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Digital Marketing

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.

SEO Practices

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.

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Booking Engine

Your hotel’s guest cancellation policy is one of the unsung weapons in winning over more direct bookings. This is a crucial tool in helping you to effectively and efficiently manage your room inventory but, finding the right balance between a suitable window for cancellation and being overly tight with that window or having too strict a policy can put guests off booking.

In some cases, the cancellation policy can be a deciding factor for guests choosing between two hotels of a similar price and amenities. In effect, this means those hotels that fail to strike the right balance could easily lose direct bookings to competitors.

This is something of a hot topic in the hotel industry currently as a number of the bigger chain hotel groups have recently taken moves to tighten up their cancellation rules. In the USA in particular, larger hotel brands have moved to invoke tighter policies with stricter terms for guest cancellation in recent months. The fuel behind this change in policy is the hope that less lenient cancellation terms will allow the accommodation to leverage better control over guestroom inventory.

Hotel brands including Marriot, Hilton, InterContinental and Hyatt have all changed their cancellation policies this year. The most common change has been to move from the standard 24-hour window to a 48-hour window.

Hilton says it made the move initially because of a huge increase in last minute cancellations. With last minute cancellations, especially at higher volumes, managing room inventory becomes more difficult and the costs get passed along the chain, until guests end up paying a higher price. The hotel group says requiring guests to notify them of a change in plans earlier has cost-saving benefits. In some areas, it is looking to increase the cancellation policy even further, to 72-hours.

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Marriot took similar steps in June, and increased its cancellation policy to 48-hours at its hotels in the Americas and says consumer response has been largely positive.

In New York, cancellations average 30-40% in the height of the summer months, with these last minute changes having an impact on revenue, occupancy and other bookings. It’s a similar story elsewhere, but, independent hotel brands disagree with the moves by their larger rivals and, say that they prefer to maintain a more flexible policy.

Industry sources say that independent accommodation providers are more inclined to build flexibility into their cancellation policies. Some brands say that they take a property-by-property approach rather than having a blanket cancellation policy in place. This allows each accommodation to better serve the needs of its guests.

Some independent hotel managers say that they don’t want to follow in the footsteps of bigger brands and insist guests cancel 48- or 72-hours before their stay to avoid having to pay the cost of the room because they don’t want to upset guests or give them reasons to go elsewhere.

While some recognize that more stringent cancellation policies allow for better room management and business forecasting, guest communication is key. Each hotel’s policy needs to reflect its business model and the reasons guests choose that property over rivals. In some instances, it’s more beneficial to speak to the client and ascertain the reason for cancellation and move the booking if possible to retain that business.

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Digital Marketing

Local SEO is one of the most important strands of digital marketing for hotels right now, fuelled by the boom in mobile search and ‘near me’ search patterns. With more competition than ever from OTAs, local SEO for hotels gives smaller venues the chance to really make their mark and reach the top of search engine results pages. Location-based searches from mobile devices now make up a huge percentage of total search queries, and hotels can’t afford to miss out on the top ranking spots for these terms.

Perhaps one of the most important factors in local SEO is the local citation. So what exactly is a local citation, and why is it so important?

What are local citations?

A local citation in the world of SEO is basically anywhere you can find your hotel’s essential details on the internet. At its bare minimum, a local citation is made up of three elements:

• Name • Address • Phone Number

This is often referred to as your ‘NAP’. If your citation is missing one of these three crucial elements, it will be deemed incomplete and won’t show up on search results. A citation can also include additional details like opening hours, a contact email address or a website, but these aren’t strictly necessary.

Where do local citations appear?

They show up all over the web. Directories are perhaps the most common place where you’ll find local citations – sites like Yelp and Foursquare, for example. TripAdvisor is also a great example of a directory website that is essential for hotels.

Your social media profiles also have a section for your citation. Make sure your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other profiles have a fully updated name, address and phone number section.

hospitality-marketing

Why are citations important?

