When it comes to hotels and the hospitality industry, change comes with the territory. As the definition of luxury and amenities begin to evolve, so does what customers both want and expect from the hotels they visit. The question is, what are people most interested in now? Some key examples include:
- Everywhere internet access
- Extra outlets for electronic devices
- Added lighting
- Instagramable opportunities
- Basic appliances (a small fridge, microwave, or tea/coffeemaker)
Of course, along with these come the standard things that your average hotel-goer has always wanted, like cleanliness and great customer service. People in charge of marketing for hotels have to deal with balancing these different needs, and content marketing is ideal for the task.
For those who need a quick crash course in content marketing, think of it as a marketing approach that uses online content that is valuable and accessible for your target audience to draw in your audience and get conversions. In this case, your audience is potential hotel-goers, and conversions are those all-important reservations. Note that content marketing can take a lot of different forms, from blogs to videos to infographics and eBooks. Of course, a commercial for your hotel wouldn’t be the same as a commercial for a car dealership. As a result, hotels need to take some unique approaches to their content marketing. Here are some key pieces of information to keep in mind.
1. Keep Your Ideal Customer in Mind
If you were doing any sort of other conventional marketing, there’s a pretty good chance that you would be taking that extra effort to know exactly who your ideal customers are and what appeals to them. This would apply to everything from who they are travelling with to the budget they are travelling on to their demographic information. In the same way that you change your advertising to match this "buyer persona", you want to make sure that your content is hitting these notes.
Let’s use a blog as an example, as it’s probably the most common example of content marketing out there. If you’re a hotel in a popular tourist destination that gets a lot of family travellers, you’re going to want to gear your content towards things that appeal to that audience. For example, topics like “Ways to Have Fun in (Your City) on A Budget” will make more sense than something about the city’s nightlife. This even carries over to tone. It may make sense to come off as more of an old friend, or an expert on how to enjoy your city. Both can be right—it’s just a matter of finding the right situation.
2. Know the Difference Between Informing and Selling
In a webinar he did on the subject of content marketing in December, David Beebe, VP of global creative and content marketing for Marriott International, explained how the brand is “publishing magazines, books. We have TV shows, webisodes, short films, documentaries,” Beebe said. “You have to be really everywhere the audience is engaging with them. It’s content that informs. It’s content that entertains. Sometimes both.” The key takeaway here is that you want to create value for your customer through your content rather than selling them to go to your hotel. The idea behind content marketing is that if they see you as a knowledgeable and credible brand, that will give them the motivation to stay at your hotel down the line without a pushy sales approach.
3. Don’t Forget SEO
While talking about the relationship between SEO and website success could fill ten articles, we’re going to relate this to the content creation process. While you want to be thinking about ideas for content that is engaging for your customer base, you also want to find a way to build it around keywords that you are trying to rank for in search engines. This is a bit of a balancing act—shoehorn your keywords too much, and it will come off awkward while using too little will keep you from ranking high.
4. Use Your Visuals
This is one particular area where hospitality needs to pay attention more than most. Visuals and travelling have always gone hand in hand, so use this to your advantage by pairing images with your content marketing. One unique thing that the Loews chain of hotels did is sourced guest Instagram photos through a hashtag and then branded them. This initiative accomplished two things. First of all, it provided an interactive opportunity. Second, it created a whole new pool of images to draw from.
Even if you don’t go this route, it’s still a good idea to take the extra effort to create quality images and videos of your hotel and also the nearby areas. People want to go to a hotel website to see where they will be staying, not a set of stock photos. As an added bonus, it’s possible to further your SEO by putting keywords in the alt tags of all the images you use.
5. Collect and Use Data
Big data has become a part of all major marketing initiatives, and hotel content marketing is no different. For example, something as simple as taking a survey of your guests can give you some ideas not just on how they enjoyed their experience, but how they spent their time here, or what questions they have about the hotel and area. You can use this to mine some potential content topics that can be addressed in a blog post, video, or e-mail newsletter. In addition, it’s important to get data after the fact with content marketing as well. The key reason here is to make sure that your content marketing is actually working. For example, are people not opening your marketing newsletters? It may be time to include some type of offer or change your headlines.
6. Work with Other Content Creators
A lot of the time, people think that they constantly need to pump out content by themselves to see content marketing results, but that’s not always the case. In some cases, working with local influencers can help fold their audience into yours, which is important when it comes to the travel industry.
Content marketing is something that every business needs to get involved with for some level, but the hotel industry has its unique challenges on top of that. Here, branding is at a premium, and your customers have a lot of specific concerns you need to address. In addition, depending on your area, there may be a lot of competition with content marketing initiatives of their own. To make sure that you are able to compete, partner with Blue Beetle. We are experts in digital marketing for the hotel, restaurant, and hospitality industries, and will help your hotel put together a concrete plan that will keep a steady stream of happy guests coming in.