How to leverage hospitality marketing for more bookings?
Author: Team WH
Published On: 07-12-23
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Do you love researching brands and marketing? Then, you must be familiar with Airbnb’s strategy of listing Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse. In October 2019, the leading online rental marketplace listed Barbie’s dreamhouse for a two-night stay.
The listing was by none other than Barbie, describing why it was her favourite place.
For the uninitiated, the campaign was an initiative to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Barbie and a partnership with Mattel.
In recent times, hospitality marketing trends have undergone a paradigm shift and pivot around customer experience, improving engagement, and building trust. According to recent research by GoodFirms, 98% of content marketers consider marketing strategies highly effective for businesses. Moreover, SEO, generative AI, voice search, and social media marketing fuel the marketing wave.
Let’s explore the top hospitality marketing trends and successful marketing campaigns disrupting the sector. Let’s unfold the narrative!
Top Digital Marketing Strategies for Hotels and Resorts
Content marketing is the beat of a successful campaign. With the increase in the players in the industry, it is essential to analyse the critical hospitality marketing trends to gain a competitive streak.
Here’s a detailed look at the top hospitality content marketing strategies to create a high-performing campaign:
With its increasing dominance, direct bookings have evolved as an effective hospitality marketing strategy to attract customers directly to the website. Guests can book reservations through direct bookings without intermediaries, like Online Travel Agencies. The popular mediums for direct booking are hotel websites, social media platforms, emails, and even WhatsApp.
Why promote direct bookings? With direct bookings, hotels can gain more revenue due to decreased customer acquisition costs, eliminating the intermediate hospitality marketing agency. Another advantage is that the hospitality business acquires more ownership over guest data. Increased ownership equates to customised guest services, follow-ups after the stay, and, ultimately, better customer experience.
Metasearch Engines and SEO
Content is the king of digital marketing. Why? Because SEO strategy drives the content on SERP. About 68% of online experiences originate from search engines. Google, Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Trivago are the top metasearch engines in the hospitality business.
How do search engines drive traffic? Unlike OTAs, metasearch engines operate on a non-commission model. The search engines place hotel ads along with relevant content. And the hotels pay for the ads as per cost per click (CPC) instead of a fixed amount. So, the benefit here is that you produce according to your performance and per your demand.
Here’s an action plan to evolve your hospitality marketing business:
- Use different Google Trends tools like Hotel Insights and Destination Insights while creating destination packages
- Adopt a concierge strategy based on E.E.A.T experience
- Update your Google Business Profiles and Local listings
Voice activation is an inevitable trend, considering the rise in voice search devices. More people are using platforms like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for searching healthcare queries. Google announced in 2020 that the percentage of smartphone users using voice searches increased by more than 40%.
Usually, these voice searches are lengthy and conversational. For example, people may search “What are the top holiday destinations in the U.S.?” instead of “Holiday destinations U.S..” Optimising the business pages according to these voice searches. This helps to create a well-positioned page on search engines and increases brand visibility.
The following are the possible use cases of voice technology in the hospitality sector:
- Integration of voice searches with existing software to enhance the booking process
- Optimizing the mobile applications for faster searches
- Using voice searches to offer a personalised experience (search hotels with filters)
There is no doubt that generative AI is revolutionising the current marketing trends. According to Goldman Sachs, Generative AI could accelerate the global GDP by 10% over the next ten years.
Over the years, improving customer experiences has been the centre of healthcare businesses. Moreover, the hospitality industry is highly competitive, and companies are increasingly exploring innovative ways to improve the customer experience. How does Generative AI help to attract newcustomers and retain existing ones?
Here are four applications of AI in the hospitality marketing domain:
- Content Creation: With its immersive features, Generative AI is a powerful tool for complementing content creation. Businesses can create high-quality promotional content, images, or informative content per the buyer’s persona with different AI tools.
- Virtual Assistants: Customer service is a crucial aspect of the hospitality sector. AI-powered chatbots can automate several tasks, such as ordering room service, booking queries and grievances, offering local information, and checking room availability.
- Identifying essential trends: Generative AI can analyse historical data and existing trends to devise an appropriate pricing strategy for business. This gives a competitive edge and targets potential customers.
- Language Translation: Understanding different languages is pivotal for effective customer communication. Other AI tools offer accurate language translation outputs to cater to business needs.
User Generated Content
Trust is the destination of any content marketing campaign. And customer experience fuels the business to reach the goal. User-generated content (UGC) is a significant metric that gauges the user experience.
In a customer-centric realm like hospitality marketing, user-generated content is valuable. Millennials state that user-generated content is 35% more memorable than other media. Why do customers value them more? Simply put, user-generated content is any content, such as text, videos, and posts created by users rather than brands.
The fact that they come from people’s experiences rather than brand CTAs or influencer posts builds trust among the target audience. Moreover, it makes the brand credible and helps lead the purchasing decision.
