By Susan Tucker
By now you’ve probably heard it enough to know that in today’s digital age every hotelier must have an online presence in order to effectively reach current and potential guests. Particularly unique and independent properties, which may not yet have the benefit of widespread brand recognition.
Now that the public is exposed to more media than any time in history, the success of your luxury property will depend on the ability to really hone in on how to attract the right kind of guests. It’s not about making your reach more expansive, it’s about creating a digital action plan with a goal of precision targeting and engaging content.
For today’s post, let’s assume you have set up a website, social media profiles and are gathering email addresses for hotel, and let’s talk about ways in which to best utilize these channels in order to guide your future guests from looking to booking.
DIGITAL MARKETING TIPS FOR HOTELS
Ramp up social media engagement
This doesn’t mean just posting a few tweets and calling it a day. You’re going to want to get strategic with your social media marketing.
First determine the very best social media channel for reaching your prospective guests. One way to do that is to go to BuzzSumo and type in a keyword related to target guest (brides, meeting planners, etc), location or property. Here is where you’ll find the most shared content on social media by channel and influencer. This information is the quickest, easiest way to show you where engagement currently is, and helps you narrow down where to put your focus.
Another great way to discover where your customers and prospects are, is to understand general demographics of each channel. For example, Pinterest and Instagram appeal mostly to women, while men tend to use Google+ and LinkedIn. Get the latest social media demographical information from the Pew Internet Research.
Once you have pinpointed the best channels for you, try to interact with your customers through asking questions to generate comments, sharing interesting information and responding to customer comments. Put some fun into your social media marketing by sharing images designed to inspire, creating engaging contests, encouraging followers to post their own content about your property – perhaps even create a specific hashtag for them to share – and by being authentic with your posts. People want to connect with people – show the faces of the brand.
Every time you post you have an opportunity to connect to current and potential guests and make an impression.
Land social connections to a landing page on your website
Interesting tweets, posts, and content drive people.. but where? And, how are you going to convert followers to guests? Better yet, what about those prospects who are interested in staying connected but are not quite ready to book a room?
Drive their experience by linking them to a landing page on your website designed to gather contact information. A landing page is quite simply a page that your prospects can “land on.” Before digital marketing became so sophisticated, marketers would drive folks to their home page or sales. Not anymore. Landing pages designed to gather information will be your magical middle-of-the-funnel step designed to build those relationships. The secret sauce? Landing pages can be built as unique as the guests you’re aiming to attract.
Here are some great landing page ideas:
– Offer special pricing, bonus products/services or some other “benefit” to guests willing to share their contact information.
– Entice prospects through the sales funnel by providing valuable insider information. This information could be specific to your location such as a city guide, specific to a life event such as a wedding planning guide or anything that you think would appeal to your target guest and can tie back into our brand without being overly sales-y.
– Drive social media leads directly to a special offer on a product or service page that is generated just for them. (According to SocialMediaToday, nearly 90% of Twitter users follow brands to receive discounts and promotions – don’t forget to add an option for email signup during checkout!)
Landing pages serve many purposes, they tell your visitors what you want them to do, why you want them to do it, and can help you show off a little bit of your brand personality.
Implement personalization through content
Personalization is considered to be one of the buzzwords in the digital marketing world lately and for good reason. Algorithms are changing the way we search, shop, browse and more. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon are all showing personalized information “hand” selected for each person based on their browsing history.
You can use personalization on your own site to best suit your target audience. The best way to do that is to create personas for your typical guests including their demographics, buying behavior, interests and pain points. Once you’ve established your personas you can break up your blog posts, emails and social content based on their individual needs.
Here is an example of how hotel marketers can use personalization in their digital marketing plan. Let’s say your property is looking increase special event bookings. It seems pretty straight-forward that your target audience would be event planners. True. However, if you dive deeper you may also find that you have several buyers you’d like to attract.
- You may have planners that work independently on a contract basis.
- You may have in-house planners.
- You may have event planning organizations.
Each persona will have his or her own challenges and with thoughtful marketing messages you’re going to have better chance of attracting them. Speak their language. Pull them in.
Retarget your advertising (but don’t be creepy)
When customers visit your website and then leave for whatever reason without making a purchase or booking a room, you are in a unique position to reconnect with them through retargeted advertising. Retargeted advertising gives you an opportunity to display an ad featuring the specific package, room type or amenity the person was looking at before they left your site. It’s a unique way to stay top-of-mind with a potential guest – however, be careful on the creep-factor and only allow retargeting a couple of times.
There are several retargeting platforms out there – including those native to Google Adwords, Facebook, and Twitter.
As online platforms get more and more sophisticated it only means more opportunities for the hospitality industry to benefit.