing.
2. Make the Most of Technology
Technology upgrades need to be at the top of the list for hotel marketing. In previous blog articles, we’ve discussed the benefits of making a virtual tour of your hotel, the digital expectations of marketing to millennials, and considering implementing a digital concierge.
But the big game-changer for marketing is mobile technology. Everything is going mobile, from booking to check-ins to room access to restaurant, event or service recommendations, and reservations to hotel and travel reviews.
Also consider proximity marketing or geo-based targeted advertising to send targeted information based on location directly to mobile phones to guests that have expressed interest in mobile alerts.
3. Get Social Media Savvy
Social media is crucial to hotel marketing. More and more people find hotels and plan their travel based on what they’ve seen on Instagram and Facebook.
Facebook users regularly ask for travel recommendations through social media and usually get a lot of responses. Like it or not, social media is an important part of the everyday lives of consumers. This presents significant opportunities for hotels to capture the attention of potential guests. Here are some notable Social Media stats to date:
52% of Facebook users say the travel photos posted by their friends or family to social media inspire them to book trips.
85% of travelers use mobile devices to book travel activities.
40% of people under 30 prioritize the ‘Instagrammable’ potential when choosing their destinations
74% of travelers use social media while on vacation.
Here are a few things to consider to beef up your social media:
- Make sure your Facebook page and Instagram feed is up and active.
- Invite contacts and friends. Open up your contact list and ask them to like your Facebook page or Follow you on Instagram.
- Include links to Facebook and Instagram on your website, in emails or even at the bottom of your receipts.
- Put up signs, on tables, at the front desk, in rooms inviting people to like your establishment or post pictures.
- Offer incentives, even something as simple as a cup of coffee for liking you on Facebook.
- Post quality content, consistently, following the 80/20 rule – 80% about your local area, 20% about the hotel itself.
- Fill your profile page with searchable content, and relevant keywords – this helps Facebook serve your page to people for various inquiries from across the site.
- Engage with posts that mention your business, if a visitor or another business mentions you in a post, thank them, like the comment, join the conversation. Showcase your engagement with your guests and community.
4. Market Your Location, Not Just Your Hotel
Many future travelers may be indecisive on which particular city or town to visit and won’t focus solely on the amenities your hotel has to offer. Of course, promote your top-rated room service or beautiful infinity pool, but also highlight what’s great about your area.
Include imagery of engaging scenery, architecture or nearby attractions. Stay on top of events, festivals and seasonal activities from fishing to fall foliage viewing and consider engaging with other travel operators for cross-promotional opportunities.
5. Promote Your Hotel Via Online Travel Agencies
While most hotels prefer direct bookings, almost no hotel can secure regular business without capitalizing on online travel agencies and travel brokers.
Make sure your listings are accurate and represent your hotel in its best light. Make sure you understand the commission structure for your listings.
6. Be Proactive with Hotel Reputation Management
Even the best hotels will have upset guests from time-to-time. And often those people will go online and vent their complaints on review sites and social media, so you’re bound to get a negative review or two.
Don’t let negative reviews or comments go unanswered if at all possible. Be sure to add reputation management to your marketing plan. Make sure you ‘claim’ your hotel on all major booking and review sites so you can track comments and respond where possible.
7. Incentivize Your Customers To Market Your Hotel
Consider offering awards and incentives to guests who make fun or quirky videos of your hotel and post them to social media.
Crowd-sponsored content is a big plus for hospitality marketing. When your guests share their experiences across multiple online portals you not only reduce your marketing expenses but also increase your chances of building online credibility and image.
This is particularly true with visual content which portals like Instagram and Snapchat are designed to share. Having a brand account on Instagram can help potential guests get a virtual feel of your property.
A video about your property posted to YouTube or Facebook will not only appeal to younger demographics but will improve your Google rankings. Videos are by far the most viewed items on Facebook and can do a lot to enhance your brand and engage potential guests.
8. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-friendly and Easy to Navigate
While this might seem like common sense, technologies change fast and your web presence needs constant maintenance.
Your website should be as clean and inviting as your hotel. This is the first impression you will make on a potential guest, make it memorable and usable. Here is a list of suggestions:
- Test your site regularly on different types of mobile devices
- Use legible fonts and concise content
- Limit Flash and pop-ups
- Make sure users don’t have to pinch, scroll or zoom to see important information
- Make sure ‘click-to-call’ functionality is enabled
- Make sure Google Maps is integrated into your site so guests can find you
- Forms auto-fill for returning visitors
- Include an easily accessible search bar and date calendar
9. Host Events at Your Hotel
Host some events to help market and increase visibility for your hotel. Invite groups, associations or clubs for luncheons or cocktail hours, and work to maximize cross-promotional opportunities with them.
Groups like wedding planners or even chambers of commerce could also help you gain exposure and promote you to new customers.
10. Use Email Marketing
Every time we question the relevance of email marketing for hotels, the data proves us wrong! Email marketing is one of the most viable, cost-effective methods for reaching guests and increasing direct bookings.
Email marketing is crucial for the hotel industry: it’s estimated to return $38 for every $1 spent, making it the channel with the best return on investment. Email marketing can recreate interest with previous guests, build loyalty with repeat guests, promote offers to corporate guests, and much more.
Make sure to optimize your mailing lists, target repeat guests who have already shown some loyalty, take advantage of peak periods with holiday themes or special discounts, use compelling imagery, and personalize your message based on your brand.
A solid hotel marketing strategy is your roadmap to growth. With planning, prioritizing, personalizing and consistency you can navigate through the ever-changing landscape with great success.