If you are tasked with marketing a hotel to increase room bookings, there’s a lot that goes into it. The strategies that work are constantly changing and you need to be innovative to stay ahead. The article below will go into the step-by-step process I would take if you wanted me to advertise your hotel. The article is geared towards paid advertising but organic and social media hotel marketing strategies are listed as well.
My Task: Build an online hotel marketing strategy geared around paid advertising for a new hotel opening in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I am assuming that the website is completely set-up and ready to take bookings. My key performance indicators are total bookings and cost/booking and my major challenge is finding the optimal level for both
Need Help? Feel free to contact us for paid advertising help for your hotel. We have plenty of experience in the hotel and travel space.
Table of Contents:
- Vital to Getting Started
- Paid Hotel Advertising Strategies
- Social Media Hotel Advertising Strategies
You can click on any of the links above to jump around the article. Without further ado, I will go into the best strategies below.
Vital to Getting Started
Google My Business
Google My Business allows you to list your company and add details when it shows up on Google Maps and for Google Search. You are able to add professional images, hotel details, features, descriptions, address, phone number, star ratings, review scores, actual reviews, and more. You have a lot of control over your business listing and it’s a great way to sell your hotel.
Google Analytics & Webmasters
You need Google Analytics installed on your website before you do anything else. Google Analytics allows you to track campaigns, track traffic, understand your users, and ultimately understand your website. With proper tracking of Google Analytics, you should be able to increase bookings because you will know what actually works.
Bookings as a Goal: You should set-up bookings through your website as a goal. Then, you can track everything you need to without any hassle whatsoever. The more data you can incorporate and track the better your results will be, period.
Google Webmasters: You can track your search engine traffic much easier with Google Webmasters and you can submit an updated Sitemap. It’s also helpful to know areas of organic opportunity and paid advertising opportunities.
You can take an average hotel and make it look above average with a professional photo shoot. Get bright images of the rooms, highlight the most beautiful features of the property, and photograph anything that is a selling point. Below average photos of a nice hotel can make it look below average, so go above and beyond to sell your hotel. Pictures of all the different types of accommodations and video tours are recommended.
One of the best and worst parts of the internet is people leaving reviews. If you consistently exceed guests expectations, you are likely to get 5-star reviews, and vice versa. If you are getting bad reviews, you as the marketer needs to go to the general manager of the hotel and explain the importance of improvements. In addition, you should encourage happy customers to leave reviews for your hotel. If your hotel reviews stink then people will book the place next door or find a Homeaway rental.
Paid Hotel Marketing
Problems to Solve: Where do travelers go first when they start looking for a hotel in downtown Atlanta? How can I reach travelers at key points in the decision making process? How can I push people to put my hotel on their bucket list?
1. Google Hotel Ads
Google hotel ads allow you to showcase your hotel on Google Maps listings and across Google for relevant search queries. When people are looking for hotels in Atlanta, your listing will show at the top and people can book easily. When you are talking about 20+ hotels in Atlanta, it’s highly competitive to get bookings.
You can see a screenshot below of exactly how they look. There are a couple examples of ads and then when people click further they will see more information about your hotel. You will only pay when someone clicks through to your website or books directly.
2. Google AdWords and Bing Ads
When people go to find anything, they usually start with Google and Bing. Google receives the majority of search queries and Bing has a strong market share as well. Obviously travel and hotels are a little different as people use websites like Expedia, TripAdvisor, Orbitz, Booking, and more, but PPC Advertising with Google AdWords and Bing Ads is still vital.
The screenshots below will show you exactly what your ad will look like. If someone is searching for a hotel like mine in downtown Atlanta, I want to show for it. As I start to collect more data I will be interested in expanding keywords and pausing poor performing keywords. The more data you have the easier it is to optimize and decrease your cost/booking.
3. Online Travel Agencies Paid Advertising
Let’s face it, more people than ever start their travel research on websites like Expedia, TripAdvisor, Orbitz, Kayak, Travelocity, Booking, HotWire, and more. Many people will visit over 10 different websites during their research, which shows how difficult it can be to reach potential visitors. Luckily, you are able to pay to promote your hotel to the top positions of these different websites.
One of the popular options is Expedia Travel Ads, which is a Pay Per Click advertising service where you promote your hotel and pay when people click your ad. TripAdvisor offers more robust advertising solutions that you can find here.
4. Google Display, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Retargeting
I have ordered these in the order I would do them (although you could swap Facebook and Google Display). The two you should absolutely do are Google Display and Facebook. Retargeting is so important because you can show your hotel ad to someone who has already shown interest in Atlanta.
