Tips & Guides — 07 Jun 2022
How to Write Marketing Plans for Hotels
Over recent years, ecommerce marketing has become essential for gaining new customers in all industries, including the hospitality industry. With over 2 billion global digital buyers in 2021 and even more in 2022, online marketing is needed to attract customers to ecommerce sites and encourage conversions.
However, online marketing for hotels isn’t the same as marketing a product or service, presenting unique challenges and marketing channels to hoteliers.
Hotel marketing requires imagination, as marketers pitch not only high-quality hotel rooms and facilities but also the guest experience. Creating a strategy and developing an ecommerce marketing plan can help to do this effectively.
These plans and digital marketing strategies ensure your hotel reaches potential customers, creating a good first impression and signposting them onto your hotel website or landing page to drive more sales and business profitability.
There are a whole bunch of ecommerce marketing plan templates and examples online. They aim to map out engagement with potential customers throughout the marketing funnel for small businesses.
This includes top-of-the-funnel processes – to acquire and raise awareness – along with building loyalty and hotel brand advocates at the bottom of the funnel. Different aspects of ecommerce marketing fulfill their purposes throughout the funnel and add to the customer journey.
Largely, this is influenced by your customers and target audiences. Using customer personas to inform small business plans highlights the best marketing campaigns, which channels customers most engage with, alongside using stock tracking software to measure metrics and real-time statistics of what sells best. With this in mind, envisioning how ecommerce elements work together becomes clearer, creating marketing plans on how to increase sales.
Nonetheless, creating your own ecommerce marketing plan isn’t tricky. By considering the online channels your business interacts with customers on as well as other platforms potential guests exist on, you can identify where and how to optimize engagement.
The plan can be used by hoteliers and hotel management to set a marketing budget, clarify marketing goals and key checkpoints in your hotel’s campaigns, and unify your vision while monitoring profitability.
With all the other hotel management admin and processes going on for hoteliers, it can be easy to skip online marketing and ecommerce trends. After all, as long as people know your hotel exist, surely that’s enough?
Yet, creating an ecommerce marketing plan can make it easier for customers to book a stay and share their guest experience with others. This can attract the right customer base for your hotel and improve your guest experiences and is pretty easy to set up.
Similarly, hoteliers using ecommerce marketing plans are better able to manage public opinions and their reputation. Knowing the social media channels or online review sites that your business is mentioned on and using marketing tools can help track and respond to mentions where necessary, along with promoting a positive image of your hotel. This gives potential guests a holistic view of your hotel, helping them to make informed decisions about their stay.
For those hoteliers wanting to compete in the hotel industry, showing they have high-quality rooms and guest experiences, marketing strategies for ecommerce can make all the difference. If it’s impossible to find information about your hotel, potential guests won’t bother.
An ecommerce marketing plan identifies what the best marketing channels are for your hotel brand and works to attract new guests through incentives and content that engages them.
For your ecommerce marketing plan to be beneficial to your hotel, there are important marketing channels and business elements that hoteliers need to consider.
These not only help acquire new customers but also facilitate repeat customers and build hotel brand loyalty. Although they have differing individual marketing strategies, all the aspects work together to achieve your hotel marketing goals and get a better return on investment whilst keeping to your marketing budget.
While you don’t have to include every marketing strategy in your marketing plan, having a range can engage with customers in various ways across different platforms. Whereas other industries have to use their budget for inventory control or other business management software, hotel brands have more resources to try different strategies and marketing tools while still getting a return on investment. This includes using partner marketing for areas of digital marketing.
Over a third (37%) of small businesses don’t have a website. Whether due to listing services and products on other ecommerce sites, using social media channels as their online platform, or “other”, not having a hotel website impacts the guest experience and makes finding information about your hotel difficult.
It also relies on other online platforms or booking engines for high-quality user experiences and managing your customer information securely.
