The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Hotels is the perfect resource to start tap into the new uncontested digital market.
This guide covers a unique set of new processes for hotels to implement new innovative digital marketing strategies.
The ultimate digital marketing guide for hotels is full of insight and strategies you easily can start implementing today.
Due to COVID-19 hotels are now in a unique situation where they have to re-define their digital marketing strategy. Hotels have to focus on positioning themselves in any market by thinking more laterally and re-appraising how to differentiate the brand to open up and create new uncontested markets in uncertain times.
People are ready to travel again. Travel will return, though it will come in waves. And we will see different travel patterns from what we did see before COVID-19.
Hotels need to be prepared and ready to create new experience offers that represent a new reality.
I will in this article share with you all the building blocks of The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Hotels. This guide focus on these overall important themes:
- Value Innovation
- Growth Mindset
- New employee cultures
- Customer and employee community
- Health and safety
- Reputation Management
- Earn more Direct BOOKINGS
- Increased revenue and occupancy
Why Hotels need to create a new Digital Marketing funnel
A report from McKinsey & Company shows one trend from China that accelerated during COVID-19 is digitization. It has not only impacted business-to-consumer (B2C) applications and channels, but also the also less traditional digitized part of the economy, such as areas requiring physical contact, and business-to-business processes (B2B).
And the first wave of travelers is younger people that are more accustomed to using digital channels during all touchpoints of their customer journey.
One extremely important point for hotels to understand with this trend is that the younger generation of travelers is looking for brands to lead the way and they want brands to create change with them, not just for them.
Don’t invest in digitalization just because of the trends or for the sake of just doing it. The purpose of The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Hotels is to help you make the best decision in a relevant context.
New Important aspects of the Digital Marketing funnel
Traditionally we have brought in potential customers at the top of the funnel, nurtured them in the middle, and converted them to the bottom.
COVID-19 has put many hotels in turmoil scrambling to find customers.
The principles of the digital marketing funnel are still there, but we have to add in flexibility and communication when we now are going to attract customers to new innovative digital experience offers.
Developing a digital marketing strategy will help you identify what makes your hotel unique and how to communicate your message out to your audiences through a variety of digital channels.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy describes a series of actions that use digital channels to achieve S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Channels can include owned, paid, and earned media.
Owned media is a digital channel your hotel created and controls. This can be your hotel’s website.
Earned media is when guests, customers, clients, vendors, the press, and the public share your content and speak about your hotel via word of mouth.
Paid media is when your hotel pays to leverage third-party channels for sponsorship and advertisement.
Your digital strategy will define the “why”, “how”, and “what” you plan to do.
Why – represent a new innovative purpose
How – represents the new process you implement
What – represent the new results you achieve
This digital marketing strategy will take into account the available budget and resources and put forth new cost-effective solutions.
Setting your hotel’s new digital marketing goals
You have to start describing your hotel’s new experience offers from the customer’s perspective. Understand the customer states that impact their perceptions of how your hotel fits in their journey.
Cognitive: Perception, judgment, reasoning dictated by emotions – is linked to the highest possible quality of interaction with a service like a hotel website.
Affective: Influenced by emotions and rationale – can be a booking experience that is related to the effects of the perceived values of a related product and purchase intention.
Behavior: Action as a result of the customer’s rationale and a reflection of their intentions.
New Ideal Customers
First of all, you have to understand who your NEW ideal customer is and how they interact with your hotel brand.
Due to COVID-19 travel patterns have totally changed. All hotels today are in a situation where they have to start identifying who their NEW ideal customers are.
The primary part of travel now consists of local and domestic travelers.
How do my hotel’s new customers look like?
Who are they? Individual travelers, first responders, over-the-road drivers, day room users, students, grocery workers, bloggers, podcasters, local influencers, digital nomads… etc.
Demographics – Ages, job titles, location, interest, social channels, digital devices they use, brands they buy now
Pain points – What are their pain points? Frustrations? Challenges? What keeps them awake at night now?
Experience Solution – How can your hotel’s experience offer to relieve their pain points? What would a great outcome look like for their pain points?
Value Innovation – What would the positive impact for them be with your hotel’s experience solution solving their pain points? Understand what it means for them when your hotel’s experience solution solves their problem.
Traditionally most hotels strive to retain and expand on their exciting customer base.
This is why hotels today have to take an approach introducing blue ocean markets. Tapping into the universe on noncustomers and how to unlock them is what will bring a new bright future for your hotel.
Tapping into Noncustomers
If we take a look at the new playing field there is an abundance of opportunities just waiting for Hotels to share their story.
