Hotel marketing encompasses a vast array of topics, skills, and strategies that hoteliers like you need to be aware of — and master — if you want to optimize your hotel business’s success and attract as many travelers as possible.
Effective hotel marketing means potential guests and customers alike will be impacted by your brand wherever and however they choose to research, plan and book their trip.
The current path to purchase for travelers is now so broad, and you have to put a lot more focus on exactly who you’re trying to catch in your net.
This will help you understand the full breadth of hotel marketing categories, giving you clear lessons and examples on how you take a significant step forward this year and outshine your competitors, engaging prospective guests before your rivals get the chance.
Hotel digital marketing tips: Watch the webinar
Table of contents
1. Hotel internet marketing
2. Types of hotel online marketing
3. Hotel social marketing
3.1. Marketing your hotel on Facebook
3.2. Marketing your hotel on Instagram
4. Hotel video marketing
5 Hotel mobile marketing
6. Hotel SEO
7. Hotel email marketing
8. Key takeaways
There’s much to consider when developing a marketing plan for your hotel. The scope and opportunities are massive in our current climate.
What offline channels are still available and useful to you?
What online channels should you prioritize?
How do you optimize the tools you use?
How do you track and measure results to make adjustments?
Who do you work with to help achieve your potential?
These are all very valid questions. However, before you reach this point, there are two more important decisions to make. You must decide on:
- Your brand message
- Your key target market
If you don’t know what voice to speak with or who you want to hear it, business is unlikely to boom. These two focus points will then inform how you plan the rest of your hotel marketing strategies, and both are linked to each other. The brand message you run with will ultimately impact the kind of guests you attract.
For example, if you want your hotel to be trendy and steeped in innovation, you should consider marketing your property to young travelers and couples. Other factors will also come into play, including your hotel’s location, size, budget, and travel budget, and their purpose for travel.
You must know your target market to craft your marketing strategy and tailor your messages to potential customers.
Consider these traveler categories, and see which one/s align with your hotel:
- Value Seekers: They want to get the best out of their trip. Often traveling with young children, they have a medium-income and broadly fall between 25 and 34. They rely heavily on reviews to help them find what they need, preferably a trip near the beach, and usual research on a smartphone.
- Luxury Travelers: They are focused on enjoyment and willing to spend more to obtain it. They often travel in a couple aged 25–49. They seek cities that are hot and coastal and tend to look closely at online reviews.
- Social Travelers: They focus on sharing and engaging with others, usually traveling in friends or family groups. Their groups often include children, so they appreciate babysitting and child services. While they have high to medium-income, they put a lot of faith in the word of mouth and recommendations from other travelers. They tend to fall in the 25–49 age group.
- Independent Travellers: Like to have a lot of control over their trip and thus love to travel solo looking for adventure and cultural experience over any particular climate. They’re usually low or high earners who are relatively young and quite likely to share reviews and engage with social media.
- Researchers: Maintain a very particular approach to booking their trips. They want to make sure their experience is as good as it possibly could be. They not only thoroughly research their destination and accommodation but also restaurants and activities. Given this, a lot of it is done on laptop devices. They’re commonly higher earners traveling as a couple aged 25–49. Each stage of the journey is usually backed up by listening to other consumers’ voices through TripAdvisor sites.
- Habitual Travellers: Look for simplicity and convenience by traveling to the same destinations repeatedly. They place more stock in relaxation than activities and are commonly in the 35–64 age bracket. Mostly male, they tend to be lower-income travelers.
The type of hotel you run — budget, boutique, luxury, independent, or a chain — will make a massive difference to how you market your hotel and who you market to, so the initial research and analysis you do is fundamental.
Once you have confirmed your brand and target market, that’s when you can divert your attention to all the nuts and bolts of marketing your hotel and making it a visible, viable booking option for travelers.
Let’s find out what all that means.
Hotel Online Marketing
Digital marketing is something no one can deny in 2021, so digital media permeates travelers’ everyday lives. People now manage their interactions almost exclusively via smartphones, social media channels, and email.
It’s natural for this behavior to flow over when deciding to go on a holiday or are required to take a business trip. Most people enjoy developing habits, and the comfort of researching and booking travel on their mobile is appealing. Even those who have been slower on the uptake, baby boomers are being forced in the same direction. Reports say that online bookings make up almost 60% of all bookings. Half of those who do book digitally do so from mobile advice.