These are a few ways to centre your marketing around user-generated content:
- Share customer reviews as social proof to attract new customers
- Leverage the user-generated content to render a personalised experience for customers
- Use UGC to create targeted ads for a specific segment of the audience
Research suggests that people retain 20% of what they hear but 80% of what they see. Video is an excellent medium to drive businesses, especially among the millennials and Gen-Zs. Leading brands like Expedia, Airbnb, and Ixigo have increasingly leveraged video marketing.
Short-form video is a crucial trend in 2023. 90% of marketers suggest short-form video content for increasing investment. YouTube shorts, TikTok reels, and Instagram stories have been gaining traction as popular mediums for video marketing.
Video marketing is an effective strategy for the hospitality business. Imagine creating a short video carving a beautiful narrative for a destination package in the Bahamas. Featuring picturesque islands, surreal beaches, and turquoise waters, it captivates the viewer and gives an illusion of visiting the place.
How to create a successful video marketing strategy? Virtual tours, behind-the-scenes glimpses, destination videos, storytelling, and question-and-answer sessions are solid ideas for a superhit campaign!
Here are a few tips to create engaging videos:
- Create informative videos, such as travel tips, famous beaches in India,
- Promote the local culture, cuisines, and festivities through the videos.
- Create authentic content valuing the customer’s POV.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is the new age search engine. Love scrolling through the social media handles of leading brands? Establishing a social media presence is essential for hotels to target the young audience and stay ahead in a competitive market! Millennials are flocking to social media platforms like TikTok travel ideas. 40% of people look to TikTok for travel inspiration.
That said, the hospitality service need not create all the content themselves. They can also share user-generated content, such as customer reviews, posts, and recommendations, to build trust across their social platforms.
Another advantage of social media marketing is that it attracts direct bookings. This helps the service to win over competitors still using print and traditional marketing.
If you are planning to explore the social media marketing, here are a few tips to get started:
- Share short videos, such as Instagram reels or TikTok travel inspiration videos
- Strike an emotional connection by sharing a slice of your life.
- Diversify your videos with music, voiceovers, hashtags
- Collaborate with social media influencers and micro-influencers
- Incorporate the 80/20 rule for posts (80% educational and engaging content and 20% promotional content)
Digital word-of-mouth influencer marketing is transforming the hospitality business. How often have you identified a brand with a celebrity? Partnering with influencers makes the brand more memorable and resonates with the audience. People unconsciously associate the influencer’s personality with the brand.
In hospitality marketing, Influencers reinforce brand awareness, widen the brand reach, and strike a chord with the audience. What’s the rationale behind the popularity of the trend? Peer recommendations have more value than branded content or ads. Moreover, partnerships with well-known faces help to build credibility and trust.
A growing class of travel influencers have used real-life travel experiences to create engaging videos or informative content.
Here are a few tips to imbibe influencer marketing in your content strategy:
- Choose an influencer who aligns with your niche and target demographics.
- Partner with local or micro-influencers to improve customer engagement
- Leverage influencer channels to share promotional deals with their followers
Airbnb’s Hospitality Campaign
In the past decade, there have been stellar hospitality marketing campaigns. But Airbnb’s campaign stood out and is an example to get inspired with.
The online vacation rental business marketplace Airbnb is a leading player in the hospitality marketing realm. From conceptualising their idea in 2007 to growing a community of 4 million hosts, Airbnb has come a long way. It works on a two-sided model, which connects the hosts (people with vacant spaces) to guests (travellers exploring affordable options for stay).
Airbnb adopts an omnichannel content marketing strategy to target hosts and guests. Let’s look at the elements fueling the brand’s marketing strategy:
- User-generated content: The hospitality giant’s “stories” give a platform for hosts and guests to share their experiences, enriching the community.
- Social media platforms: Airbnb partners with travel bloggers to create buzz among followers and features its customers with hashtags on its social media page.
- SEO: With its trove of educational content, Airbnb engages its existing clients and attracts new clients. It also uses a unique linking strategy to rank its extensive range.
- Analytics: Through its comprehensive data-driven strategies, the brand optimises its price recommendations and listings.
Takeaways: Managing customer expectations, building trust, leveraging the power of user-generated data
Content marketing is no longer a luxury; it has become necessary for the hospitality sector. With customers’ changing needs, businesses must evolve to survive in the competition. Over the years, hospitality marketing trends have metamorphosised from OTAs to cost-per-click and data-driven tools.
Today, hospitality digital marketing revolves around empowering user experience and engagement over promotional services. Social media marketing is an inevitable sphere of the hospitality business. Establishing a social media presence is essential to build a trustworthy online reputation.
Involving influencers in your action plan helps businesses understand the beat of the audience and expand the brand’s reach. Create an action plan with the right strategies to upscale your business!