Getting Started: Hotel Marketing for Beginners
Are you starting from scratch, re-evaluating your brand, or hoping to expand your existing audience? Is so, there's plenty to consider when it comes to building a hotel marketing strategy. Here is a complete breakdown of the most useful tips to help you meet and exceed your business goals. Note: While just about any sized hotel can benefit from internet marketing, for the sake of this article, we will focus on boutique / independent hotels.
Build a website
Establishing an online presence is the first step to success. Your hotel website is not only your calling card within the hospitality industry, but it is also an essential tool you have for generating sales. So, make it count! Create a website that offers a user-friendly web platform that introduces you to a global audience.
When building a hotel website to reach your target market, don't forget to keep the following in mind:
- Get detailed—Talk about everything that your hotel offers in the way of amenities, accommodations, services—anything a guest would want and need to know. Why is your hotel better than all of the others?
- Feature a lot of photos—Including as many pictures as possible is ideal for communicating a visual story. Show potential visitors what they are in store for—and for those who choose another hotel, what they are missing. Photos can even be aspirational, creating a sense of aesthetic luxury. Economical travelers will recognize and appreciate, even if they cannot afford your rates.
- Make booking a breeze—Incorporate a simplified hotel booking engine into your website, allowing visitors to reserve a room or facility space with ease. If you have already opened for business, add online reviews from previous guests on your website.
- Keep mobile in mind—Nowadays, more and more people are booking hotel rooms via their mobile device. Make sure to use responsive design. This will format the website properly no matter what device your users are using.
Create an independent hotel marketing plan
There is plenty to consider when building a marketing plan for your independent hotel. However, to proceed further, there are two key questions you need to answer: what is your brand message, and who is your key target market?
Without a clear voice, your business will not thrive. Deciding on a brand message will determine the type of visitor you attract. For example, if you want your hotel to be an ultra-cool hotspot with Instagram-worthy interiors and a beautiful layout, chances are you will alienate or detract economical travelers. Here are some traveler categories you should consider when putting together your key target market:
This group wants to ensure they get the best bang for their buck. They might travel with young children and boast a medium-level income.
This group is set on enjoying themselves at any cost. They typically travel as couples, prefer destinations with four to five-star amenities, and plan by looking closely at online reviews.
This group favors simplicity and convenience, typically traveling to the same destinations more than once. These mostly lower-income travelers prefer relaxation overactivity.
Members of this group tend to enjoy traveling alone, seeking adventure and cultural experience. They can be low or high-income visitors, often young and carefree, and like sharing their journeys via reviews and social media.
By determining which type of traveler you want to market to, you can better define your hotel's brand message. Once you have confirmed your brand and target market, it will be that much easier to jump to the next steps.
Get your website some exposure
Now that you have a marketing plan in place, and you have created a streamlined, user-friendly web presence, you need to get traffic to your homepage. Hotel marketing is almost entirely online. Previously, hotels would compete to get their businesses added to travel brochures or advertise with signage in bus shelters, trade magazines, and inside agencies. Nowadays, some of the best opportunities for hotels to grab the attention of potential guests is available via social media marketing. In addition to the reach, various platforms can offer hotel businesses a wealth of content distribution and targeting options. Here are the best examples of online social marketing for your hotel:
According to some statistics, about 52% of social media users said that their friends' posted photos inspired travel plans. The potential for harnessing that 52% and steering them in the direction of your hotel is excellent. But first, to be influential on Facebook, you need to grow your number of followers. There are a few ways in which you can increase your organic traffic fast:
- Invite your contacts—Encourage the folks you already know to "like" your hotel business page. Outsiders are more likely to trust an establishment with a large body of followers.
- Post relevant, quality content often—You want to attract potential guests, so give them a reason to follow your page.
- Add information—Be transparent about what your business offers, what previous guests have to say, and why potential guests should choose your hotel over others.
- Engage—Create regular posts that speak to your followers and respond to likes and comments.
Once your organic push has resulted in a sizable base of followers, you might want to consider additional paid Facebook advertising. This is where your potential for exposure is higher.
Instagram users (obviously) love a pretty picture. Sometimes a beautiful photo is all you need to transact. If aesthetics and design are critical components of your hotel, you can capitalize on this by uploading high-quality, styled photography to your business's Instagram page. Generating buzz with a simple photo and witty caption is an excellent method of organic marketing. Like Facebook, once you've gathered an influential audience of followers, paid Instagram marketing tools to become a valuable add-on.
The first page of Google search results receives nearly all of the traffic. If you want your hotel to climb to the top of the list, you need to prioritize some critical components of your search engine optimization (SEO). One of the best ways of doing this is by creating a Google My Business account. Google My Business is a free program that gives local owners more control over how their business is displayed across all of Google's platforms. Having a GMB page maximizes your hotel's local visibility, allowing you to stand above the ever-growing pool of competitors.
There are other marketing moves outside of the digital realm that you can execute to boost your hotel business, including:
- Start a loyalty system to keep guests coming back—There are plenty of digital loyalty programs out there that can work with your hotel business. They might offer rewards to track customer use.
- Communicate with guests on social media—People love to leave comments, good and bad. They also love getting a reaction from the page host. Engaging on various social platforms creates a good rapport with frequent visitors. It also shows potential guests your business's human side.
- Make partners—Every little bit helps. Travel agencies and tourism boards are still popular services, even in this age of autonomous technology. Establishing a working relationship with local experts and establishments is a great way to strengthen your position and attract potential travelers who may not be digitally aware.
- Encourage organic marketing from your guests—Millennial travelers love taking and sharing, photos. You can use this your advantage by incentivizing visitors to tag your hotel when uploading video and image content to their accounts. Grow your business with organic reach and earn additional brand loyalty.
There are plenty of examples of effective digital marketing strategies for building your independent hotel's online reach. Technology changes every day, so keep your eyes and ears open for new methods. In the meantime, this starter hotel marketing guide is your ticket to success.