Hotel Digital Marketing Ideas to Keep Your Vacancies Low
The best hotel marketing involves a wide variety of digital strategies that engage your potential guests wherever they are, while providing exactly what they’re looking for—before they know they need it.
Competition is steep among hotels in today’s digital landscape, especially with disruptive outliers like Airbnb gobbling up travelers and their patronage. These digital marketing ideas will help you better understand the strategies and tools commonly used in hotel digital marketing. Learn how to build a better hotel marketing strategy that not only promotes your hotel online but will attract more guests and keep your vacancies down.
Hotel Digital Marketing — The Basics
Let’s begin by making one thing clear—hotel marketing has gone digital. Seriously, forget any illusions you may have regarding traditional marketing methods as your main solution. Digital online marketing consumes the majority of all hotel marketing strategies today, from boutique marketing to the international giants and everyone in between.
Everyone is online and the best hotel marketing strategies work very hard to target and entice travelers to stay with them. Marketing your hotel is not a job that can be overlooked, underfunded, nor passively entertained once in a while whenever there’s a spare moment.
Hotel marketing happens to be an enormous, ongoing endeavor that involves multiple topics, strategies, and skillsets that hoteliers must both understand and master to successfully—and consistently—attract hotel guests.
Yes, traditional marketing isn’t dead and yes, many of those strategies are still effective. But even these are exponentially enhanced by a good hotel digital marketing strategy. Your traveling guests are finding and booking rooms online with the help of search engines, mobile apps, email, digital paid ads (PPC), travel agencies—both traditional and completely digital—to name just a few.
In short, to succeed, your hotel needs to appear on as many platforms as possible while also standing out to viewers you’d like to convert into hotel guests.
Here are some of the most effective (and common) hotel digital marketing strategies that you should be targeting. These ideas will help increase your visibility, promote your brand, and most importantly, increase your bookings to keep your vacancies low.
These hotel marketing techniques and strategies should be a top priority for your business because we can guarantee that your competitors are making it theirs!
Where Hotel Digital Marketing Starts: Online Visibility
Chances are you already know your target audiences, i.e., what types of travelers you cater to. Perhaps you want to attract any and everyone, or maybe your focus is on business or research travelers. Or, as a boutique hotel, you’re focused on attracting luxury guests or long-term stay residents.
No matter what type of target audience(s) you’d like staying with you, your hotel marketing strategy must first be designed around effectively attracting whomever this may be. But that’s nothing new.
Appealing to today’s travelers requires your hotel not just be online with a website, but that website must have solid online visibility.
You need more than just a pretty website. Your site must meet today’s user expectations—your site needs to be mobile optimized for viewing on any and all devices, integrate modern site design, and utilize standard touch-interactivity features. Perhaps more importantly, your hotel website must provide visitors with an experience that engages and impresses them to the point of converting by actually booking a reservation.
Your site must be beautiful, engaging, and intuitively interactive, guiding your visitors every step of the way toward making a reservation, all while efficiently answer your visitors’ questions before they ask.
All of this is known as UX optimized design, or User Experience design. Hiring professionals to design and manage your site is your best bet, but you can do a pretty solid job on your own with one of the many website design and/or hosting platforms available. Regardless of the path you take to build your hotel’s website, you should absolutely have dedicated staff in charge of managing this site.
Organic Search Traffic and Paid Search Traffic
If you haven’t yet heard of SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and marketing strategies, then trust us, you’ll want to hire professionals. In fact, even if you’re familiar, you’re still probably going to want to hire professionals to manage this side of your hotel marketing strategy.
SEO and PPC are marketing strategies that utilize the keyword phrases that people use in a search engine to find whatever it is that they’re looking for online. SEO focuses on targeting organic search traffic—users who find their way to your site via non-paid advertising. Alternatively, PPC is a form of sponsored advertising that displays on search engine results pages and other websites that relies upon users “clicking on” your advertisement.
Both SEO and PPC marketing use keyword phrases to identify and target specific types of users. The more accurate your keyword phrases are to a user’s intended search, the more likely your webpage and/or advertisement will show up on their device.
This is an extremely large topic, but in short, you need to use SEO and PPC strategies as a part of your hotel digital marketing arsenal of tactics. Spend some time looking into hotel SEO strategies to understand why paid search and organic search are so important to your hotel’s marketing strategy.
There are literally thousands of tools available to help your hotel’s digital marketing strategy, but your two most important (next to a professional hotel marketing agency, service, or professional) are Google My Business and Google Hotel Ads. Google My Business is free to set up an account and will help you to optimize your websites SEO essentials. There are advanced features and training if you’re interested in purchasing a more customized approach, but otherwise, Google My Business is free to use!
