Ask three people for hospitality marketing tips and you’ll get six answers.
If that’s how you feel when discussing promotional tactics for your hotel, you’re not alone.
With all the technological developments, ever-new online channels and frequently changing consumer trends, getting – and holding – your audience’s attention isn’t getting easier.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to cut through the noise and reach your target market.
In this article, we’ll go over four of them. Technology and data are central to these hospitality marketing techniques, so be ready to geek out a bit. We promise it’ll be worth it.
1. Implement Personalization and Data-Driven Strategies
Today’s guests demand more from hotels than ever. That includes a desire for highly personalized service and your ability to remember their preferences. According to a McKinsey report, 71% of people expect this from businesses today and 76% are frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
Modern hotel technology and a data-driven approach can help you fulfill this expectation and offer a personalized experience from planning through check-out.
Collect and Analyze Guest Data to Understand Preferences and Behaviors
Guest management systems can help you automatically record guest details and preferences for future reference. Some important points to note include birthdays, allergies, favorite welcome amenities or small things like their preferred view or their pet’s name.
You can also track past special requests, e.g. for certain pillows or a vegan menu. Remember these points when interacting with guests, so you can anticipate their needs.
The same goes for complaints. Did they find their room too loud? Or were they unhappy that they couldn’t cast from their phone to the TV? Record it all, since you don’t know what may be useful later.
Information like this is also valuable because it tells you how to update your hotel amenities and service offers. And of course, let guests know when you do, so they have a reason to come back.
Create Tailored Offers and Promotions Based on Guest Segmentation
Use guest data to segment travelers by demographic and preferences. This lets you target them with the most relevant offers and increases the likelihood they’ll book. Even if they don’t go for your deal, it can make them feel seen and appreciated, if you suggest add-ons that fit their interests.
Guest management and automated upselling tools can do this for you. They pull information from your PMS to automatically segment your guests and send out suitable offers.
Implement Personalized Email Marketing and Website Recommendations
Segmentation isn’t just for upselling and cross-selling guests pre-arrival or while they’re in-house. Use it to personalize and refine your overall email marketing as well.
Simply use the same approach as above and apply it to your promotional emails. Modern guest communication systems support that and make it easy for you to send highly specific deals to the right subscribers.
Yes, it takes extra time to create niche offers for different guest segments, but it’s worth it! Try it and watch your open, click-through and conversion rates soar.
Leverage Data to Optimize Revenue Management
Another way to leverage data is to use historical and forward-looking internal and market information to inform your pricing strategy.
Future-facing data helps you spot demand shifts and emerging trends early on. That way you can adjust your prices as needed and make the most of every market fluctuation.
However, collecting all this information manually is too time-consuming for most revenue teams. Use a business and market intelligence tool as well as an RMS to do the data collection and collation for you. This saves you valuable time, leaves you more headspace for analysis and helps you succeed even in competitive markets or challenging times.
2. Enhance Local SEO and Online Listings
Making your website easy to find is critical. The more traffic you get, the better your chance of driving direct bookings.
Here’s how to improve your local SEO to ensure people find your hotel right away when they’re googling properties in your area.
Optimize Hotel Website Content for Local Search
Start by including plenty of references to your local area on your website. The most important thing is to make your full address easy to find, e.g. in your website footer. Include instructions for how to reach your hotel plus an interactive map, either in the footer or on your contact page. That sends a strong signal to search engines about your location.
Next, claim your property’s Google listing and complete the profile with a description, website link, opening hours and images. Answer questions people ask publicly via Google to show that your page is active.
Lastly, update local directories and ensure your hotel is listed in all relevant places, e.g. local business white pages and tourism office websites. If you’re a member of associations like AAA, ensure your listing there is complete as well.
Encourage Positive Guest Reviews on Relevant Review Platforms
Reviews are a goldmine for several reasons. First, they show you what your guests love most and where you need to improve further. Second, they can convince potential bookers to choose your hotel over another one. According to TrustYou, people are 3.9 times more likely to book a hotel with high ratings. They’re also willing to pay more for it.
To get more guest feedback, send an email survey to all departing guests automatically. Ask the ones who gave you the highest score to share their opinion publicly on their favorite platform, e.g. Google, TripAdvisor or Yelp.
As new reviews trickle in, respond to them to show that you value and act on guest comments.
Engage with Your Local Community
Participate in and contribute to local events to be an active member of your local community. That could mean anything from joining or sponsoring your city’s annual company run or organizing a beach clean-up. If you’re hosting events, work with local businesses to increase your reach and invite both guests and locals to join.
It doesn’t always have to be a special event though. You can make other activities available to residents as well, e.g. cooking classes, yoga sessions or specialty city tours.
3. Leverage Chatbots and AI Technology
Chatbots have been around for a while but thanks to advances in AI technology, they’re improving rapidly. Today, they’re no longer a gimmicky novelty but a valuable tool for providing amazing guest service.
