Marketing your hotel takes a keen appreciation for delayed gratification. Because as Warren Buffet put it, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Making and following a marketing plan pays off, even if the fruits of your labor aren’t immediately apparent. Hotel marketing strategies take time and effort. Want your hotel to be made in the shade? Make a marketing plan today.
Luckily, people in the hospitality industry know a thing or two about planning. Running a profitable hotel requires knowledge of what’s come before and a special knack for what’s next. It takes great attention to detail.
What, exactly, is a hotel marketing plan? At its most basic, marketing should help your business reach its goals. In this sense, a marketing plan is the road map of how you’ll focus your energy to achieve these goals—the route from point A to point B.
First, determine what you need your marketing strategy to accomplish. Next, consider the strategies you’ll use to reach these marketing objectives. To help you begin this process, check out our five-step guide to building a great hotel marketing plan.
RuPaul said it best: “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Hotels, too, should live by this mantra. First, pin down your property’s identity. Next, let the world love you.
Are you a quaint, relaxing bed and breakfast? Or an amenity-driven, technology-filled oasis for business travelers? Brainstorm what makes your property unique. What sets it apart from the competition? Your hotel has a story and it’s marketing’s job to tell it right. Read more about how to tell your hotel’s story on our blog.
The work you do to define your hotel’s unique identity will ultimately help you solidify your brand. Your hotel’s brand is far more than the colors in your marketing materials and the shape of your logo. Your brand communicates your company’s character and accordingly, lets potential guests know what you offer better than anyone else.
See how this all goes back to your property’s identity? Because while your brand can evolve over time, it should develop from a strong and consistent base.
Guests choose you, right? Wrong! Your marketing plan will be far more successful if you choose your guests. Imagine the types of people who would get the most value from your accommodations. Are they business people or leisure travelers? Folks traveling alone or with their families? Young people looking for an original experience?
The prototypes of various travelers that you come up with through your business knowledge and market research are called “buyer personas.” Buyer or guest personas distinguish the various segments of your audience. Ultimately, you probably won’t end up with just one type of customer.
In addition, many characteristics of these different personas will overlap. This is perfectly fine. In order to fine tune these guest personas, think about what problems your hotel solves for these different people.
This exercise will help you focus your marketing messages. How can your marketing speak to the solutions you offer each persona? The answer to this question will help you create consistent, efficient hotel marketing materials. In the end, it’s all about knowing your audience. Read more about the different types of hotel audiences in this article on the buuteeq blog.
Marketing’s gone digital. No ifs, ands, or buts about it—it’s time to market your property online. You need a website. Your website needs to be mobile compatible. How will you nurture your hotel’s digital presence? Which specific strategies can you take? First, let’s discuss the essential elements of a great hotel website. The building blocks include professional, high-resolution photography, detailed room descriptions, an interactive map, and a booking engine. Read more about our hallmarks of good hotel web design here.
Conventional web browsers aren’t going away anytime soon. Some people will always depend on desktop computers to book travel. That said, the future of digital marketing for hotels rests with mobile. It’s time for your marketing plan to move towards tomorrow. Check out our infographic illustrating the steps you need to take to build a mobile-optimized website.
So why do travelers today use mobile? According to Hospitality Net, travelers prefer the ease and flexibility of mobile bookings. Also, many mobile users use click-to-call features to immediately get in touch with a hotel’s front desk. This proves that even in today’s digital age, people love to hear a human voice on the other end of the line.
Clearly, the mobile wave’s unstoppable. The rise of the millennial generation only solidifies this phenomenon. Young people rely on mobile devices to do everything, especially book last minute travel. Check out our eBook on the Millennials, which includes an explanation of this group's penchant for last-minute booking. Also, view our webinar on the key digital marketing tactics for hotels.
Inbound marketing: How you get customers to come to you in a more or less unprompted fashion. Outbound marketing: Seeking out people where they are and encouraging them to visit you. The difference between the two is subtle, but a good marketing plan take both strategies into consideration.
As its name implies, outbound marketing reaches out to people. Email is a still great way to do outbound marketing. That said, no hotel wants to be viewed as a spammer. A successful email marketing campaign takes time and sensitivity. Read more about this in KISSMetrics’, “A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing.” Also, be sure to see how to write a standout subject line in this article on our blog and download our 5 Steps To Writing A Kick-Ass Email Newsletter eBook.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is another key aspect of outbound digital marketing. Not to be confused with SEO, SEM increases your hotel’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). In short, platforms like Google Adwords promote your website as advertisements on SERPs. Good SEM places these ads in front of targeted, relevant audiences.
While email marketing and SEM are central to outbound digital marketing, SEO is the bread and butter of inbound digital marketing. SEO also hinges on the growing importance of the Internet in hotel marketing. SEO involves making changes to your website’s structure and content in order to rank higher on SERPs. Even though the practice is often shrouded in mystery, you shouldn’t worry. SEO is totally doable. You got it.
Since search engine algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, websites with quality content do the best. Have your hotel marketing plan include a website with relevant articles, rich photography, and video. Read all about SEO for hotels by downloading our free white paper on the topic.
What’s a plan if you don’t have a way to track its success? Make sure to follow through on all of your marketing efforts by including ways to monitor your return on investment (ROI). Because as you move forward with your plan, you’ll want to make informed decisions for each of your marketing strategies.
Luckily, we live in the age of data and analytics. Still, according to a study by Nielsen, marketers are consistently underestimating the ROI of their digital campaigns. Don’t be one of these marketers. As the study suggests, businesses need to decide which types of data to use for measuring their digital marketing.
Prepare to ask yourself the right questions. For instance, how many bookers does your SEM actually bring to your website? What sort of user-interaction does your booking engine inspire? What percentage of your web traffic comes from your mobile devices? Web analytics can provide answers to each of these questions. You decide which digital marketing strategies to continue, which to ditch, and which new ones to explore.
How you decide to track your ROI will evolve with time. You should also adjust your hotel’s marketing plan to fit new technology, new customer personas, new SEO tactics—the list goes on and on. The takeaway? Plan to adapt.
Once you have a hotel marketing plan in place, it’s time to nip low occupancy in the bud. Check out our white paper, The Low Occupancy Conundrum: How Digital Marketing Can Solve The Hospitality Industry’s Biggest Riddle, to learn why and how you can raise occupancy rates through great digital marketing.