Welcome to the 21st Century… if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get your business on board the digital marketing train, before all your competitors disappear down the tracks. But where to start?
One of the most popular forms of paid search marketing – advertising that exploits the power of search engines (i.e. Google) – is pay-per-click advertising (PPC). That’s because, when deployed as part of a keyword-driven search engine optimization strategy (SEO), it has the handy habit of delivering results, fast. Not just improving traffic to a business’s website, but increasing conversions.
But effective PPC doesn’t just happen; it requires planning and preparation. So, here’s a quick guide to putting together a successful PPC campaign.
Budget and bidding
First off, set your budget. This will determine how you use Google AdWords (the search engine’s platform for keyword-driven advertising), which means choosing between manual and automated bidding. For the uninitiated, manual bidding may be best, as it ensures you can set a cap on cost-per-click (CPC), which is basically the average amount you’re charged by Google when someone clicks on your ad. Be warned, though; with this cap, you won’t be able to optimise your keyword bids. Automated bidding, the alternative, reduces hands-on management of a campaign but, because it enables a shifting CPC, could well prove costlier.
Keywords and your seed list
Right, on to the all-important keywords, which means… brainstorming. It’s imperative that the keywords you choose match those your customers are using to search for goods and/ or services. So, by way of example, for successful hotel search engine optimization via PPC, your keywords need to mirror those used by potential room bookers and day guests.
Now, in today’s data-driven world, you should know all about your customers; the very ins and outs of their interaction with your business. Draw on this data as you brainstorm and come up with your keyword ‘seed list’. What do customers buy and value from your company? What do you want them to buy and value? And bear in mind that branded keywords (keywords that include your brand) are golden nuggets – they tend to drive higher conversion rates than non-branded alternatives.
Hone your ad copy
Next, your ad’s copy. An ad’s copy needs to dazzle. Customers mustn’t just notice your ad; they must click on it instead of a competitor’s ad. Because you’ve limited space for this copy, it’s got to be compelling, instantly – so hone your choice of words. Put bluntly, your copy needs to contain three things: a headline (including your USP and keywords); description lines (also including keywords and, likely, the USP); your display URL. That’s it.
Also, personalise the copy. According to visual marketing software company Autopilot, consumers are four times more likely to respond to ads containing personalised offers. So, it should address customers’ needs and interests, and sound believable and trustworthy (ideally comprising a ‘trust signal’).
A call to action (CTA) is do or die stuff – without a CTA, customers won’t know what it is they’re supposed to do next. Make it simple but potent. In fact, in analysing multiple successful PPC campaigns, SEO software specialist WordStream concluded the most popular CTA words include the likes of ‘get’, ‘buy’, ‘shop’, ‘try’ and ‘learn’. Yes, we’re talking that level of simplicity and directness.
And finally… optimise your website
Be sure your ad’s link leads to the most appropriate landing page on your website – not your homepage! It’s all about the customer journey; you’re trying to drive conversion, so this click-through should feel fast, relevant and seamless.
Finally, one last klaxon: a slow-loading landing page will jeopardise everything. Research suggests just a one-second delay could mean a 7% conversion drop; four seconds a 25% drop. So, whatever your business, the site has to be optimised; if you’re in hospitality, for instance, hotel responsive web design is a no-brainer. The site has to be clearly set-out, easy-to-navigate and feature content that’s targeted to would-be bookers.
Now, granted, website optimisation isn’t easy, especially when this comes in addition to planning and launching a PPC campaign where maintaining your ‘quality score’ is important.
But, that’s where the likes of us at Digital Hotelier come into play. We live and breathe SEO and PPC. We love nothing more than preparing, launching and running campaigns, and building and optimising websites.
Get in touch with us today and see how we can help drive your conversions!
In the hospitality and travel market, email marketing can be personalised effectively. This is accomplished through a variety of simple techniques. By building customer profiles for your niche market, it becomes simpler to personalise emails that will address every client individually.
Tips to use personalisation as part of hotel marketing solutions:
The easiest way to personalise any message is to use the first name of the subscriber in the subject line and content. Use an email service provider to add the first name to an email or message. When collecting subscriber details the first name with the email is saved and the latter serves as a personalisation tag. When creating an email it could be added to key areas of the email. In this way, every individual subscriber gets a personalised email or message with their own name.
Create list segments:
While personalisation of emails is an easy way to personalise, there are other additional ways to do so as well. Build customer profiles as per their subjects groups. These can then be separated into segments, with content created specifically for that subscriber group. This can be done by building customer profiles based on their location. Other ways to create segments can be based on gender, age, preferences etc.
Offer subscribers to self-segment:
We do not necessarily have to segment our subscribers alone. We can encourage subscribers to choose their own areas of interests. E.g. those interested in travel can choose only to opt for deals to the places they are interested in visiting. Consequently, they will only receive emails and messages to the destinations of their respective choice.
Use dynamic content:
Dynamic content is another very effective way to personalise content for subscribers. E.g. While the message may be of relevance to all your subscribers, there may be one niche section you want to target. Dynamic content comes in handy here. It allows the marketing team to create a single email while customising certain areas for different groups of subscribers. E.g. if you are sending an email with the same offer for subscribers based in different locations you need not create separate emails for different locations. Instead of using dynamic content the content and images can see the deal based out of their own location Dynamic content makes it easy to create short relevant emails that match the preferences of subscribers.
Use data to create relevant content:
Personalisation also includes smart data collection. In the hospitality industry the greater the opportunity to gather relevant data the better the email marketing campaign can be tweaked. Data collection can be made more transparent by offering data collection in transparent ways by seeking the subscribers’ permission first and informing them about the purpose of the data collection. When the customer is informed about the use of his data they are more open to sharing information to enjoy a more personalised experience. To achieve this CRM data, social media and subscriber forms etc. can be effectively used. The better the data the better will the customer profile and segmentation be.