It’s an overwhelming number, which indicates the risk you run if you aren’t employing a digital marketing strategy to attract and convert guests.
People embrace technology and any online resource because it clarifies and accelerates their task or experience. These virtues should be front of mind for your hotel when creating a website or an advertisement on the internet. The great thing about being online is that there are so many different ways you can engage with travelers. Statistics will tell you a strong social media presence is essential, as is a strategy around video marketing.
Because of the different digital media platforms, hotel marketers’ potential to be creative is much more significant and enables them to connect with a lot more customers. It might be the only way to reach customers on the other side of the world or specific markets like Asian travelers. Some travelers engage with beautiful images, and some prefer videos. Others are content to take a deep dive into written information. Digital media allows your hotel to create this, on-brand, all at the same time too. Think about what your unique selling points are and the best way to communicate these to your audience.
Most importantly, everything you communicate must be personalized wherever possible. This means that what you say and what you offer to customers must be tailored to their specific demographic. If they’re a young female businesswoman, you must know what a young female businesswoman wants and communicate accordingly. Personalization is something guests thrive on and in today’s market; not providing it spells danger to your reviews and repeat business.
Types of Hotel Online Marketing
Hotel marketing is now predominantly done online.
Consumers no longer rely on offline advertisements like billboards, posters, television, and radio advertisements. The equation was much simpler in the past, but there’s been an explosion of complexities in recent years. Firstly, just the concept of online hotel advertising and the myriad of ways to explore this option and execute strategies.
That’s why there may not be a ‘right’ way to advertise on these various channels, but we can certainly offer some advice on where your hotel needs to attract guests and some tactics to help optimize the experience.
Hotel Social Media Marketing
With social media becoming so important in consumers’ everyday lives, there is no doubt that it presents a significant opportunity for hotels to capture potential guests’ attention.
Scrolling through social media feeds has become part of every day for most people now, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Not all content will engage them, but travel-related content likely will because it activates your guest’s imagination. Used creatively, travel content on social media can positively affect viewers, inspiring them to journey.
Social media also offers your hotel business a range of options when distributing your content, meaning strategy and targeting uses become extremely valuable. Let’s look at some key social media trends and see what your hotel can learn from them.
Marketing Your Hotel On Facebook
Engaging with travelers on Facebook has never been more comfortable or more valuable. Consider these statistics:
- 52% of social media users said their friends’ photos inspired travel plans
- 76% post their vacation photos to social media
- During the research, 55% liked pages relating to the trip they were planning
- 69% of ads use images, while 18% of ads use video
Before you can influence travelers on Facebook, you need to grow your following. You could accelerate this process through paid advertising, but you should expand your audience ‘organically’ as much as possible.
To get more likes through organic traffic, there are several things your hotel can do on Facebook. Take note of these quick wins:
- Invite contacts and friends: People you already know will be more than willing to support you, and you can quickly bolster your likes this way. You can even use the ‘Build your Audience’ feature to import all your email contacts and invite them to your page.
- Add links to Facebook on your website and emails. This is a simple way to give your Facebook page more exposure, especially to potential guests. Always ensure your links are correct and functional.
- Put up signs: This is as simple as putting small displays on tables, on the front desk, or in rooms inviting guests to like you on Facebook. You could even add links on the bottom of receipts.
- Offer incentives and host contests: Even something as small as a free coffee will encourage guests to visit your page. This will give them a chance to look at your posts and like your page. When it comes to competitions, make sure one condition of entry is that people like your page.
- Post good quality content consistently: Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of posts should be about the local area, and only 20% should be about the hotel itself. Use Facebook Insights to see the type of content your fans enjoy and post between three and 10 times per week.
- Cross-promote your page on other social networks: If you have Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media accounts for your hotel, post a frequent call-to-action for those users to jump across and like your Facebook page as well.
- Fill your profile page with searchable information: Add as much information as possible to your profile page and add as many relevant categories to your page. This information helps Facebook serve up your page to people in various ways across the site. It’s also suitable for search engine optimization, so use plenty of relevant keywords.
