Digital marketing for luxury hotels and resorts is a complex operation because, if done correctly, it relies on multiple strategies running in synch to achieve a common goal. When the focus is on the hospitality industry, this becomes even more challenging due to the fact that hotel digital marketing must improve various internal goals like RevPAR and ADR to improve a hotel’s GOP. Now consider the fact that the constantly increasing competition from other hotel properties and travel agencies (OTAs) naturally creates a number of obstacles for hotel marketing agencies trying to increase and upsell direct bookings.
So why is hotel marketing in 2019 any different from previous years? Remember that more than 90 percent of your guests go to Google in search of their ideal luxury property. This means your content must appease Google’s best practices while remaining highly relevant in targeting your ideal guests.
In 2018 there were a number of Google algorithm updates that impact how hotels and luxury resort properties appear in the search engine today. On top of this, your target audiences no longer book on a whim; they engage in tons of online research before booking their vacation property. From reading review sites to downloading vacation guides on luxury resorts, to reading blogs and engaging current and past guests on social media platforms, your ideal customer invests a great deal of time and energy into making a final decision. This is why partnering with a top hotel digital marketing agency that has the technology and experience to run a comprehensive growth marketing strategy is paramount to achieving goals and improving your GOP.
With more than 15 years of hotel marketing industry experience, we decided to share some of the strategies we use to help our clients achieve their goals. This article is meant to assist hotel brands and their executive teams in recognizing the value in working with a hotel marketing team, while also sharing some of our strategies and approaches for those who want to try these tactics internally. These hacks and tips can be powerful weapons for hotel brands in 2019 seeking to dominate their industry and outperform their competitors.
1. Utilizing Facebook in an SEO Strategy, the Right Way
The way SEO and Facebook will work together in 2019 has changed from the previous year. In an attempt to limit commercial content from Facebook’s news feed, Zuckerberg came forward in January 2018 stating that reducing the amount of this content would be the main focus in order to increase content shared by friends and family.
When commercial content gets shared, liked, and clicked, powerful social signals are sent to Google letting the search engine know that people favor the content. As a result, the website’s domain authority goes up, as well as ranking for keywords and terms in general. This means old strategies won’t be as efficient. This is not to say that SEO has no place working alongside Facebook. On the contrary, there are tons of leads and bookings that can be generated from an SEO Facebook hybrid strategy. The logic behind the strategy and its working points need to be reset to work in line with the way Google’s algorithm has evolved, and how Facebook’s filter has changed.
So what does this mean for hotel marketing? This: generating clicks from user-shared content as opposed to the automation of commercial content (though automating content on Facebook still holds value) is the better play for 2019 IF organic search optimization is part of the overarching strategy. When executing an SEO / Facebook hotel marketing campaign, the best digital marketing agencies create Facebook user profiles that mirror their client’s ideal buyer persona. Hospitality marketers use these and participate in social groups that focus on the hospitality industry where conversational strategies are initiated to extract data to help improve content marketing and audience targeting tactics. In addition, such strategies also engage users while sharing content in a natural manner that advocates the precise hotel property targeting ideal people likely to convert. A conversation strategy is laid out to work with any personality type that might engage in the conversation, and a goal exists to either convert that person into a lead, a booked guest, or an advocate of the property. By sharing target content, SEO can improve, as can direct bookings. This can have a profound impact and proven return on your investment and is worth running within the parameters of 2019 SEO considerations and Facebook’s newly enhanced filter on commercial content.
2. Define the Right Budget Necessary for Achieving Growth Marketing Goals
The marketing budget must be allocated within the arena of an agile environment that can weather the usual and unexpected storms that naturally come in a competitive space. In the last few years, most hotel brands have made big shifts in their budget from offline channels like radio and print to more measurable online marketing channels. But with all the various digital marketing channels comes the challenge of knowing which ones will best reach your audiences, how to leverage them with other strategies and tools, and how to weave them into the overall strategy while on pace to get a healthy ROI. Without a logic-forward framework and the ability to select and align the right marketing channels, chaos can erupt wasting time and dollars.
Hotel digital marketing agencies prove to be extremely valuable in helping hospitality brands overcome the challenges of budget allocation across channels. Unless your hotel has a limitless budget, this won’t be a challenge. But the reality is that any serious hotel has a budget even if to track their growth and the pace to hit goals while always remaining cognizant that budget dilution across digital marketing channels causes multiple internal issues.
Budget dilution occurs when marketers allocate small amounts of a budget across a wide number of channels as opposed to taking a higher chunk of the budget and using it in a more impactful manner through a carefully selected, customized singular strategy that lives in a multi-channel approach where various strategies leverage one another–something the best hotel digital marketing agencies are known for controlling.