If you are actively involved in hotel marketing for your hotel, you will be well aware of the many promises made by online marketers, which fail to deliver to expectations. There are plenty of gimmicks and sales techniques in use to improve sales and higher conversion rates. With content marketing, SEO, viral content etc. the buzzwords of hotel marketing, getting the right strategy to deliver the goods is still a challenge. While all of these mentioned techniques are important, these are not the sum total of hotel marketing.
While there is no definite formula in hotel marketing solutions to help hotel sales skyrocket, there are, however, three critical factors to take into account. These three basic but relevant factors are what can make your marketing more effective in 2019.
- Be well informed about your guests
- Strive to be original
- Ensure content and information stays relevant.
Stay well updated with your guests:
When you have recurring guests you need to be well updated about their needs and preferences. The most effective way to know their specific needs is to actively engage with them. For this social media and digital technology offer the ideal tools. The more you interact with them online with a personal touch, the better a personal rapport will develop. This will make it easier to know their preferences and likes.
Be original in content:
The greater the interaction with the guest, the easier it will be to build content that is authentic and original. Long gone are the days when celebrity endorsements influenced consumer behaviour. The millennial generation does not give much importance as to what brands a celebrity endorses. They prefer personal experience and quality of services over all else. If they are not satisfied during their first stay or use of a product they switch brands. The emphasis is no to establish a personal connection with a brand. Consequently, hotel marketing strategies have to reflect an authentic and original feel that exudes empathy, excellence and perception of the guest.
All marketing content must be relevant:
When planning a marketing campaign it should provide information that is of use to the guest. This involves conducting research as to what the concerns and desires of the guests are. The areas where they feel services can be improved and those where they rate the hotel property highly. Instead of offering generic information that is passé, the need is now to focus on offering bespoke services to each of the hotel guests. Now guests at a hotel want to get personalised services with a sense of belonging. While this area can be the most challenging to adapt successfully in a marketing strategy and cater to, once you have the knack it will pay rich dividends in the long term.
The bottom line is in a dynamic technologically driven world guests are now better informed and constantly evaluate the products and services they pay for. As a result, they opt for those products and brands that stay relevant and serve their needs. As with any other business to stay competitive hotel marketing campaigns need to constantly evolve as per the customer and market needs.
Business owners of all types realise the significance of SEO in helping their business grow. Having well-designed websites, with higher search engine rankings, helps to attract more prospective customers and have a positive impact on conversion rates. SEO further helps to create brand awareness with more visitors likely to trust a site with high (search engine results pages) SERP rankings.
The hotel industry is no exception and depends heavily on SEO for hotel search engine marketing to gain new customers and retain brand loyalty.
Hotel digital marketing plays a critical role in the growth of business and is a part of SEO. Another area where SEO expertise is a must is the web design for hotels, which needs optimisation to ensure the hotel stay competitive.
Some of the benefits SEO offers the hotel industry are:
Create a user-friendly website:
Having a website is not enough in itself. SEO will help to create a user-friendly website. SEO is not only about search engine optimisation it also looks into enhancing the user experience. Having a well designed, uncluttered webpage appeals to visitors and engages them for a longer time. This helps to lower bounce rate and increases page views. Having relevant content, which helps to resolve user queries and cater to their needs, is of immense benefit. On-page SEO, when done by a professional company, makes both users and search engines happy.
Gain a larger volume of customers:
The principal purpose of having a website is to stay competitive and build your customer base. Hotels that have an SEO optimised website grow almost twice as swift as those that do not have well-optimised websites. When it comes to marketing SEO is both the most cost-effective and most efficient. It helps to cater to niche customers. Those willing to invest in SEO will gain targeted web traffic, which will increase the number of customers and lead to greater profits.
Improve conversion rates:
A website that is SEO optimised loads quicker, easy to navigate and works well on all web devices. Such websites that are easy to navigate and understand engage visitors and increases the probability of gaining customers and return visits.
Improve brand awareness:
The principal benefit of improved rankings is it helps to raise brand awareness. If your hotel website appears in the first 10 listings across all major search engines, the prospective customers will trust your business more. This is because of having a strong web presence. With search engines playing an all-important role to make or break a brand name, using SEO to gain top billing for KEY hotel-related business terms is a must.
Stay ahead of competitors:
With ever increasing competition in the hotel industry like any other business staying ahead of the competition is a challenge. Search engine optimisation with digital marketing using the latest analytics and White Hat SEO is what will help any hotel business to retain its competitive edge. SEO is not a onetime fix but a constantly evolving process to ensure your hotel stay at the top of search engine rankings.
As a hotel business, it is important that you do everything you can to help advertise your hotel to reach as many people as possible. Digital marketing is just one area of your marketing plan which can have a dramatic effect on your bookings.
A part of digital marketing for hotels is using social media.
If you aren’t really into social media yourself, you shouldn’t snub it. It really has the power to reach the right audiences and if you aren’t sure what you are doing when it comes to hotel social media marketing, hire someone who does know.
You can choose a professional digital hotelier who can assist your business. Essentially, it pays to dedicate the time and money on it. According to reports, around 60% of people came to know about a hotel through social media. People who stay with you will take pictures and post status updates, and the ability to tag your hotel in the post has huge benefits and it helps you to get visibility.
Not only this but it is also the best place for adding reviews of your property, because this and tripadvisor tend to be the top sites people go to check out a hotel before they book. If people leave a review your hotel, remember to try and reply to each comment, good and bad. By replying to the comments, you show you are a hotel that cares. If someone leaves a poor review, take the comments on board and try and offer some kind of compensation to the reviewer.
