Digital marketing – we’ve all heard of the term before in one context or another, and it often gets thrown around as a buzzword. The official definition is “digital marketing are all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet.”
But that is a very broad definition, and it can be tricky for a hotelier to fit the hotel’s digital marketing priorities into an already busy schedule. Even more so for independent hotels that don’t get a digital marketing strategy handed down to them as larger chain hotels would.
But don’t fret, that’s what we’re here for! Almost 60% of all bookings are now made online, making up a total of 148.3 million online bookings, with that number growing year on year. So the more you improve your presence online, the more bookings you can expect to receive.
But before you get started on your hotel’s digital marketing strategy, it’s important to fully understand all the components and activities that make up digital marketing for hotels:
Hotel digital marketing checklist
1.) Is your hotel website UX-friendly?
First things first, let’s start with the main place you want to be attracting more bookings: your hotel website! One of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether your website’s designed for optimal user experience (UX). In other words, is your website easy to use, clear and giving visitors the answers they are looking for? And don’t forget that the same applies for your mobile website as well. Bookings on mobile devices has grown by 1700% in just four years, and people are now five times more likely to leave a website if it isn’t mobile-friendly. Have a read of 3 ways to make your hotel website mobile-friendly to learn more.
Make sure your website contains images that potential customers can relate to. Having high-quality images is particularly important: research has found that hotels with at least one high-quality photo have a 225% more likelihood of receiving a booking enquiry. We wrote a blog on the importance of image quality for hotels, have a read to understand the difference the right images can make.
Most importantly, your hotel’s website should be built for conversions, aka bookings. Make sure that your booking process is clear, compares different room types and is accessible from any page. We advise independent hotels to incorporate a booking engine on their website. It gives people the freedom to self-serve (such as checking rooms, availabilities and rates) and lets them make secure payments directly on your site. There’s no better way to improve user experience than to offer an excellent booking experience! If you want to learn more on this, have a look at how to choose the best booking engine in the marketplace.
2.) Is your search engine marketing working for you?
Search engine marketing is another one of those terms that often gets thrown around without people understanding what it actually means. Broadly speaking, it is the process of promoting your hotel’s website by increasing its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs for short). This includes both search engine optimisation (SEO) – which ensures your website is optimised so Google picks it up organically – and pay-per-click (PPC), Google’s paid advertising model. Here’s how to make sure both are working hard for you:
Search engine marketing (SEO)
- Technical optimisation: ensure that there are no technical elements of your website that could be hindering Google from indexing your website.
- Keyword research: understand your target audience and know what keywords and phrases they search for on Google
- On-page optimisation: use the right keywords on different pages and across different elements such as headers, alt tags and images (check out these four SEO tips on how to optimise your images)
- Off-page optimisation: make sure you get the right type of website and media linking back to you, such as influential travel bloggers in your destination.
Put simply, SEO tasks can all be done inhouse if you have the skill, time and budget for it. If you don’t feel confident doing it inhouse (the technical bit can get quite complex at times) then it’s best to work with an agency that offers digital marketing services for hotels.
Pay-per-click (PPC) / Google Hotel Ads
- Understand your audience: ensure that there are no technical elements of your website that could be hindering Google from indexing your website
- Set up and monitor your Google Hotel Ad campaigns: monitor all live campaigns after you set them up as you’ll want to make bid adjustments and choose negative keywords along the way. Failing to do so could cost your business a lot of money over time!
If you want to learn more about the benefits of Google Hotel Ads, we’ve written an article on how to set up and manage effective campaigns.
3.) Are you using the right social media channels?
We see many independent hotels try their hand at social media, particularly using Facebook and Instagram. While it’s a great way to get more exposure, it’s only effective if your target audience – people who will hopefully become loyal hotel guests – are actually using those channels. As with anything in digital marketing, understanding your audience on social media is imperative if you want to get it right.
The same goes for the language you use online. A trendy city centre hotel targeting millennials will want to use a more conversational and fun tone of voice than a countryside golf Manor House. In addition to that, you’ll also want to post content that your audience finds relevant and compelling. A good place to start is to share tips and insights on local events, restaurants and activities near your hotel. You could almost see your social media as a sort of concierge service. Also, do remember to engage with your followers should they mention you or tag you in a post. A whopping 76% of users say they post their photos to social media during their holiday. That’s free marketing right there!
What’s more, don’t be afraid to put some money behind posts by sponsoring them. This will prove to be particularly useful whenever you have a special promotion, discount or competition going on. The more (relevant) eyes, the merrier!
We know quite a bit on social media marketing for independent hotels at HotelREZ, so have a look at how to promote your hotel on social media to learn more. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – we offer social media consultancy services to all our members as part of our hotel marketing package.
4.) Is your hotel’s content marketing encouraging more bookings?
Are you creating and promoting valuable and educational content that helps fill those hotel rooms? If not, you should be. Content marketing is an excellent way to raise brand awareness for your hotel, build up a relationship with potential guests and generate bookings by creating different pieces of content such as blog articles, videos and downloadable guides.
An excellent way for independent hotels to stand out is by creating local content. Chances are that no one knows your local area better than you do, so use that knowledge to your advantage and write about local attractions and events. As with everything, it’s important to highlight attractions that your target audience would most likely want to visit.
If you’re keen on finding out more about content marketing, here are four tips on how to write content for hotel websites.
Content marketing is a two-way street too – encouraging guests to write reviews after a positive experience is starting to become more important than anything. Studies suggest that almost 70% of people read reviews before making a purchasing decision. Reviews can, therefore, make a huge difference for independent hotels, especially those with smaller marketing budgets. Don’t be afraid to encourage people to leave reviews: studies have found that 80% of customers who received a review request left one, while only 22% wrote a review without being asked.
Improve your hotel marketing strategy
At HotelREZ, we provide quality distribution, representation, marketing and consultancy services to more than 1,500 hotels in over 100 countries. We’re specialists at optimising a hotel’s digital marketing efforts to ensure it drives more bookings for them. Have a look at our free Marketing for Hoteliers guide to learn more about how to stand out in the hotel industry and generate more booking enquiries for yourself.
As part of our consultancy services, we make sure we’re on top of all the latest marketing trends to help our member hotels grow through social media, content creation and more. Find out more about our hotel marketing package or get in touch today.
HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts was founded in 2004 by Mark Lewis, an experienced hospitality industry professional and entrepreneur. Over the course of over a decade, the company has grown to be one of the leading hotel representation companies dedicated to marketing and connecting independent properties with bookers worldwide. HotelREZ now provides distribution, revenue, sales consultancy and marketing services and support to more than 1,500 hotels, apartments and hotel groups in over 100 countries including private label GDS chain code solutions. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is a SAAS company.