- Thank you messages: When people sign-up for your local tour guide or fill out your contact form, redirect them to another page thanking them for getting in touch. Add some text and a Facebook button to the page asking them to join you on Facebook while you have their attention.
- Engage on posts that mention your business: If another local company or organization says your hotel in a post on their Facebook page and tags your page, thank them, like the comment, and join in with the conversation. Facebook is a community, and so a sharing mentality here will serve you and your hotel well.
After this, you can begin experimenting with paid Facebook advertising. Start with a small budget and set up a page likes campaign that targets those who have been on your website the past 30 days, who also meet other criteria, such as age or gender.
Once you have established a credible Facebook page and following, you can start using advertising tactics to get more bookings through the platform. There’s plenty of advice to offer in this respect.
To start with, Facebook has several tools explicitly designed to help you advertise your business and nail the Facebook conversion funnel. People spend 5x more time on Facebook than on travel-related apps, sites, and searches. More than 50% percent of respondents to a survey found trip ideas while browsing on Facebook, so the guests are there to be won.
Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT) allows advertisers to engage with users lower in the funnel who have already visited your website but are yet to convert. Travelers are tracked through their browser so they can be shown an offer for your brand when they’re browsing different sites. This retargeting can often prove quite useful in securing bookings from travelers who are still undecided.
Dynamic Ads for Travel for Broad Audiences takes this a step further. This feature is explicitly created for hotel advertisers that allow you to reach people with travel intent — even if they’ve yet to visit your website or app. You’ll need a Facebook pixel implemented on your website and use dynamic ads for travel events to report which properties from your catalog are being searched, viewed, and purchased.
Trip Consideration can be used to prioritize the delivery of your content to people who plan to travel. These audiences may have a general intent to travel but have no specific destination in mind yet. As opposed to DAT for Broad Audiences, these ads aren’t dynamic and instead use a static creative that you select, rather than drawing from a catalog.
In conjunction, focus on these five steps:
- Correctly define your hotel’s audience.
- Use the right content for that audience.
- Target’ lookalike’ audiences — those who have a similar profile to your existing audience
- Use retargeting tools
- Give warm leads to your top quality content.
But how does one increase direct hotel bookings via Facebook?
Since a friend’s recommendation is more powerful (and less expensive) than any ad, focus on word-of-mouth strategies first. Even giving a single traveler the best possible experience could result in thousands of dollars more revenue if they’re impressed enough to share your hotel around their social circles. This could be triggered by as little as one message or comment from your business to the customer, leaving them impressed with your service.
Enticing customers with exclusivity can boost your volume of followers and engagement on Facebook by treating your page more like a ‘club.’ Offer promotions and deals that are only available to those that have liked your page. Here’s a simple example:
Simple promotions like this can often be the only small push travelers need to book directly with your hotel. Source: Argus Luxury Apartments
You should also try establishing your hotel as a traveler’s guide by:
- Posting reviews
- Giving travel advice and tips
- Keeping a running list of local events
- Using captivating images and videos to provide insight or direction
To generate direct bookings through Facebook, you need to make instant booking available. With the right online booking engine, you can connect your booking engine to your Facebook page so travelers can make their purchase without even needing to go to your website. Facebook also can build the ‘book now’ tab into your ads and posts as a call-to-action, which can also make a huge difference. It’s as easy as this:
Finally, always remember to interact with and reward loyal followers. All feedback, be it negative or positive, needs to be responded to. Reply to comments and messages in a polite tone. Any new visitors will be looking at the way you deal with customer feedback and studying your reviews. A helpful way to handle this is to migrate your communications to the Facebook messenger and encourage followers to pursue this avenue of communication. That way, any negativity or hostility can be resolved in private.
Marketing Your Hotel On Instagram
Instagram is one of the most effective social media marketing platforms available to hotel owners today’s social and digital environment. Instagram now has more than one billion users. It offers a simple, clean feed. It’s completely mobile, making everything look great. And the good news for hoteliers is that it’s particularly popular with travelers and holidaymakers. Marriott Hotels’ Instagram account has 287,000 followers, while Hilton Hotels & Resorts has 226,000 followers, and IHG’s InterContinental brand has 146,000 followers.