You might also consider PPC, SEO, and e-mails in your digital marketing efforts. These different channels have various benefits and they support the other’s efforts towards better targeting, as well as lower costs and higher revenue. When it comes to hotel search media marketing, you want to appear high on search engine results like Google so that people can find out about your hotel. All these things can be used together to create the ultimate digital marketing efforts.
If you have a particular campaign in mind, Digital Marketing helps you to target a specific audience for this campaign. For instance, you might want to run a Father’s Day promotion. Where do you start? After you have drawn up the details of the campaign, sharing it on social media is a good place to start. Others can, in turn, share the content further. You might also want to develop a well-crafted e-mail to your customers and maybe even introduce a loyalty offer. According to a study on social media, emails with social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by 158%. Linking the two options has high benefits.
Your website needs to of course be well designed and well tested so that bookings come in easily. Hotel website design should be easy to navigate and eye catching. Remember not to neglect your mobile platforms as well. Mobile shopping has gained popularity because everything is easier for people who can shop or book hotel rooms on the go. Everything is just one click away. You might want to consider investing in launching an app to further encourage interest.
Have you asked yourself lately – or better yet, extensively tested – how well your website and your hotel booking engine perform on a mobile device? If the answer is no or not that recently, the following stats regarding the ever growing link between a responsive website and revenue streams for your hotel are certain to be of interest.
According to a 2017 survey, over half of all traffic to hotel websites now comes from a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Google itself backs up this finding and has published numerous reports which explore the rise of travellers researching, and in some cases – particularly that of the Millennials generation – booking their whole trip from a mobile device.
The 2017 survey results have important ramifications for both hotel responsive web design and hotel revenue management services. Here are a few of the key findings to inform your strategy:
Browsing can turn to booking
A dive into your Google Analytics data will reveal what percentage of bookings come from a mobile device. The 2017 survey however shows that 51% of traffic to hotel sites originates from a mobile device. There was also a 19 percent year-on-year increase in the number of guests who book after checking availability on the site booking engine.
To capture this emerging trend, your hotel responsive web design must encompass your booking engine. Consider how mobile friendly it is. How easy is it to select calendar dates and room types from the smaller screen of a smartphone for example? Can available rooms easily be seen without the need for excessive scrolling? If the answer is no, it’s time to call in professional hotel revenue management services as you’re likely missing out on mobile bookings.
Responsive sites generate more revenue
Revenue is 16.5% higher per site on average for responsive websites according to the survey. Look to book rates were also higher, at 5.5% for responsive sites compared with just 3.9% for sites that are non-responsive. Clearly, if your site is difficult to use on a mobile device, bookings will be a likely casualty.
What’s the industry standard?
The 2017 survey threw up one surprising result, despite the strong link between a mobile friendly site and revenue generation. Around 40% of hoteliers maintain a separate mobile site, rather than investing in hotel responsive web design.
The performance benefits of a responsive site are clear; they offer a more seamless user experience, they offer mobile SEO advantages and separate sites require more time, resources and budget to maintain.
Of course, one of the key areas to focus on when it comes to responsive web design is the hotel booking engine itself. Because responsive sites automatically resize to fit the device the content is being displayed on, being aware of mobile users when it comes to choosing your booking engine is absolutely crucial. If your website or booking engine isn’t responsive, get in touch with Digital Hotelier to find out how we can help you make more bookings and generate better revenues this year.
While digital might have made the world smaller and made it easier for travellers to enjoy the very latest high-tech experiences, it’s also changed the way that consumers buy travel products such as hotel stays, tours and package holidays.
The internet has meant far-flung corners of the world are now closer than ever, there’s no need for high street travel agents if someone wants to plan their own trip and travellers are savvy about shopping around. There’s more digital technology in rooms, with personal voice assistants, apps which make checking in a breeze and a thousand and one other advances, functions and experiences.
However, according to one industry expert delivering a keynote speech at London’s HMAI conference, it’s also changed consumer attitudes. Digital has shaped consumer attitudes to an extent that convenience now dictates customer loyalty, rather than a guest’s affinity for any particular brand. For any hotel marketing company, this knowledge is invaluable – and it means your hotel rewards program is more important than ever.If you were in any doubt as to how digital has changed consumer expectation and attitudes and what that means for brand loyalty, consider the OTA behemoth, booking.com. While it may not rate highly when it comes to a brand that people actively are loyal to or feel connected to, it is one that travellers turn to repeatedly to book hotel stays and other accommodation.
Unlocking the booking.com secret
So why is booking.com so successful? Simply put, convenience. The booking engine is easy to use, accommodation easy to browse and the act of making a reservation is quick and above all, convenient.
According to a survey by Phocuswright in 2016, almost half (47%) of travellers actively prefer to use an OTA for the sheer convenience. The survey found that the 10 most popular reasons for choosing to use an online travel agent mainly stemmed from convenience too. Travellers cited advantages such as being able to book all required travel products in one place, easy to use websites, best prices and ease of changing and cancelling a booking.
This means of course that your hotel marketing company and hotel rewards program will need to work together to win bookings back from the OTAs by offering a similar level of ease.If your app or booking engine isn’t as easy to use as booking.com or the reservation process not as streamlined, it could be that even powerful incentives within your hotel rewards program such as a free stay or upgrade won’t be enough to win over the time-poor traveller.
How can you use digital to drive convenience and loyalty?
Many travel and hotel brands are increasingly using digital to drive convenience for their clients – and you can too.
Disney issues guests with an electronic wristband – which acts as a fast pass for accessing rides at its theme parks and purchasing souvenirs, in addition to keyless room entry. If you can’t roll out something at that scale, consider how your hotel rewards program could be upgraded to offer similar features. Could guests use their rewards app to purchase in-room dining or pay for drinks for example? Is it easy to make, amend and cancel reservations?
