Today’s travellers plan their trips online. The sheer amount of information on the internet makes it easy for them to create unique itineraries that suit their specific wants and needs!

If you run a hotel, this is good news! It means you have the opportunity to capture the attention of potential guests when they’re in booking mode. But it also means that you have to up your game if you want to stand out and win more direct bookings (and, as a result, avoid losing travellers to OTAs). 

This is why having a solid online marketing strategy for your hotel is absolutely vital. Here’s our guide to creating (and maintaining) yours this spring!

What You Need For Your Online Strategy

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Before you get stuck in, there are a few bits of information you need to hand. This will make it far easier to create a plan that resonates with the kind of traveller you’re trying to attract. 

Who Are You Targeting?

Knowing who you’re targeting arms you with a lot of valuable knowledge. When you understand the wants and needs of specific travellers, you can better focus your messaging and figure out the best platforms to reach them on. 

Start by creating some traveller personas. These are essentially profiles that highlight the demographics of your ideal guest, as well as their wants, needs, and the key features they look for when booking a hotel. 

You can find out more about your ideal guests by:

  • Surveying past guests and asking them what they liked about your hotel and what made them decide to book with you over another option
  • Digging into any available data that you have, whether that’s through your booking engine, social media, or Google Analytics 
  • Asking questions on social media to get a better feel for who your ideal guests are, like:
    • What’s the most important thing to you when travelling?
    • What hotel features are a must-have?
  • Researching your competitors and travel forums to find common questions and objections that your target guests have 
  • Listening to what your guests are already saying about you online 

What Is Your Unique Selling Point (USP)?

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It’s incredibly helpful to know what makes your hotel different from the rest. Do you offer free spa treatments? Are you big on sustainability? Knowing why your guests choose to book with you and what their motivation behind doing so is, can help you position your marketing message to reach more of the same people. Your USP doesn’t have to be a huge thing, it can simply be a specific feature that you’re proud of – maybe you provide a special kind of breakfast or you offer mobile check in. Highlight it!

Optimised and Responsive Website

Direct bookings come straight through your hotel website, which means it’s important to have a user-friendly site that’s easy for guests to navigate. Make sure booking information is clear and your site works well on both desktop and mobile! As we’ve mentioned before, mobile revenue is growing, and 70% of travellers research and book their tips via a smartphone

Read our guide to optimising your hotel website to allow travellers to flow seamlessly through the booking process. 

How to Plan Your Online Marketing Strategy

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Choose Your Platforms 

It’s important to choose the right platforms to invest in – keep in mind that a typical person needs to see a brand 27 times before they recognise it, so remember that when you’re deciding on where you should have a presence, and how to communicate with potential customers at each touch point depending on where they are in the funnel.

We talked a bit about platform opportunities in 2020 last week – take a look here for more!

Choose Your Content

A key part of marketing is creating content for your audience so you can reach people at the top of the funnel (i.e. thinking about travelling somewhere) and people who are in focused, travel planning mode. These people need different information depending on where they are in the funnel. 

For example, someone who is searching for content about “the best things to do in [your location]” is likely planning a visit there and you can capture them based on this information. You can then use this data to create content that’s truly valuable to guests. 

The types of content you might create include:

  • User generated content gathered from past guests that you can populate your social channels with. This is a particularly good tactic if you’re short on time but want to share something with your followers
  • Blog posts that cover different stages of the funnel. For example, you might create a blog post about the best things to do in your city for top of the funnel travellers and a blog post about your hotel’s top features for those in booking mode
  • Tips and guides to your location. If you’re targeting travellers looking for an authentic experience, you should focus your guides on that. Likewise, if you’re targeting luxury travellers, make sure the information in your guides reflects their tastes
  • Videos that show specific features of your hotel, as well as videos of fun activities in the area that might resonate with your target guests

Map It All Out

Now it’s time to bring it all together and create an actionable plan. This involves pooling your resources, determining your online marketing budget, and focusing on activities that benefit your targeted travellers the most.

Ideally, your actionable online marketing plan should include:

  • The platforms you’ll use 
  • The different kinds of content you’ll create and what topics they’ll cover
  • What team members are tasked with doing what
  • When and how you will create certain pieces of content
  • The publish dates for your content
  • How you will measure the results of your strategy 

Measure the Results

Measuring your results is so important, because it gives you valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not – and it means you can do more of the stuff that’s working going forward!

Before you kick things off, decide what you want to measure. Usually, this will be metrics like:

  • The number of direct bookings
  • The number of website visits
  • How many social media followers you have
  • The amount of engagement you get with your content 

You can then use the relevant tool to track your results. For example, the number of direct bookings will come from your booking engine, the number of website visits can be tracked via Google Analytics, and social media stats can be gleaned from their respective sites. 

When you measure your marketing strategy, you can switch out the activities that aren’t working and continue to tweak your plan until you get the results you want. 

Ready For Marketing Strategy Success?

The right online marketing is important for hotels, especially now! Follow the steps we’ve laid out here to solidify your strategy this spring. 

For more on how to find the right booking engine, see here.

For more on how crucial it is for revenue management and marketing to work together in order to achieve success, see here!