After the hospitality industry was forced to adjust on the fly in 2020, the focus has now shifted to adapting to new consumer behavior and determining the best hospitality marketing strategies to pave a way forward as the world returns to normal—and begins to travel again.
There is no doubt that the recovery from the worldwide pandemic is well underway. According to Google, searches for the keyword term ‘Hotel’ this spring reached its highest point in a decade. That trend agrees with recent data. According to one consulting firm, 55% of adults feel comfortable taking a vacation as of May 2021 compared to just 18% in May 2020. Meanwhile, American Airlines says net bookings have reached nearly 90% of 2019 levels.
As travel ramps back up, hoteliers are tasked with standing out in a crowded space and reaching travelers in new ways. Here’s a look at five essential hotel marketing strategies that could help hotels drive increased bookings as the world returns to normal.
Show you’re open with social media and email marketing
Travelers want to see people enjoying your hotel or eating at your restaurant. With different rules and regulations across the United States and staggered re-openings, travelers can be confused about the current state of travel. Data shows 36.5% of people use social media sites to inspire their travel, which is why it’s so important to have a social media strategy that shows your hotel is open for business with the proper precautions.
Email marketing can also be an effective way to communicate with travelers, letting them know you’re open and the safety measures you have in place. Do you have touchless entry? Are masks required? Are there any limitations around your hotel? It’s important to communicate with prospective guests so they know you’re open and are taking their health seriously.
Reach prospective guests with virtual tours and dynamic content
Virtual tours became an important tool for not only the real estate industry during the pandemic, but also for hoteliers across the country. As business people began planning for conferences and future brides began searching for the perfect wedding venue, many turned to virtual tours to find the hotel that best met their needs. That trend isn’t expected to go away.
A study by Best Western concluded that hotels with virtual tours on their website had a 48% increase in bookings compared to those that didn’t. As virtual reality has taken off, consumers have begun making decisions based on immersive virtual experiences.
Update your online hotel profiles and monitor reviews
The majority of travel research happens on Google, which makes taking advantage of Google’s tools important for all hospitality marketers. Google offers hotels a number of features through Google Hotel Ads (including free links) but also has features hotels should take advantage of through their Google My Business listing (which shows up on a panel at the top of results).
Last fall, Google announced it was adding several travel listing options for hotels to display to travelers additional health and safety information, including:
- Enhanced cleaning
- Personal protection
- Physical distancing
- Minimized contact
- Increased food safety
Take advantage of metasearch surpassing PPC and OTAs
If there was one major shift in hospitality marketing through 2020, it was the rise of metasearch marketing as a tool to drive bookings. While Online Travel Agency (OTA) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads remain viable marketing channels, metasearch remained steady, and even surged, throughout the 2020 pandemic showing its ability to wade through turbulent times.
As OTAs invested less money into advertising hotel keywords, metasearch’s placement across metasearch engines like Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, Kayak, and others saw returns on ad spend of 200-300% and sometimes much larger. The trend toward metasearch is expected to continue and it’s important to have a strategy in place. While hotels should continue to utilize both PPC and OTAs, having metasearch as part of the plan is key moving forward.
Follow the data to reach travelers
As you implement these hospitality marketing strategies and others, it’s important to make sure you’re utilizing all of the available website and advertising data available to you. Now, more than ever, you can use tools like Google Analytics to gain insights into how travelers are reaching you, how your advertising and metasearch campaigns are working, and what optimizations you need to make to your website and marketing efforts to deliver optimal results.
With analytics tools, you can:
- See which channels are and aren’t performing for you (search vs. ads)
- Measure how effective email communications are
- Track the performance of specific offers and campaigns
If you're wondering how your hotel could utilize any of these marketing efforts, we’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, explore more of our blogs to see what strategies can help improve your hospitality marketing strategy.