11 Effective Hotel Digital Marketing Strategies for 2020
2020 has been a different year to say the least and no one expected the impact this global pandemic will have on our everyday lives, on the way we communicate or in the way we do business.
For the last 10-15 years the hotel industry has faced some serious competition from online travelling agencies (OTA). But with the way the entire world has changed this year, hotels have to figure out a way of changing their marketing strategies if they want to survive against their competitors in the next few years.
Now it’s a good time for them to come up with new digital marketing strategies.
Whether we like it or not, in the last few months we had to adapt to spending more time online, either because our jobs moved at home or simply because we wanted to keep in touch with family or friends, when we couldn’t see them face to face anymore. Some might have also noticed that there is significantly less commercial content invading social media.
Mark Zuckerberg announced a couple of years back that Facebook is going to concentrate on posts from friends and family and less commercial advertising, therefore hotels need to rethink how to reach people on social media.
Correct Budget Allocation
What exactly are your digital marketing options?
- Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn and even TikTok)
- Email Marketing (through own or third party databases)
- Search Engine Marketing (AdWords or Display Networks)
- Publisher networks (Direct ad campaigns on certain websites)
- Programmatic Ads (User-intent or contextual marketing with a focus on travellers)
- Review Websites (Sponsored articles, banners or other campaigns on travel sites)
It is always a good idea to delegate one or two key people in your company who can use your marketing budget wisely. Use higher amounts from the allocated budget across carefully selected channels which are more pertinent to the targeted clientele rather than spread the total budget to all available platforms.
Email Marketing is a Powerful Tool
The old style of spamming techniques to mass market audiences resulted in a decline of opened emails. There’s a smart way to reverse this: use professionals to write the emails and design them in such a way that they include highly relevant content aimed at your targeted audience.
Before doing that though, it is highly recommended getting to know the needs of your customers.
Ok, you wonder: how can one do that? The ultimate goal is for people to book rooms directly from the hotel’s website instead of turning to search engines such as Booking.com or Expedia.com.
Before you do anything else, hotels need to invest into a CRM (customer relationship management) tool such as HubSpot or IBM’s Watson Marketing Platform. This enables hotels to manage and analyze their interactions with their past, current and future/potential customers by tracking and communicating with them in a personalized way.
Content is King
Content is a broad term for: website text, images, videos, Facebook posts, Instagram images, stories, etc..
When interested in booking a hotel room, the potential customer is being offered these options:
- Either book or check availability
- Watch a video or view an image gallery of the hotel
- Browse other pages of the hotel (leisure, restaurant)
- Subscribe to a newsletter
And that’s pretty much it!
If hotels want to improve their revenue especially in these trying times, they need to understand one very important point: build a relationship with every single customer. Get creative, build personalized communications, create offers for loyal customers.
Hospitality Video Marketing
As the name indicates, hospitality video marketing relates to video creation by businesses operating in accommodation, food and drink, travel, and tourism. These businesses generate and circulate content to create brand awareness, improve brand positioning, and create a buzz around the establishment.
Here are some tricks and tips on how to establish your hospitality business as a brand using video marketing:
- Market User-Generated Content
- Use of 360-degree and VR Videos
- Employee in Spotlight
- Event Recaps
- Discuss Safety
- Focus on Leisure Activities and Local Customers
Nature versus Nurture
What is ‘Nature versus nurture’? It is a “scientific, cultural and philosophical debate” if our culture, behaviour and personality are caused mainly by nature or nurture“.
In the competitive world of digital marketing, nurture always wins. Making use of automated follow up emails, maintaining communication with potential customers from the initial inquiry to final room booking.
Hotels need to change the way their internal culture operates. First things first invest into better technology and train their staff to set up and use a nurturing program.
Social media / Google Retargeting advertising that show:
- images of specific room types
- Prices specific to the dates searched for
- Happenings/ events at the hotel during the dates specified
Email marketing campaigns featuring:
- Price updates for the specific dates mentioned
- Other incentives on offer- linked to booking code included in email
- Member only deals.
Contextual programmatic advertising looks at the content viewers look at on web pages (topics, keywords, other content), and matches the advertising related to that specific content.
It is important to be as personal as possible with the advertising in order to reach the targeted audience.
Data, Data and more Data
The common theme in 2020 is, you guessed it, data collection. All successful companies collect data in this era of Information Age and provide accessibility in order to offer better customer service.
If hotels don’t get on the bandwagon of data gathering they will unfortunately fall behind and allow OTAS to control the market.
Talk to Guests as if You Know Them
A simple rule of thumb when you want to create relationships with your customers is talk to them as if you know them, make them feel special. Times have changed and people spend lots of time online now, so concentrate on building those relationships online.
Customers have greater expectations, so hotels have to go above and beyond in order to satisfy their needs. If hotels understand how the interaction points work it would facilitate and improve their relationships.
In these last couple of years the number of influencers on social media has skyrocketed. They are thousands of people on social media that have a great following and yes, they influence users who follow them to make decisions such as which book to buy or where to vacation next summer.
Use influencer marketing wisely. Identify the right type of influencer by looking at their followers and the type of audience you want to reach by collaborating with them. Discuss with the influencer the type of content you both expect from this collaboration. Agree to a clear set of performance, reporting activities and revenue.
Working together with an influencer can improve the hotels’ revenue, but only if there’s mutual respect and communication on both sides.
In this new world we’re living in it has become more challenging than before to be successful and competition is fierce. There are opportunities to be seized by adapting to our ‘New Normal’. Being creative and building better relationships is the new way to go in 2020.