By Margaret Mastrogiacomo

With hotel marketers around the world ready for a reset, 2021 can’t come soon enough. If you haven’t already, now is the time to finalize your 2021 marketing plan and ensure your strategy is ahead of the curve.

This month, Google debuted a trio of new tools to help destinations and hotels use search data to identify and analyze travel demand, Instagram expands new Guides feature to all users, and retro fonts make a comeback in web design. From Search to Social Media and Design, here are the top 5 things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing.

1. Search: Google launches ‘Travel Insights with Google’ to help hoteliers measure travel demand.

Recently, Google debuted new tools to help destinations and hotels use search data to identify and analyze travel demand. The launch is geared toward APAC, where travel recovery is showing some promise but will roll out to other regions as the pandemic subsides. The new tools are called Destination Insights and Hotel Insights, and are available to any business, including non-advertisers, on the Travel Insights with Google website. Destination Insights uses anonymized Google search data to help destinations and hoteliers identify their top sources of demand, as well as local attractions within the destination that travelers are most interested in visiting. While hoteliers can leverage website traffic from top feeder markets and Sojern and ADARA travel insights to help gauge travel demand, it’s helpful for hoteliers to have a more holistic view on travel demand to the destination based on search trends.

2. CRM: Segment guest profiles based on vaccination roll out.

For Q1 2021 campaigns, consider segmenting customer lists based on past guests who are most likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccination first. For instance, senior citizens will have priority access to the vaccine as well as frontline workers. Consider launching a “You Deserve It” campaign prompting potential guests to travel again with safety precautions in mind. Highlight ways to indulge on property with spa and dining, things to explore in the destination, and offer exclusive perks and discounts.

3. Social Media: Instagram expands new Guides feature to all users.

Earlier this year, Instagram launched a new feature called Guides, which allowed creators to share tips, resources, and other content in a dedicated tab on their user profiles. Instagram limited Guides to a select group of creators who were publishing content focused on mental health and well-being. However, now Instagram is rolling out the format to all users, and expanding Guides to include other types of content, including products, places, and posts.

One major content focus for the new Guides feature is Travel Guides which can include longer- form content with images and videos that look like a blog post within the Guides tab. Visitors to Guides can share the Guides across their own Stories and in Direct Messages, expanding their reach even further.

Once available, hotel brands should consider leveraging the new Guides feature to highlight travel guides with itineraries geared towards key customer segments such as couples, families, and solo travelers.

4. Display: Brand Lift studies help gauge brand awareness.

With hotel portfolios continuing to expand despite the pandemic, measuring brand awareness of new hotel properties can be difficult. However, a Brand Lift study is a way to measure the direct impact your YouTube ads are having on perceptions and behaviors throughout the consumer journey. Brand Lift is available for in-stream and bumper ads on YouTube.

Within a matter of days, Brand Lift gives you insights into how your ads are impacting the metrics that matter, including lifts in brand awareness, ad recall, consideration, favorability, purchase intent, and brand interest, as measured by organic search activity. You can easily optimize your campaigns mid-flight, based on these near real-time results, broken out by demographics, frequency, and more. Measured by consumer surveys and a lift in branded search terms on Google search and YouTube, hotel marketers will gain valuable insight into brand recognition and recall. There is a $10k campaign budget minimum to be eligible for a Brand Lift study.

Hoteliers should consider a Brand Lift study when introducing a new hotel to market or rebranding an existing hotel.

5. Design: Retro fonts are back in style.

Giving bold, modern fonts a retro spin is gaining popularity as we welcome 2021. What’s old is new again with fonts taking on the funky aesthetic of the 60’s and 70’s (think retro album art). While this new design trend is not right for every brand, it could breathe new life into email and marketing campaign designs. Consider taking brand fonts and experimenting with some retro design touches.