Why should hoteliers be SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile)? A successful marketing campaign in today’s high tech world requires social, local, and mobile. A regional marketing strategy is crucial – it’s the local events and attractions that will bring in a majority of your guests. Promoting local events on online channels will quickly increase direct bookings.
Some hotels depend on their brand’s site to market their property and bring in guests. Unfortunately, that is not the case – the brand will only sell the brand, not your property. So, this means your property will be on the brand’s site, and you may get brand recognition. However, the brand will not promote your local market – remember, they get paid when any of their properties are booked ( your property is not unique). It is your responsibility to promote your local market and book travelers who are searching for attractions and events near your property. If you don’t offer these travelers a room that is convenient to their plans, your competitor will! Whether you are an independent hotel or a brand, you need to market locally.
So, how do hoteliers sell locally and gain travelers? To grow direct bookings and gain some popularity in your market, you will need to have a marketing strategy that is social, local, and mobile.
According to Tourism Victoria’s digital marketer,
“Our metrics show rapid increases in the use of mobile at the destination, peaking at weekends and during holiday periods,” he says. In fact, over the Christmas period this year, over 60% of online visits to Tourism Victoria came via mobile, double last year’s average” (ehotelier).
“In fact, over the Christmas period in 2013, over 60% of online visits to Tourism Victoria came via mobile, double last year’s average (ehotelier)”.
As an early adopter of mobile, Tourism Victoria understands the benefits of mobile optimization and has identified it as a critical channel. Tourism Victoria also points out that the engagement has been growing on social media as travelers continue using these channels for planning their trips.
Some hoteliers believe that social media is to build awareness and provide customer service – these hoteliers would be wrong as this channel leads to many direct bookings when done right. For example, contests on social media lead to brand awareness, engagement, and can lead to some reservations in the future. Now, offering a discount, a free amenity, or transportation to a local event on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page can lead to many direct bookings. When posting offers or specials on social media, don’t forget to link back to your site and offer codes to redeem the offer as you need a way to measure each campaign and channel.
Do you focus on your local market? Are you blogging about upcoming events and building relationships with local vendors? If the answer is no, you are missing out on countless opportunities. By blogging about forthcoming events and local attractions, your hotel site can be seen by many people who share your blog – most importantly, by people who are planning their trip to your area. Building relationships with local vendors can include transportation companies who can get your guests to local events or a local company that offers city tours. Hoteliers can include these extra treats in their weekend package – this adds value to your hotel and sets you apart!
With many social junkies visiting Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram via mobile devices, hotels must have a mobile-optimized site. If you have an excellent promotion on social channels that link travelers back to a website that is not optimized for mobile, many travelers will abandon the transaction.
“Not only do 72% of smartphone owners report that they want mobile-friendly sites, but 67% are also more likely to buy on mobile-optimized sites versus ones not optimized, and 74% will return later to a mobile site that functions well, according to a new Google Inc. study (source).”
Digital marketing is only growing in importance! The biggest challenge is ensuring integration across multiple channels – this includes social media, website, mobile, and any other channels. How can hoteliers ensure integration? Hiring an employee, a team, or outsourcing a company that will create a content strategy that is consistent throughout all channels – this includes a consistent message and vision. If you choose to outsource your marketing, make sure you hire one company that takes care of all your channels as this setup will lead to a more effective strategy and accountability on one team. If you choose to tackle a digital marketing campaign that is social, mobile, and local, keep two things in mind – integration and creativity.