Your Hotel Marketing Strategy: Preparing for 2017
With Christmas just one month away, 2017 is coming up quickly. This week, we read up on some of the most important hotel marketing trends for the new year. Firstly, we turned to Google. With Expanded Text Ads fully replacing the old format in January, we found a primer from HubSpot on best practices for the new format. We also looked at what Google’s new mobile-first index means for hotels, and what’s most important to focus on.
After that, we took a look at how the book direct movement is progressing. With the most recent decision from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), hoteliers in Australia are now looking for alternative ways to promote direct bookings. Lastly, we read about ways to make direct bookings happen. Two strategies that stood out were creating “moments of differentiation” and tips to make sure you’re on top of your reviews.
Recently, Google made headlines with the news that it is testing a new mobile-first index. The search giant wants its results to reflect the majority of users, who are searching on mobile devices. As a result, Google’s mobile-first index will rank hotel websites on the mobile versions – even for listings that are shown to desktop users.
With almost two out of five mobile consumers abandoning a travel booking due to a poor user experience, the recommended action for hoteliers to improve is to get responsive. Google says if your website is already mobile-responsive, then you won’t need to change anything. However, if your website doesn’t look great on a smaller screen, the time to act is now.
Numerous strategies and best practices have been developed over the years for the standard text ad format, but unfortunately, most of these don’t translate to expanded text ads. And, businesses are now having to scramble to update their ads before Google stops supporting the old format in January.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to best handle expanded text ads, let’s get to know them a bit better.
The decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to enshrine rate parity between hotels and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) has created a new impetus for the hotel sector to reclaim their guests through innovative marketing strategies.
The agreement – which was signed off in early September – allows hotels to offer lower rates than they provide OTAs for phone and over-the-counter bookings, but they have to extend ‘rate parity’ to OTAs for online bookings, unless it is to a ’closed’ user group, such as a hotel’s loyalty club.
The reality, of course, is that the overwhelming majority of bookings these days are online. The millennial generation in particular prefer the idea of booking through aggregated sites rather than individual hotel sites.
We are learning from psychology that if we want to persuade guests to book again, or to book directly on the brand.com site from their first stay, then merely good or even excellent service is not enough. Because of the ways in which the brain remembers we must create ‘moments of difference’ which differentiate the customers’ experience. These can be either online or in the physical hotel, but to drive direct bookings they must be present on your hotel website. Build them into your hotel marketing strategy.
Online reviews are simply another method of collecting feedback from hotel guests. So why do so many hotels handle reviews badly?
In my experience, the overwhelming majority of reviews tend to be positive; guests who have negative experiences are much more vocal, however. People between the ages of 36 and 50 — as well as individuals with an annual household income of more than $150,000 — are almost guaranteed to share stories of bad customer service. Guests of all demographics are more likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one.
Hotel executives cannot control what guests say online, but they should still encourage everyone to review their experiences. Hoteliers should treat these reviews as if the guests were standing at the front desk.