Competition in the hotel industry is ferocious, demanding companies to be more creative with their hotel marketing strategies to stand out in a crowded hospitality industry. The industry continues to grow, with consumers traveling and being more educated about their choices more than ever.
Guests are constantly evolving, which also means that marketers in the hospitality arena need to evolve with them. According to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer, 80% of travelers will not book accommodation without reading reviews first. Actually, 89% will usually do some research on a destination’s activities and restaurants before reaching their destination. This means that researching a destination and reading reviews on accommodation are entrenched behaviors, which affects the way hotels attract more direct sales through their own e-commerce and digital channels.
Depending on the culture, guests can be price-sensitive when thinking about a destination, a hotel, and the experiences associated with that destination. We learn from TripBarometer that 11% of travelers made their decision based on a great deal in a sale. But, guess what? A personal recommendation has a bigger impact on what prompted travelers to start thinking about their trip (15%) and only 3% of them because they saw an ad.
What do travelers do first when thinking about the order in which they book their trips? Well, 29% don’t start by choosing accommodation; they start by arranging transport to destination. After comparing all the options and finding what works best for them, researches suggest that 22% of hotel clients booked their accommodation first and only 11% of them did first when they saw a great deal.
All these factors, among others, have a direct, measurable impact on your hotel marketing strategy. Now, let’s briefly analyze what some hotels are doing to create successful marketing strategies to drive more direct bookings, loyal clients and increase their revenue per client.
The key and essential marketing strategies followed by successful hotels include:
- Supply to the buyer’s desire for an innovative experience: Several large hotel corporations have realized that modern travelers planning their tours look for more than just a bed and a room-service menu. With the increase of Airbnb and other home-sharing services, many outlets now exist for travelers to book a basic sleeping accommodation. In addition, studies recommend that these options are especially popular for millennial business travelers who take more frequent trips than their older colleagues. Nonetheless, these travelers also want to spend less time in their rooms rather than in the hotel. In response, hotel brands are aggressively marketing to target these social customers with experiences such as social happy hours, guest meet-and-greets, yoga classes, and hotel scavenger hunts. Such targets effortlessly demonstrate sophisticated audience segmentation, a strategy that any company or a brand can use to create a more effective marketing plan.
- Digital Presence is a must: Currently, adoption of technology is important to stay competitive. Unfortunately, or fortunately, just listing the hotel online is not sufficient; the digital presence is a must. Nowadays, social media has become a vital marketing strategy. Moreover, with review sites such as Trip Advisor which helps in influencing customers decisions, it is important to get involved to get a share of the hotel industry market size.
- Personalized Experience: Hotels have access to a massive store of data regarding their customers’ preferences, and the best establishments use this information to offer intensely personalized messages that bring back their guest’s repeatedly. For example, Ritz-Carlton: When a family’s young child left a stuffed animal at a Ritz-Carlton property, not only did the parents receive the toy mailed to their home a couple of days later, but also won a series of photos showing the stuffed animal on various adventures throughout the hotel (essentially a targeted marketing message designed to let the family know what they could look forward to on their next visit). Learn more about personalization in the travel industry with this podcast episode.
- Onboarding clients with personalized videos: This kind of strategies can also be powered by personalized videos and multimedia marketing to better connect with each customer during the customer journey. Take for example a booking confirmation message. Hotels can smartly use the booking and client details to create robust personalized marketing strategies where each new guest receive a personalized email containing a personalized video. With each hotel reservation, each client provides information on arrival and departure date, name, surname, in some cases birthday, tastes, how many people will be at the hotel, how many rooms are necessary, budget, experience preferences, and much more. With all this information we can automatically create a totally personalized video for each person, totally adapted to the individual context each of them. The more contextualized and personalized the experience, the better conversions of upselling, cross-selling and engagement you will see. Here you’ll find a full webinar about how to increase sales and loyalty with personalized video marketing.
- Be unique while creating content: Hotels follow the concept of content marketing as it’s inexpensive and has the potential to lead to a significant ROI when adapted correctly. Many leaders are pleased by just using their brand blog as an outlet for content. However, few different hotel companies are proving that being creative about content presents new opportunities for engaging with customers on a more practical level. For example, Four Seasons, a brand recognized globally for its commitment to offering luxury to its guests throughout their experience. It produces regular content for its brand magazine, carrying on the tradition of luxury and presenting guests a foretaste through the lens of the Four Seasons lifestyle into the brand’s destinations and activities.
- Direct Marketing: Direct marketing includes leaflets and promotions that are beneficial and will continue to play an indispensable role in the hotel industry marketing strategy. Direct Marketing in the hotel industry acts as a potent force in attaining customers. The hospitality industry is all about service, and it’s by the direct interaction that customers can be retained.
- SEO, and Personalized Email Marketing: SEO and Personalized Email marketing is amongst one of the most useful and majorly used marketing strategies in the hotel industry. Hotels have huge records of e-mail id of all the customers, but they don’t use it. It is necessary to have repeat sales and thus e-mail marketing helps to retain existing customers and gain new ones. In addition, SEO helps the hotel website to ensure organic growth online.
- TV and Newspaper Advertisement: Marketing strategies such as TV and Newspaper advertising are still active, but are quite expensive. Globally, top brand hotel chains shell out a considerable part of their marketing budget for advertising in newspapers. Perhaps, the return on investment is not as high as compared with digital channels. In the past, it was used as one of the key marketing strategies of the hospitality industry. Though, competitors such as Airbnb and others are compelling the hotel industry to come out with innovative and cost-effective marketing strategies.
- Increased use of Social Media: Nowadays, social media plays a vital role in hotel marketing strategy. Since a long time, social media has been a platform for businesses to sell their products. For example, Facebook has around more than two billion monthly users, and transactions are increasing with currently about 50 million active small business pages. Similarly, Twitter and Instagram are accessible and helpful in influencing one’s business. Social Media allows the freedom and creativity for the marketing campaign. Besides, video content is on the rise, and while it’s great to build brand alertness, it can also be used for strong marketing messages, potentially driving direct bookings.
- Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC): PPC mode of advertising plays an important role in hotel’s online marketing campaigns. For example, around USD 8 profit is gained on average for every USD 1 a business spent in Google AdWords. PPC ads also show a positive impact on organic click-through rates. On an average branded PPC can improve clicks by around 27%.