What’s Hot (and What’s Not) in Hotel Marketing Right Now?
Here today, gone tomorrow.
We all know hotel marketing moves at a rapid pace. Tactics that crushed it last year may no longer even be relevant today.
So, what’s worth exploring and expanding... and what needs to be jettisoned?
From time to time, we identify hotel marketing tools, tactics and techniques that transcend property segments, chain scales and geographies. And similarly, we see practices that have fallen out of favor or are simply not living up to the hype.
Depending on whether you work for a large flag, a select service property in New York City or a small independent resort in coastal California, your definition of “what’s hot” may be radically different from ours, but here’s our latest thoughts:
A recent Survey by HSMAI asked hotel marketers which marketing investments they planned to increase
It’s not easy filling your hotel’s need periods.
These low periods can break your annual budget. So rather than “spraying and praying” offers all over the digital landscape in a frantic, last-minute frenzy, smart hoteliers are tapping into a simple, but increasingly popular new technique: SPAC: Simultaneous Promotion Across All Channels.
Launching the same promo on every channel AT THE SAME TIME gives consumers comfort and avoids confusion. If guests see different offers for your hotel on a 3rd party channel than what is shown on your own direct hotel website, they will get uncomfortable with the inconsistency and find another hotel that gives them greater mental comfort.
Also, just like a military operation, launching a well-timed, multi-pronged effort gives your campaign the highest possible chance of success.
Think about it:
If Offer A is running on your Facebook page, Offer B is running on a 3rd-party channel and Offer C is running on your website, guests will be leery of what’s real or what’s current. Prospects will experience dissonance… enough to turn them away looking for another more consistent and mentally-calming hotel option. Consumers are uncomfortable with inconsistency.
It may be overwhelming to keep all of your hotel’s content updated and consistent across a dizzying array of digital channels.
But, it’s vital. Consistency matters.
2. Being accountable for revenue
What?! Marketing people carrying a quota?
While this may be a strange and radical concept among a large swath of hotel marketers, other industries (i.e. Silicon Valley software companies) have been assigning scary lead generation AND REVENUE quotas to marketing teams for many years.
Asset managers and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colors… they expect their hotel management firm’s marketing team to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results.
Quotas for marketing teams can be memorialized in terms of direct bookings (or group sales leads) generated by traffic driven by the marketing team. And marketers often receive bonuses based on their performance against their quota.
Serious hotel marketers are realizing that having a quota is not only a burden, but also an opportunity: if they hit their assigned targets, they increase their value in a demonstrably important way to their management and can ask for compensation increases as a result!
As hotel marketing technology becomes more affordable and manageable, hotels know more about who’s looking, booking and bouncing than ever before. With this robust “big data,” more and more hotels are personalizing and optimizing offers email campaigns, dynamic website content and pricing.
More and more hotel marketers are using basic website personalization tools to improve direct booking conversion rates
Hotel marketers are smarter than ever about crafting hotel marketing campaigns that are tailored to the right travelers and delivered to the right place, at the right time. And, best of all – everything is measurable, which provides tremendous power to hotel marketers when it comes time for annual performance and budget reviews.
The HSMAI survey also asked hotel marketers which marketing investments they planned to decrease
1. Juggling Vendors
Over and over again we hear the same thing from hotel marketers: “too many vendors breeds chaos and complexity.”
Hiring multiple, disconnected vendors and systems will inevitably challenge any efforts to drive bookings. Your marketing operation needs to be a well-oiled machine to outperform the compset. However, that’s near impossible when you’re juggling multiple disconnected vendors, shuttling messages back and forth to make sure everyone is aligned. Worse yet, no one vendor will take full responsibility when campaigns fail and goals aren’t met.
The solution is to consolidate.
Pare down your partners to only those who produce the best work, you trust the most, and who can handle multiple functions.
2. Tolerating an Inferior Product
Not even the most creative hotel marketing strategies, sophisticated hotel booking engine, or targeted hotel PPC campaigns can compensate for a sloppy hotel experience. Just as the saying goes, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” you can’t cover the signs of your hotel’s frayed edges or lapses in service. Travelers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re well aware of their options, especially with so many shiny and new boutique hotels stealing their attention.
No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product
While you can’t decide what gets fixed and replaced, that shouldn’t stop you from diligently pointing out to your owners what guests are complaining about. Each year, leverage your guest reviews that show the shortcomings that are deterring guests and hindering revenue growth. Convince your owners that property upgrades and enhancements are urgent if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.
3. Ignoring the group sales team
Many hotels spend all of their marketing resources on boosting leisure business while leaving the sales team to generate their own group leads.
Hotel marketing teams need to form a close relationship with their sales team peers
Events and large groups are game changers for hotels.
Revenue from just one group’s spend on room nights, F&B, event space, and ancillary services is significant. Group sales managers depend on a steady flow of business leads to hit the hotel’s revenue goals. And, hotel marketers should be the champions of that.
Consistently create content that positions your hotel as the epicenter of your destination’s group experience
Carry a quota for marketing-driven leads or actual closed leads
Routinely communicate with high-value sales targets with targeted emails, social posts (and even direct mail!) containing helpful tips, insider destination info, stories, photos, and videos.
Set up retargeting ad campaigns for meeting planners who visit your hotel’s meeting and events page
Optimize your hotel website with relevant tools that planners actually need, including photos of past events, room measurements, floor diagrams, 360-degree venue tours, capacity charts and testimonials.