Other options are even simpler still – consider using social media for customer service or streamline your booking engine and website.
PPC advertising holds plenty of potential for hotel managers keen to boost their reach and connect with consumers looking to make a booking. But, as with all marketing strategies, weighing up the impact and discovering the best course of action can be a time consuming process. Fortunately, we can help you unlock your full potential using AdWords.
AdWords offers businesses access to plenty of leads when used correctly. Over 3.5 billion searches are conducted every day via Google, demonstrating exactly why AdWords should form part of your hotel marketing strategy.
For those that have yet to deploy the tool, AdWords can be a very effective method for boosting online marketing campaigns. It’s essentially a PPC form of marketing that puts your advert at the top of Google results when consumers search for terms that you’ve set out. The ability to target highly segmented audiences gives you the opportunity to capture the interest of consumers that you’re interested in at the exact moment they are searching for a hotel.
You place bids on the search terms you’re interested in through AdWords, with generally short-tail keywords being more competitive. For example, you should expect to pay substantially more to appear at the top for ‘London Hotel’ when compared to ‘4 star hotel near Convent Garden London’. Once you’ve bid, you’ll begin appearing in the searches of your target market when they enter your keywords. You only pay when a consumer clicks your ad, meaning AdWords is a cost effective strategy for driving traffic to your website. However, you still need to convert that traffic into paying customers with enticing deals and excellent landing pages.
The time your AdWords campaign should be generating the most leads
Understanding when your AdWords campaign should be generating the most leads means you’re better able to evaluate your online marketing campaign.
If you find that your results aren’t matching industry standards, it could suggest that it’s time to rethink your current methods, including your keywords, budget, and audience segment.
Research indicates that AdWords results for the travel industry pick up throughout the day. You should be seeing your AdWords results slowly improve from late morning through until early evening. Between 6pm and 7pm is the time that consumers are most likely to be searching for their next hotel stay. It’s also during this hour when you’re most likely to see clicks become high value conversions, meaning that the money you spend on your AdWords hotel marketing strategy delivers you the greatest value during this time. The results are consistent with what you would expect – people are heading home after work to research and make their travel plans.
Interestingly, there’s also a peak for converting clicks into sales in the morning between 8am and 9am, giving you an opportunity to create leads as they journey to work.
Why do AdWords patterns matter to your hotel marketing strategy?
When AdWords is most likely to generate leads isn’t only important for measuring how well your ad is performing, it could indicate that you’re missing out on a big portion of traffic.
AdWords allows you to set a daily budget, a useful feature for managing your marketing spend. But if you find that you’re regularly reaching your daily cap before the early evening, you could be failing to use the tool when it’s most likely to lead to high value conversions.
Programmatic media buying is the latest development in the digital advertising world, allowing for an automated new way of inserting digital ads. Relying on automation rather than manual ad insertions allows for greater, faster targeting methods to develop – speeding up customer contact with the relevant ads and improving your hotel’s conversion rates.
Always at the forefront of online marketing solutions, Google Display Network (GDN) represents one of the biggest facilitators of display ads. However, there are a few key differences between traditional GDN and programmatic. Should your hotel be incorporating this new tech into your marketing activity?
Understanding Google Display Network
Google’s AdWords display network creates and displays online adverts across a wide variety of websites, the nature of which advertisers can determine through their choice of keywords and topics. Campaigns can be optimised to suit a variety of different key performance indicators, allowing precise targeting options suited to the needs of each campaign. For the hospitality sector, it means you’re better able to segment your market and ensure that each campaign reaches a potential lead that your marketing materials could convert.
How does Programmatic differ from Display Advertising?
Programmatic advertising relies upon a vast network with hyper-advanced targeting which goes beyond audience, market and device and delves deeper into its third-party data to produce powerful and holistic marketing campaigns.
With advanced targeting based on behaviour, programmatic also allows for even greater layers of targeting based upon a user’s online behaviour and formed through their online presence. Conventional GDN provides elements of this kind of targeting, but the breadth and depth of scope is significantly less complex than with programmatic software.
As a result, programmatic advertising allows you to deliver superior results if your content is tailored to the market segment you’re targeting. It makes it an attractive investment for hotels looking to boost their online marketing solutions and the outcomes they deliver.
However, there are still a few issues with programmatic advertising, which users of Google’s Display Network will not encounter – or at least not encounter to the same degree.
Fraud is an acknowledged risk, including non-human traffic accounting for false submissions and data, leading to skewed results. An awareness of these risks can help to minimize their impact on your advertising campaigns, though advertisers are still encouraged to exercise caution when implementing a programmatic system.
Should you be using Programmatic?
Whatever the size and scope of your hotel business, you could almost certainly benefit from dipping your toe in the water with programmatic GDN.
This exciting new development in the world of online marketing has much to offer ambitious hoteliers eager to upgrade their existing marketing strategy to incorporate the very latest tech – and experts in hotel marketing will be able to assist you in rolling out a strategy which incorporates programmatic advertising methods for assured success.
With the right approach, programmatic GDN can help you build brand awareness and convert potential customers into paying guests.
Every great marketer knows the importance of storytelling and it’s an element that’s just as important in the modern marketing mix. It’s not only vital for content marketing but other areas too – the ability to spin a narrative that resonates with your target audience is paramount to selling your hotel’s unique attributes.
But are you using storytelling to its greatest ability within your hotel’s own marketing activity? If you’ve yet to really explore the power of storytelling within your marketing strategy, it could boost your return on revenue.