First of all, citations are a legitimate ranking factor. The more consistent local citations you have, the more confidence search engines will have that your business exists, and is in the location you say it is.

As well as giving search engines confidence about your business’ legitimacy, citations will also help consumers put their trust in you. If they can place your business on a map and there’s a verifiable phone number connected to your listing, they’re more likely to believe you’re a reliable, trustworthy organisation.

Consistency is key

Consistency across all of your citations is absolutely vital. If you have different phone numbers listed on your Facebook and Yelp profiles (perhaps one that goes through to your office and the other through to the reception desk), Google will be confused about which one should be listed. It may end up listing neither of them, because it can’t verify which is the right number. Addresses must also be written out in the exact same format on each citation.

For more information about hotel marketing solutions and using local SEO for hotels, get in touch with the team at Digital Hotelier today.

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Digital Marketing
With so many hotels competing for guests, and well-known online travel agents pushing seemingly irresistible deals, it is hard for potential guests to know who to trust. Incorporating trust signals on your site and through your booking engine is an easy way to compete and can help assure you of more direct bookings.
Here are four ways to build guest trust on your site.
1. Open Contact Methods
Digital marketing for hotels suggests that we need to be open and on display. This means it should be easy for guests to contact you in the manner that they are most familiar with. Having a ‘Bookings only’ phone number suggests that you only care about getting customers in. You need to make it clear that you guests can contact you for any reason, even if you do that with a different contact number. In addition to a telephone number, make sure an email address is also easily found, consider adding live chat or a chatbot and, if you are a large hotel brand with the resources to do so, add a social media customer service option too. As long as your contact methods are easy to find and not hidden deep in your site, you are on the right track.
2. Show The Team
With visibility in mind, it helps to showcase your team. Prove that you are human. Have images of key staff and their role. Part of digital marketing for hotels involves building a brand, and this is an excellent way to help that reputation. A head and shoulders shot that shows the corporate uniform adds an element of professionalism and gives a personal face to your hotel.
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3. Live Help
Having a live chat function on your website can be resource heavy, but it does form a valuable part of digital marketing for hotels. People want answers almost instantly and live chat functions on the website makes this easy for them. This is one area you could implement a chatbot to do the work for you, but may hotels utilise reception staff. You can set online hours if needed. The ability to engage with guests in real time will go a long way to building trust and as a direct consequence, more direct bookings.
4. Ask for Feedback
User generated content is a great way to build trust – research from Bright Local shows that 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation for a business, product or service. This makes feedback and reviews a crucial tool in winning guest trust. Ask customers to provide feedback and share it on your site. If a customer has made a suggestion, what are you doing about it? Answer these confidently, and do not hide from things that have gone wrong. User generated content can come from paper forms you ask guests to complete on check out or from an online source.
5. Link to Review sites
Another great way to make user generated content work for you is to have a prominent presence on review sites such as TripAdvisor. Adding the widget to your own site will make sure your reviews are highly visible, showing potential guests that you are confident in your facilities and service. With customer reviews so important to the modern booking process, the option to view independently verified feedback from others can tip a hesitant guest over the line into making a booking.
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Digital Marketing
We’ve all heard the saying – content is king. This is perhaps more true in the hospitality industry than any other sector, where inspirational imagery and aspirational room and resort descriptions are key factors in securing reservations. However, research shows that not everyone gets it right when it comes to content market – the 2017 Meaningful Brands survey found that while 84% of consumers expect brands to produce content, more than half think that the resulting content fails to hit the mark.
With stats like these, it can be helpful to know how other brands are faring when it comes to content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report makes interesting reading for this very reason. It is packed with insights which can help make your digital marketing for hotels more effective and highlights exactly what you should be looking for when it comes to procuring content marketing services for your B&B, boutique hotel or hotel brand.
1. Content marketing is alive and well
A key message from the report is that content marketing is alive and well and brand marketers are feeling optimistic about their efforts. The numbers show 62% of marketers feel their organisation is faring much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing this year, compared to last.
2. Most content marketing is in the adolescent phase
When asked to rate the maturity of their content marketing, 35% said they were in the adolescent phase, with a business plan for marketing I place and some early success on the board. Just 6% said their content marketing was at a sophisticated stage. This is great news for digital marketing for hotels as it suggests your rivals will be in the early stages of content marketing – giving your hotel the chance to make its mark if it acts quickly and employs the right content marketing services.
content-marketing
3. Commitment and success is high
63% of marketers said they are extremely or very committed to content marketing. 22% are very or extremely successful with that approach, and 62% are much more of somewhat more successful than they were last year. However, despite this 55% would characterize their company’s overall approach to content marketing as just moderately successful, with only 19% classing their overall approach as very successful.
4. Factors contributing to increased success
With the majority of marketers feeling that they were enjoying more success as a result of their content marketing services this year, a number of factors were given as precursor to this leap forward.
85% of marketers said that they were more successful this year because of their content creation process – leading to more efficient workflows and more quality content. 72% said developing or adjusting their content strategy had made the difference, while 53% said making content marketing a higher priority meant they were more successful. Half of marketers said that their content marketing efforts were more successful due to better content distribution.
Significantly, those who said their content marketing wasn’t more successful this year than last overwhelmingly attributed their stagnation to not having enough time dedicated to it.
Final words
88% of marketers agreed that content marketing was an important part of their organisation’s overall marketing strategy, with 78% saying they were focused on providing an exceptional user experience through their content.
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Digital Marketing
From just 32% of domestic visitors booking their holidays online in 2007, the figure has risen to reach 76% in 2017. This is obviously great news for hotels who started their internet presence early, but for new businesses struggling with hotel marketing strategies it can prove a difficult obstacle. They worry about missing out on profit shares if visitors should book through a third party website and worry even more about losing a potential guest to a rival.

