We love the hotel digital landscape, not just because we’re hotel tech nerds (although that is true), but because there’s always some new technology developing, some new trend emerging, some new campaign that gets us excited. It never stops evolving!
This makes sense because, for most hotels, digital marketing is the leading driver of revenue. To stand out in the noise and compete for bookings, hotel marketing must innovate and stay ahead of the curve. In 2021, we are inspired by several hotel digital marketing trends that incorporate social media, website content, retargeting ads, loyalty programs, and local partnerships.
Using social media to promote your hotel isn’t innovative—it’s essential! However, we have seen some hotels level up their social media game in innovative ways. Stunning images, leveraging user-generated photos and reviews, and incorporating video should already be comprehensive components of your social media strategy.
Right now, the biggest growth hack is Instagram Reels. In response to the popularity of TikTok, Instagram has developed short-video format, scrollable content that is highly addictive. While Reels are relatively new, Instagram has made this feature prominent—and it’s a fun way to engage with your guests and introduce yourself to new audiences. Videos created within Reels can also be repurposed for videos within your grid to reach even more people. Later has some very creative examples to inspire your hotel Reels, from listicles to behind-the-scenes content.
A very simple example that we love is the Four Seasons. Drone footage set to laid-back beats set the scene for some serious travel lust.
Other ways to make your hotel more discoverable on Instagram include using location tags, tagging partners in images, using Stories to highlight promotions and new posts, and hopping on trending hashtags. Go one step further and pull out all the stops on social media by leveraging partnerships, cross-promotions, and influencer marketing.
If you’re upping your digital game, make sure your website is ready. You could have the most amazing digital ads that bring potential guests in droves to your site. But if your site falls flat, your visitors will have reservations about staying instead of making reservations.
Your hotel website should be as welcoming as your actual lobby and reflect online what your guest will experience in person. A clean design puts strong visuals as the focus of the website, leaving an emotional impression on the visitor beyond a list of amenities.
If a picture says a thousand words, a virtual tour is a novel your web visitors can devour in the blink of an eye. In addition to having an image-heavy website that tells you everything without reading a word, the Royal Park Hotel in Budapest has an excellent virtual tour with 360-degree images so you can navigate the lobby, guest rooms, hotel lounge, and more. Through a direct POV they control, web visitors can visualize themselves right there in the hotel, which is the first step in inspiring a booking.
You may have heard that content is king, but have you heard that video is queen? Instead of static imagery, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo uses video for their homepage hero image. We challenge you to visit their website and look away from the mesmerizing display. Finish reading this blog post first though, because once you visit their site, you’ll be booking your Italian vacation!
Pro-tip: Conduct a website audit to keep your hotel website current, ensuring it is mobile-friendly and is leveraging the latest hotel SEO strategies. If it’s been a few years, it may be time for a website re-design.
Digital Retargeting Ads
If you’re reading this blog post, you don’t need us to tell you that the world is digital. When it comes to the competitive hospitality industry, you are likely already using Google and Facebook Ads, for example. But instead of making one-off ads, make them a part of a larger strategy that leads customers down the sales funnel. Think of each ad or item of content as a piece in the purchasing puzzle. One way to ensure you are reaching your customers near the bottom of your funnel is with retargeting ads.
All your digital initiatives should follow this sales funnel: think about what is at the top of your funnel and carries your customers through to conversion, encompassing your social media, blog posts, website content, and digital ads. One-off ads that bring customers to your website at the top of the sales funnel rapidly die off with a hotel booking abandonment rate of 77%! This is where the innovation of remarketing (retargeting) ads comes in.
By using cookies, you can show ads based on what content a person has already engaged with, whether that’s a landing page, email, video, or ad. In this way, you can keep serving up additional content relative to wherever they are in their decision-making.
The real innovation to this is software that helps you automate this process, like TravelClick, which promises to “turn lookers into bookers” and increase direct bookings. Hit up interested web visitors with interactive message displays or call them back to your site after they’ve left with personalized ads and emails that utilize a unique Room Hold function so you can recapture abandoned bookings.
Speaking of the customer journey, it continues after their first booking! As it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to get a repeat booking, it’s worth the extra legwork to keep your guests coming back. Hotel loyalty programs have been around for a while, usually based on a tiered, point-based system, however, today’s guests demand a more innovative approach that offers immediate gratification to clinch the first booking, offers perks during a stay, and keeps guests coming back for more.
We love Penta Hotels’ friendly approach and all the perks that come with a membership that feels super-inclusive while being exclusive.
Automate and simplify a loyalty program by integrating it with your PMS and eliminate the need to duplicate data for a seamless and efficient implementation.
Build Local Partnerships
Local partnerships are where the digital world and the real world intersect. When you market your hotel, you’re not only marketing your amenities but the experience of staying at your property. Part of this experience is your surroundings and your specific location. Build alliances with nearby restaurants, shops, and attractions that can make your hotel all the more attractive to guests by building up an experience they can’t live without. Digitally, cross-promote partnerships through social media contests, create round-up blog posts of location attractions and ask your partners to share on their platforms, and share each other’s social media posts. Incorporate your loyalty program and arrange discounts at participating partners for your most valued guests. It’s a win, win, win!
One brand collaboration that has us excited is between the Kimpton Hotel Vintage and PacWesty. Together, they’ve created a van to glam vacation package so guests can enjoy the great Pacific West outdoors in a Volkswagon Vanowagon, then take in the luxury of a downtown Seattle hotel. By doing so, both companies have expanded and attracted new customers.
What do all these trends have in common? They’re all designed to keep customers engaged by immersing them in an experience. And isn’t that what travel is all about? Make it easy for your guests to imagine themselves at your hotel, then make it even easier for them to book. Visual marketing followed with a simple booking procedure, followed by exclusive perks is surely an inspiring journey any guest would be happy to take.