Hotel advertising has always been important, but with the advent of the internet, there has been a shift in the way people travel and most importantly how they book their travel. Now, more than ever, having an online presence is fundamental in order to generate brand awareness and get conversions.
In this article we’ll look at why advertising is so important for hotels and 11 of the most effective online advertising strategies. Implementing even just some of these practices will help generate interest in your hotel, promote your unique selling proposition and convert potential clients into paying guests.
Why is advertising important for hotels?
Bill Gates once said, “if your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business”. This statement couldn’t be more true for the hotel industry. In the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t matter if you have the best hotel in the world; when it comes to booking online, if potential guests can’t find you, it’s as if you don’t exist. If they can’t find you or your website is too hard to navigate, instead of booking directly with you, they will likely book with your competitor. Or if you’re listed on an OTA, they will book a room from there.
While the main goal of being on the internet and engaging in hotel advertising is to generate more business, it’s important to note that not all advertising will result in a direct sale. That’s because online advertising goes beyond the goal of mere sales; it is important in order to create brand awareness, convey what makes you unique and differentiate yourself from the competitors, so that eventually when it’s time to book, guests will book at your hotel instead of another one.
The most effective advertising strategies in hotels
Now that we’ve understood the importance of hotel advertising, let’s take a look at the different strategies you can implement in order to grow your online presence and generate bookings.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media
A lot of people underestimate the power of social media, but social media is a powerful tool without even going into paid social media advertising. You can use social media to your advantage for story telling and to create a sense of being “the place to be.”
Within your social media strategy, definitely adapt a friendly tone of voice; entice them to follow you by offering holiday inspiration, as well as exclusive offers or tips. Choose to engage with your potential guests where they are most active, whether that be Facebook for the 45+ target, or Instagram for the 25+. Make sure to encourage them to interact, for example by running competitions, and think of other ways to engage them like polls and asking them questions.
Organic social media will only take you so far, so be sure to invest some of your advertising budget in social media ad campaigns. It’s a great brand awareness tool. And there’s something about those 10k and over followers that help create that “place to be” vibe. However, before you jump into Social Media, make sure that you have the resources to keep the account active. It doesn’t look professional if your last post was over a year ago.
SEO is your friend
Nothing is more important in hotel advertising than free advertising, also known as SEO, or search engine optimization. This process applies directly to your website and how you manage the content on it so that you’re well positioned in the search results, ideally in the top three positions, but at least on the first page.
Many factors play into SEO such as keywords, studying the competition and trying to beat them out organically by having a good page structure, strong internal linking, a link building strategy, well-written content, and a fast and mobile-friendly site. SEO is something you want to keep in mind when you're designing your website but you can also use it as a strategy after the fact to optimize pages, keeping the aforementioned in mind.
Reputation management is key
Reputation is everything and people always want to know what others are saying about you before they book. For this reason, word of mouth is key to your hotel’s advertising strategy. So how do you do this? It’s called reputation management. Essentially it’s about having a Google My Business, Tripadvisor and Facebook reviews pages set up so that people can share their opinion about their experience at your hotel.
So what happens if you get a bad review? Of course it’s not ideal but there are ways to make it less damaging to your reputation. Interact with the guest, tell them you’re genuinely sorry they had a bad experience and figure out a way to make it up to them. Maybe it’s a discount or maybe it’s a refund depending on the circumstances. Following your reviews closely is key to learning how you can improve and manage expectations. And whatever you do, don't copy and paste the same answers. Be human. Guests want to feel that there’s a real person behind each comment and that they understand their concern, so don’t be a robot.
Retargeting is a way of reconnecting with people who have already interacted with your brand through your website, social media or when they visit an OTA and don’t convert. It is arguably one of the most important hotel advertising strategies today to try to convince those who abandon the checkout page before booking a room.
Using retargeting methods (if you don’t want to do it yourself there are agencies who specialize in this field), hotels can target potential guests who have already viewed their rooms and convince them to book.
One of the reasons this strategy is so effective is that you are targeting people who have already interacted with your brand, which from a cost-effectiveness perspective is better than conventional online advertising.
