Today, hospitality companies must radically change the way they do hotel marketing. This is because, in order to maintain their competitiveness in today’s market, they need tourism marketing strategies that focus on providing positive experiences for people, instead of focusing on conventional and ineffective invasive advertising.
How important is digital strategy in hotel marketing?
What are the 7 keys to hotel marketing to increase bookings?
The future of tourism marketing and how you can benefit from it
Challenges for today’s hotel marketing
That’s why you should know the keys to hotel marketing that will allow you to increase your bookings and improve your loyalty rates. This, through a solid digital strategy with which you can reach 43 million Spaniards with internet access, according to data from the Digital in 2019 study by Hootsuite and We Are Social. Shall we get started?
How important is the digital strategy in hotel marketing?
The advance of technology has changed the role of people in accessing information about companies. It is no longer organizations that decide what messages audiences should receive, but users who choose what content they seek about brands.
In the context of tourism, Internet users have at their fingertips information on the entire hotel offer in each country. With just one search on Google or on social networks, people can compare prices, locations, services and even comments from other users about different hotels – and that’s a lot of fun!
That’s why, as a hotel brand, your presence on the Internet is crucial to ensure your survival in the marketplace. However, the most important thing is the execution of a digital strategy that allows you to maximize your online competitiveness.
In fact, according to data from McKinsey and quoted by Google, the decision to book a hotel is more immediate and effective when a user reaches the hotel brand through a specific search on the Internet.
In this sense, hotel marketing through digital media is the solution for hundreds or thousands of people to get to know your brand before your competition and, thus, increase your bookings. This, through different techniques of inbound marketing for hotels capable of consolidating a chain in the online ecosystem.
A digital strategy within tourism marketing with an inbound approach allows you to offer a positive, emotional and unforgettable customer experience. Consequently, your brand will be positioned as the first option in the user’s mind when performing a digital search. Take note of what follows, because it interests you!
What are the 7 keys to hotel marketing to increase bookings?
At InboundCycle we have developed high impact digital strategies for different companies in the tourism sector: travel agencies, cruise lines, restaurants, hotel chains, etc.
This experience has allowed us to discover what works best for hotel marketing campaigns globally.
We have summarized our learning in 7 keys that you must apply in your digital strategy to take your tourism marketing to the next level of excellence and effectiveness. These keys are:
- Develop a content strategy.
- Nourish your database of potential customers.
- Position your brand in social networks and specialized platforms.
- Deploy a local strategy using Google My Business.
- Improve the user experience (UX).
- Optimize your customer service management.
- Measure, analyze and evolve.
1. Develop a content strategy
Developing a digital content strategy is the best way for your ideal customers to discover your brand on their own, without any annoying advertising reaching them.
In this sense, the content strategy for your online hotel marketing should contemplate the following:
a) Design of personal buyer
The personal shopper is a theoretical and schematic model that describes what your ideal customer is like. Therefore, this hypothetical profile must be designed according to the characteristics of the customers who already generate the greatest profitability for you.
By designing this tool, you will be able to create personalized content that is of very high interest to the potential customers you wish to capture and convert in order to increase your bookings. Here we explain how to design the personal buyer of your business.
b) Development of a blog
On the one hand, the personal buyer allows you to generate content that suits the needs and interests of your ideal customers. On the other hand, the blog is the most powerful channel through which you must publish and distribute such content.
Developing a blog associated with your website allows Internet users to find your articles, ebooks, guides and other materials perfectly categorized by topics of interest.
c) SEO positioning
More than 75,000 Google searches are performed worldwide every second. In this sense, the techniques of SEO positioning are those that will allow you to appear in the first results every time a user performs a search related to the hospitality sector.
To do this, you must detect the best positioned keywords on the tourism market and generate optimized content for SEO positioning that will help your blog gain greater visibility.
d) Creating valuable content
Valuable content» are those informative materials that are of very high interest to readers and that can be downloaded after filling out a form or simply blog articles. This type of material is usually ebooks, guides, studies or templates, among others.