Creating a hotel website allows you to market your hotel exactly as you want, developing a sense of hotel brand image and voice to give your hotel an identity. Having full ownership of your hotel website in this way allows you to shape the customer experience, making it easy for customers to navigate and make online bookings, knowing their data is stored safely according to privacy regulations.
It also allows you to draw attention to the features and facilities you most value beyond your typical room listings. This can attract day visitors or event bookings in the same place, whilst easily directing customers to where they can make bookings and enquiries.
Once you’ve accounted for the domain name registration cost, hotel websites don’t create additional expenses that dig into your marketing budget for added pages to show off your hotel.
Used to engage with customers at every stage of the marketing funnel, content marketing builds trust and customer relationships. Even so, for 79% of companies, the top goal of content marketing is to build brand awareness.
This can be through blog posts, hotel room descriptions, or interviews with hotel management and guests. Content can be used across online channels, introducing people to your hotels and directing potential customers to your hotel booking forms.
Your content marketing should also include images and videos. When marketing a hotel, this is essential as customers want to know exactly what they’re booking and get an impression of the hotel.
Don’t restrict this to images of the hotel rooms, but also include other facilities and amenities including restaurants, swimming pools, and bathrooms. Ensure images and videos are high quality, making viewing easy for customers and presenting your hotel at a high standard.
Despite taking direct bookings and marketing on your hotel website, many customers find hotels through meta-search marketing and online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia. These collate and compare relevant hotels for customer travels.
For your hotel to compete with these booking engines, you have to list your hotel rooms with OTAs or use real-time meta-search statistical analysis in your online marketing. This advertises to those already looking for hotel rooms.
Meta-search marketing uses customer information to determine key factors regarding their trips, including the dates, locations, and prices being considered. An OTA or booking engine uses this information to suggest appropriate listed hotels.
However, with other marketing tools to enable meta-search marketing for your hotel, your can advertise your hotel rooms to those using relevant search terms and showing interest in making a direct booking, increasing hotel sales.
Online reviews of a business can make or break sales, particularly within an ecommerce context. 77% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read reviews when browsing local businesses. This means the majority of your customers will be reading up on what others say online about you before visiting or even booking.
Your marketing plan needs to anticipate this, regularly monitoring activity on review websites and what sort of ratings you are receiving.
There are numerous online review sites where comments about your business are left. From well-known online review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor to comments on social media channels, all can inform potential guests.
Therefore, you need to respond respectfully to any negative reviews. Equally, not having any online reviews or very few can also be a red flag, particularly on popular review pages, so seek out good reviews through surveys and follow-up emails.
When ensuring your ecommerce website is seen and your hotel stay options can be found, having marketing tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and tracking site traffic can make the difference.
Key terms, links to your landing pages, and using local search geo-targeting can make the algorithm favor your hotel website, making it appear higher up search results. This demands less effort from potential customers when searching to find your hotel.
Similarly, tracking your hotel website traffic can provide valuable insight. This shows where your online marketing is effective or where improvements are needed.
If social media channels generate the most traffic, your marketing plan can assign more of your marketing budget to it. Likewise, some tracking tools list the search terms that led users to your hotel website. By drawing on these and integrating them into your SEO, you can boost the visitors to your pages.
Equally, if blog posts don’t create traffic, you can find new strategies to engage readers. This might involve sending them more directly to email subscribers, editing content to have more engaging titles, or promoting them more widely across your business platforms.
Sharing this data with affiliates who generate traffic for you with incentives can also be useful, enabling them to best promote your hotel rooms and services according to your findings.
People from all walks of life use social media channels, many of them engaging with brands and businesses through it too. For 91% of consumers, following a brand leads them to visit the brand’s website or app. For your hotel, creating a social media profile and keeping it updated can generate leads, build customer relationships, provide support, and encourage social media advocacy from guests. It’s currently an essential channel for online marketing.