Some noteworthy observations of Instagram include:
- Advertising for brands is available: Recently, there’s been a rollout of advertising for brands on Instagram. Many pages already have the action buttons to ‘Call,’ ‘Email’ and ‘Get Directions.’ Now select businesses will be able to include ‘Book,’ ‘Get Tickets,’ ‘Reserve,’ or ‘Start Order.’ As for direct messaging, businesses can now see important new customer messages in their primary inbox instead of in the pending folder. They can also mark messages with a star and filter conversations to make it easier to follow inquiries.
- A Facebook-style news-feed algorithm: Gone are the days when Instagram was a free-for-all: based purely on chronological order. Instagram itself says you can now’ see the moments you care about first,’ through the help of a highly complex algorithm determining which content Instagram believes a user would like to see. This is based on:
- Likelihood you’ll be interested in the content.
- Your relationship with the person is posting.
- Timeliness of the post.
- If hotels provide the high quality, aspirational content that Instagram users are looking for, the Instagram algorithm could be highly advantageous.
- Instagram is growing in popularity with older users: Don’t assume that Instagram users are outside your target demographic. Although skewed towards the young, it is growing in popularity among older age groups.
In simple terms, here are some ideas to help your hotel create Instagram-worthy posts.
1. Highlight your hotel’s facilities
Instagram allows you to create a lifestyle around your hotel. Make each post complement your overall brand story. Share content that will boost your property’s urban image or confirm your hotel as a peaceful retreat. Highlight your facilities, but keep content attractive and entertaining to show the hotel’s vibrant life and capture its atmosphere.
2. Give your staff selfie missions
Go behind the scenes to give followers a glimpse of the hard-working staff that helps make a guest’s stay as stress-free and fun as possible. Share images of new menu items being prepped in the kitchen, staff interacting with guests, and guests enjoying themselves (ask permission first). Staging selfie spots is quite popular and gives guests an easy option to photograph and share their images.
3. Go beyond your hotel
Promote your destination by sharing your local neighborhood’s content, scenery, and attractions to give followers a sense of place beyond the hotel. Engage with the posts of other travel operators in the area. When uploading imagery, be sure to use the photo map feature and specify your location so that photos are searchable.
4. Use hashtags
Hashtags will make your content searchable. They are essential on Instagram because you can’t add links to posts. Instagram users often hashtag brands in the hope of getting a response. Search for people hashtagging your hotel, like, and comment to create a conversation. Create hashtags for your hotel and campaigns and include them in posts. Start with three or four per post and ramp-up.
Here are some perfect examples of how to get it right on Instagram.
Instagram is about sharing your personality and values. Staying authentic and genuine to your property is vital for gaining and maintaining followers. If the content isn’t relevant, users soon drop off. Think of your Instagram as an extension of your hotel photo gallery, but don’t discount guest input. If you search using a hashtag or your hotel’s name, you might find travelers have already posted photos of their time at your hotel. This will make it easier for you to find people to engage with.
You want to showcase your main attractions as much as possible, and with Instagram, you can make them look even more impressive. The range of filters and layouts allow you to craft the perfect image in every case. Be sure to portray your highlights interestingly and entertainingly. This might include your hotel restaurant or pool — and if there’s one thing that’s popular on Instagram, it’s beautiful pictures of travel!
Guests who take photos at your property often share their experiences, allowing people to view your hotel through the eyes of their peers, which is a wonderful organic channel for traffic. Posting such stories, like proposals or anniversaries, will again reinforce a positive perception of your hotel.
Hotel Video Marketing
Without taking a deep dive into the statistics, one could safely assume the video is becoming an increasingly popular medium with hotel guests. It’s engaging, easy to digest, and easy to share with others.
It should be looked at as the priority for hotel marketers when creating strategies to attract bookings. A quick look at YouTube and the one billion people watching more than six billion hours of video each month will tell you how popular videos are.
Humans are notoriously emotional animals, and the best way to engage them on this level is through video. Consider that people remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they hear and see. So here’s the case for video marketing:
- The likelihood of your site appearing on the first page of Google search results increases by 53 times by adding a video to your website
- People are 10 times more likely to engage with and share video content
- 20% of users read text while 80% will watch a video with the same content
- 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. In two years, the number will rise to 80%
- At your property, bookings are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour is available
- The click-through rate for introductory emails that include a video increases by 96%
- 76% of social media users would share a video if it were entertaining
Travelers love to find inspiration through video. Around 65% watch videos when thinking about taking a trip and choosing a destination, with a further 54% using video when selecting accommodation.
