By Margaret Mastrogiacomo

As travel restrictions begin to lift, hotels are ramping up marketing spend to capture travel demand. To ensure a strong strategy, it’s important to keep a pulse on the latest digital innovations you can leverage across channels to make a greater impact on performance.

This month, Google announced the Google Page Experience update, Facebook expands testing for in-stream ads on Facebook Live, and Discovery Ads are rolling out globally. From SEO to Social Media and Design, here are the top 5 things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing.

1. Search: Google announces the Google Page Experience Update set to launch in 2021.

On May 28th, Google announced a new ranking algorithm called the Google Page Experience update designed to judge web pages based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Factors that will be considered include whether the page loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, runs on HTTPS, and how seamlessly content loads throughout the user experience. Essentially, this means if Google thinks website users will have a poor experience throughout your pages, Google may not rank those pages as highly as they are now.

The Google Page Experience update is made up of several existing Google search ranking factors and updates, including the Mobile-First update, Page Speed Update, and the HTTPS ranking boost, while refining metrics around speed and usability.

What does this mean for hotel marketers? If page speed, content parity across devices, and secure pages were not already a priority, they should become a primary focus of your strategy as we prepare for the update in 2021. Take your SEO strategy to the next level by conducting a usability audit of landing pages throughout your website. Google Lighthouse is a great tool to test these factors.

2. CRM: Personalization is key as travel starts to resume.

It is no secret that one-to-one communication is critical during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Now as travel demand begins to resume, messaging that is personalized to your customer segments’ top concerns will be most effective in giving guests the confidence to book. For instance, communication regarding your prevention plan in place and any measures taken on property should be personalized based on each segment’s top concerns. While messaging to family travelers should reinforce the safety of their family while reinforcing convenience, messaging for business travelers should focus on social distancing in communal workspaces, and so on.

3. Social Media: Facebook expands test for in-stream ads on Live.

Facebook is expanding its test of in-stream ads in Facebook Live to more verticals, including pre-vetted entertainment, news, and sports partners. The test is designed to help evaluate whether the ad format is effective before rolling it out more broadly.

How it works: When watching Live content from a creator included in the test, viewers might see a range of ad formats, including:

  • A pre-roll ad that runs before the live stream
  • An image ad that appears below the live stream
  • A mid-roll ad that plays in the main video player during the live stream while the broadcast continues playing in a shrunken window

While live streaming can be unpredictable as it is not tightly controlled content, if partnered with the right content provider or influencer, this could be a new viable ad format for hotels to advertise on engaging destination content.

4. Display: Gallery Ads are being discontinued while Discovery Ads are rolling out globally.

Google introduced two big image-driven ad tests at its Google Marketing Live event last year. Gallery ads for Search campaigns didn’t make the cut and will no longer be available starting this summer, while Discovery Ads are now available to all advertisers globally. Discovery Ads are eligible to serve across the YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, Discover feed on the Google Search app, and in Gmail Promotion and Social tabs, opening up new avenues for both Google and advertisers. Discovery campaigns take their cue from Facebook’s success with a native ad format targeted based on audience data rather than search intent.

According to Google, they are being highly selective with Discovery Ad results only showing the ads that have the best image assets that are most relevant to users. If your hotel brand has high quality image assets that are visually engaging, this could be an on-par initiative to social advertising to reach users in the dreaming phase of the travel planning journey.

5. Design: Visual COVID-19 Prevention Plan Website Guides.

Prevention plans that ensure the health and safety of hotel guests are top of mind for travelers. Now that travel demand is beginning to pick back up, simply reassuring guests that a prevention plan is in place is not enough. Guests are interested in the details of the measures being taken so they can book with peace of mind. Visually walking potential guests through your hotel’s prevention plan is an engaging, and easy to understand way to communicate the measures being taken.