If you’re willing to invest some of your marketing budget, Google Hotel Ads is a PPC service feature that is designed around hotel marketing and will help you to advertise to your target audience by helping you design keyword-optimized paid ads. Because you’re using Google’s platform to do this, there will be no doubt that your PPC ads will be ideally formatted to meet Google’s specific advertising qualifications and preferences.
Google has developed an entire platform around hotels that is designed to display your hotel availability and rates on Google Search, Maps, and Assistant. This is an excellent tool, but this should also demonstrate to you how important—and competitive—hotel marketing is in the digital space. If you’re not using this service in some capacity, it’s time for you to reconsider.
In Hotel Marketing, All Things Mobile Count
We’re all carrying around incredibly high-powered supercomputers in our pockets, wearing them on our wrists, and as so often joked about, staring at screens constantly. The reality is, people use their mobile devices for the majority of their online interactions including finding, choosing, and booking the perfect hotel.
People search for and book hotels while lying in bed, at the airport, traveling in cars, at work, at school…pretty much anywhere you can imagine, someone has booked a hotel on their phone.
Not only does your site need to be mobile optimized, but your business listing itself needs to be up-to-date and listed on things like Google and Apple Maps, and mobile travel apps that crawl the web, compiling huge databases of available hotels. Every single one of these digital solutions crawls the web with their own search tools (robots, spiders, crawlers) that index results for their user’s convenience.
You can bet that if Google has trouble finding your location-based information, all the others will too. And if these services can’t find you, neither will their users.
Again, Google My Business and Google Hotel Ads come into play here. Using these tools will ensure that your hotel information is correct, searchable, and it will ensure consistency across maps and GPS based programs, as well as on search assistant AI like Hey Google, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri.
When someone uses voice search to say, “Find cheap boutique hotel near me,” or “luxury hotels by Miller Park, Milwaukee,” your mobile-optimized, search engine-friendly, local SEO-based location information will be the first to appear on their screen.
Since we’re on the topic of mobile, there couldn’t be a better time to bring up Social Media—everyone’s favorite mobile past-time. Well… maybe not everyone, but the numbers don’t lie.
There are entire college courses dedicated to marketing strategies for social media. As with your website, you can’t simply just have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Snapchat account and expect the bookings to never stop.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool when used strategically and according to each individual platform’s guidelines. Some, like Facebook and Instagram, even offer their own platforms for paid advertising, just like Google.
Are you noticing a trend yet?
Social media hotel marketing can be one of the most effective ways to showcase wonderful guest experiences at your hotel, interact with customers for instantaneous customer service, and continually engage with and attract new and/or repeat customers. Social media can help to spread your brand awareness, possibly even with smart, viral marketing content, helping you to reach a wider audience than you ever imagined.
Here’s a cool infographic on social media stats that show you just how powerful social media marketing can be.
If you didn’t already know this, many top organizations around the world—and countless smaller companies—employ social media-specific experts as a part of their marketing strategy. Managing, updating, interacting, and sharing your hotel’s content and guest experiences is a full-time job. If you don’t already have a social media specialist working for you, again, this is something very important to consider.
By featuring video highlights of your hotel’s best features and guest experiences, you can increase user engagement while showing potential guests precisely why they want to stay at your hotel. Video can be hosted on sites like YouTube or Vimeo and embedded right into your website, available to show visitors what they can expect when they stay with you—a critical point in conversion.
You should also really consider 360-degree video. Google Business View is a service you can purchase that will send a photographer/videographer to your hotel and create a 360-degree virtual tour of your rooms. This interactive feature lets visitors walk around your hotel virtually, enabling them to truly get a feel for the rooms they may want to stay in, and can even show off your hotel’s other great features, like pools, gyms, spa and anything else guests may want to “try before they buy.”
Video can also be a great way to highlight some of your hotel’s other great features. Are you socially and environmentally conscious and want your guests to know that you’ve gone Green? Or perhaps you’re boutique hotel features unique design and artwork—use video and social media to show it off!
Time to Make Your Hotel Digital Marketing Happen
We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the world of hotel marketing. Hopefully, you’re starting to get a clearer view of what modern hotel digital marketing strategies are most common today. Your competitors are using these strategies and more to stand out in this highly competitive market, and you need to be taking advantage of the best and most strategic opportunities for your business so that you can too.
For more ideas, be sure to visit our hotel blog archive here for even more ways you can upgrade your hotel marketing strategy.
Need more ideas? You can get inspired by what these quirky hotels are doing right here