However, both these fears can be assuaged if the hotel uses clever hotel marketing strategies and pays attention to the figures Barclays recently released in their 2017 Tourism Report. In the report, Barclays reveal that a full 61% of domestic travellers prefer to book directly with the hotel, via phone call or online, compared to a paltry 3% who use travel agents and 23% who use intermediaries such as Expedia.

The full report is worth reading, full as it is with facts and figures to shape your view of the industry in 2017. For example, bookings made with phone and tablets have doubled since 2007, with bookings via smartphone up from 3% to 6% and bookings made on tablets increasing from 5% to 13%. But the real question is how to entice that one-third of UK travellers who aren’t booking direct, as well as how to keep hold of the existing 61% who are.

It’s likely that not all of those who book using intermediaries and travel agents will make the switch to booking direct, no matter which hotel marketing strategies you have. Some will trust a particular agent; some will work for them. Others will just trust that the intermediary has the best prices available, not realising that direct booking is often the best way to assure this.

online-reservation-system
By using systems like Google Hotel Ads and making sure your online presence is professional and reflects your brand, you can reach a whole new raft of prospective customers. Try to find out why this third of the UK prefers not to book direct, and then appeal to their concerns—if they’re worried about price, or insurance, let them know that you have it in hand.

Hotel marketing strategies will vary between establishments but the most important things your customers need to see are strong and consistent tone and imagery, regular updates, commitment to the brand, and a reassurance that you want to welcome them no matter how they book. Loyalty programmes might not fit with your brand, but they can be invaluable in retaining clients who will continue to come back, year after year.

Ultimately, the best way to get customers to switch allegiance from third party booking websites and apps is to get in front of them. Whether that means using Google AdWords and carefully managing PPC campaigns, or else targeting a selection of customers who have booked with you before, it’s important to work out a strategy.
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Booking Engine
How do you make sure your hotel’s booking engine is the best of the best? There are many different ways of crafting a booking engine, but there are a few tried and tested principles to stick by to ensure yours leads to plenty of conversions and happy hotel guests.