I rarely if ever find myself on a random hotel website for Atlanta, Georgia. If I do, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’m in the process of booking a hotel. But if I visit your website and leave, there’s a great chance I’m looking to book a hotel in the greater Atlanta area.
Earlier, I talked about implementing Google Analytics and you can easily control your Remarketing audiences when you link AdWords and Analytics. You also want to add the Facebook pixel and Twitter pixel to your website, which I will go over below.
5. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram Video Retargeting
Producing video and producing professional commercials isn’t exactly easy but running video ads online is easy. Video retargeting to people who have visited your website but haven’t booked can be a great strategy to stay top of mind. The message will resonate since people are looking at your hotel and it might just be what people need to take that next step.
6. Paid Facebook Advertising
If you are using retargeting with Facebook, there are several other options that might appeal to you. Facebook advertising allows you to target people based on their interests, behaviors, demographics, and more, so you can reach your ideal customer. If you find the majority of people booking your hotel are between the ages of 30-60, then just target those ages. If your hotel is luxurious, you can target people who are more likely to book an upscale hotel. There are so many options with Facebook hotel marketing that you need to test them all.
In addition to targeting interests, you can also target similar audiences based on your page likes, email list, and website visitors. Facebook will find people who fall into similar categories and you can expand your reach to include a highly relevant audience.
7. Google Display In-Market Segments
Google Display has a lot of different audiences and websites you can target across their network. You have the ability to reach over 80% of the internet through the Google Display Network.
You can target three different travel categories for Atlanta including people looking for hotels in Atlanta, people looking for flights in Atlanta, and people traveling to Atlanta in general. Google Display also has this for other popular destinations so you can check whether they have yours. All you need to do is target these interest categories and direct traffic to your website. If people are looking for flights, consider promoting a package that includes a direct flight and a hotel room at a discount.
8. Travel Deals through Websites like TravelZoo
With TravelZoo, you can promote a limited time deal for your hotel. For example, you can promote a deal that includes discounted weeknight rates or discounts for stays 3 nights or more. It’s a great way to reach travelers who might not have a destination yet and need a deal before they book something. You can use this option during times of the year when there aren’t as many bookings.
Social Media Hotel Advertising Strategies
We believe in paid social media advertising but we discussed that above. Below, we will go over organic social media hotel marketing strategies you can employ to increase bookings.
1. Daily Posting
You should be posting daily on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. If you go look at Hilton chain hotels they all have their own social pages for each hotel in different locations and they remain active. By building a Facebook and Instagram presence, you can reach people with deals and have others share your hotel. Pinterest can work great when people are searching for things to do, lodging, and activities in your area.
2. Appeal To Your Customers
If your hotel is prime for business travel, posting the amenities that appeal to business travelers will help with bookings. For example, free high speed Wi-Fi, business centers, office areas in the room, conference rooms, and printing services might all appeal to business travelers. On the other hand, family travelers might be looking for rooms with kitchens, pool areas, kids play areas, and on-site restaurants to get food easily.
Appealing to your customers can be a great way to get more bookings. You generally know based on your area and hotel whether or not it is a leisure spot, a business spot, or some mix of both.
3. Work With Influencers
If you have a family hotel, you can invite people with large social media presences to experience your property and document their stay. If you have someone with a blog who can write a blog about their visit that is an added bonus. You can recycle their content and share it on social media. In addition to that, your hotel will be advertised to all of their social media followers.
Showing videos of views from the room, the pool areas, the workout center, the lobby, and more can help people feel like they are at your hotel. You can also incorporate happy guests in the videos and use interviews. Not only can you use videos on your website, you can also post them on social media. As an added bonus, if you can create a fun video that gets shared you can get a bunch of free promotion online.
Travelers are doing more research than ever and including professional images and video is a great way to sell your hotel.
5. Local Travel Guides
If you can create a local travel guide on your website, people will find it when doing research about your area. You can also promote the travel guide on all of your social media channels. On Pinterest, travel guides are extremely popular to go over local restaurants, attractions, and more.
Promoting your hotel online isn’t exactly easy and there’s more competition than ever. You want to keep in mind that you need to reach people when they start their decision making process first and be top of mind throughout. Utilizing data and Analytics will help you find what’s working, where to spend your resources, and where to spend your time to drive bookings.
If you have any questions about online hotel marketing and you need any help, feel free to contact us. We can help manage your marketing campaigns and provide consulting.