As hospitality industry professionals, our customers are our priority. We strive for excellence in everything we do and pride ourselves on accomplishments that delight the people who visit our hotels.
However, a delightful on-site experience is not enough. Customer service has become the cherry on top, with hotel marketing doing the most of the heavy lifting. If we're thinking about how we can delight our customers in our hotels, we should start thinking about how we can please them before they visit.
We should invest in paid search for hotels by amenities to delight our prospects even before they've become our customers.
Our guide will thoroughly explain what a hospitality professional can do to improve upon their online marketing strategy. From pay per click ad copy to Facebook ads, it's time to strive for excellence where it matters: at the very beginning.
Understanding How Customers Choose Hotels
Google Search Ads
Regardless of whether we're a part of a hotel chain or bed and breakfast, it's essential to understand how customers reach us in the first place.
For a large segment of our audience, amenities have become the priority.
Instead of looking for the hotel based on whether it has 3 or 5 stars, each customer's search query has started including terms such as:
- Breakfast included
- Room with a view
So even though we may be stating the full options and amenities on the landing pages of our Google Ads campaigns, we should consider including them into the ad copy.
It's clear, then, how using the right keywords and personalizing the customer experience at a scale can give our hotels a significant competitive advantage.
Keywords are incredibly beneficial for more than just our hotel search engine marketing strategies.
While the first stop on our journey is the Google Ads Keyword Planner, not all keywords are alike.
Instead of just targeting general keywords like "hotel in Chicago," we should consider using keywords specifying our property's location and amenities.
So instead of targeting and optimizing for "hotel in Chicago," we can aim for "bed and breakfast in Chicago," "hotel in Chicago breakfast included," and similar search terms that can help us capture customers looking for a hotel with the exact amenities ours has.
With keywords, it's also essential to pay attention to search terms that drive traffic to our websites, the quality of that traffic, and negative keywords.
Search Reports and Traffic Quality
We should analyze our search reports to see what searchers looked for when they were directed to our site.
Then, we can see how many searchers successfully converted to customers and consider modifying our hotel ad campaigns to even more accurately target them.
Some keywords often lead searchers to our hotel's website but don't result in conversions. It's good to think about adding them to the list of negative keywords.
Negative keywords will specify which keywords we don't want to compete for.
For example, a hotel in Chicago may be showing up to someone whose search query is: "hostels in Chicago." If we're not generating any conversions from that search term, it's good to add it to the negative keyword list as that'll reduce our PPC cost.
Personalizing for Audience
A hotel can accommodate only one type of traveler (for example, business travelers) or many different kinds.
This is why it's good to start by researching our customers. Are you predominantly getting one kind of visitor (e. g. customers from Minnesota who book longer stays),? If you are, it's much easier to craft ad copy and direct them to a specific landing page that will offer them a personalized experience.
The same goes for each type of traveler. Let's say our hotel has a lot of Minnesota visitors. These are families and enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere, breakfast included in the price of the stay, and typically book longer stays.
Our ad copy could then include these essential keywords that would capture the attention of these specific audience segments.
Instead of being "a hotel in Chicago," we could become: "family-friendly hotel in Chicago, breakfast included free with longer stays."
The Right Hotel Ad for the Right Person
Branded Hotel Search Campaigns
If customers are already familiar with our hotel name, it's a good idea to bid for keywords containing it.
Branded keywords are typically much cheaper than general keywords. We can also stop our competition from using them to redirect our potential customers to their site.
Additionally, we can advertise special offers through branded paid search ads.
Paid Search for Hotels by Amenities
When customers are using a search query that contains our brand name and its variations, they're typically aware of what our hotel is like. Our primary focus should be on converting them to customers with special offers.
However, when we're using general terms, it's essential to adapt to what the customers are searching for. Commonly, these are amenities.
Some customers visit our hotel site (typically through generic, non-branded search ads) and leave. However, that doesn't mean we can't "capture" them later on.
Retargeting capabilities of both Google Ads and Facebook Ads can help us take note of prospects who've visited our site and left. By using cookie technology, we can serve them with personalized ads to convert them to customers.
For example, someone might be looking for a family-friendly hotel in Chicago. They've clicked on our ad and visited our hotel, but they're not sold yet. They want to compare us to other hotels.
Retargeting helps us reach them as they're searching around the web, and show them specific things like offers to drive the purchase home.
This is especially important at booking abandonment – when someone showed the intent of booking a room, but something diverted them.
Retargeting campaigns should be highly specific and typically served within 30 days. This means that our cookie length is relevant, and we're not trying to reach customers who are no longer interested.
Facebook Ads for Hotel Marketing
While Google Ads capture people at the moment of wanting to book a hotel, Facebook ads can stimulate customers and increase brand awareness.
There are many different kinds of Facebook ads. You can choose ads such as stimulating visitors to like our hotel's page, enticing them to engage with us, having them sign up for our hotel deals mailing list, to name a few. There are also a few ad types that hotels can use to drive immediate bookings.
Facebook Lead Generation Ads for Hotels
Hotels can successfully use lead generation ads to entice customers to find out more about the hotel's amenities. Since Facebook has similar targeting capabilities as Google Ads, it's possible to reach the right people with the right message (at the right time).
Facebook Limited Offers Ads
If our hotel is running a special promotion, we can advertise it to customers and invite them to sign up right now – before it expires.
Hotel marketers can also use Facebook to remarket to visitors who've left the website without booking a room. By reinforcing the amenities and the convenience to the visitors who are already familiar with our brand, it's possible to "convince them" that our hotel is the best choice.
Once we've set up the hotel PPC campaigns, it's essential to optimize the landing pages (the page visitors will be sent to).
Don't just direct people to your general features or booking page. Create a separate landing page reinforcing the elements they've used the Google search to find.
This reinforces the relevance of our search ads and our ad copy – especially when it comes to exclusive features only our properties have.
Additionally, it's essential to optimize for mobile devices. More and more customers are using their phones to look for hotel deals. So, our websites and landing pages shouldn't be tuned just for the desktop experience, but for the mobile experience, as well.
While enticing photos are essential, it's best to highlight only a few of the best ones. Loading all of them could make the landing pages too interactive to load correctly on mobile.
When visitors click through on our hotel ad, we want them to be wholly focused on our features, and follow only one call-to-action: Book now.
Giving visitors multiple options can be confusing. It leads them away from the ultimate goal: staying at our hotel and having a great time.
Bonus: Search Engine Optimization for Hotel Search
It's important to note the benefit of SEO.
Once we start targeting individual audience segments by keywords, we'll effectively use long-tail keywords.
These keywords, instead of just having less competition than shorter, popular keywords, also help us target specific audiences.
It's good to offer our hotel's services to the general public with the intent of capturing new audience segments. Keep in mind that the real advertising profit is in using our previous best customers to find new ones with similar needs.
Before we start with SEO, we should make a list of search terms we'd like our hotel to rank for, such as:
- Property type (e. g. deluxe, B&B, airport hotel)
- Features/discounts/promotions (e.g. Book directly)
This should not only inform our strategy for paid search but our content strategy, as well.
Instead of generically describing our hotels on our websites, we can include these terms to improve our organic rankings, as well.
The most important thing is understanding that our SEO is an extension of our digital marketing. We can't place everything of importance in the ad. We can, however, put it on our website to help Google bots better understand the context of our hotel.
Consequently, the traffic we get will be of higher quality than just people who're doing generic searches.