Soon-to-be customers are closest to your Hotels current market.
They tend to jump offers out of necessity, but mentally they view themself as non-customers. If other alternatives open, they will jump ship without any hesitations.
Usually, these customers are constantly looking for better alternatives.
Refusing customers that look into what your Hotel has to offer to meet their needs but consciously choose against your market offerings.
Typically, this is related to a perception of what they can afford, and they find your hotel’s offerings unacceptable and beyond their means.
Unexplored customers are the farthest away from your Hotels current market.
These customers have never thought of your Hotel’s offering as an option. Typically, they have never been considered as a potential market for your Hotel.
There are plenty of opportunities for Hotels to look outside their current market.
The key is to look at key commonalities across these noncustomers and existing customers, so you better can understand how to pull them into your new experience offers.
To achieve this, you have to align customers and your hotel’s goals. Since a large part of the customer experience, today involves digital media we now work on S.MA.R.T.E.R. goals.
S – Specific – state in detail what needs to be achieved
M – Measurable – establish how progress and results will be measured
A – Attainable – set challenging goals, but achievable within budget and available resources
R – Relevant – goals have to be aligned with the process and set in a relevant context
T – Time-bound – set a reasonable deadline to focus your attention and energy
E – Exciting – set goals that excite and inspires
R – Risky – today we have to focus on goals that focus on flexibility, value innovation, and growth mindset. This is about thinking outside the box for managing and solve challenges creatively. Take a new perceptive of your hotel’s day-to-day operations
Your hotel goals should be to create new unique customer lifetime value while decreasing acquisition costs.
And to achieve this we use data we gathered from studying customer states in context with S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals to understand customer intent and influence important micro-moments of the new customer journey.
Why should customers choose your hotel?
Ideally, hotels should have created experience offers that will make it easy to understand for the new high-value targeted travelers what they will receive with a direct booking.
And you should clearly explain how staying at your hotel will solve their pain points and use digital channels to communicate how your team and amenities will make it happen.
To achieve this, we look at value innovation alignment.
Value Innovation Alignment
Represents the alignment of three propositions in pursuit of differentiation and low cost.
The service travelers receive from your hotel’s experience offer minus the price they pay for it.
The revenue your hotel generates from an experience offer minus the cost to produce it and deliver it.
The positive motivations and incentives put in place for people needed to support and implementing the strategy.
Bringing Value Innovation to Life
The idea behind Value Innovation Alignment is to identify new ways to bring the three propositions to life.
Today hotels have access to new advanced technology and digital media channels to communicate their experience offers to travelers.
Hotels can use digital media channels like images, gifs, presentations, videos, live, webinars, chatbots, podcasts, email, voice, AI, VR, 360 presentations, and Infographics to communicate high-value relevant content.
You want to create an experience that allows travelers to see themselves as special and unique while enjoying staying at your hotel.
Hotels that achieve this task will be rewarded. Visual presentations attract more visitors and are more likely to turn into a booking. Information shared through user-generated content is largely represented by visual content.
Digital Media Channels
Where your hotel now reaches travelers will be an extension of the new experience offers you create.
Due to COVID-19 Digital Media Channels have become the main source where travelers now seek inspiration and how they make their decisions.
Digital Media Channels are abundant today, which makes it easy to become overwhelmed.
So, for our purpose we focus on Digital Media Channels that are:
The overall purpose is to use these Digital Media Channels in context with why travelers should choose your hotel.
Your hotel website is where you present stories related to your experience offers.
And the stories become more interesting and engaging with creative visual content.
Today hotels need a dynamic and flexible hotel website by creating experience offers with travelers, not just for them.
Your hotel website needs to become your hub of digital communication with travelers.
Hotel Laundra Palace uses its website in context with social media and chatbots to create new experience offers. Social media and chatbots are cost-effective catalysts that will help your hotel boost performance.
Today it is a must to have a mobile-friendly hotel website.
And make sure you invest in basic SEO. Here are some free tools I highly recommend:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Google built-in search suggestion
On the hotel’s website, you want to use high-quality images to communicate the story.
Booking abandonment and customer acquisition costs are both major challenges today for the hotel industry.
The average hotel spends about $30 on capturing a lead and over $200 on customer acquisition.
- 90% of hotel website visitors browse around and never take action
- 82% of those that do take action ends up abandoning their booking
The numbers are just staggering.
This is why we now recommend adding a dedicated hotel chatbot to your website. Your hotel has to adjust to new patterns and find new ways to communicate.