Digital Hotelier engineers one of the most advanced booking engines available, with a host of featured designed to increase direct bookings and boost reservation rates for both boutique and larger chain hotels. We know what it takes to create a brilliant booking engine to power direct bookings. Read on to find out what the essentials are and what features you should be looking for in your own engine, over and above the obvious options.

Clear Pricing
No potential hotel guest wants to go through the booking process only to be smacked with a range of unexpected charges right at the end. Clear, understandable pricing helps give your users a sense of control – both over their own finances, and over their future hotel stay. If you want to avoid abandoned bookings, then instituting a clear and coherent pricing strategy throughout the booking engine is a good place to start. Show different options for different room types and make the cost of any extras such as breakfast clear.

Speedy Load Times
Your prospective hotel guests don’t want to wait around for pages to load; in cases where they are inputting sensitive information such as addresses or payment details, this can be particularly off-putting. Opt for a mobile-friendly booking engine which prioritises speed.

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Date Selection Tools
Ensuring your hotel guests can easily check the availability of their chosen dates before proceeding through the booking system shows care and attentiveness to their needs.  When offering data selection tools, consider that a large percentage of travellers now research forthcoming travel on mobile devices – so avoid tiny calendars and fiddly options. Your date selection must be easily workable from the smaller screens of mobile devices.

Rate Comparison Tools
Including a rate comparison tool within your hotel booking engine helps swerve bookings away from OTAs and towards your own website. It is also a great way of giving your hotel guests a feeling of control and affirming the value for money your hotel provides in comparison to your competitors.

Currency and Language Options
Depending on the location of your hotel and the range of hotel guests you expect to attract, incorporating the option to make a booking in a different currency and/or a different language is a great way of giving your guests a chance to personalise their stay. It will also increase the reach of your hotel’s booking engine, to take account of overseas or foreign visitors who may not be fluent enough in your hotel’s native language to confidently make a booking.

Payment Options
Giving your customers the chance to book using the payment method of their choice will help bolster bookings and show you are responding to the different needs of your hotel guests. Adding the option to store card details will help make those much-desired future bookings a step simpler, and is a great best practice within booking engines for hotels.

Confirmation E-mails
A detailed confirmation e-mail which gives your customers the chance to check over their booking information and get hold of any information required for check-in helps to give peace of mind to end-users, increasing the likelihood they will book again.
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Booking Engine
Manually managing booking channels can suck the life out of working for a hotel. If you want to focus on hospitality, instead of continually updating room availability, finding a way to boost the way your channel manager functions—even those of an automated one—is a must.

1. Make sure your rates are priced intelligently

If it’s your first time using a channel manager for hotels, you might be unaware that you can use a pricing intelligence tool to keep an eye on your competitor’s prices. Don’t eat into your profits, but try to avoid the reduction in bookings that comes from setting prices too high.

2. Design your website for direct bookings

A hotel booking engine for websites is one of the top things to make direct booking seamless for your customers. Even if your channel manager shows that most of your bookings come through third-party apps or travel agents, it could be that a few tweaks to your direct booking engine could get you a massive increase in direct conversions.

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3. Always try to grow your channels


It’s not a zero-sum game. Customers are always finding new ways to book, and you should always give them new ways to find you. Going global means that more and more travel agents will be able to find your information and recommend them to any clients who are looking to stay in a hotel nearby. Realise your booking potential and say goodbye to empty rooms which can quickly turn into a drain for your money.

4. Connect a property management system to your channel manager

A property management system (PMS) is a vital part of your hotel infrastructure. Without it, you would be going blind on when guests were checking in and out, who was a current guest, how many room keys were issued, and a whole mass of other issues that would quickly prove to be a key part of your business. Integrating a PMS with automatic two-way updating means that you’ll have up to date and accurate information at your fingertips, ensuring your time runs as smoothly as your guests’ stay.