Use search engine marketing to your advantage
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most common forms of online marketing, and the most common place to do this is on Google. SEM gives you the ability to unlock the potential of being able to control what appears when you google your brand name.
The most common advertising strategy for hotels is to start by bidding on your brand name and the area where you are located. Sometimes it will be a bidding war because OTAs will also bid on your property’s name and tend to have large advertising budgets.
Influencer marketing is the tool of the future
Influencer marketing is a relatively new branch of marketing. With the rise of social media, influencers have come to light, and they are essentially today’s celebrities. Many people look to the influencers to see what the coolest places to visit are or where to take their next trip. You can work with these public figures in your hotel advertising strategy to try to sway people to visit your hotel. Depending on the amount of followers the influencer you choose to work with, you will pay more or less. Be sure to establish your conditions before inviting the influencer to visit your hotel.
The nice thing about working with influencers is that they understand their target audience’s motivations, likes and dislikes on a personal level. They have essentially built communities of people who trust their opinion and create a connection with these consumers. You can use this to your hotel’s advantage by choosing influencers whose following closely matches that of your ideal target audience.
OTAs are a great place to list your properties
One of the most powerful tools apart from a hotel booking engine is an OTA. Online Tour Operators are a great place for hotel advertising. Working with OTAs helps increase your reach because they invest in lots of ad campaigns and online advertising of their own. You can also do some paid campaigns with them in order to increase your hotel’s occupancy rate. Furthermore, OTAs will help increase visibility, and allow you to rank higher in the search engines due to the fact that they are already high traffic sites and ranked well.
Don’t forget about the locals
When it’s not the high season, who better to help you with hotel advertising than the locals? They are a fundamental part of your hotel marketing strategy, as they allow you to have a non-seasonal target group.
You can target them by connecting with your local tourism bureau, local businesses, and event organizers or even target the locals through online advertising via facebook or search display ads. Offer them the ability to do conventions, meetings and more from your hotel, and increase your revenue streams. Locals are also a prime target to use your location for weddings and anniversaries, and out-of-town guests. You can even think about doing a campaign on social media promoting your location specifically to locals.
Make your marketing budget count during the peak season
Another important method of hotel advertisement is to spend more money on online advertising and advertising through OTAs during the pre-peak season, which will help ensure that during the busy season your hotel will be full. You can also figure out when things are less busy or more steady and adjust the budget to the various seasons. Planning is everything for allocating your marketing budget.
Another aspect of planning is scheduling your online ads. Figure out when people generally book their trips. For example, business travelers will book during business hours generally, whereas leisure travelers tend to book at night or on the weekends. You can use this information to determine a schedule for the ads to run online during peak times, with a higher budget, thus maximizing your budget.
Everyone loves a deal
Deals are a great hotel advertising tool to attract clients because everyone loves a good deal. You can use deals, promotions and packages to bring in clients during the week and improve occupancy rate during the low season. Deals are great to promote through your hotel advertising channels. Whether it’s a Facebook ad or post, an ad on Instagram, or a search display ad, deals are one of the main reasons to advertise and get people to make that click.
Honor your loyal clients
Incentives such as loyalty programs are great to ensure guest retention. You can promote the program online through your website and social media channels and offer different perks and discounts that will not only get people to book more easily but also make them more likely to come back.
You can even promote the program through a paid ad or social media ad that those who join the loyalty program get a discount, or use social media to talk about the special rewards and benefits to your trusted followers. By rewarding loyalty, customers will have a better perception of your hotel so that they promote and talk about it to their friends and family online and offline.
There are many hotel advertising techniques as we have discussed throughout the article. Using them all together in an integrative approach is the best way to ensure that your hotel’s revenue is maximized year-round.
Online promotion has never been more important, and being mindful of your marketing budget and using it wisely to invest in actions such as influencer marketing, promotion with OTAs, paid search campaigns, together with other organic campaigns such as social media and SEO will without a doubt ensure a steady growth of your hotel.
12 April 2021
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