There are various digital marketing challenges for hotels in this era of expanding digital connectivity. Hoteliers need to successfully deal with them, to stand out from the competition and drive more bookings.
Travelers’ choices and travel habits are evolving. With increasing choices available to them, their shopping journey has become complex. Statistics show that social media influences 52% of travelers to change their travel plans. 44% travelers use mobile phones to plan their travel, while 25% make bookings through their smartphone. 75% luxury travelers and 87% business travelers use various devices to conduct the same travel-related searches or to make a booking. These alone dictate the need for consistency in digital presence across all channels and devices.
Here are some of the common challenges faced by the hospitality industry, and the ways in which you can handle your hotel’s digital marketing challenges:
- Web marketing and maintaining an effective web presence
If you haven’t updated your website since the time the Internet was born, then it’s definitely time to do so now. Here are the challenges you might face, and what you can do about them:
- Creating effective content
Remember that your website first needs to attract travel shoppers, and then engage them. If you want your hotel to stand apart from the rest, then you need to invest in visual storytelling. People love stories, so share your hotel’s unique story with your audiences, and help them connect with your brand. Good quality images capture peoples’ attention, and a great story keeps it!
Make sure relevant information is also prominently displayed on your website. Your customer will not choose to lose time searching for it.
- What to showcase
As a hotelier, you are not just selling rooms, you are selling an experience. This begins with the pictures that travel shoppers see on your website. In fact, this is their first contact with your hotel. So, draw them in using attractive, high-resolution images where they can imagine themselves as part of it and want to visit. You could use a professional photographer for good quality pictures for your website. For a more, steady stream of visuals, you could use user-generated content, especially for your social media.
A responsive website, coupled with clear and easy navigation can direct them to special offers, reviews, contact details, social media links and most important – your booking engine. Make sure it’s front and centered, so travel shoppers cannot miss it.
- How to increase direct bookings
As a hotelier, you cannot be passive and leave the decision of booking to shoppers. The general trend shows that people look at your hotel website, and then book with an OTA. You need to be able to engage with them on your website and convince them that you can give them the best deals.
Many hotels are now leveraging technology and opting for chatbots and artificial intelligence in this pursuit, rather successfully. A chatbot will engage your customers and answer all their queries immediately, 24/7, increasing the chances of direct bookings. If at all your customer leaves your website without making a booking, the chatbot would still have obtained customer details like name and email, which your marketing team could use to follow-up. Quicktext is a comprehensive solution in this regard if you are considering AI and chatbots for increasing direct sales in your hotel.
- Embracing mobile
Embrace mobile if you want to handle your hotel’s digital marketing challenges effectively. Mobile has long since overtaken the desktop. In fact, research shows that 6 out of every 10 travel shoppers are likely to leave your website if it is not mobile optimized.
Since a majority of your customers use the mobile for everything – from research to booking to communication, it’s a given that your website be mobile-friendly, and that you communicate with them the way they are most comfortable with.
You may lack the time or resources to take your digital marketing to mobile, or you may not be sure where to start. Just remember, customers want a one-click point of contact with you. It’s easy to give them that through mobile.
- Managing your presence on various travel websites
Maintaining your presence on multiple travel websites can get tedious, especially if you need to update separately on each one. Use a central system to manage your media, so that when you update on one website, the changes are syndicated in all the others as well. This way, your content is consistent across channels. Make sure you target your key demographic groups through your content.
- Standing out on social media
If you don’t exist on social media, you don’t exist. Social media gives you an excellent opportunity to reach a vast audience, and engage with them directly. However, the question arises:
– Which social media channels should you be on?
– How do you reach a wider audience through social media?
– How do you measure its success?
First, you don’t need to be on every social media channel. Find one or two that work well for you, and spend your energies on those. Share your authentic story to capture the attention of your audiences, and always interact with your guests and visitors. Use pictures and videos to support your brand story, and showcase special offers. But always, make it easy to book.
Second, you don’t have to create new media each time. You can repurpose content to suit the needs of the channel. Also, if you look within the working of your own hotel, you’ll find a lot of stories coming from your own employees. It could be something interesting that happened in the kitchens, or the reception, or the spa. Authentic stories are well received by audiences.
Visual consistency is exceedingly important. Read this article on how to achieve visual consistency on social media, to get inspired.
You can also use one channel to drive traffic to another. Social media is important as it allows your customers to engage with your brand, and amplify your story to other potential customers by sharing your content.
- Track and measure
You create amazing content for your website and social media, but how do you know if it is engaging your audience? How do you ascertain which offers they are availing, or how much booking is happening through your website?
The best thing about digital marketing is that everything can be mapped and measured. This then allows you to analyze data and measure performance of your digital marketing strategies, so you can make intelligent decisions in the future.
There are various tools that enable you to measure performance and engagement. These will offer an insight into what encourages more direct bookings – like a picture that engages your audience, or a specific offer or even your brand story.
In all your digital marketing efforts, remember that consistency is key. Keep your brand story the same on all your channels and websites that you have a presence on in order to build credibility and trust. Eventually, this is what makes your customer confident to choose you.
And finally, keep looking to see what’s working, and what isn’t. The biggest advantage of digital marketing is that you can measure everything and quickly ascertain if a strategy is working or isn’t. Then adjust accordingly. A good digital marketing strategy has the potential to help you maximize your time, enhance your reach, engage more customers directly, sell directly, and increase your upsell chances.
At Them You & Me, we help you handle your hotel’s digital marketing challenges through well-planned strategies. If you’d like to know more, do get in touch.
To find out more about our digital marketing services, please visit our website.
This article was inspired by a webinar that discusses the essentials of hotel web marketing strategy. You may access it here.