The main strategic objective of the contents is to attract visits to the blog so that they can then consume those downloadables, and to encourage readers to fill in a form with information about them regarding their identity, work, contact details, etc.
This information allows you to know your potential customers better and contact them directly through digital marketing campaigns.
According to our Inbound Marketing 2018 Study, the creation of valuable content has a very positive impact on tourism and hospitality marketing strategies. Mainly in view of the following objectives:
The results of the study reveal that companies in the tourism and hospitality sector multiply traffic to their websites more than 17 times when applying hotel inbound marketing strategies over 3 semesters, as shown in the following graph on the half-yearly evolution of online traffic:
hotel marketing traffic growthAnd this is the monthly growth in traffic attraction:
hotel marketing monthly traffic growthRegistration attraction
The landing pages through which ebooks, computer graphics, etc. are downloaded are the most effective channel for capturing records or leads. In the tourism and hospitality sector, the effectiveness of these channels is increased through inbound marketing strategies.
In the following graph we see how the number of registrations captured during the first three semesters of the inbound strategy multiplies.
From the 4th semester onwards, the captures decrease, although they stabilize at a high level. This is due to the fact that, before this period, the SEM and social media ads campaigns were stopped, maintaining the efforts in organic traffic.
2. Nourish your database of potential customers
To obtain commercial applications with great sales potential you must execute tactical actions at each stage of the buyer journey according to your online hotel marketing strategy.
The objective of these actions is to feed the database of your potential customers according to the moment they are, thus promoting their progress in the purchase cycle.
Do you already know everything about lead nurturing and lead scoring? Access the complete PDF!
In this sense, the database nurturing process is made up of the following techniques:
- Lead Scoring
- Lead Nurturing
- Punctual BOFU shipments with flash offers
a) Lead Scoring
Lead Scoring is the automatic categorization of the leads in your database taking into account 3 criteria or variables:
Degree of match of each lead with your ideal client profile. The greater the similarity, the greater the importance of the lead.
Level of knowledge about your brand that each lead has, taking into account the quantity and quality of interactions between it and your company.
Stage of the buyer journey where each lead is found: discovery, research, decision or action.
AIDAb) Lead Nurturing
Lead Nurturing consists of a series of automated actions that seek to make leads mature during their buyer journey. In other words, this technique encourages each lead to get closer and closer to their final purchase decision.
In this sense, lead nurturing has two approaches:
Educating your potential clients about a product or service through valuable content that shows its benefits.
Loyalty to your current customers through tactics that encourage cross-selling and up-selling.
Don’t miss this complete guide on lead scoring and lead nurturing to take your tourism marketing to its maximum potential!
c) Punctual BOFU shipments with flash offers
One technique that has given us very good results in hotel marketing campaigns is to send personalized content to leads that are in the BOFU stage, according to the sales funnel.
The key to the success of these mailings are the flash offers. That is, those offers that awaken a «sense of urgency» and that the lead must take advantage of within a specific period of time, before they expire. For example:
10% discount on reservations for Valentine’s Day.
20% discount if you make your reservation within the next 48 hours
Obtaining commercial requests by MQL
Applying the above techniques generates higher rates of commercial requests from leads, making them qualified as MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). This qualification indicates that the leads are already qualified to be approached with sales strategies, instead of just marketing.
In the following graph on our study of inbound marketing for hotels and other companies in the tourism sector we see the evolution in the capture of MQL, which is manifested by obtaining commercial applications at monthly and semiannual levels:
APP – MQL Growth
Access the complete study and see the results of more than 60 real companies with inbound marketing
3. Position your brand on social networks and specialized platforms
Currently, there are more than 4.3 billion active Internet users worldwide and more than 3.4 billion active social network users (according to «Digital in 2019», cited above). Therefore, it is of utmost importance that your brand is positioned in online channels through digital hotel marketing strategies.
