5 Hotel Marketing Musts in 2018
February 23, 2018
Travel lodging, aka hotels, are now commoditized. In the era of your average hotels, luxury hotels, inns, hostels, sharehouses, social hotels, the gazillions of Airbnb’s – tourists have options galore.
Tourists are also changing – people are no longer excited to get most emails, they react negatively to banner ads and don’t care as much about a hotel’s website.
So how do you make your hotel stand out?
Your hotel may be amazing, but it doesn’t matter if tourists don’t know that. The likelihood that someone sees a banner or Search ad for an unknown hotel, clicks and makes a reservation is extremely low. Most of us wouldn’t do it, so we can’t expect others to.
Most hotels already focus on advertising, but influencing potential guests today requires more of an effort in marketing.
Here’s what hotels should do to market today.
1. Build an experience-focused brand.
The brand of a product or service influences what we purchase or use. Besides location and price, people also want to know what value you’ll add to their trip. Travel, by nature, is about experiences. We know The Ritz-Carlton lets us relax in luxury and Airbnb’s let us experience anywhere like a local.
Figure out what your hotel’s brand is, what experiences guests can have through it, and think about the different ways that it can be conveyed.
2. Get social, it’s where everyone’s attention is.
We need to come to terms with the fact that social networks on a smartphone are where people around the world gather – 2 billion people on Facebook, 800 million on Instagram.
Because people’s eyes and ears are in these places, they should be your focus, not an afterthought or something done “if there’s time.”
Getting people’s attention first is required in order to tell them about your hotel, and their attention is in these networks.
3. Care about the creative, it emotionally affects us.
Your social account is a media channel, like a TV network or magazine. We can all agree that a TV channel or magazine that only has commercials and ads is not one that we’d watch, read or care about.
Because of this, avoiding the tendency to only post promotions and advertisements is important; research shows it’s actually the most annoying thing that brands do on social.
On social networks, creatives are the key. That doesn’t mean “creative” banner ad. A creative is a piece of content – visual content for most big platforms now – that informs or entertains fans and potential customers. This is where you can tell your brand’s story.
Instead of just showing the sushi from your hotel’s restaurant, for example, create a short documentary about the chef and his craft. People would find that far more interesting, increasing the likelihood of them liking or sharing that content – both of which helps spread awareness about your hotel to more people, and remembering it if they decide to travel to your location.
4. Showcase word of mouth and endorsements.
One of the great things about social media is its ability to amplify.
Consider that 87% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends and family. Reviews on places like your hotel’s site or Booking.com page are great, but remember that when someone posts a nice photo at your hotel, it too acts as a positive word-of-mouth review to their followers. If you share that post on your hotel’s account or promote it, that positive review gets amplified.
This means that getting people who have large followings on social, aka “influencers,” to post about your hotel can have an enormous impact. Paying them to visit, stay and post about your hotel to thousands of followers who care about what they have to say can have a much more positive effect and better ROI than putting that money towards website banners that we all actively avoid.
5. Collect data so you can do ads better.
Using social media not only helps reach more people, it helps you learn more about who is actually interested.
If some people interact with or click to your site from your social media creatives, you can learn about them. With this data, you can retarget ads to them again or to people similar to them, meaning that there’s a higher chance of getting them to consider taking action at some point.
The challenge and necessity is to step out of the advertising-only mindset. Consumers research and judge companies based on their social media, are influenced by strangers they follow online and use Instagram to find places to go.
The hotels that take on this challenge and market their brand as one that adds value to peoples’ travel experiences will be better positioned to take on tourism in the future.