Why We Tell Stories in Marketing
We all tell, listen, absorb, and connect with stories throughout our day, whether we realise it or not. Your customers and prospects are eagerly waiting for companies to tell stories that appeal to them on a human level. To be successful your marketing capabilities need to go beyond simply selling your hotel rooms. Provoking an emotional response is key to succeeding in today’s crowded hospitality sector and marketing landscape. Digital marketing presents even more opportunities – and challenges – for ambitious hoteliers who want to survive and thrive within the industry. Many customers no longer trust traditional marketing methods, making an unconventional approach all the more appealing.
Using Storytelling for Digital Hotel Marketing
Applying key storytelling techniques to your hotel digital marketing strategy enables a greater level of meaningful engagement with customers, which appears more authentic than alternative techniques.
Customers are now less interested in merely being confronted with the practical elements of your hotel, such as lists of amenities and static pages of information – although this remains important. Instead, they crave opportunities for greater interaction and a sense of the visual, often in the form of large, high-resolution images and compelling narratives. Video content also plays an increasingly large role in digital marketing, offering bitesize videos which suit short attention spans and the modern multi-platform lifestyle.
Combining these different marketing strands helps you to weave a captivating story that will boost outcomes.
Creating Digital Stories
The key factor that leads to digital storytelling being successful is the ability to connect with the audience, helping to forge your brand identity and establish a base of customers. This means targeting key market segments, understanding their needs, and building content that appeals to them is essential to maximise results. This might mean short-form video for your millennial cohort or it might entail designing images to appeal to baby boomers. Whatever your key audience, allow them to guide your hotel digital marketing strategy and the story that you’re telling throughout.
Methods of Digital Storytelling
The influx of different methods at your fingertips makes digital and storytelling a perfect match. You could be posting stories on social media, utilizing a catchy hashtag, or asking your customers to generate content for you as a means of providing social proof. Whatever methods you choose, remember to have a firm goal in mind and measure the activity by an identifiable metric to ensure effectiveness. Through following results you can create even more effective storytelling strategies in future.
Hotels and travel brands seeking to boost their search engine rankings need to put sector-specific SEO strategies in place to achieve their goals. While there might be some SEO practices that produce effective results across all industries, recent research from Searchmetrics discovered that businesses operating in the travel market needed to adapt common approaches to reflect customer expectations and their user experience.
The findings demonstrate why it’s necessary for firms in the competitive industry to continuously reassess and adapt their hotel digital marketing strategy. With nine in ten consumers researching and booking their holidays online, how far up the search engine results your hotel is placed has a significant impact on reservations. Your hotel’s website needs to be accessible, functional, and SEO friendly to maximise opportunities and turn potential leads into customers.
Years ago, search algorithms ranked all pages on a single set of criteria but that’s changed. Today, Google has developed hugely and through assessing the terms searched, can identify the context. It’s led to different criteria for various industries- after all consumers don’t want the same experience when searching for a holiday as when they’re looking for financial information. For those responsible for digital marketing for hotels it’s essential that the intelligent progress search engines are making is factored into strategies.
So, which factors need to be considered when formulating a hotel digital marketing strategy?
1. Consumers like to browse
When booking a holiday, consumers like to browse and this is reflected in the specifics that Google looks for when they make travel related searches. Internal links are a key way to help visitors navigate their way through your website. The study found that the top performing travel websites had around 23% more internal links, indicating that connecting your content and information could give your website a boost up those all-important rankings.
2. Images attract attention
With keywords and copy in your mind, you might be tempted to reduce the number or size of the images you use on your website. But you’d be making a mistake. Holidaymakers want to see quality images of their destination and hotels, it’s a customer expectation that SEO is reflecting. Travel websites that come out top have around 38% more images over 200 pixels per page and while they load slower, there’s value in using large photographs.
3. Travellers want details
Short and sweet copy might be the way content produced for other industries is going but for the travel sector long form copy is the way forward. Travellers want to get as much information and will take the time to read comprehensive copy if it’s engaging and interesting. Across all sectors the pages that rank in the top ten have an average of 1,633 words per page. For the travel sector it’s a figure that soars by more than half, with the average page featuring over 2,500 words. Longer content doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider readability and make it simple for readers to pick out key information. Longer bullet point lists can give you an extra push up the SEO rankings too.
In recent years there has been a shift in the way that people consume media. Streaming platforms like YouTube, which has seen its viewership increase ten-fold in the past five years, are on course to overtake live TV as the primary platform for media consumers.
With more people turning away from traditional forms of media in favour of Internet-based streaming platforms, developing effective video marketing solutions that can be incorporated into your hotel digital marketing strategy is increasingly important. Leveraging video in order to keep up with current trends and engage with a larger consumer base can lead to better customer engagement and more direct booking.
Read on to to discover a few of the reasons why it’s important to utilise video marketing as part of your wider hotel digital marketing strategy and the benefits it can offer.
Traditionally, if a hotel chain wanted to create a video advert, it would have to invest a substantial budget to create the advert and buy network space on a channel with a relevant viewership at an opportune time. Not only would the costs be high but the process would often be long and arduous due to strict licensing rules and TV regulations.
Thanks to the advancements in technology and the rapidly growing popularity of sites like YouTube and Facebook, it is now cheaper than ever for hoteliers to create video content and appeal to a large audience. The rise of live streaming, fuelled by the development of Facebook Live, Periscope and other streaming services also means it’s easier to create video on demand and engage audiences in the moment. This technology is designed to be cost-effective and accessible, making more frequent video creation a realistic prospect.
Expanding consumer base
Among those moving away from television and towards digital streaming, young people are the leading the way. Over the last seven years, 33% of people aged 16-24 have reduced their TV viewing time by a third in favour of online streaming.
A recent study by Gfk discovered that millennials rank travelling higher on their financial priority list than buying a home or getting a car. This is reflected in the rise of young people travelling and taking holidays in recent years. What this means is that hotels with effective video marketing solutions can break into this consumer base by appealing to young people through their preferred medium for video content.