3. Creating Owned Assets
Your marketing strategy should work to not only attract and convert the right audiences but bring in data that helps create and grow owned assets used to ensure audience targeting is always relevant thus enabling a strategy that continues to target the needs of your guests. The goal isn’t to create content and tactics that are entirely evergreen, as the hospitality industry and its buyers evolve too quickly. However, most buyer-needs remain consistent and this is where owned assets can add a ton of value to your marketing investment.
Email databases are one of the most valuable owned assets in the world of hotel marketing. In order to create high-quality email lists that can be segmented into unique cohorts each having their own lead nurturing workflow, customer insights must first be extrapolated in order to create the right kind of content that generates leads. For example, high-quality blogs paired with the right technology and topic-specific downloadable content can capture information on people and convert them into high-quality leads that already reveal topics they care about along with their perceived expectations. These insights will allow for segmentation thus giving your email database more value.
4. Email Marketing, with Automation Technology, Can Be a Powerful Tool
Email marketing has a bad reputation as being an over-used marketing tool. But if done correctly so as not to spam recipients, it is known to be one of the most powerful tools in hotel marketing. The more bad emails hotels send out, the lower the open rate is. It’s simply the consequence of poorly-thought, rushed email blasts that fail to resonate with potential guests.
We already talked about how owned assets, such as valuable email lists, are crucial for hotels. In order to execute a winning email marketing strategy, you need a high-quality list with content going out that your leads care about. But keep in mind your best email contacts are likely contacts in several competitor databases. This means creating the right content within a workflow with an effective cadence that targets the right groups is key, and something that hotel marketing agencies offering growth stacks do extremely well thanks to the advanced competitor insight technology they are known for offering their clients.
We recently worked with luxury resorts in Costa Rica and the Bahamas to help them pinpoint data that matters to get a more focused sense of their customers and the solutions they are looking for when researching hotel properties. Hotels acquire tons of data, but most of it falls through the cracks due to poorly trained internal teams, and a lack of technology (common pain point).
Our process involved implementing a powerful CRM and analytics tracking tool that recorded and mapped out all the digital touch-points guests went through while exploring the website, as well as the journey they went through to find the website. There was an immediate impact once the data was farmed, analyzed, and used to optimize the website all while the Growth Stack worked to create personalized content strategies, then fueled by automation. The volume of customer data more than tripled in a matter of weeks, and logic-based content addressing newly discovered buyer pain points saw an increase in website traffic, and more importantly, leads that converted to bookings. In addition, being able to pinpoint direct revenue from individual strategies and channels helped improve the marketing budget’s effectiveness.
5. Hotel Digital Marketing Growth Stacks
We have briefly touched on how using a multi-channel approach for attracting and converting guests is a core part of any hotel marketing strategy. And this is exactly what a hotel digital marketing Growth Stack entails (as well as the other strategies covered in this article). Keep in mind that a Growth Stack is a customized set of tools and strategies designed to run in synch to achieve a common goal (or set of goals). WEBITMD’s Growth Stack uses a logic grounded in understanding how your customers engage with your hotel property’s content, and any content related to your industry. Then, using a multi-channel approach, hotel marketing agencies attract, educate, and convert leads in a timely manner while staying within budget.
While your competitors are likely investing in paid media, SEO and social media strategies there is likely zero communication from one strategy to the other. And when multiple strategies don’t talk to one another, lead quality and flow often takes a dip. This is where hotels that partner with savvy digital marketing agencies can soar above the competition by capitalizing on their weakness. Remember, Growth Stacks empower hotel brands to maximize every arm of their hospitality marketing strategy while leveraging others all within the same approach. As a result, time is saved, investment is kept within budget, and valuable data can be harvested and used to continue the process thus ensuring the strategy remains relevant and hyper focused to resonate with your ideal guests.
As technology advances, so too does the way your ideal guests search for luxury hotel and resort properties. These are the five main strategies WEBITMD generally utilizes in a customized approach for every client running them together to empower business growth for exceptional hotels and resorts. But based on your unique goals and customers, other tactics can be added for maximum results and ROI. In order to stay competitive, hotels must be up to date in their methods for attracting and converting leads, and the Growth Stack is the ideal master strategy that offers measurable results.
Learn More About WEBITMD’s Growth Stack & Why it’s the Secret Weapon of Hotel Marketing
Download our FREE guide below. See how the approach aligns with where your hotel property is headed, and reach out to a member of our hospitality marketing team with any questions you might have. We would love to learn more about your unique characteristics, goals, and see if there may be a fit for a future growth partnership!