Digital marketing played an essential role over the last three decades in the hotel industry. In a time where travel planning is done entirely online, digital marketing assists hotels in gaining their greatest visibility and potential for near-instant conversions. “Digital marketing for hotels has become a crucial component of marketing for any hotels.” Says principal and managing broker Dinesh “Dan” Rama of NewGen Advisory. “Having bright pictures, showcasing the common spaces, amenities is paramount. Every hotelier should be vigilant about their online social marketing.”
Most hotels likely already engages in keyword marketing, content marketing, banner ads, and digital bundling. They may already have a beautiful website for direct booking, and might even have mobile integration. However, it’s time to take hotel digital marketing strategy up another notch.
With Gen Zs starting to enter adulthood, digital natives have become the majority. This means mobile experiences, immersive digital personalization, and social media marketing – just to touch the surface. Let’s take a closer look at what the 2020s have in store for hospitality digital marketing strategy.
Hotel Mobile Apps Become Concierge Portals
Between the years of 2016-2020, mobile took center-stage as mobile searches increased in volume and online bookings were more frequently conducted through mobile browsing. It was enough to have a beautiful direct-booking website that worked well when accessed on a phone or tablet.
However, concierge hotel-branded mobile apps are the new feature that every hotel guest wants. In fact, hotels leading the curve are earning loyalty and preference from travelers who delight in the ability to call for room service, make dinner reservations, schedule a massage, hire a car, or book a tour with a few taps of their phone screen instead of calling down to the front office.
Social Media Takes Center-Stage in Hotel Marketing
Beautiful scenery photos, luxurious-looking spaces, and delectable food pictures will catch the eye and spark curiosity. Through social media, you can share and inspire content that resonates strongly with today’s travelers, especially in the younger generations. There are both positive and negative outcomes from social media, and the best strategy is to take control with a proactive social media marketing strategy.
Travel Plans are Inspired by Social Media Photos
Social media is the communication platform(s) of choice for the younger generations (19-40) and many get their ideas for how to spend their vacation time from the enticing content they see scrolling through their feeds. 76% of people post their vacation photos on social media and 52% reported that friend’s photos inspire travel plans.
More powerful than self-marketing your hotel is what happens when others tag their own luxurious vacations looking glamorous and satisfied in your hotel and on nearby adventures. Direct links to rooms, tours, and partner experiences are a great way to increase bookings through social media marketing. You can also spark conversations and reward your guests for sharing their experiences for a more organic form of appealing social proof.
Social Media Trends with a Positive Effect on the Hotel Industry
One of the best social media trends for the hotel industry has been travel blogging/vlogging. Travel bloggers take photos of themselves and their adventures as they travel around the world, feeding a voyeuristic audience at home who use these blogs to inspire their own future vacations. Influencers who have a great time and give positive reviews along the way can have a powerfully positive impact on the hotels and venues they visit and blog about.
The Importance of Influencers in Hotel Marketing
Influencers are magnet users on social media and YouTube with large fan-base audiences who are powerfully affected by their reviews. Travel reviews and vacation glamour shots are a popular genre among influencers, and a hotel’s relationship with influencers – both intentional and unintentional – can have a profound impact on their audience’s response to your hotel brand.
An influencer can significantly boost your bookings or damage your reputation with a single blog. This is why positive influencer relationships has become an essential part of hotel marketing.
Influencer Marketing in Regard to Brand Reputation Management
Influencers can set the tone for how future guests view your hotel and brand. It is possible for influencers to damage your hotel’s brand reputation, but positive and cordial interactions combined with high guest experience standards will almost always reflect well. If phone cameras are ever pointed at your staff, having impeccable manners, logic, and protocol can boost your brand reputation, whether the influencer themselves is being polite or difficult.
Positive and Negative Impact of Influencer Marketing on Hotels
Influencer marketing has a profound effect on the travel decisions of the younger generations. Influencers provide a combination of celebrity star-power and social proof, sharing experiences that others often want to replicate for themselves. Influencers who look glamorous and happy in your hotel will bring more bookings.
However, influencers who act badly or bad-mouth the hotel can do harm. Influencers multiply the power of social proof and can even amplify the good or bad experiences of others who visit your hotel by shaping their expectations. An influencer’s fans might either favor or boycot your hotel based on their review. A positive influencer experience can result in second-hand referrals (referrals from people who have not visited) but the same is true in the negative direction.
Find the Right Influencer for Your Hotel
Of course, hotels aren’t just subject to travel influencers. You can also choose to pair with an influencer in order to cultivate positive yet honest content about their experience. You can choose a celebrity or e-celeb to reach out to, offer them a discounted experience in return for a feature, and generate social proof through their enjoyable stay.
The key is to find the right influencer, someone who is available, interested, and whose natural style reflects your brand identity. For example, a ski resort should look for a positive and bubbly – or friendly yet extreme – winter sports influencer. A hotel looking to promote their luxury spa hotel may choose a cosmetics and lifestyle influencer with a warm and kind style.
Virtual Tours for Every Hotel Room and Space
3D tours are the real estate wave of the future, using 360-degree cameras placed at various vantage points around a space so that online visitors can feel like they are inside each room, looking around themselves and moving about for different perspectives.
Many people wish they could explore a hotel room with more than just one or two photos when booking, and now they can. By integrating 3D virtual tours of every hotel room, beautiful shared space, and private amenity features, you can enchant and entice your future guests before they step foot through your doors.
In fact, some travelers now look exclusively for hotels like Mariott that offer a 3D preview in which they can inspect the space, style, and room features before they book.
Content Marketing is Still Going Strong
While other trends may be in the spotlight, content marketing is still a powerful way to draw attention. Four Seasons, for example, garnered a great deal of interest with their luxury travel blog, and Shangri La has taken off with user-generated content. It’s been found that travel content drives the greatest engagement, especially on platforms like Instagram.
SEO points and makes vistors interested to view your hotel website. Hotels have a great deal to write about that generates organic SEO keywords for their amenities, room features, and the many adventures that can be experienced nearby. Create an appealing blend of content about hotel features and local opportunities for a great dual-focus content marketing strategy that will build up your experience-seeking guests and also align your content with great location-based keywords.
Master Your Hotel's Digital Marketing Strategy
Hotel marketing has become a complex landscape of online channels and social media presence. How can you build your hotel’s reputation, visibility, and social media engagement for guests of a new digital native generation? How can you make use of social media influencers to boost your hotel bookings? If you’re not sure where to start or how to improve on your current results, NewGen Advisory is here to help. Contact us today to explore developing a sophisticated brand-aligned digital marketing strategy for your hotel in the 2020s.