Social media channels
Social media channels provide a great opportunity to connect, build relationships, and communicate in relevant communities.
There is also an abundance of social media channels for your hotel to participate in. But don’t worry it is ok to start slow.
We will help your hotel pick the top two or three channels that reach your new ideal customers.
The key with the social media channels you pick is to optimize them for your new ideal customers. And your hotel must engage on each of these channels. Once you stop communicate on your social channels the audience will lose attention.
At times it can feel like you are communicating in an empty room. Don’t let this fool you. And if customers share any form of social sentiment about your hotel always respond!
Digital service recovery
Social media channels are not only a great way for hotels to build relationships with customers, but it works as an extended service channel.
Digital service recovery includes these elements:
Apology – own the process, and be authentic speaking candid, and genuine
Understand and Review – seek first to understand and listen with empathy. Diagnose the guest concern before prescribing a solution
Fix it – once the concern has been appropriately been understood and reviewed front-line performers should offer the most appealing solution.
Follow up – follow up in context with the understanding and review you had with the guest
Document – Use technology and digital tools to document the review and follow-ups. Learn how the digital recovery process impacts reviews and perceptions after the guest left the property
Communicate – use digital tools to capture data from the customer journey and the digital recovery process. Communicate with your hotel team about the data
Optimize – service mistakes happen at every hotel – it’s what your hotel does with it that will make a difference – be flexible, transparent, and honest. Use your digital tools to learn what it takes to earn back your customers trust
Create a digital inclusive hotel experience
“Finding a hotel that can accommodate my Sensory Processing Discorded (SPD) child is like finding a unicorn.” -Kate Joyce
Digital compliance with American Disability Act – ADA is not very complex in itself.
American Disabilities Act – ADA requires that people with disabilities must be able to access public buildings and use the same services as able-bodied people, so too should people with disabilities be able to access and navigate the Internet.
It sounds simple enough, but every time I talk with someone that has to adjust their travel due to disability it is far more complicated.
Why is it so complicated to become more disabled-friendly and inclusive?
People I talked with that are impacted by disability were told they were willing to pay more if the hotel just meets some of their basic needs.
As hoteliers, we need to strive to do better to become more disabled-friendly, and inclusive. They should not have to pay more just to have their basic needs met. This should be part of any hotel’s service offers!
A digital inclusive hotel benefits everyone and creates new market opportunities.
Cost-effective Digital solutions
Most digital solutions available today provide hotels with an opportunity to become more cost-effective.
We focus on Value Innovation Alignment to optimize your hotel’s digital marketing strategy.
This process supports differentiation and low cost.
Many hotels today have already invested in digital marketing services and tools. But often they have not aligned this with the hotel’s business model. Many hotels simply don’t use their digital marketing to reach digital travelers.
This is a digital transformation process that will help your hotel saving time and money.
Superior health protocols
Data from J.D. Power shows that cleanliness is among the top drivers for customer satisfaction.
Travelers today will require a superior health protocol that reassures safe stays and keeps hotels clean.
Install superior health protocols and start to collaborate with local mental and physical health resources.
The data from J.D. Power verifies the importance of introducing digital channels to communicate with travelers at all phases of their customer journey.
What is unique today is that travelers are looking for a hotel to inform them about their specific cleaning and health protocols.
Hotels today need to use all of their digital channels to communicate and showcase what type of actions they have put in place for new cleaning and health protocols.
And the hotel must be upfront about any limitations or specific restrictions.
This is why it is more important than ever that hotels now collaborate with the local community. Hotels have to understand travelers are coming for a unique local experience. Travelers will expect that you are familiar with local limitations and restrictions.
Digital native advertising
Paid advertising is an important component of digital marketing for hotels.
We use relevant digital marketing channels such as Google, Bing, and Facebook.
Online advertising has today for many Hotels become a complex challenge that they often outsource to individuals or advertising agencies.
Often, we see Hotels’ primary focus is on the Click-through ratio (CTR) or Clicks through impressions. These metrics only tell a very small fraction of the real process.
Today’s smart Digital Marketers focus on creating advertising campaigns in context with value and relevance.
Native advertising takes advantage of technology and a sophisticated algorithm that matches the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. Native ads are often found in the Google search or Facebook feeds on desktops, laptops, mobiles, and tablets, or as recommended content on a Hotel landing page.
Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t look like ads. They look like part of the flow of search results or a social media feed. The key to native advertising is that it is non-disruptive.
Native advertising is all about mastering great storytelling.