5. Make important notes that will affect room sales

Everyone who uses the channel manager will need to be aware of how to mark and add notes to certain dates in the system. If there’s a big event happening in a nearby place, anyone who uses the manager needs to know the right moment to put room rates up, and how much to put them up by. This will save you a job and stop any rooms being sold for low rates before someone realises halfway through the day and changes the prices.

The bottom line is that a channel manager should make your life easier, and not be another source of stress in the already difficult hospitality business. Knowing these tips and tricks make having one an invaluable asset to your business.
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Digital Marketing
Time and time again, research has found that email marketing delivers the best ROI of almost all channels available to you as a hotel marketer. It is also however the one that is most overlooked. Used cleverly, e-mail marketing can be the best friend of a hotel marketer, providing a great way to share and distribute information with prospects and former customers who have already willingly shared their contact details.

What’s an Open-Rate?
Your e-mail campaign’s open-rate is quite literally how many recipients of an e-mail marketing campaign have opened your e-mails. More broadly, it can help indicate how much your audience is interested in your output. How can you best ensure your e-mails are seen and read by the contacts on your list?

Get The Timing Right
Never underestimate the role of timing when sending out your e-mail marketing, because it is utterly crucial to the success or failure of a particular campaign. Through trial and error, you may be able to ascertain exactly what works for your hotel, but by applying this approach too rigidly, you also risk a lot of wasted e-mails while collecting data – so use common sense when deciding what times to test. You ideally want to hit the inbox at the time your future hotel guests are looking at it. According to a recent study by Experian, Saturday and Sunday yield the best results across most industries, whilst Tuesdays and Thursdays resulted in the lowest open-rates.

Create a Great Subject Line
All great e-mail marketing campaigns begin with a killer subject line. Not too long, not too short – with the promise of something amazing for those who open (without misleading prospects). Great e-mail marketing is conversational – but it also offers real value to the recipient. It has to; otherwise they have no reason to click. Remember that your target is bombarded, daily, with hundreds of marketing materials all aimed at grabbing their attention; you have a lot of competition to be cutting through before reaching them. Your e-mail marketing strategy must take account of the need for an unmistakably ‘human’ voice whilst also remaining on brand, so as not to confuse your audience.

e-mail marketing strategy
To make sure you’re hitting the mark with the subject line, carry out an A/B test on a small portion of your subscriber list ahead of the main send. Platforms like MailChimp make this easy – just create a small subset of your mailing list and then set up an A/B test to test the subject line. The platform will serve half with option A and half with option B. You can then come back the next day, see which subject line delivered the best open rates and use that one for the main send to the bulk of your mailing list.

Personalise your Emails
Personalisation is a big deal within hotel marketing in general – so why not apply the same principles to your e-mail marketing? As a key component of digital marketing for hotels, the addition of a guests’ name in the subject line could make all the difference between their clicking through to read the message itself, or sending it straight to the trash bin.
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Digital Marketing
A week is a long time in the world of digital marketing, and this is nowhere more true than in the case of the fast-paced hospitality industry! Making time to do these five things each week can help maximise your existing digital marketing activity and make sure your efforts align with key performance indicators such as direct bookings, better search visibility and RevPar growth.

Read on to find out what you should be doing each week to ensure effective digital marketing for hotels.

1. Check Your Reporting Tools
Keeping a close eye on the results of your existing digital marketing strategy is the only way to monitor how successful your marketing is and where improvements need to be made when targets are missed. Unless you keep a close check on existing activity, it will be exceptionally difficult to ascertain what is working and what isn’t. There are many brilliant reporting tools out there for you to try out and see what works best for your hotel, including some designed especially for the hotel marketing industry and tailored to meet the specific needs of hospitality marketers. As a very basic requirements, your reporting should tell you where traffic to your booking engine is coming from, how many reservations each channel generates, how your direct bookings compare to those from your GDS, the conversion rate and cost per conversion of paid ads.

