It may not always be easy for small and mid-sized independent hotels to be noticed globally. Hotels need to spend a little bit of time and effort to ensure that they are visible worldwide, whether it is via the internet, on numerous OTA’s or via word of mouth.
So how should a hotel go about marketing themselves, especially if they want to cost effective?
• Have mobile friendly websites or apps
75% of millennials have travel apps on their mobiles, 69% of people prefer to book via their Smartphone’s or tablets. A hotel would be at a disadvantage if their websites are not mobile friendly and hard to navigate. A hotel app would be an added advantage. Today’s generation wants instant information and everything should be accessible at their fingertips and hotels need to aggressively cash in on this.
• SEO and Social Media Marketing
Potential guests do extensive research before booking a hotel, they check the hotel’s websites, check out reviews on different travel based sites and OTA’s, compare rates available for the same as well as similar hotels and so on. Hotels need to ensure that they are visible across numerous online channels.
SEO is a powerful tool, so hotels need to ensure that they mobile friendly websites, integrate keywords in their website so that it pops up when people re searching for hotels in a particular city.
Hotels can also use Google to increase their local search ratings, they should include their name, address and phone number (NAP) on every page of their website as well as verify their property of Google My Business.
Hotels can use social media as a form to communicate and engage their guests.
Guests should be encouraged to post reviews so that other people can get first hand details of what a stay at the hotel would be like. 82% of millennials consider travel reviews to be relevant and decide their hotels based on that.
• Remarketing using Google Adwords
Analytics are a great source of information, hotels should use Google analytics to analyse the demographic of people who are visiting their websites. With Google Analytics, hotels can get a glimpse of who has visited their websites, which visits resulted in a booking and who went ahead with their search.
Hotels can then remarket themselves to the guests who visited and went searching elsewhere by creating specific ads that can be displayed to previous visitors in numerous other social websites that they use. This provides great recall value for the hotel and can lure the guests to come back and book with them. Hotels can even offer special incentives to a guest if they choose to book with them. This can result in a higher number or bookings as well as bring in more traffic to the hotel’s own website.
• Dynamic Rate Marketing
Archaic hotel marketing used to target their customers with campaigns stating ‘rooms beginning from ….or ‘ranging from $200-$400 per night’. Nowadays guests want no more of this, they want to know the exact price they would need to pay to stay in the hotel of their choice, this is where dynamic rate marketing (DRM) comes in.
DRM is the way in which hotels can use real time hotel inventory and pricing to be broadcasted via various marketing campaigns: banner advertising, Metasearch campaigns, direct email promotions and so on. Hotels can use DRM to enhance the recall value for their property with up to date information, which definitely makes an impact during the decision making process. It enables a hotel to be virtually present in numerous platforms with real time information thus channel bookings directly to the hotel’s website rather than the OTA’s
• Content Marketing
Content Marketing is the process of managing your communication with your clients without selling. So instead of advertisements Hotels should use blogs, trip reviews, highlighting a facet of your property via a story etc. The information should be relevant and engaging especially to the hotel’s target group and should be available on multiple social mediums so that it makes the hotel more globally visible. Content Marketing is also great for SEO.
Hotels would generally prefer to dirve more bookings to their own website since that is most profitable for them, but other online distribution channels should not be neglected.
For a hotel to be visible worldwide, they need to have their presence in other distribution channels also such as OTA’s or GDS. They would be able to reach out to a much bigger circle of clientele.
To simplify online distribution, hotels especially the small and mid-sized hotels should integrate their PMS with an effective distribution system. This shall help the hotels to manage their bookings seamlessly across numerous channels without taxing the manpower.
These are some of ways in which hotels can market themselves better, but always remember that they should constantly review and update any marketing collateral that they display across their numerous channels.