The hospitality industry today is defined by stiff competition and an upscale in marketing tasks. Hotels competing for customers must put to use different strategies such as hotel marketing and advertising to attract traffic to their businesses. Technology has significantly changed the way hotels market themselves. Traditional marketing and advertising concepts such as the use of billboards, television, and radio channels of communication are constantly being replaced by more advanced channels of marketing. Internet-based marketing channels are increasingly being preferred, especially due to the changing profile of customers.
Because of this, the high flow of internet based search is causing more hotel businesses to look into internet marketing as a way of reaching out to potential customers. Even with the most revolutionized and effective channels of marketing on the internet, hotels still need a good understanding of how to approach marketing. A good hotel marketing strategy is therefore equally useful for any hotel business seeking to reach the market successfully.
Internet marketing in the hotel industry
Internet marketing offers different strategies to communicate to customers about products in the hotel industry. As of late, internet marketing has become a great way of reaching out to more people in a cost-effective manner. Multiple internet marketing strategies come in handy in helping market both goods and services effectively.
As mentioned above, the increase of internet search make it possible for more people to access different platforms. Internet marketing professionals use this increase to channel specific marketing information to potential customers.
The hotel industry can use these opportunities to target their customers. Hoteliers continue to turn to the internet to promote their services. Research has shown that over 60% of all hotel bookings globally come from online search. This is an indication of the market ahead for the tourism industry.
When it comes to hotel digital marketing, the hotel industry has various options to choose from. Among them are social media marketing, affiliate programs, email marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and mobile marketing. Each of these channels offer hotels with different benefits and success levels.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website and it's content to make easily found in search engines. The need for hotel SEO is driven by the increase of hotel customers that come from searching the internet as a primary means for finding the hotel of their preference. SEO comes in handy in helping ensure hotels rank among the top of the search engines.
Research has shown that 90% of internet users normally rely upon the results they see on the first page of the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. To stay relevant, competitive, and attract the interest of such customers, hotels have to hire top-notch SEO companies to optimize their content for better results. A properly optimized hotel website offers increased traffic which then turning that traffic into customers.
Among the important strategies for effective hotel SEO include the following:-
Creating great content
Content is crucial for a hotel to attract customers online. When writing blogs or content, hotels should focus on both customers as well as online search volume. The content needs have local keywords and terms within the content to rank and attract local clients.
To keep content relevant and up to date, your website bloggers should publish a new blog at least once a week. Relevant topics in the hotel industry should be focused on in blogs to ensure that web traffic can be channeled into other web page on the website.
Give the hotel a Google presence
Google is the biggest search engine and it can help boost a hotel's business like no other. To start, hoteliers must set up Google Maps and provide accurate information such as physical addresses, phone numbers, photos, and unique posts. A hotel that properly uses Google Maps stands a better chance of getting found in consumers web search results.
Track web traffic stats
Hotel SEO should be tracked constantly to ensure relevance and effectiveness. When tracking progress, you should focus on basic statistics including page views that give the number of users visiting the hotel's page. Google Analytics helps to track the success of hotel SEO strategy include visitor sessions which gives the amount of time that the users spend on any given web page.
Important web traffic statistics that should be focused on include user behavior such as the amount of time that previous users visit a hotel page. Bounce rate defines the percentage of the number of visitors who leave a hotel's web page without navigating beyond the first page clicked. These statistics, among others, help a hotel to evaluate hotel SEO strategies for effectiveness in internet marketing.
Hotel social media marketing
Social media has become a revolutionary channel of communication. Global statistics indicate that the global penetration of social media stands at 45%. This implies that 45% of the global population has access to different social media platforms. Social media usage ranges from 70% to as low as 6%.
Asia has a social media usage rate of 70% while the Americas have an average usage of about 60%. Among the different factors that are influencing the high usage of social media include the ease of convenience and freedom that comes with the use of social media. Most social media applications are free for access and do not have any expenses.
Hotels should gradually switch their marketing strategies to use social media marketing as another channel for advertising to potential customers. To be effective in social media marketing, you have to first establish a social media presence and a name.
