Of the most pressing issues facing hotel marketers, internal stakeholder communication and education about digital marketing continues to be often overlooked and neglected.
Especially with budget season moving into high gear, now is a great time to help general managers and owners better understand the basics of the customer journey (what customers do in the digital space when planning and booking travel), why we need to invest where (it’s not all last-click…), and the costs of acquisition of the various channels in our toolkits.
HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council recently discussed the question of, “What are the digital developments that every GM needs to have at least a basic understanding of?” From the very basic to the more advanced, here are their top 8 recommendations:
- First and foremost, understand your own hotel’s digital landscape. Through which channels (brand.com, OTAs, meta, etc.) does what percentage of your business come? For those largest pieces of the pie, focus your attention on understanding what is driving them, and the digital trends and developments happening there.
- Understand the digital marketing funnel, and the difference in ROI between efforts directed at filling the top of that funnel and pulling business though the bottom of it.
- Pay attention to the impact of the guest experience, reputation management, and social media on your hotel’s digital outreach and pricing power.
- Especially if you are part of a brand and/or management company, be very clear on the company’s overall strategy when it comes to natural search, websites, and more. Understand the tools and resources already available to your property from the brand and the management company. And for goodness sake, don’t sign up for extra products, services, or channels without understanding what the umbrella company is doing.
- Realize how ads work on Google (and other places). When you’re online, don’t click the ad result for your property because you’re burning up your own marketing budget!
- Know what is happening in the world of search (including what Meta is, and its real value in the scheme of things). This is one of the biggest areas you’re likely spending on, so make sure you have a sense of what is happening here, and what your investments in this area do for you.
- Recognize the importance of imagery. This is another sizeable investment, so understand what the impact of it is. Think about how you shop. Would you ever buy anything from Amazon that doesn’t have a picture? How do online photos influence your own shopping behavior (when it comes to travel products and more)?
- For budgeting, look at the big picture and set larger goals for digital’s overall impact (occupancy, ADR, business mix, etc.) instead of trying to nit pick and measure ROI on every little thing that you do in the digital space. It’s just too complex. For example, social media really does not have a good direct ROI, but it is an absolutely essential part of a property’s overall marketing and operations strategy.
If you’re a digital marketer at a brand or management company, or on property, there are two simple things you can do to help your GMs stay up to date.
- Develop 1-page cheat sheets for your GMs at small, medium, and large properties. Put in writing their most frequently asked questions, and the most often overlooked solutions available. For instance, provide specifics about how to update their brand website (who do you contact) and trends in ecommerce (how many websites visitors search before they actually book, etc.).
- Help them manage all of the noise and distraction coming at them and their teams every day from the many marketing “opportunities” and new entrants in digital marketing. Whether it is Snapchat, Pokémon Go, or some other new trend in app, channel, or device, one of the biggest mistakes they can make is jumping on that trend rather than being strategic and holding true to a comprehensive marketing plan. Find ways to keep that focus, and educate hotel teams about what “shiny new objects” should and should not be pursued at the property level.