A 2-Pronged Approach To Start Paid Search for Boutique Hotels

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Alex CorralAlex Corral
June 30, 2016
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Search Engine Marketing

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January 30, 2020

What if I told you that there was a way that you could succeed in paid search for boutique hotels with a small budget?

I'm not talking about changing the game overnight. I am talking about establishing a foothold in paid advertising for your non-brand hotel. 

Let's call it the safest way possible to test the waters.

So what is this technique?

Well, it's a simple two-pronged approach. This approach should substantially help with marketing your boutique hotel

Brand Bidding

You might be thinking, "Why should I bid on my brand name, Alex." Or, "that seems like a waste of money." I wouldn't blame you because that is the way that I once thought too. It might seem counterintuitive to bid on your brand, but here is why it is the smartest way to get into paid advertising.

  • Cheap, Cheap, Cheap – These are some of the most inexpensive clicks that you can buy. Since they are more affordable, that means that if done correctly, you will have a better return on ad spend. Better ROAS means, better ROI. Better ROI = a happier you.
  • Conversion Rates – If people are typing in your name into a search bar, then there is a high probability that they already know about you. It's about being there. Since these searchers already know what they want, and they are looking you up by name, conversion rates will be higher. Advertising is a game of efficiency, and this is one of the most efficient.
  • Control – If your hotel is trademarked, it makes it much easier to fend off the competition. The OTA's have huge budgets. This means that they can spend money on every variation of every keyword. Most boutiques do not have that luxury.
  • Enhanced Branding  You have the most control over what customers see in regards to your brand name. This means that you can choose the copy that you want to be most closely associated with your brand name. Use branded paid search as a vessel to strengthen your efforts on your other channels. Just make sure that the messaging is consistent.

Your Best Guess

I know that it sounds vague, but hear me out on this one.

Let me be clear. 60 – 75 percent of your overall budget (& clicks) will be spent on your brand keywords. The remainder is what you get to experiment with.

This is where the fun comes in.

Depending on the needs of your property, there are a couple of other strategies that you can deploy here:

  • Near XYZ – travel is destination-based. This means that people want to stay close to certain attractions, or they want to map out their trips concerning these landmarks. You can invest in one landmark to see if it will drive the traffic that you are looking for. It would be best if you were careful because some of the big spenders (slots 1- 4 on the top of the page) are the OTAs.
  • Amenities – Do you have something that your competitors do not? Are you a pet-friendly hotel? Are you the only one that offers free breakfast? If there is something that your customers always rave about, or something that you know makes you stand out, then this is your chance to promote it.
  • What is the reason that you call your hotel "boutique?" Emphasize that here, and own that word. The keyword could look something like this: pet-friendly hotels in [name your city].

Yeah, there is always going to be competition for these keywords, but creativity and relevance always trump the all-mighty dollar in Google's eyes. Figure out if you are offering what the customer wants. If you are, make sure that you are highlighting those aspects on your website.

It would be best if you also remembered that the remaining percentage of keywords is a test. This is your chance to prove your theories. You might be wrong in your assumptions, but you will only know if you try them out. We are smarter than we think, but it is the fear of being wrong that prevents us from taking those risks. Take this calculated (semi-safe) risk and see what happens.

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