A good strategy should consider the different social media channels people are searching on today. For example, YouTube and Facebook both have a 73% and 68% usage rate among Americans.
How to be effective in hotel social media marketing
Hotel social media marketing can be highly efficient when used correctly. To be effective in hotel social media marketing, hotels have to pay attention to these important strategies.
a) Build an audience
After creating social media profile, it is important to promote your channel to gain followers. This can be done by importing contacts from emails or even previous customers. The hotel's page can also be promoted typically with a small fee to ensure boosted viewership and thereby generating potential customers. Facebook is one of the best for this method.
b) Post regularly
Your social media page should also be active through creating high quality and consistent posts. Different media platforms encourage the use of different posting strategies. Facebook allows you to post long content, video updates, and images. YouTube is great with videos only while Twitter encourages the use of short texts, images, and videos. Others such as Instagram are great with infographics and images. Regular postings help generate interest among followers.
c) Create promotions
The hotel's social media page must also contain regular posts that seek to promote sales to the hotel. Such promotions come in handy in helping attract new customers who may be influenced towards boarding the hotel as a result of the attractive promotions.
d) Respond to customers
Social media users are fond of using businesses’ social media pages to communicate directly to businesses. The hotel must learn to use the social media page for purposes of customer service. Responding to customer questions should be done quickly as companies like facebook will not promote you as much if you have a low response rate.
e) Offer different strategic incentives
A hotel company may also target users using a social media page to offer different incentives. This may come in handy in cases where the business offers customers benefits such as discounts for promoting the hotel's page by sharing.
The content used to market a hotel on social media should be well created and accompanied by things like pictures, videos, or infographics. Generally, potential customers find it more enticing whenever they see posts of images of hotels and the amenities provided. The use of hashtags also helps connect more people to a hotel campaign while making posts more visible and shareable across social media platforms.
Hotel Marketing (Affiliate)
The hotel industry is also abuzz with different options and partners in affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketers are particularly poised to boost sales to a hotel by promoting the hotel's different products and services. Affiliate marketing in the hotel industry is coming up as a strong way of helping hotels connect with potential customers. The opportunity for hotel affiliate marketing is becoming stronger with the increased preference of using the internet to search for hotel services.
Sites such as booking.com and tripadvisor.com have become a preferred option for customers seeking to board hotels. Partnering with such affiliate marketers gives a particular hotel a boosted viewership among people seeking hotel services.
Hotel affiliate marketing is proving quite resourceful and cost-effective for hotels. This is because the hotels only pay the affiliate marketers for visible results and actual clicks of real people. For instance, a hotel can sign up for a pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, or a pay-per-click agreement, which gives the hotel value for its advertising capital and high returns on marketing investments.
Hotel email marketing
Hotels also have at their disposal the option of pursuing email marketing to attract new customers. Email marketing is regarded as a viable, cost-effective, and efficient in helping turn potential customers into buyers. Email marketing involves a simple process of sending targeted campaigns to specific customers via email.
To implement email marketing in the hotel industry, the hotel has to establish a mailing list that comprises of customers’ emails. To do this, the hotel may utilize blogs, social media, and website channels to have customers sign up using their names and email addresses. To create a well-balanced mail list that features different demographic profiles of social and economic diversity, different channels of communication should be utilized to fetch such emails. The hotel may also have customers opt-in by subscribing for a regular newsletter from the company.
Succeeding in hotel marketing with email requires a business to be well versed with the different important tips of attracting and converting the audience into customers.
1) Target repeat customers
Customers who have already been served by a hotel before are significantly easier and cheaper to retain as compared to acquiring new ones. To ensure such retention, the mailing list should be categorized into new customers and repeat customers. Customers who have previously been served by the hotel before should be targeted with specific information such as being awarded offers on their second or subsequent visits.
2) Taking advantage of seasons
The hotel industry is largely influenced by different seasons. Festive seasons experience an increased demand for hotel services. The hotel should prepare for the peak season by emailing potential customers in advance of between a month to a few weeks. In such communication, the hotel should inform customers on information such as special discounts, personalized incentives, and different amenities that will be offered. Additional information such as the benefit of booking in advance and mass booking can also be channeled through the email campaign.