Creating video content is an ideal way to repurpose content from other areas of your hotel digital marketing strategy. In order to appeal to a wider audience, it’s important to generate content in a range of different formats. Consumers will often seek out easier ways of digesting information and video content provides an effortless way for them to do so.
If someone is looking for information on a hotel and get an overall impression of the services that are offered, it is much easier for them to watch a video that condenses all of the key information than to read through paragraphs of text. Video content offers a simpler and less arduous way for prospective guests to engage with your hotel.
The millennial market offers plenty of opportunities for hotels to attract new customers with a passion for visiting an array of destinations. The younger generation is keen to spend disposable income on experiences rather than material goods and travel is a top priority.
With the right marketing strategy and customer service in place, hotels can improve how they’re viewed by millennial travellers.
Millennials aren’t only an important customer segment due to their size – they’re the biggest generation since the baby boomers – but due to their views, priorities and spending habits. For any hotel, taking steps to boost your millennial profile can have a significant impact on direct bookings and occupancy rates, given this is a section of the population that values travel.
While millennial income might be under pressure, how they choose to spend it is vastly different to previous generations. A study has shown that 72% of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences, whether it’s going out for a meal or heading to an undiscovered holiday spot, over products. Research from Mintel in 2016 also found that 23% of millennials spent more on travelling than they had in previous years, demonstrating a growing appetite for seeing more of the world. Being aware of this as you create your marketing hotel strategies for the year ahead could be the key to driving up direct bookings in the next 12 months.
If you haven’t already shifted your hotel offering to reflect millennial travellers, revaluating could prove a wise business move. But what are millennial travellers looking for when booking a hotel? Understanding what drives this customer group to make a booking could transform your business.
More than eight in ten millennials check social media on a daily basis and they want to share their updates too. Instagram-worthy shots could be exactly what you need to encourage more bookings. That means going for bold design and standing out from the sea of other hotel rooms. It’s a move that can tie in with marketing hotel strategies too as potential guests increasingly turn to social media for holiday research and travel inspiration.
Give a local experience
Authentic experiences that reflect the local area are a core part of what millennials want from their travels. It’s a vital area to focus on to improve customer satisfaction, reviews, and repeat bookings. Having local guides to hand and staff that are encouraged to share their local knowledge with guests keen to discover hidden gems is a step in the right direction.
Create communal spaces
Linking with the demand for experiences, creating open, sociable spaces within your hotel can attract more bookings from millennials. Having an informal place where your guests can relax together for example adds to the overall holiday style that millennial travellers seek. Hotel lobbies are the perfect place to start. Offer comfy seating, artwork, local books, and other activities for your guests to try their hand at during their stay. It’s also the perfect opportunity for staff to speak informally to guests gathering information to inform marketing hotel strategies and other business areas.
Technology has transformed the hotel industry in the last decade but are using it to its full potential? In-room technology can be used to make stays more personalised and comfortable. Dedicated apps give you a chance to communicate and understand your travellers and tech can speed up processes. Putting technology in place appeals to the millennial generation, who has fully embraced the digital revolution.
An effective online presence has never been more important to businesses in the travel sector. Today’s average traveller will extensively research and book their travel and accommodation with just a few taps of a screen. A few years ago, investing in a streamlined website that considered the user journey would have been enough. But in the fast-paced digital world where mobile devices rule, forward thinking hotels with an eye on growing reservations need their strategy to encompass much, much more.
For businesses to thrive, marketing hotel strategies need to place on the go online activity at the heart of their offering. Travellers today don’t only research destinations when they’re on the move, they book flights, read hotel reviews, and plan their holiday activities. To tap into the market of modern travellers, you need to match their enthusiasm for smartphones and tablets.
In 2016, UK adults spent more time on their mobiles than desktops for the first time ever, according to research from eMarketer. The average adult used their phone for 2 hours and 29 minutes each day, a rise of 11.8% on the previous year. With smartphones becoming more powerful, it’s a figure that’s set to continue rising.
It’s an area of growth that hotel marketing solutions need to consider from the outset to increase direct bookings. Results from a Google survey show that 31% of consumers who used a mobile for travel-related activities in the past month use their devices to search for travel information on a daily basis, demonstrating the opportunity you have to reach potential customers. What’s more, customers are willing to spend via mobile devices, with survey participants spending on average $299.50 in the previous 90 days.
But to entice travellers, marketing hotel strategies need to make the process simple, quick, and attractive. Did you know that 90% of travellers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if it fails to meet their needs? You only have a small window to make a positive impression and convert users. Over half of mobile visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than three second to load but the average travel website takes over ten seconds, losing a substantial amount of traffic.
With the shift towards mobile connectivity in mind, hotel websites need to be optimised and engaging for those customers. For some businesses, it could mean a change in the design and data used throughout their digital profile is necessary. There are some core areas that you should be utilising to improve your customer experience from mobile devices.
Website that have responsive design will automatically configure to meet the requirements of the devices travellers are using. It’s a technical feature that means your customers are guaranteed the same experience and level of service whether they access your website via a laptop or smartphone.
Single page applications (SPAs) can enhance the user experience without them having to pass through multiple pages, ideal for mobile use. These single HTML pages dynamically update as the user interacts with it, creating a fluid journey and eliminating the need to constantly reload pages.
With access to more information, you’re in a position to uniquely tailor the user journey, improving your conversion rate. Personalised experiences are a trend that travellers are coming to expect. When done right it can have a direct, positive impact on reservations, satisfaction, and repeat bookings.
