Posted by Murray Sye
on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 @ 10:22 AM
Are you aware of the current marketing trends facing the travel and hotel industry?
Marketing today is about understanding how your prospects and customers are researching to make decisions in this hyper-connected world. A commissioned survey conducted by PhoCusWright, reveals that more than half of respondents do not want to make a booking commitment until they read reviews and find out what other travellers have to say.
And how are they researching? According to Statista, 40.9 percent of digital travel researches looked up travel information via mobile device, and it's projected to grow to 71.3 percent in 2018. Are you mobile-ready?
In today's post we'll review six marketing strategies that every travel and hotel marketer should consider.
With more people turning to mobile as their primary means of accessing the web, being mobile-friendly is no longer a "nice to have," it's a "must have." And, as of April 21st of this year, Google rolled out its new algorithm standards, which require that websites be mobile-friendly or be penalized in search results.
Does your brand have a mobile strategy in place?
If you're not sure, let's take this test.
Browse your brand's website on your smart phone. If you have to pinch, zoom and scroll in order to read your website's microscopic text or to tap on its awkwardly placed links and buttons, there's a good chance your visitor will bounce from your site and associate his 'poor' experience with your brand.
Your website has to be amazing regardless of the viewing device and responsive design helps to solve this. This is not a new trend by any means. It's been brewing for years. The majority of travel related searches are performed on mobile devices. Especially with Google's algorithm update, the travel industry can no longer afford to make mobile an afterthought.
Recognize the power of content
In recent years, hotels have recognized the importance of having dynamic and fresh content on their website in the form of a blog. Creating a conversation with potential guests through a genuine manner in the form of interesting content goes a long way, and can transform potential guests to actual guests.
Hotel brand marketers realize that content with a hard sell and generic execution doesn't engage or motivate consumers to buy. Therefore there is a rise and reallocation of budgets in hospitality to develop more engaging content, track and measure that engagement and partner with more types of third-party content creators.
Greg Oats of Skift has this to say, "The next wave in content marketing is focused on building content ecosystems as a complete package where all of the different components are designed to enhance each other." Today's best content campaigns integrate on and off property live events, user generated content, curated content and different types of content formats including the rise in video production.
The power of photography
Have you taken some time to evaluate your brand's photography?
Okay, so let's take another look.
Peruse your website and analyze the images that showcase your brand. The quality and diversity of a hotel's photo-library has become one of its most important assets. Do the images you're looking at reflect your brand? Does it communicate visually the value of your brand?
Prospective guests expect to see your entire property in the form of great, large format photography across the entire site. One image that is often overlooked is the actual physical structure. Marketers spend so much time on their interior shots that the actual setting of the hotel gets forgotten. This hero shot is one of the first things that a prospective guest wants to see if they are unfamiliar with your hotel.
This step is not easy since good photography can be expensive and obtaining it often requires some organizational resources. Despite those obstacles, developing a library of appropriate, relevant photography should be a primary goal for almost every hotelier.
I'll forgo dictating the latest data on social media marketing numbers. I thinks it's safe to say, social media is not another "nice to have," but an essential marketing component.
From a gazillion number of people on Facebook and Twitter, to the rapid rise of Pinterest and Instagram and on and on and on. The point is, we are all using social media, many of us on multiple platforms. So with that many people using social media why wouldn't the travel and hotel marketing industry be impacted by its use as well? According to a study conducted by Amadeus, social media use is expected to reach 80-90% worldwide.
Travel and hotel related brands should effectively act as the curator of experiences for their guests. In the leisure market especially, guests don't come to a hotel to stay in their room, they're looking for things to do. It's the success behind AirBnB's "living like a local?"
Integrate these insider tips into the digital experience through social channels and thread it throughout your marketing strategy. Publish tips about what's happening in the area, driving traffic back to your website to increase engagement.
Here's what Adam Stewart, CEO, Sandals Resorts has to say about social media, “The reason we believe in social media is because we recognized years ago that you’re only as good as your customers say you are. We literally believe it’s far more important that our customers speak on our behalf as to what they’re seeing. Social media has been a game changer for the company in the most positive way. It’s taught us to be better, it’s taught us what the customers want, and it’s become a tool for our management. By 7 o’clock in all of our hotels, our executive team will have read all of the commentary on TripAdvisor from the previous day, so it’s something we manage very, very closely.”
Innovative mobile check-in and as earlier stated, connectivity across platforms and devices are no longer the future but the present. Today, mobile apps are being used as everything from digital concierge to merchandising room upgrades, up-selling food and beverage options, and providing two-way communication to the front desk.
Geo-location can make it easy to sell guests something that is literally in front of them. Guests desire local restaurant and hotel restaurant discounts and shopping. There is also considerable potential for merchandising via iBeachon and RFID technology.
Organic reach vs. paid advertising, finding the right balance
Paid search advertising is now a multibillion dollar per year industry, allowing brands to extend and expand their reach and scale. Marketers will need to find the balance between paid and organic impressions. Because paying for reach is now in the mix, proving return on ad spend will be more important than ever. For example: according to Adobe's Digital Index report for the third quarter of 2014, there was a 50 percent decline in organic impressions on Facebook from September 2013 to September 2014. At the same time, there was a 5 percent increase in paid impressions.
While paid-search advertising strategy bolsters your organic efforts, your SEO strategy is also an important factor in improving the efficiency of your PPC spend. SEO and PPC are more intertwined than every – with a proper SEO strategy in place you could actually save money earmarked for PPC.
It is clear that within the increasingly complex and interconnected world of travel, a more sophisticated approach to digital marketing is required. The buyer is in control and marketers who embrace marketing strategies that connect on a personal level will be favoured. If you have additional "must have" strategies to add, don't be shy, use the comment section below. We'd love to hear from you.
Written by Murray SyeMurray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.