For hospitality brands, marketing requires a special touch. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality has struggled more than almost any other industry, and the road to recovery looks long and uncertain.
Even in the best of times, marketing can be a challenge for hotels and other hospitality businesses. The good news is that there are many different steps these companies can take to maximise their marketing potential and drive continued growth.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can do that effectively and consistently. First, let’s quickly look at why marketing is so essential for hospitality businesses.
Why good marketing is so important for hospitality
There are a few key reasons why hospitality brands have such a pressing need for effective marketing. Here are some of the biggest:
- It’s a tough time for hospitality. Although the COVID-19 pandemic thankfully looks to be on the road to recovery, times are still tough for businesses in the hospitality industry. International travel has all but ground to a halt over the last year, and hotels have found themselves serving a fraction of their usual customer base. Every single customer counts, and there aren’t many right now.
- It’s a highly competitive space. Hospitality has always been a brutally competitive industry, with lots of hotels all vying for customers. This is more true in some locations than others, but filling up your hotel is almost never easy.
- There are lots of potential channels. A good marketing strategy is crucial for hospitality brands because there are so many possible channels to take advantage of. Social media, OTA platforms, TV advertising, and word of mouth are just some of the more common ones. If you miss out on potential avenues with a poor marketing strategy, you could be waving goodbye to vast numbers of potential customers (and revenue).
- Third parties take a big piece of the pie. OTA (Online Travel Agent) platforms like TripAdvisor are one of the main ways today’s customers find their hotels. Unfortunately, these platforms often take commission, and those fees can really add up. A good marketing strategy helps you take advantage of these platforms, instead of the other way around.
How to do hospitality marketing the right way
Personalisation is a vital part of effective marketing in every industry, and hospitality is an excellent example. A recent report found that almost 60% of travellers think brands should offer a personalised experience based on their preferences or past behaviours.
To effectively personalise your marketing, it’s essential to understand your customers. Spend time conducting extensive research and get to know the demographics of your customers, their pain points, desires, and needs. Construct detailed buyer personas and collect as much data as possible.
If you can signal to a potential customer that you understand what they want before they even tell you, you’ve given your brand a significant advantage.
Use third-party platforms
We already talked about OTA platforms and how they can create a headache for hospitality brands with their high commission fees. However, OTAs also represent a great opportunity for hospitality.
Today, 51% of customers use OTAs instead of booking directly with the accommodation provider. OTAs offer many benefits, such as:
- They attract enormous amounts of traffic, numbers that you’d almost certainly never achieve with your own company channels
- They allow you to access customers who might never otherwise find you
- They have gigantic marketing budgets and can employ tactics you could never afford as a single business
- They often have impressive analytics features allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of your customer base and overall market
Working with OTAs can be remarkably simple, and with a bit of work, you can optimise your presence on these platforms to rise above the competition and start reaping the many rewards this marketing format can offer.
Chatbots are no longer just quirky gimmicks attached to web pages. Today’s sales and marketing chatbots are smart and multi-functional, capable of building relationships with customers, solving basic problems, qualifying leads, and directing interested potential buyers to human sales agents.
What’s more, chatbots are available 24/7, can interact with unlimited numbers of customers at once, can be programmed to speak multiple languages, and are incredibly cost-effective. Hospitality brands that aren’t making use of chatbots are seriously missing out.
Be more flexible and offer deals
Hotels need to offer more choice to their customers, and in the post-COVID world, this is especially important.
Today’s travellers are warier than ever about cancellations and sudden changes and are likely to lean towards brands that can offer them reassurance and security. Try to assuage their worries by allowing more flexibility, allowing refunds, and making it clear that you care about them and understand their concerns.
Also, deals should be a central part of your marketing. This doesn’t even need to involve actual discounts — you can offer bundles instead, like a hotel room with complimentary spa access.
Take care of your mobile customers
Smartphones today play an integral role in the way we book trips and accommodation. In fact, research shows that a massive 48% of travellers will now plan and book an entire trip from their phone.
That means it’s vital to cater to these customers by making sure your site and all your marketing channels are mobile-optimised. Make it as easy as possible for your mobile customers to use your services, book rooms, contact you, and spend their money.
Some tips include developing a user-friendly mobile app, working hard to ensure your website is mobile responsive, and integrating with other mobile services.
Hospitality marketing has always been challenging, but the brands that survive and prosper in this industry are the ones who understand marketing, do it well, and adapt to changing circumstances by taking advantage of all the potential channels and tools at their disposal.
At Blue Beetle, we can help you do that by taking care of your digital marketing, bringing in more relevant leads and traffic, and driving up your revenue. To find out more, get in touch.