Digital Marketing
2. Research Your Competition
Regular checks on what your hotel’s competitors are doing will help to fuel your own efforts and ensure you remain differentiated from properties in the same area and of similar star ratings. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, particularly once you have already performed your first crucial in-depth competitor analysis, but just as your efforts are evolving, your competitors are likely to do the same. A quick check of key flash points like their SEO performance, content marketing efforts, website developments and booking engine advances can help to keep you well ahead of the pack.

3. Search for New Trends
New trends are cropping up all the time in the hotel industry, making it more vital than ever to stay ahead of the curve. Keep up with the latest news from the hospitality industry by checking your favourite industry blogs and news for inspiration which can be fed back into your digital marketing activity and digital marketing for hotels.

4. Create Engaging Content
Content marketing is one of the most talked about digital marketing trends of 2017, and so it’s crucial you keep your content in the best possible shape. If not already blogging, consider establishing one as a way to demonstrate your industry expertise and provide added value to site visitors which can ultimately lead to more hotel bookings. Invest time and resources in creating good quality content rather than simply tackling quantity – determine what your guests and website visitors want and identify different content types for different types of guests.

5. Utilize Your Social Channels
Social channels are still a favoured way for customers to get in touch with you and for you to reach your customers directly. Keep your social profiles on-brand and regularly updated to help reap rewards week on week.
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Web Design
Content marketing is an ultra powerful tool for digital marketers with myriad benefits across the board.
From brand building and engagement to generating increased online exposure, working as a link building asset and powering conversions, there are no shortage of reasons to harness the power of content marketing for your hotel website.

However, one of the key reasons that content marketing has risen to the fore in the last 12 to 18 months is its potential contribution to SEO. As a hotel marketer, any SEO asset that you can get your hands on should be firmly embraced (providing of course it is white hat and effective).

digital hotel marketing

Here, we’ve rounded up three of the most compelling reasons to use the power of content marketing to drive your SEO efforts onwards.

1.  Content IS the driving force of SEO
Content is and always has been the driving force of SEO. While search engine optimisation as a practise is split into onpage and offpage activities, both with very different areas of responsibility, content is the one thing they have in common. Content as the driving force of SEO activity shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, even if you are still fairly new to the complexities of search engine marketing.

Google is a business just like any other and, it strives to deliver the best possible experience to its customers – search users. When then turn to Google to answer a question or find a product or service, they are trusting the search engine to return the most relevant results. In essence, what they’re doing is asking Google to comb through all of the content it indexes to provide them with the most helpful information.

The more good quality, useful, original and detailed content you have on your site, the easier you make it for any search engine to determine what you are about and which search queries you can assist with. This is SEO at work in practical terms and it’s driven by content.

2. Content marketing keeps your site up to date and relevant
If you fail to use content marketing, your hotel site becomes easy prey to competitors. It will fall stagnant, be out of date and easy for both search engines and potential visitors to class you as out of a touch. This can have a direct impact on your keyword rankings. A regular influx of new content, in the form of blog posts, articles, infographics, listicles and other content formats shows visitors and search engines alike that you’re open for business. It also acts as food for Google’s spiders, giving them more and more insight and more direction as to which keywords your site should rank well for.

3. Content marketing is essential for link building
While influencer marketing is growing in popularity, it can be an expensive way to build links and awareness for your property. There is a cost involved – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars – and you’ll typically need to provide free accommodation and use of amenities such as bar and restaurant. Links also need to be tagged as sponsored.

Content marketing however provides a continual tool for relevant, good quality link building via third party sites and social media. If you invest in content marketing and take care to produce unique, high quality and useful content, links will accrue naturally. A wide range of links, from various sources, with relevant anchor text, is the currency of SEO and can help to drive your site up the search results pages.
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Digital Marketing

Increasing digital, direct bookings sits high on the priority list for all hotels in 2017, whether you’re running a five star resort and spa or a boutique B&B. Though OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com still remain dominant within the industry, hoteliers are now using sophisticated digital marketing strategies and campaigns to help them to increase their share of direct bookings and, as a knock-on effect of that, enjoy increased revenues.

