Marketing plays an important role in every business, but especially for hotels. Hotels are unlike other businesses in the sense that they have to use some slightly different strategies in terms of marketing and promotion. It is very much a word of mouth phenomenon, but there are a number of hotel online marketing strategies that may work. Here are some hotel marketing strategies.
The Basics of Hotel Marketing
A hotel will never reach its full potential if it has significant problems with customer service, cleanliness, or any other vital business function. Most hotels do not earn that much money not due to a lack of marketing, but rather a lack of good business practices. A lot of hotels are not clean, they have customer service issues, or the building may be in a state of disrepair. Any hotel that wants to improve their marketing strategy must improve their business in general and make sure that everything is on par. No amount of marketing will prop up a bad hotel, so hotels should devote a certain amount of their budget to provide customer service training, renovations, and repairs.
Local Hotel Marketing
Although many hotel visitors tend to come from outside of the area, a good deal of visitors will also be locals. Local marketing is one of the best ways to attract new customers because they will recommend it to their friends when they come into the area and they will also use the area for local events. Local events can be a great source of income and publicity, but once again the hotel must be in pristine shape in order for it to work. Hotels that have spacious conference rooms can invite speakers, host business conferences, job fairs, seminars, or workshops. Hotels with certain resources can host parties, live music, and entertainment as well. The key to remember is that every event should provide superior customer service and leave all guests with memorable experiences.
Hotel Website Marketing
All businesses must have a website and that includes hotels. The website does not have to be that elaborate, but it should provide pictures of the establishment, the rooms, and the amenities. There should be accurate contact information via phone and email and there should also be directions with a map to show people exactly where they are located. Since a lot of people like to book their dates online, there should be a way for guests to make reservations online too. Having a blog is possible for some hotels, but not really a necessity due to the nature of the business. Search engine optimization or SEO is vital for any hotel because it will help the business become one of the top listings on Google and other websites. Simple SEO strategies using keywords can be done independently, but more complex Internet marketing strategies like pay per click or PPC marketing should be left to an Internet marketing professional.
Hotel Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is just another aspect of Internet marketing. Most businesses strive to have at least some type of presence on Facebook and Twitter because millions of people use those websites. Social media can be an effective marketing tool, but the thing to remember is that it is primarily a tool of engagement rather than promotion. The mistake a lot of businesses make is that they will use social media sites to constantly promote their products and services, but that strategy does not work. Social media sites favour the businesses that use them as a platform to learn more about their customers, get feedback, and provide them with inside information and discounts. Any employee can be trained to make basic social media posts, but a social media consultant can also be helpful in terms of implementing an effective strategy.
Branding is a term that has been thrown around so much that many people have forgotten the original meaning. Branding is really about creating memorable stories and experiences for customers that evoke loyalty and an emotional attachment. It shows in the decor and style of the hotel, the customer service at the front desk, and the stories surrounding the establishment. Creating a strong brand takes time and effort and the approach all depends on what type of brand the hotel would like to be and who their core audience is. The manager of the establishment should determine the ultimate direction that they would like to move in and then create a plan to promote those themes throughout the other marketing channels.
Hotel Online Reviews
Online reviews are essential because that is one of the main ways that people will hear about a hotel. Any time a person tries to make a reservation online using a website like Hotwire, Expedia, or Orbitz, they will be shown reviews from previous visitors whether they are positive or negative. There is no way to actually control what people say about a business online, but the best thing to do is try to prevent negative reviews in the first place by providing superior service and accommodations. The negative reviews cannot be removed, but they can be replaced by the positive reviews. Encourage guests to post their reviews online and take suggestions from their feedback. Any negative feedback or reviews should be taken seriously and the manager should make amends with the customer online just to show other customers that they care and want to provide the best experience.
A good business will usually speak for itself. Hotels should focus on creating the right type of climate and promote the business through online reviews, their website, social media, and local events. Marketing strategies can help bring in new business, but there is still no substitute for actually having excellent customer service or accommodations.