3) Create good but brief content
Email marketing offers the flexibility of being able to create large content which can then be forwarded to a mail list. When creating such content, emphasis should be made on ensuring that the content is brief and the message is precise. The subject line should be short while the content section should be comprised of short and simple sentences.
The message may also be accompanied by additional images such as photographs of the hotel suites, services rendered, and other amenities. Mailing customers images of swimming pools, suites, prepared foods, and even catering staff helps to reinforce and summarize content effectively.
4) Offer backlinks
The email should also include backlinks to the hotel's website and blog pages from where interested potential customers will have the option of seeking additional information. The backlinks also help drive internet traffic to the hotel's web pages while helping in hotel SEO. The email message should be signed off with an appropriate call-to-action where customers are encouraged to either book the hotel or talk to customer service representatives.
As a general rule of thumb, email marketing should be approached cautiously. Firstly, the mailing list should be kept confidential and strictly utilized for marketing. In this age where hacking and phishing have skyrocketed, a hotel using email marketing may suffer substantially if customers’ mailing lists get leaked out or utilize for malicious intents.
Secondly, a hotel using email marketing should express due caution and send a limited number of emails per unit time. Spamming customers with email adverts may have a converse effect. It is advisable to mail customers at a frequency of about once a week to avoid being a nuisance and bother to them.
Hotel Marketing On Mobile
Globally, the rates of mobile phone users have significantly improved in their past three years. It is estimated that 62% of the global population has access to mobile phones, the majority of which are smartphones. 90% of the middle and first class income earners normally use mobile phones to seek opportunities and establish business contacts.
Hotels targeting exposing themselves to potential customers may, therefore, need to align their marketing initiatives with mobile phones. Mobile marketing is quite wide and incorporates options such as mobile applications, Short Message Service, Multimedia Message Service, and optimization of hotel web services for accessibility via mobile phones.
When using mobile marketing, the first important step is to develop a suitable strategy which has:
- The prospected audience that a hotel needs to target
- The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that define success in the marketing initiatives
- How to monitor mobile marketing metrics such as customers’ responses
- Building a mobile buyers’ profile
Hotels have various options at their disposal when it comes to mobile marketing:
Creating mobile-friendly websites
When creating websites and blogs, the hotel should ensure that such sites are mobile friendly. This is made possible by adjusting the content and formatting features to ensure that websites and blogs fit well on mobile devices. The content should also be adjusted to ensure that it fits within the screen size of mobile phones without the need for side-scrolling and zooming.
The content loading speeds should be a high focus as research has shown that 64% of users who use mobile phones to access web content normally close sites which don't load within 7 seconds. Also, sites that do not support mobile-friendly content are 35% likely to lose out on purchases due to customer frustrations.
SMS and MMS marketing
Short Message Service comes in as a highly reliable channel of communicating to potential customers. SMS messages experience an open and readership rate of about 90% as compared to 22% for email messages. This makes SMS marketing more effective in customer engagement.
Hotels must, however, observe SMS marketing etiquette including ensuring personalization of the messages and using a respectful tone in the composition of such messages. Besides, the messages should be short and under 160 characters in length. Signing off with the sender's identity and a call-to-action generally increases the efficiency and suitability of SMS marketing.
Mobile apps designed for smartphones gives hoteliers an opportunity to increase the reach of their services to customers. Such apps, when appropriately designed, gives hotels an opportunity to personalize service provision, especially in cases where customers can log in to a personal account. Besides the apps come in handy as a free advertising platform for targeted marketing where customers can receive push notifications for customer-specific promotions.
Hotel marketing, when appropriately applied, gives a hotel the opportunity to brand itself across the market while attracting and retaining customers. Emphasis should be put on reaching out to as many customers as possible with incentives that encourage them to use the hotel's services. Competition in the hotel industry is so vicious that hotels cannot afford to survive in the competitive market without exploiting the various hotel internet marketing strategies.