Trying to make yourself stand out from the crowd in the hotel world is hard work. Every one of your competitors is trying to achieve this goal too, and as a result, it’s inevitable that the same techniques will be repeated from hotel to hotel, rendering the process less effective. The key to truly putting yourself ahead of the competition lies in how you deploy your brand and the strategy behind your brand development. Why not try out these four branding trends to separate yourself from the hotel herd and make yourself a truly original choice for travellers?
As younger generations come to the fore and with them new attitudes to the environment and pollution, you’re going to see a lot more guests considering the eco-credentials of your hotel before making a booking. Any savvy hotel marketing agency now considers being green an extremely important strategic factor.
You can incorporate being green into every fibre of your hotel, from filling your receptions and rooms with plants and greenery to encouraging guests to use separate containers for their rubbish. Many will be more than happy to take the extra time to use a different bin and respect your eco-friendly mentality of asking them to help you to save the planet. Make sure this commitment comes through in your marketing, to help set your hotel apart.
Another key trend that is the subject of countless hours of meetings in hotel marketing agency environments is how to make hotels more personal. Who wants to feel like they’re being herded into their rooms like cattle with little or no personalisation for themselves or their family? Everything from interacting with guests on social media to asking them questions about what they’d like before they arrive can be used to create a more personal service that keeps guests coming back for more. Are your guests travelling on honeymoon? Are they a group of friends on tour for a holiday? Interacting with your guests and creating a bespoke experience for their stay is one of the hottest trends for hotel brands and something all good hoteliers should strive to do. You can incorporate this into your marketing too, with tailored content, personalized emails and considered communications at each stage of the booking process.
Have the best staff
Your staff are the human face of your brand and the people who your guests will rely upon during your stay. What better way to boost your brand than by having staff who go above and beyond what your guests expect of them? Techniques such as having staff bring personalized welcome boxes to guest’s rooms after they’ve checked in can go a long way into making your hotel brand a memorable one for your guests. Double Tree personify this with their simple but memorable gimmick of offering a warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in. Consider what else you can do to create a more thoughtful, human-led approach.
Have your restaurant reflect your brand
Perhaps a less obvious, but in no way less effective way to boost your brand is by having your menu reflect who you are as a hotel. If you’re a high-end, luxury accommodation option, then back it up with only the finest cuisine with gourmet options available. Likewise, if you’re a cheerful budget destination then have the right menu to compliment your hotel brand. Consistency is king when cementing your brand, and having a restaurant menu that contradicts your establishment can upset your guests and even result in a loss of future bookings. This same consideration should follow through with your digital marketing too.
Increasing traffic to your hotel’s website is likely to be a core part of your revenue strategy in the digital age. But what has worked in the past may not be as effective now. Changes in how consumers search for services and the way that results are ranked means it could be time to overhaul your current marketing plan to achieve the results you’re after.
Digital hotel marketing strategies need to constantly evolve, reflecting the rapidly changing landscape that the hospitality industry needs to contend with. As online marketing continues to advance, algorithms and search engines are becoming more sophisticated. Changes allow consumers to find information more effectively what they’re looking for in relation to their search terms. But organic traffic is in decline. Instead, paid search and social media traffic is on the rise.
The shift in how consumers arrive at a website signals a need for hotels to reassess their current marketing budgets and strategies. With the behavioural change being driven by multiple different areas, including devices used and best SEO practices, your hotel marketing team needs to understand how to take advantage of the changes to improve your conversion rates and brand awareness. The good news is that despite it becoming more difficult to secure organic traffic, consumers are more willing to engage and make hotel and experience bookings digitally.
Why is organic traffic down?
The decline of organic search is directly linked to changes made for paid searches. In 2016, Google changed how you see ads on its site and as the largest search engine by a considerable margin, this has undoubtedly had an impact. Previously, ads were displayed on the right-hand side of the results, separating them to a greater degree from the organic results. Now, Google displays up to four text ads at the top of the results page, leading to more consumers clicking on PPC adverts rather than browsing down to the organic search results for your property.
It’s a change that’s having a bigger effect on browsing on mobile devices. In 2014 the number of consumers using mobile devices surpassed those using the traditional desktop. In the UK, over 60% of searches are made on smartphones or tablets. Users don’t want to have to scroll down when using mobile devices, leading to them clicking on the paid ads at the top of the results, further reducing organic traffic.
On top of that, social channels are becoming more popular. It’s the most effective digital hotel marketing approach for converting clicks into sales. Travellers aren’t just using social media platforms to share their own snaps, they’re using them to research destinations and gain travel inspiration too. So, while organic searches might be down as consumers seek different ways to gather hotel and holiday information, you’re presented with opportunities too.
Convenience is playing a role in the reduction in organic traffic as well. While many people are comfortable booking from mobile devices while they’re on the go, others are utilising other functions, including the call extensions button on Google results. The number of people choosing to call and speak to a business representative has increased by 5%, demonstrating that just because organic traffic is down, your hotel revenue doesn’t have to suffer as a direct result.
The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to push the boundaries of hotel accommodation to a galaxy far, far away as it unveils plans to create a fully immersive resort in Orlando.
The Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Bob Chapek says the new hotel concept will be a “revolutionary vacation experience.” He outlined plans to disrupt the traditional hospitality marketing concept with a Star Wars-themed luxury, immersive accommodation option which the company says is unlike any hotel that currently exists.
The Chairman said, the hotel will function as a “dedicated multi-day adventure. He outlined starship transportation as one example of how the hotel’s amenities will differ from the norm, also saying characters, costumes, storylines, windows that show a view into space, and status as “an active citizen of the galaxy” will all be found at the resort.
He described the Star Wars hotel as, “…100 percent immersive and the story will touch every single minute of your stay with us. It culminates in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
Disney floated the idea of their immersive hotel back in April, with some guests at its Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando surveyed during their stay. Among other questions, they were asked if they would be interested in having a “continuous, story-driven entertainment experience” throughout a two night hotel stay.
