Achieving the highest return for your hotel is ultimately about driving costs down and increasing revenue. When it comes to marketing, this means spending as little as possible while reaching the largest audience of potential guests.
Luckily, online channels are making this increasingly easier and hotel managers are catching up with it: In a recent survey conducted by HSMAI, 70% of hoteliers said that online investments are yielding the largest returns. So how exactly do you go about maximising your marketing budget by taking advantage of online channels?
These five tips are a great place to start:
1) Invest in a great website experience: You'd be surprised how much of an effect it can have
First impressions can make or break a brand - and very often your website is where that first impression is formed by a guest. Visual appeal is important because you want guests to have positive associations with your hotel experience. For example, investing in a professional photographer to get high quality photos of your property will pay off in the long run and incite higher interest. You should also keep in mind your target audience when choosing which photos to feature: if you cater to couples, show photos that position yourself as a romantic getaway.
Keep your layout clean and simple and avoid stuffing pages with unnecessary content. Website navigation should be easy-to-use and straight-forward so that guests can effortlessly make their way through the site and complete a booking. Site visitors have short attention spans — the majority of them will leave your landing page within 0-8 seconds — so keep engagement high by capitalising on the moment of interest and creating a clear booking path. If this sounds daunting to take on, check out Vizlly, an app that makes it easy to create and publish better hotel websites.
2) Squeeze as much as you can out of your existing content
This point ties in with delivering potential guests an exceptional website experience. Do you have great information on nearby attractions? Reviews on your hotel? Descriptions of your rooms’ features and amenities? Great! Feature these in an easy digestible manner so that your guests can use this information to make a purchase decision.
For example, you may want to think about organizing the attractions and dining options around your hotel in a map. If you have guest reviews, make sure potential guests can access them easily from your site. 93% of travellers say their bookings decisions are influenced by online reviews, so it’s a resource most have come to expect. Remember to monitor these reviews, as they provide you with an opportunity to glean new insights about what guests love and address any issues.
3) Be smart about current lead generation tactics like banner advertising and search engine marketing (SEM)
Banner advertising is a great way to drive potential guests directly to your site, giving you more control over the customer experience and what information guests are seeing.
Whether you’re looking to increase bookings, brand awareness, or both, the most efficient way to use banner advertising is to target the right audience. For example, if you’re a hotel in Paris looking to reach travellers planning trips to your area, place banner ads in front of those searching for flights to Paris.
Also valuable: taking advantage of search engine marketing, which consists of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). SEO entails optimising your web content so you rank higher on search engines like Google for such keywords as “hotels in Paris” or “lodging in Paris.” Consistently updating your site and providing content relevant to your audience are important to supporting your SEO efforts.
PPC allows you to bid on certain keywords within a search engine so that you list on the page when someone searches for those words. However, with this model you pay every time someone clicks through on your listing. Thus, if you want to be cost efficient, choose keywords you think will produce the highest quality traffic for your site. In general, both SEM and banner advertising are solid investments if done right because they allow you to reach those guests who are already searching and in-market for a hotel.
4) Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke: if an ad is delivering inquiries and interest, don’t change it just because
Although it’s smart to refresh your ads periodically to reflect seasonal changes or prevent ad burnout, be budget conscious and fine-tune instead of starting from scratch. Take the time to test different elements of your ad — you might find that changing just one word on your call to action button improves click-through. It makes more sense to change your ads after you’ve gotten a firm grasp on what works and what doesn’t.
5) Constantly measure, analyse, and improve
The best thing about online channels is that it’s fairly easy to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. You can see how many people are viewing your website, how many are actually booking, and which channels they’re coming from. Armed with this information, you can assess which channels are providing you with the highest returns and which ones aren’t working as well.
Get in the habit of regularly reviewing performance so that you can identify issues or opportunities and adjust accordingly. Is there a certain webpage on your website where visitors tend to drop off? Use this information to understand why and make the appropriate changes so that potential guests stay on your site and ultimately book.
Of course, maximising your hotel’s profit goes beyond just managing the marketing budget. However, if handled effectively, your marketing budget can go a long way in driving revenue at a reasonable cost. A general rule of thumb is to always keep your target market in mind. It’s a waste of your time and money to produce content or implement strategies that reach the wrong audience. Additionally, stay abreast of current trends in the hospitality and marketing industries so you can explore new tactics and consumer preferences. Hotels who are able to adapt and understand their guests are the ones who will ultimately come out on top.