Direct Booking

Here are some of the most effective digital marketing strategies that hoteliers can implement today, to increase their direct bookings:

PPC
With a multitude of exciting changes coming to Google AdWords this year, there’s never been a better time to dive into PPC. Many hotels are wary about paid advertising – especially those with smaller marketing budgets – but when PPC campaigns are managed and optimised to their highest potential, they can prove incredibly effective. Using techniques like demographic bidding, conversion tracking and sophisticated competitor analysis, it’s possible to put together an impactful PPC campaign which will bring in a greater number of direct bookings, while reducing cost per acquisition.

A user-friendly website
You can’t possibly increase the number of direct bookings you receive through your website if your website is putting off potential guests. Mobile readiness is one of the most important facets of digital marketing for hotels, given the predominance of mobile search behavior amongst travelers. It’s vital to build a website that is not only user-friendly and attractive, but also filled with captivating copy and beautiful images. The site must also be functional and easy-to-use, no matter which device it’s being viewed on. We all know how important mobile is and will continue to be in the world of marketing, so it’s never been more important to ensure that your hotel’s website is optimised for use on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. You’ll see a greater number of direct bookings purely because fewer users are dropping out of your sales funnel.

Social media and reputation management
Social media has been hailed as a way for businesses to cut out the middleman and communicate directly with their customers – and it’s even more useful for hotels who are also trying to cut out the middlemen OTAs and encourage customers to book with them directly. A good social media strategy will not only increase your property’s online presence, it will also open up new channels of communication with potential customers. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow hotels to attract a highly targeted audience, as well as capitalizing on conversations that are being had about the brand online, through social listening and engagement.

Reputation management is also an essential part of social media marketing – how your brand is perceived online will be a crucial factor in persuading potential guests to book with you. An enhanced reputation in the digital realm will mean more confident customers, who are more likely to place a direct booking rather than shopping around to find a hotel with a better reputation.

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Digital Marketing
Content marketing is everywhere in 2017. That’s not surprising when you consider that content is a key factor when it comes to determining the success of digital marketing for hotels.

But how do you make sure your content is in the best shape possible for connecting with your audience? Read on to find out some of the biggest content marketing killers sure to send your clients running for the hills…

digital marketing

1. Focusing on the big sell
The aim of content marketing is to draw your prospect in – not to beat them over the head with your sales pitch. The ‘softly softly’ approach works far better than simply listing the benefits of your company in big, bold text. Instead of going in for the kill, position yourself as the expert in your field by creating useful (and shareable) content. This could be a city guide, an introduction to the local wildlife, a nightlife guide, a restaurant review or even a listicle of recommended excursions. If you’re focusing on selling rather than entertaining informing or educating, you’re committing what is perhaps the biggest content marketing killer around.

2. Creating sub-par content
All content is not created equal. Focusing too much on ensuring you incorporate a long series of SEO keywords at the expense of great writing will get you nowhere in 2017. Crafting engaging, intuitive content is not a quick fix, but it can yield superb results with a little patience and attention to detail. If your content isn’t quite hitting the mark, it’s well worth adopting a quality not quantity mentality to ensure your copywriters have ample time to research, craft and proofread really compelling, editorial quality pieces.

3. Content overload
When creating a piece of content, consider the attention span of your readership. Writing the ‘100 Top Tips for…’ might seem tempting, and it can be alluring to show off just how much you know about your subject. But instead of sharing everything at once, consider breaking it down into bite size, digestible slices – anchored by a solid call to action. This gives you material for a number of content pieces, lots of repurposing opportunities and several chances to grow your revenue.

