4 digital marketing tactics to differentiate your hotel online
The year 2014 has been absolutely spectacular for the travel industry, and now more than ever, the competition is heating up. It is becoming increasingly important that hoteliers adopt ever-more diversified marketing strategies, using multiple channels to reach out to a wider audience. In addition, it crucial to ensure that your digital marketing strategy is nuanced enough to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors.
The good news is that digital marketing tactics can be tailored to most hotels’ marketing campaigns, whether they’re on a shoestring budget or have allocated millions for marketing.
Here are four digital marketing tactics that can be used by all hotels, no matter their budgets, styles or goals.
1. Invest in relevant digital channels and social media
Digital marketing isn’t just about having a website and calling it a day. People are spending so much time online these days that there are bound to be channels relevant to your target market segment.
The types of sites they visit online can be quite numerous. Some examples include forums, review sites, online magazines and news websites. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course.
The average person logs on to social media on an almost daily basis, so engaging with guests on social media is no longer just an option. Research has shown that hotels that engage with their guests on social media in an optimized, strategic way drive a lot more traffic to their websites than those who don’t. Be sure to include a link to your website to encourage potential guests to take a better look at the services you offer.
Image courtesy of The Darling
2. Customization of your booking strategy
While a generic booking strategy might have been adequate back in the day, in today’s cut-throat market, it is no longer enough. Customers have come to expect a lot more from the hospitality industry, and a Personalised and customized experience is no longer just nice to have—it’s absolutely essential. Hotel website mistakes can definitely impact your profitability and it is best to avoid them at all costs.
This means a one-size-fits-all strategy absolutely has to go. Today’s consumers expect Personalized, customized online experiences based on their previous searches and bookings, social network involvement and other preferences.
This means allowing users to log in using an online identity, most commonly Facebook or email, is crucial. More advanced websites are taking this one step further, with customized newsletters tailored to guests’ preferences based on their searches. Relevant up-to-the-minute tips and discounts take on even greater significance when customized to the individual.
One example of effective social media integration can be seen in TripAdvisor’s use of the “Cities I’ve Visited” application on Facebook. Designed in line with TripAdvisor’s “Wisdom of Friends” initiative, the app lets users who are signed in to Facebook get a much more personalized experience on TripAdvisor.
3. Direct marketing to customers
One of the great things about being deliberate about digital marketing is that you get the opportunity to not only build a mailing list but also compile information about your guests. Reaching out to your guests directly then becomes much easier, and alerting them to opt-in promotions and special offers is one great way to market to them directly.
With direct marketing, it is important to target your ideal customers rather than reaching out indiscriminately to all and sundry. Adequate market research is key to identifying the market segment that’s most likely to respond well to your hotel’s offerings.
Another advantage of targeted direct marketing is that it is a lot more suited to tight budgets, since you market to smaller numbers and should see higher conversion rates than hotels that broadcast to the general public.
4. Loyalty rewards
Rewarding guests who’ve used your services before is a great way to build customer loyalty. Guests who book through your website can be easily identified and given loyalty rewards to claim for their next visit. For example, one popular practice is to offer discount codes that can be used on a next visit.
In addition, everyone likes to receive rewards, so offering them to customers can go along way towards fostering goodwill and turning an otherwise lukewarm customer into a die hard fan.
Digital marketing has redefined what it means to market a hotel, and the above pointers provide some of the most effective ways to harness the power of the Internet to your hotel’s advantage. One of the main things to take away is that the Internet enables marketing to be far more targeted than ever before. Take full advantage of the fact that you now have direct access to customers who are actually interested in your services, and don’t lose the opportunity to reach out to them.
Natalie is a PR and digital marketing guru assisting hotels including La Playa Carmel with their digital marketing. When she is not scouring for the newest social media trends you can find her playing with her dog Devito or feeding her online shopping addiction. Get social with her on Twitter @natalieathana or Google+.
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