However, you need to do more than create a pretty collage of images with a backing track if you genuinely want your content to be amplified. Use the storytelling strengths of video to send a real message. Emotions play a massive part, so this is where your efforts should be focused. Try to instill awe in viewers with your videos to reach new guests, drive site traffic, and share your hotel’s story.
Hotel Mobile Marketing
The Oxford Dictionary defines a trend as “…developing, changing, or in fashion”. And for a long time, mobile bookings could be determined as all of the above.
Over the last five years, there have been countless white papers, blogs, webinars, and seminars dedicated to predicting guests’ uptake in choosing to book hotels via smaller screens. Google recently announced user queries completed on mobiles had surpassed desktop as the majority Google search type. This has prompted it to introduce a mobile-first indexing initiative, meaning Google will now begin to use the mobile page versions of a domain for indexing and caching in search results, and subsequently, for ranking.
Independent hoteliers need to do everything they can to adapt their marketing strategies and take a mobile-first approach to attract global guests.
Everything needs to start with a hotel’s mobile website. The experience delivered to guests before they’ve even booked a room is so essential, and the way a hotel’s website responds to small devices is the key to mobile marketing success. Ultimately, here are some aspects of your website that should be in place for an excellent mobile experience:
- Users don’t have to pinch, scroll, or zoom in to see the information.
- The font is legible, and the content is concise.
- The use of Adobe Flash and pop-ups are limited.
- Click-to-call functionality is enabled.
- Google Maps is integrated so people can find their way to and from your hotel.
- Your logo is linked, so it’s simple to return to the homepage.
- There are an easily accessible search bar and date calendar.
- Forms are auto-filled for returning visitors.
- There is a contrast between images and colors that make the site beautiful.
What this adds up to is speed and ease of use, something Google values very highly.
There are four key consumer ‘moments’ hotels need to be aware of when it comes to mobile bookings. Findings from Google have shown you need to focus on these traveler motivations if you want to convert guests:
1. I-want-to-get-away moments
In the US, 38% of travel site visits come from mobile. Even though for 60% of consumers, travel is the biggest discretionary purchase of the year, one in three don’t have a specific destination in mind when they first consider taking a trip.
Hotels are advised to be present when inspiration strikes. By searching for common queries, you can see if your property features in any of the results and optimize your search engine rankings from there. In millennial groups, up to 50% say they’ve discovered a new travel brand while researching on mobile.
2. Make-a-plan moments
When a plan first begins to form, travelers often search for prices, hotel reviews and pictures, flight lengths, and available destination activities, with 69% of travelers worrying they’re not finding the best price and second-guessing their choices. However, 85% say that information sourced on their smartphone helps them make decisions.
Be liberal with the information you display to mobile searchers. While you want to keep things simple, you also want to give them all the information they need to choose your hotel over a competitor.
3. Book-it-now moments
This is where travelers are still somewhat reluctant to rely on mobile devices. Only 23% are confident they can find the same information on their smartphones on desktop or laptop.
You can ease guests’ worries but give them the ability to cancel mobile bookings without incurring a penalty. You should also eliminate as many steps as possible on mobile and make it easy for people to contact you. For example, you could implement a click-to-call link or button.
4. Waiting-to-explore moments
Travelers still turn to mobile even after they’ve begun their trip. Around 85% decide on their activities after they arrive, and nearly nine out of 10 expect their travel provider or hotel to give them relevant information. They’re looking for weather-specific details, public transport help, exchange rates, and traffic updates, along with other relevant news.
Given 67% of travelers feel more loyal to a brand that shares useful information with them during their trip, it’s a good idea to offer travelers tips on what to do or where to eat while visiting their chosen destination.
BONUS TIP: It might sound simple, but it’s surprising how many businesses fail to implement a mobile-friendly booking engine into their mobile-friendly website. Today’s booking engines are mighty and can integrate directly with both your website and channel management solution via two-way integration, ensuring any direct bookings received are reflected automatically. This means inventory and rates are up-to-date at all times.