However, social media marketing doesn’t have to include every platform. Some social media channels appeal to your target audience more than others. If seeking guests on business trips, LinkedIn might be a more suitable platform to prioritize. On the other hand, potential guests to holiday destinations may favor a Facebook page. Whatever platform you choose, add to it regularly, as this influences the algorithms and helps your business appear on feeds more often.
Although there’s a lot to cover in your ecommerce marketing plan, your business doesn’t have to manage it alone. Other marketing services are available and create mutual benefits for your hotel brand and the marketers.
For example, ecommerce partnership marketing works with businesses that promote your hotel rooms on other platforms. These can involve incentives, using referrals to transfer potential guests to your hotel website to make direct bookings.
Partner marketing can be used together with other digital marketing strategies, including social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. These can invite other businesses or influencers to work with your hotel brand, promoting it whilst also gauging the interest of potential guests from amongst their own audiences or on partnership marketing platforms. Marketing in this way raises brand awareness and increases traffic to your hotel website.
Your ecommerce marketing plan should consider the elements of your online reputation that you have no control of. As mentioned before this includes online reviews, but another important area is mentions of your hotel online.
Using tools to track mentions gives you an idea of how your business is being perceived by potential guests in different online spaces. This can be used to prompt improvements to your guest experience or emphasize what you’re doing well.
Tracking mentions using marketing tools show the success of your online marketing at creating loyal customers who advocate for your hotel brand. When using marketing strategies such as referral programs, it’s helpful to monitor their effectiveness with loyal customers, whether they are used, and how many referrals they generate. Likewise, with other incentives, influencer marketing campaigns, or partner marketing, tracking mentions show their effect.
With ecommerce, email marketing can be an effective method of maintaining communication with previous customers as well as onboarding new guests. Emails are great for sending regular updates, promotions, sharing content, or marketing material.
These keep your hotel brand at the front of customers’ minds, so whenever they need a hotel, they think of you.
Having multiple email lists enables hoteliers to segment customers according to their stage in the marketing funnel, what they use hotels for, or engagement levels.
This customer segmentation means that your email marketing is more personalized to the specific situation of recipients, making the content more relevant and likely to prompt a response. Other email metrics can be used elsewhere too, alongside customer segmentation.
Customers don’t always make their booking on the first visit to your hotel website. Re-marketing recognizes this and targets your marketing specifically at those who previously visited without making a direct booking.
Your ecommerce marketing plan should include how you use real-time marketing analytics to identify key customers for remarketing techniques as well as where those customers would be most likely to see your advertising, prompting them to reconsider.
Planning your remarketing content is also important, re-engaging customers and increasing their awareness of your business, making them more likely to book.
Discounts or offers can help you to stand out from others in the hospitality industry, drawing potential customers in with a deal. Similarly, affiliate marketing combines incentives with recommendations from trusted sources. This brings customers back to your hotel website to book, increasing hotel sales.
With many elements in ecommerce marketing, having a unified plan is essential to create a customer journey and compete in the hotel industry.
Even if your business favors particular ecommerce marketing strategies, it’s worth trying others to see if they could add to your online marketing technique, or, understand why you don’t use them. There are no rules on which channels or platforms to use, so experimenting shows you which creates the best return on investment.
Likewise, remember the potential guests you want to attract and notice what they engage with. Marketing to them doesn’t end once they’ve stayed at your hotel, as afterwards there are new opportunities to build trust and encourage repeat visits.
Retaining guests is just as important as acquiring new customers, as this starts to build hotel brand loyalty, making them into advocates for your hotels who recommend your hotel brand to others, increasing profitability.
Start your ecommerce marketing plan, using your hotel business goals to inform it. Make sure each aspect contributes to reaching those goals whilst representing your hotel, the hotel management and staff, and the values you hold.
This will help create an authentic voice online for your hotel and unify your online marketing to create cohesive marketing campaigns. With a clear plan, hoteliers can better target potential customers and increase their hotel bookings.
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