Email marketing is still a key component of your hotel’s digital marketing strategies.
Emerging technologies affect the way that users and marketers alike interact with the internet and its many platforms. Adapting to the changing scenery is key to continued success across all digital marketing fields, including email.
Successful adaptation is contingent on two fundamental principles. First is a solid understanding of the processes and metrics behind a healthy email campaign. The second is effectively analyzing and converting data-driven results into actionable steps to optimize – or even completely revamp – campaign strategies.
Content marketing is all about storytelling, and humans have told stories for as long as they could speak. Our attention will always go to those who tell great stories.
While content marketing involves a variety of different types of content, the mark of great Hotel storytelling is putting the customer at the center of a journey, with your product or service as the solution that empowers them to succeed.
When you layout your hotel’s content market plan does this in context with the process of this digital marketing guide.
Start with mapping the new customer journey in context with a focus on tapping into non-customers.
The customer journey starts through awareness. This is when the customer acknowledges they have a problem they need to solve.
Once the customer acknowledges they have a problem they need to solve then the process of considering options starts.
The key for hotels now is to engage with relevant, timely, and personalized content.
With tapping into non-customers your hotel will move away from price and product as the deciding factors for booking. Your hotel’s digital experience offers is defined through value innovation alignment. The key is to build a community where you can create a new unique digital experience offer to customers, not just for them.
Privacy and security are essential today as we start to implement new innovative digital marketing strategies.
In the U.S. most of this is controlled by the Federal Trade Commission – FTC.
Digital marketing under the GDPR (whether postal, phone, e-mail, SMS, or any other form of marketing) is regulated exactly like any other data processing activity.
Also, as a digital hotel marketer, you are concerned with making the most effective use of digital marketing tools or social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, WhatsApp, YouTube, or Instagram.
The last thing your hotel is likely to worry about is having your followers, friends, or connections actually providing you with consent to store or use their data.
You will be pleased to hear that as far as consent and data use are concerned, there will be effectively covered by the terms and conditions and privacy notices of each of these social channels.
The privacy process is complex today for hotels. But your hotel must take control of this to protect guest privacy and security.
Reputation and humanness are important for a hotel’s success today.
Humanness identifies a process where hotel brands implement a humanistic process, which inspires people’s confidence to own and drive the process for effective execution.
Reputation management represents the business function concerned with influencing, often through diverse communication practices, stakeholders’ perceptions, and estimation of a hotel brand’s economic, social and digital marketing practices.
Reputation is frequently described and valued in terms of a hotel brand’s visibility and its capacity to be seen to be doing good through various digital media including corporate responsibility reports, speeches, and presentations, news media reports, social media, reviews, and ratings.
The process comes down to the fundamentals of reverse engineering micro-moments that represent the total customer experience.
Let say a hotel guest report a concern through a Social Media channel about their room this trigger two primaries contextual strategy implementations:
- Hotel context – what variables triggered the concern – immediate resolution – long-term solutions
- Social Media context – Hotel guest anticipating an immediate response within the same social media channel
Begin to build your hotel’s digital marketing strategy
One specific, measurable S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal, a defined new unique ideal customer, and compelling digital experience offer are all you need.
The next step is to implement this in context with Value Innovation alignment.
Through communication, flexibility, and your new digital service recovery you will embrace employee happiness and higher guest satisfaction.
Kick-off your Hotels digital marketing strategy with these 5 steps:
- Get Started. Choose the right place to start and create a growth mindset team
- Understand where you are. Get clear about your Hotels current process
- Imagine where you could be. Uncover what limits the size of the Hotel industry and discover new segments of noncustomers you can unlock
- Find how to get there. Systematically reconstruct Hotel market boundaries and create new alternative growth opportunities.
- Make your move. Select your move, conduct rapid market tests and launch your Hotels growth mindset move.
Creating a cost-effect digital experience offer for non-customers
Hotels have traditionally competed on essentially the same factors, just more or less of them.
Value Innovation alignment requires your hotel to think outside the box. And we are not talking about changing colors on the wall or switch all your coffee pots with a Keurig coffee maker.
This is the change you make for the guest; remember we want to create change with the guests.
Travelers today prefer convenience and simplicity.
With a focus on defining new value innovation alignment for your hotel, we look for a new way to see the digital market strategy.
Here we look at making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for your buyers and your hotel, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.
To achieve this, we first have to be clear about how new digital trends will affect the value of the hotel industry’s current digital experience offers. And then look at what future digital experience offers will need to take into account.