Some of the digital channels with the greatest impact for hospitality companies are social networks and specialised platforms in the tourism sector such as TripAdvisor and Booking.
a) Company Social Networks
A survey conducted by TikTok revealed very interesting data about the behaviour habits of Spanish tiktokers when travelling on holiday. Some of these data are:
82% of them choose their holiday destinations from the photos and videos they see on social networks.
24% consider going to the tourist sites visited by the influencers and celebrities they follow.
66% share photos and videos of their vacation trips on their social networks.
67% use social networks to search for and view images about tourist destinations they cannot go to, at the moment.
Download free Social Networking Template Pack
In this scenario, it is very important that you execute a social media strategy to position your hotel brand in social networks. In this way you make it easier for people from all over the world to find you and consider you a good accommodation option.
Here we provide you with a guide to design your social media plan in 7 steps.
TripAdvisor, with more than 35 million active users per month, is the number one specialized platform for travel reviews and information on tourism.
For this reason, your hotel brand must have a presence on this platform and design a plan to obtain positive reviews and improve your company’s «popularity index».
In addition, it is very important to respond to negative reviews politely so that users who read those comments see that you are taking action to improve the points at issue.
I recommend this TripAdvisor article on its popularity rating so you can start your positioning plan.
Booking.com has more than 20 million active users per month (Verto Analytics). And that makes it one of the most popular platforms for hotel booking services internationally.
Although its use tends to generate high commissions, it is also true that the opinions and reviews accumulated there are highly valued by tourists and travelers around the world.
Therefore, your hotel’s presence on Booking.com is key to opening up a community that can multiply your bookings in an unprecedented way. Here it is also especially important to have a good number of photos and quality.
4. Deploy a local strategy using Google My Business
Google My Business is one of the most powerful free tools for your online hotel marketing strategy. It is a service developed by Google that allows you to position your hotel brand online in the geographical area where you are located.
In this way, every time a user performs a search with the name of your hotel or the services you offer, Google will show them a file with very complete information about your business.
Some of the data of your hotel that will appear there are the following:
Contact details (telephone numbers, email, website and physical address).
Link to the online booking system you use.
Interactive location on Google Maps and directions.
Opening and closing hours.
List of services you offer with their respective descriptions.
Reviews and ratings by your customers.
Pictures of your hotel’s facilities, products and services.
[PDF] Inbound marketing in the hotel sector
5. Improving the digital user experience
Tourists, through their travels and the choice of their destinations, always seek to have pleasant experiences. Therefore, online tourism marketing strategies must always focus on this insight.
Providing positive experiences is not limited to the physical context, but also to the digital context and to any contact channel or point of interaction between the user and the hotel. In this sense, your business website should offer a very pleasant experience to your online visitors, both in terms of design and navigability.
In order to provide this experience and increase the number of bookings, your hotel website should have the following characteristics:
Have a real time reservation system.
Guarantee security in payment transactions.
Offer a highly efficient booking scheduling tool.
Have a chat window for immediate queries and answers.
Provide detailed and visual information about the hotel’s products and services, with quality and detailed photos, especially of the rooms and services.
Show all contact channels (phones, emails, social networks, profiles on tourist platforms, etc.).
Learn here, in detail, how to improve the user experience on your website, which is essential if you want to succeed in the online world!
6. Optimize your customer service management
The quality of the attention and service provided by your hotel is key to generating unforgettable experiences for your guests. In this sense, if you want to increase your bookings, you must take into account the way you manage your two types of clients:
External customers: these are your guests and potential guests, who you must manage under a customer centric approach in your hotel marketing.
Internal customers: they are your employees, the people who give life to your business. You must manage them under an employee centric approach.
a) Customer centric
The customer centric is a strategic methodology that puts the final customers at the centre of the business. The objective is to satisfy their needs and desires to the maximum, through completely personalized products and services.
By adopting this customer centric marketing approach for hotels you get high loyalty rates, you even turn your guests into brand lovers or brand ambassadors.