4. Incorrect (or non-existent) targeting
Is your content suited to your audience? Lots of people assume that if they’re producing content, they’re producing results – but if the right people don’t care about that content, you’re just wasting time and resources. Buyer personas can work wonders here, but ensure they’re not purely hypothetical and are instead grounded by solid market research to yield the best results. Your guests will probably comprise of different nationalities and ages, be both male and female and include a mix of business and lesiure travellers. They will have different interests, motivators and pain points and all of that needs to be reflected in the content you publish if you want to see your content marketing really succeed.

5. Not promoting your content
What use is great content if nobody sees it? Prioritise sharing your content through your social channels. There is an element of trial and error here – with some clever measuring of your digital channels, you’ll soon see what time of day your target tends to connect with your content, and what content they prefer – and that way you can continuously refine and improve your activities. Don’t be afraid to share in other ways too, from boosted social media posts to email marketing inclusions.

Digital Hotelier is experts in digital marketing for hotels. Get in touch with us today to find out how to maximise your revenue with stylish, effective content that sets the standard for your guests.
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Digital Marketing
Let’s face it, nowadays there’s a vast array of different digital marketing options for hoteliers to concern themselves with. However, if you’re tempted to overlook long established search engine-based ad marketing (SEM), you’ll do so at your peril.
Research suggests more than six in every 10 leisure travellers (61%) still use search engines to plan their getaways and find accommodation – no surprise that a still sizeable chunk of online-derived revenue comes directly from SEM-based initiatives. In that case, if you’re hotelier then, making sure you allocate the right amount of budget resources to search engine ad marketing and how you do so is critically important. Here are a few pointers you might bear in mind…

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Embrace new ad formats
Google’s notorious for suddenly altering things as it sees fit; when it comes to SEM, a recent significant change has been the introduction of a new ad copy format. To wit, a text ad display now allows for two headlines up to five characters longer than previously the case, enabling hoteliers to include details and descriptions, promote their brand and drive response via a decent call to action (CTA). According to Google, these expanded text ads have already outperformed the – still available – alternative’s click-through rate (CTR) by a staggering 47%.
 
Track behaviour across devices and channels
Travel bookings via either mobile or multiple devices are on a huge upwards trend. So making sure your business offers a booking experience that’s fully optimised for mobile – and all other – devices is critical to driving up revenue. That said, traditional phone bookings can’t be ignored either; statistics suggest that in recent times nearly one third (32%) of SEM campaign-based bookings were delivered via the voice channel (in layman’s terms, a telephone call). So, to work out how your SEM budget should be allocated across different channels, it pays to properly track your efforts.
 
Make sure the customer journey message is consistent
Don’t forget that prospective travellers are going to come across whatever brand and marketing messages you put out multiple times during their customer journey – in fact, Google reckons there’s now 19 ‘digital touchpoints’ for every booking. This means then that digital marketing for hotels always has to present a consistent message to consumers – your SEM ads must be aligned with every other marketing channel in their messaging.
 
And keep your message consistent with guests’ positive perceptions
Furthermore, the tone and content of your marketing messages need to be influenced by previous and current guests’ positive perceptions of your hotel; alterations, upgrades and improvements to them should also be seen through that prism and shaped thus. For example, it could be you’d like to communicate your property as, say, ‘chic’ or ‘boutique’; fair enough, but if satisfied customers instead describe it as ‘family-friendly’ and ‘cosy’, that’s something you can’t ignore – otherwise you may distance yourself from potential guests and revenue.
 
A fluid strategy pays off
Finally, you can’t forget the importance of keeping your SEM strategy dynamic and malleable. You need to keep on your toes; paid search has always been – and certainly remains – an evolving digital channel. Customers’ desires and whims constantly shift and, therefore, the tools to digitally advertise to them bend accordingly. In order to grow your direct website bookings via SEM then, it’s important to keep your strategy – and the budget you’re allocating to the campaign – flexible. Nothing ever stands still in hospitality marketing!
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