The concept is touted as being Disney’s most experimental ever. As part of its customer research earlier this year, features such as robot droids as butlers, story participation and themed activities were all touched upon.
Some industry experts believe Disney will turn to its own cruise ships for inspiration for some parts of the hotel – particularly its animated portholes. Other theories suggest that robots and droids will be used to check in guests rather than traditional front-of-house staff with characters from the Star Wars franchise present in multiple formats throughout the hotel.
While Disney hasn’t yet confirmed when it will break ground on the project or release anything other than intriguing artistic renderings of a space-themed lobby with guests mingling with characters and robots, the confirmation of the venture does mark an exciting new milestone for the hotel industry.
The level of immersion plays up a recent trend towards automation in accommodation but takes the concept of guest interaction further into a total experience. It’s clear that Disney will build on its extensive guest data and experience of film and theme parks in the creation of the resort and its unique guest experience.
New occupancy figures show that Paris is bouncing back from the shadow of multiple terrorist attacks which hit its tourism and hotel occupancy figures hard.
Following terror attacks in 2015, the number of tourists visiting Paris dropped significantly however, new figures show that the capital has bounced back with a ten year high. Official occupancy rates confirm that a total of 16.4 million guests checked into Paris’ hotels between January and June, 2017. The guest numbers for the first six months of the year are the highest since 2007, indicating reasons for optimism for French hoteliers.
The Regional Tourist Committee for Paris also states that Paris has registered a 14.9% growth in the number of overseas visitors flocking to the city. The rise was helped by higher than usual numbers of American, Chinese and Japanese tourists.
Hotels in three key areas welcomed higher numbers of guests than had previously been the case in the wake of the 2015 attacks. The Foundation Louis Vuitton, the Arc de Triomphe and the Palace of Versailles all reported more visitors than in previous years.
France relies heavily on tourism, with the sector accounting for 9% of the European country’s gross domestic product. This means that there is usually a healthy influx of travellers looking for short term accommodation but, a combination of external factors has meant a disappointing two years for hoteliers.
While France was the world’s top tourist destination in 2015, the two years since then have seen cities such as Paris post underwhelming visitor numbers, with lower hotel occupancy rates and fewer overseas tourists.
In 2016, tourist numbers dropped 7% between January and August, with travellers choosing to book trips elsewhere following terrorist attacks, poor weather and transport strikes which affected those flying into the country.
Between January and August 2016, there was a drop of 11.4% in the number of hotel nights booked and a €1bn loss in income as a result.
The latest Regional Tourist Committee figures paint a much brighter picture however, leading into the busy Christmas holiday season. The figures show that hoteliers in Paris registered 16 million guests in the first six months of the year – a record figure that tops any other first half period from the last decade. Overall, Paris and the wider Île-de-France region welcomed 14.6% more visitors, while there was a 6.4% increase on average in the rest of France.
When it comes to predicting hotel trends, there’s an entire universe of décor, food, themes and technology to get your teeth stuck into. The pool of hotels truly succeeding in pushing the boundaries however is still quite small. That makes it all the more exciting to note that the island nation of Singapore is going all out to create truly high-tech and forward-thinking hotels to welcome guests to a cutting-edge new frontier in the hospitality sector.According to Channel News Asia, this innovation has been driven by more guests, greater demands on staff and only so much of a skilled workforce to go around. It reports, “Visitor arrivals reached a record high of 16.4 million in 2016, a 7.7 per cent increase over the previous year, and this number is expected to grow further. Automation is therefore critical for hotels to sustain profitability.”
Even if your guest reservations haven’t tracked up at such a sharp incline, the realization that automation can boost profitability is one that is sure to interest hotel marketers and hoteliers right across the hospitality industry.
So, what does this glimpse into the future show us? The hotel of tomorrow will be more efficient thanks to greater uses of automation. It will also use robots and non-human workforces to carry out traditional tasks such as serving drinks. Robot waiters will deliver room service orders to guests in their hotel rooms. There’ll be fewer human members of staff, so manpower costs will be done and profitability up.
Step foot into one of Singapore’s ultra-modern hotels and you’ll already be getting a glimpse of exactly what a hotel of the future will look like and how it will run. Don’t expect a traditional reception desk or a friendly face to talk your guests through the check-in process though. This is completed online before your customers even arrive at your hotel.
The 239-room M Social hotel in Singapore brings this vision to life. World renowned designer Philippe Stark says the hotel is, “… an explosion of energy to create the joy of today’s and tomorrow’s world.” This fusion of a modern hotel with tomorrow’s innovations is personified by AURA – a helpful robot that interacts directly with guests and serves them throughout their stay.
AURA replicates functions of many front-of house hotel staff. The robot can bring guests bottles of water for example, or carry towels to sun beds around the pool. The robot can also be sent to guest rooms bearing replacement toiletries and can even serve up packed meals, replacing traditional waiters and room service personnel.
AURA can also ride elevators independently and travel around the hotel carrying out its duties in much the same way as a traditional staff member. What’s more, when AURA arrives at a guest room, it will call the room phone to let the guest know it’s outside.
M Singapore management says its guests value the services of AURA and recognize the robot’s contribution to its hotel of the future, telling Channel News Asia, “We have found that our guests, especially those under 35, greatly enjoyed AURA, as they understand that AURA’s aim is to cut waiting time and improve efficiency. During a period surveyed by our team, we found that AURA’s average time for a delivery to a guest was consistently about three minutes, compared to a human delivery time of about five minutes.
“We have also begun to automate in other areas, both in front and back office. For instance, we have installed a system to schedule room distribution for cleaning and alert staff of tasks. Another example is a kiosk that manages the breakfast queue and can enable self-service orders.”