Identifying new digital marketing trends
- Identify three or four trends that are seen as having a decisive impact on your hotel and new ideal customers.
- Communicate with your hotel team and customers to assess the relevance of these trends. Then narrow down to the trend(s) that are commonly seen to decisively impact your hotel and new ideal customers.
- Communicate and assess the extent to which each trend is irreversible.
- Communicate and assess whether each of the trends is evolving along a clear trajectory.
- List the implications of all the trends that are decisive, irreversible, and evolving in a clear direction for your hotel and ideal customer. Detail how each will change booking value and how that would impact your digital marketing strategy over time.
- Record all insight data.
The most challenging aspect of identifying new digital marketing trends is getting clear about how a particular trend will affect the value of your hotel’s current digital experience offers, or what future experience offers will need to take into account.
Therefore, when considering each trend we ask, “If this trend continues as it has begun, what current digital experience offer will no longer make sense and might even detract from buyer value, and therefore should be eliminated or reduced?”
And then “What within our digital experience offers will we need to create or raise to deliver a leap in value to customers?”
To do so we introduce the four-action framework that will enable your hotel to translate findings through collaboration and communication with your team and customers. This date will provide concrete, actionable, strategic options that will pursue differentiation and low cost.
Successful digital brands have understood the value of building a unique community around people that has a relationship with the brand and communicate about their products and service offers.
We often get hotels that want more likes, followers, friends, or connections for their social profiles.
By itself, this is not a success factor that will help your hotel stand out in the digital landscape. I don’t know about many hotels that got the response ‘we booked this hotel because we saw it had 10,000 likes on Facebook.
The 10,000 likes will help trigger curiosity in a relevant context.
This context is found in a digital community that serves a deeper purpose for your hotel.
An effective community will assist your hotel with:
- Service recovery
- Support the direct booking process
- Share ideas and input for new value innovation
- Empower employees through a new unique collaboration
- Communicate and inform about new or improved action point
- Respond to new market trends
- Promote your hotel experience offers
- Improved metrics
- Reputation Management
- Increase customer retentions
Why hotels should build digital communities
Your hotel’s digital community will help you create a new future that supports current changes, short-term changes, and long-term changes for your new market segment.
And your digital community will help ensure success for your hotels and customers’ digital experience.
People today learn and get relevant information in communities.
It is also important for hotels to know that Google is now in a process of changing its algorithm towards page experience. Google will in the future focus on vitals that are aligned with real-world, user-centered metrics that are a reflection of the user experience.
A digital community will turn your hotel’s likes, followers, friends, or connections into raving brand ambassadors that drive traffic to the website, help with higher retention rates, and increase occupancy and revenue.
A digital community will help your hotel with a deeper and more meaningful insight into your employees and customers.
Work with Are Morch – Digital Marketing Coach
Congratulations! With this digital marketing guide for hotels you now have new building blocks to start creating a digital marketing funnel that supports tapping into noncustomers and at the same time adds new unique values for existing customers.
Are you ready to start creating a new unique digital marketing strategy that will help your hotel bounce back to a new and bright future?
Creating a new digital marketing strategy and also building an effective digital community is a process.
If you are ready to take your hotel on a new unique digital journey, then learn what it will do bringing Are Morch – Digital Marketing Coach onboard as your Digital Brand Ambassador.
I have in The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Hotels laid out some new innovative building blocks that supports value innovation alignment and a growth mindset. This is a process that supports working with your customers and travelers.
If you enjoyed and found value in this digital marketing guide for hotels share it with your team members.
Contact Are Morch – Digital Marketing Coach today to learn how your hotel can bring onboard a Digital Brand Ambassador.
We are in this together!
I need to let you all know that we are in on this together. If you need to vent, talk, cry, or just have some to talk with then I am here listening. Since I am working part-time at the local Kroger, I will to the best of my ability to work it out around my schedule.
But you can reach me here:
Also, join us at our Facebook Group – Hotel Social Media Community
We will get through this unprecedented event together! #hotelstrong #hospitalitystrong
For any specific information on COVID-19, I recommend go to CDC, WHO, AHLA, AAHOA, and HSMAI. Also, follow information from your local authorities.
We are starting to reopen some hotels again (Yay!!!). Make sure you follow their guidelines and say THANK YOU to those that now show a unique spirit to serve, and helps us all get through this!! #hotelstrong #hospitalitystrong
About Are Morch
Hi, I am Are Morch. Your Digital Marketing Coach and Customer Experience Expert specializes in creating effective digital customer experience offer for hotels while growing and scale customer acquisition and revenue.
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