Implement Chatbots for Instant Customer Service and Enhanced Guest Communication
Chatbots are a must on your website because they’re the best way to immediately respond to your website users’ FAQs. This brings you a double benefit. First, potential bookers get the answers they want right away. Second, your team saves time on replying to the same questions over and over.
Your in-house guests will appreciate this service as well. Make a chatbot available to them via your web app, your in-room tablet or your website. That way they can also get answers and solutions quickly, without having to go to reception.
A chatbot can work the other way as well. It can give you the chance to check in with travelers proactively during their stay. That helps you uncover and solve issues while they’re still in-house.
Streamline the Booking Process
Using chatbots can also help you capture more booking intent. The reason is simple: when people get all the answers they need immediately, they’re more likely to hit ‘book now’.
Results are even better when you implement a chatbot that can process reservations. This makes booking a room feel easy and conversational, like talking to a reservation agent.
But even if your guests aren’t booking via your chat window, reserving should be as short and smooth as possible. Ensure you have a mobile-optimized, user-friendly booking engine with a reliable payment processor for that.
Use AI-Powered Tools for Personalized Recommendations and Upselling
If you want to take things a step further, leverage AI-powered tools that use guest data to make personalized suggestions or upsell offers.
Here’s how this could look in practice. When guests book a family room or ask about child-friendly activities, the AI tool can give information about your family-friendly services. At the same time, it can recommend service add-ons, e.g. airport pick-up in a van or a healthy on-arrival snack.
The best thing is that you can now link all communication channels such as website chat, email, WhatsApp or Messenger. That lets you seamlessly continue the communication and create a consistent guest experience.
Monitor and Improve Chatbot Performance Based on User Feedback
At the end of a guest’s interaction with your chatbot, ask them how they liked it and what could be improved. Use their input to finetune your system. Keep adding information as well, so the bot can answer new questions and offer more comprehensive service.
Don’t forget to analyze user statistics, too. That includes how many bookings are completed via the bot, how many users drop off and which part of the communication sees the most signoffs. Explore why that may be happening, so you can address that issue.
4. Collaborate with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Your main goal should always be to get as many direct bookings as possible. Still, OTAs will remain an important distribution partner for hotels of all sizes. One reason for that is the billboard effect. This phenomenon describes how hotels that list on OTAs see their direct bookings increase.
According to a Cornell study, one reason is that around 75% of travelers who reserve with a major hotel brand saw the property on an OTA before booking directly. The same study found that even listing your property on a single top OTA could boost direct bookings by 9%.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be present on all OTAs and use all their promo opportunities. Be smart when you work with them to get the most out of this collaboration without facing excessive commission payments.
Optimize Hotel Listings and Content on Popular OTAs
As with your website, you should always keep your OTA listings up to date. Did you renovate your rooms or give your public areas a refresh? Upload new photos! Add seasonal pictures as well to make your listing look more relevant for the current time of year. Update descriptions as soon as something changes at your hotel, e.g. you add new amenities or services.
And of course, add all important hotel information as well as details about your surroundings. That includes proximity to airports, highways and train stations, nearby sights and museums, restaurants and other points of interest.
Negotiate Favorable Contracts and Commission Rates
You don’t have a lot of negotiating power with OTAs, but you can always try. Ask your market manager about different commission models and which benefits they come with. Evaluate which option would be best for your property and test it.
If a partner is being unreasonable with their commissions and conditions, it may be time to temporarily remove this channel or drop it completely. For this decision, analyze their typical production and decide if you can fill these rooms another way.
Use OTAs’ Marketing Tools and Promotional Opportunities
Especially the bigger OTAs offer many ways to give your profile a boost. That could be a private sale, member discounts, paying a premium for a higher position in search results, etc.
These extra costs/discounts can be worth it, e.g. during low season. Explore the available options and test the ones that fit your needs and your target audience. After participating in these programs, analyze the data. How many bookings did you generate? How profitable were they? Was it worth it for your hotel? If not, maybe try a different approach next time or stick with the basic listing.
Monitor OTA Performance and Adjust Strategies Accordingly
Even if you’re not using special OTA promo packages, keep an eye on how your various channels perform. Compare production against commission payments and other metrics like cancellation and conversion rates.
Look for ways to optimize the OTAs that aren’t performing as well as you’d like them to. Maybe your profile needs a refresh or it’s time to try other avenues. Explore rate updates, length-of-stay restrictions or extra inclusions such as late check-out or breakfast to influence how many bookings you get.
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer regarding the ideal OTA strategy. But if you keep testing different approaches, you’ll find the best way for your hotel.
The development of new technology like AI and the endless ways to increase visibility online can feel overwhelming. Responding to public questions and reviews, keeping OTA listings up to date and optimizing your SEO takes time and effort.
But focusing on these hospitality marketing techniques is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy. Not only can solid SEO, a strong OTA strategy and a modern approach to guest communication boost your direct bookings, they can also improve and personalize your guest’s experience from the planning period through the post-departure phase.
And that’s what matters most today – making it simple and easy for travelers to have the memorable, customized trip they dreamed of.
If you haven't already, make sure to check out last week's blog on The 4 Hotel Marketing Tactics You Need to Try