To achieve these goals, your hotel needs to inspire trust and transparency. In fact, according to Label Insight’s Transparency ROI Study report, 94% of customers say they are loyal to a brand that proves to be transparent in its relationship with them.
b) Employee centric
The employee centric is a business management model that focuses on achieving high levels of employee satisfaction, motivation and commitment. This approach is one of the most important in tourism marketing, as your hotel employees are the most direct communication channel with which each of your guests comes into contact.
An employee is able to generate both positive and negative experiences in your customers. These experiences determine whether guests return to your hotel and recommend it to others or leave negative opinions and ratings on TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Google My Business and your brand’s social networks.
That’s why Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Hotels and Virgin Group, says
«Customers don’t come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.»
In this context, some actions to take care of your employees are
Listening to their needs and concerns.
Maintain a good work climate.
Promote communication and teamwork.
Invest in their professional training.
Provide them with high quality tools for their jobs.
Plan social meetings among the whole team.
Preach by your example the organizational culture you want.
Here you can learn how to align your employees with your marketing strategies through more detailed actions.
7. Measure, analyse and evolve
Online hotel marketing campaigns should be considered as a cycle without end. This is because there is always the possibility of improving something or experimenting with new methods or tactics.
Therefore, for each of the actions you carry out in your digital marketing campaign you must measure their progress using specific KPIs. Then, analyze the results to detect what is working and what is not. Based on this, apply the improvements and changes needed to make your business evolve.
This cyclical process of analysis and improvement needs to be applied to your internal processes as well as your customer acquisition and bookings. Even running competitor measurements and analysis through benchmarking techniques gives you the opportunity to stay ahead of the competition and develop more profitable value propositions – keep that in mind!
The future of tourism marketing and how you can profit from it
The future of hotel marketing and the entire tourism sector is being shaped by the adoption of new technologies. Artificial intelligence, Big Data, augmented reality, the internet of things, 5G connectivity and other innovations are changing the priorities of the different players in the market.
On the part of tourists and travelers, this digital transformation encourages new consumer habits, behavior and communication. Consequently, tourism experiences will adopt, among others, the following qualities:
They will be increasingly shared on social networks and other platforms, through emerging formats such as immersive and 360° videos, as well as live broadcasts.
They will be influenced by the destinations, recommendations and preferences of other travelers, influencers and celebrities.
They will involve the use of modern devices interconnected with each other and with the rest of the world: smart GPS, augmented reality glasses, smart clothes…
On the part of hotels and other companies in the tourism sector, new technologies will be used to provide more personalized, surprising and exciting experiences. As a hotel brand, you must drive the digital transformation in your business to:
Deploy highly effective and low-cost tourism marketing campaigns with the support of artificial intelligence.
Automate booking and customer service processes through the use of conversational chatbots.
Develop a deep knowledge of the market, your competitors and your customers through big data.
Design advertising campaigns that involve multiple intelligent devices and different audiovisual formats to create multi-channel and immersive experiences.
Implement facial recognition and process automation technologies in the hotel facilities to provide an intelligent, pleasant and frictionless stay.
Challenges for today’s hotel marketing
The main challenge for hotels today is collaborative tourism models such as the one promoted by Airbnb. The rapid growth of these models and the associated online platforms represent a check on brands trying to survive with traditional online hotel marketing strategies.
According to official data from Airbnb, Spain is the third country in the world whose citizens most use this collaborative tourism platform. However, although this means a hard blow for hotel brands, not all is lost.
Revolutionizing the way marketing is done for hotels is the ultimate solution to Airbnb and other similar platforms.
Therefore, you must give top priority to changing the paradigm in the management of your business. It is vital that you integrate and align the use of technology with your tourism marketing strategies. If you manage to offer impressive experiences at all levels, your reservation rates will increase.
At the end of the day, tourists, guests and travelers are only looking for pleasant experiences. Give them to them and they will remember you as the best option!
If you have been left wanting more, download our Inbound Marketing Study for a 360° view of the entire tourism and hospitality sector in Spain as far as online hotel marketing campaigns are concerned.
Finally, tell me: what other challenges have you had to face in the management of your hotel? I would love you to share them with me so that we can discuss them together!