By putting a smart engine in place, you will be able to decrease time spent manually updating inventory and increase time spent on the more essential things.
If there’s one thing that can complicate and disrupt hotels’ booking journey, it’s the ever-changing search engine landscape.
Considering the first page of search engine results receive more than 90% of all traffic, for your hotel to be found on Google, you need to prioritize critical components of ‘search engine optimization.’ The first page of Google is such a competitive battleground, and your hotel needs to get everything right to be in the eyes of prospective guests.
With Google constantly updating its algorithms and strategy, traffic coming in from multiple devices, and inconsistent SEO practices from travel websites, it’s hard for hotels to get a clear picture of what is working and what needs to be done to increase traffic conversions in the future.
Here are six ways to keep Google happy:
1. Plan your keywords effectively
This requires you to approach the task from the guest’s perspective. Think about what travelers would be searching for on Google when planning their travel and looking for hotel booking in your area.
Once you’ve thought about this, you can develop a list of keywords you want to sprinkle throughout your website and analyze the traffic they drive before you implement them. A list of 10 is always a good start. It makes it easier for you to research and evaluate their effectiveness and quicker to integrate them into your site.
2. Create a ‘Google My Business’ account
Google My Business is a free listing that optimizes all your hotel’s information into the right fields and makes it easier for travelers to get the details they want. This includes your hotel’s address and phone number, Google maps geo-marker, hotel photos, guest reviews, and other relevant information such as amenities.
Providing you complete your listing correctly, with the features listed above, Google My Business makes your hotel website instantly more accessible to travelers searching on Google.
3. Consider using Google Hotel Ads
While Google Hotel Ads is a paid service, it’s an effective way to get noticed on Google and Google Maps, and it allows guests to begin the booking process immediately. The other benefit is that you’ll only pay once your ad generates a click or a booking and will only appear when travelers search for something that meets your property’s specifics.
It allows travelers to filter their results to suit their needs, meaning the ratio of bookings you get per click is likely to be higher and worth your investment.
4. Track demand and search data
SEO is not a set-and-forget strategy. Hoteliers must continuously be on their toes to ensure they maintain their ranking. By keeping track of search and demand trends for your city, you can make more intelligent decisions about your website’s content.
Remember that seasonality plays a significant role in what travelers search for, so changing your keywords to reflect updates to your packages/promotions or blog posts is very important. It will also mean you’re setting your rates accurately.
5. Treat content as an essential
High-quality content is always going to please Google’s algorithms, and it will increase your chances of converting site visitors into bookings too. Maintaining a blog is the best way to do this and ensure your content is always fresh. Consider publishing a post at least once a week, sharing it on your social media pages, and sending emails to your database too.
Content also means visual content. High-quality images will help attract your website on listings and impress your site visitors, and you can attach keywords to your photos. It would be best if you considered investing in a certified photographer to implement a 3D tour of your property. This will appear on your Google listing as ‘See Inside.’
The more content you have, the more backlinks and external links you can use to strengthen your appeal to Google’s algorithm and also increase the amount of traffic flowing through to your website.
6. Prioritise online reviews
No one is going to book a hotel at face value. You can promote your property all you want, but in the grand scheme of things, travelers will always trust their peers over you, at least before the first time they stay.
This is why you need verified reviews visible on search engines and metasearch sites, preferably five-star responses. To give your hotel credibility, you need to respond to as many reviews as possible, especially any negative comments. Guests want to see that you care about their experience, improve your service and get to know them better.
There is no quick fix to your SEO and Google rankings, and there are many other tactics you can use that are listed here. It requires regular vigilance and updating on your behalf to maintain your Google rankings.
You must utilize Google Analytics to collect and learn from data. The analysis is essential for any strategy you put in place at your hotel. By gaining more information on who might be searching for a hotel like yours and what content is of interest to them, you can start optimizing every aspect of your website.
Google Analytics can help your staff:
- Assess the traffic volume of keywords
- Measure page views of content
- Record where traffic is coming from
- Decipher what devices visitors are using
- Understand which traffic sources have the highest conversion rates
Hotel Email Marketing
Increasing competition in today’s online business climate has necessitated more diversified marketing and distribution strategies for hotel operators. But while hotel marketers and revenue managers need to consider both traditional and emerging opportunities, the costs associated with marketing your hotel through multiple channels can add up.
Enter email marketing — one of the most viable, cost-effective methods for reaching guests and increasing direct bookings. Email marketing is crucial for the hotel industry: it’s estimated to return $38 for every $1 spent, making it the channel with the best return on investment (ROI).
Just as travelers can now plan their trip using the endless information offered online, including through Google, hotels can also look to take simple steps to prepare for their guests’ arrivals.
The first step in email marketing is to optimize your send lists. You want to make sure you have a sizeable pool of prospects, but you also want them to be quality leads. Looking at your current plans and analyzing previous results will give you a good indication of how you want to grow your list moving forward. Help this process by including an easy form on your website and asking guests in person during their stay.
Once you have an extensive database to target, here are seven tips for you based on email marketing strategy:
1. Target repeat guests
Not only is it easier to target repeat business than to generate new leads, but it’s less expensive too; statistics show that attracting new guests can cost you five to eight times as much as retaining existing ones.
Why not offer return guests special package deals and time-sensitive reward program benefits to increase your revenue?
2. Take advantage of peak periods
Guests are more likely to look for rooms in the run-up to peak periods, so use this time to remind them why they should book with you with holiday-themed emails, special discounts, and personalized incentives. Lean on your property management system (PMS) data to identify spikes in room occupancy to send targeted, seasonal emails — particularly to previous high-spenders. It is during those peak periods that you are also more likely to attract new guests.
Be sure to identify your niche and ideal customer; this makes targeting much more streamlined and effective.
3. Remember customer data is key
Nowadays, every customer who books a hotel room online understands they must be willing to provide their email address (to receive their confirmation email and other important information from the hotel). Always collect this data at the time of booking or check-in and use it to follow up with your customers in a timely fashion. For example, by sending out emails with exclusive deals and time-sensitive offers, you can upsell and create cross-market opportunities for increased revenues.
Personalization is essential. Understanding your subscribers in more detail and segmenting them accordingly allows you to deliver more relevant branding campaigns.
4. Optimise your send times
Personalize and send emails that relate directly to your guests’ needs and preferences. In particular, be mindful of which time zone they’re in and send emails when they’re most likely to be receptive. While Experian research shows that emails sent on Fridays have the highest click-through rate (CTR) and those sent on Mondays generate the most revenue, it’s essential to experiment with different days and times to find the most effective you.
By harnessing the power of marketing automation software, you can analyze your CTR and other metrics to fine-tune your email campaigns’ timing.
5. Use short and direct subject lines
To make your emails more engaging, use short and direct subject lines with clear benefits, so customers are encouraged to open your email and find out what’s inside. Using a marketing automation tool, you can quickly test different subject lines and measure your open and click-through rates to compare how other marketing campaigns perform.
6. Utilise beautiful images in your emails
People remember about 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they hear, so don’t be afraid to draw their attention to stunning pictures of your hotel and destination. It will increase engagement and get them to focus on your content.
7. Use a call-to-action (CTA) and encourage replies
The most effective marketing emails engage the reader with CTAs and incentives, for example:
- Invitations to book directly on your website in exchange for vouchers and other incentives
- Requests for feedback in exchange for discounts or the chance to win a prize
- Personalized, time-sensitive offers and rewards that encourage guests to “act now.”
A friendly CTA combined with a personalized message helps to encourage click-throughs and responses.
Email marketing should be an essential part of your hotel’s overall and ongoing marketing strategy. Remember: with every email, you are building a relationship with your customer. By taking the time to send personalized and relevant communications, guests will feel valued and want to book with you.
- Brand messaging and key target markets are your very first priority — People will only listen to what’s relevant to them, so make sure you’re speaking to the right people.
- Digital marketing is the dominant method — There’s no denying that now you must be online to advertise your hotel effectively.
- Social media offers your hotel a vast array of options — Make sure you’re at least using Facebook and Instagram to drive guests to engage and book with your hotel.
- Video content is becoming king — Quality content delivered via video can be incredibly powerful and is more commonly shared between friends and family.
- Go mobile — Mobile bookings are on the rise, and searching on smartphones is already a preference for travelers.
- Don’t forget about email — Email may be a traditional marketing method, but it’s still one of the most useful!