If you are from the hospitality industry, the chances are that you have already felt the impact of digital channels on your business – ranging from online bookings to social media reviews that can make or break your reputation. The good news is that with the right digital strategy for your hotel or travel business, the positive impact can be driven in an affordable way, without resorting to expensive traditional advertising channels like newspapers, magazines, radio or flyers.
A sample of our experience in Hospitality
- Boutique hotel – a converted residence with 50 rooms and a 110-year history. Winner of several awards for design and renovation
- Chain of business hotels – a multi city business hotel chain with a heritage of over 60 years and servicing hundreds of rooms catering to business and tourist travelers
- Travel website – a site that offers travel package options that are not found on mainstream brands. Visit new places in popular destinations that are not covered in regular packages.
Reach tourists outside your local area
Traditional means of advertising are simply too costly or complicated if you are trying to reach tourists who maybe visiting the area where your hotel or resort is located. You can’t really run newspaper ads all the time in multiple cities can you? Digital marketing channels like social media and display advertisements can help reach a wide geographical area across countries, helping you to drive tourist traffic to your brand.
Access business travelers based on their itinerary
A business traveler maybe looking for accommodation based on their current need. It could be to visit an educational or business establishment or to attend a meeting or conference. They may plan for the trip at short notice or months in advance. How will your business be able to reach the traveler at the right time with the right message? Digital marketing channels allow you to target potential customers based on their searches, their location, job profile, interests and potential destinations.
Power your business through digital features
Digital features can help delight your customers by offering them ways to engage with your brand. Whether it is to book a trip and pay immediately, or to customize their requirements for travel or accommodation, your customers will convert better with attractive engagement features.
Participate in online conversations
There are hundreds of thousands of conversations happening on the internet around travel, food and experiences. Your brand has to participate in this to reap the benefits of greater visibility. These third party forums or directories are sometimes the first port of call for travelers and experience seekers. Building a credible and positive narrative of your hospitality brand is important to generate leads for your hotel, resort or travel brand.
Drive positive reviews
A positive review can have the effect of a large advertisement spend. But capturing the review and distributing it in the right way is important. Digital tools can be used to capture and disseminate the opinion of those who have had a great experience dining, staying or experiencing time at your hotel or resort. Getting them to share their review with friends and family ensures more business.
Reach the right audience at the right time
The hospitality industry thrives on the decisions made by travelers across the world. These decisions maybe influenced by weather, events, seasons, demographic profile, affordability quotient, nationality and other factors. It is important to use digital channels to craft messages that appeal to potential customers based on the influencing factors. It is also possible to target people based on their interest – thrill seekers, history buffs, leisure travelers and other special interest groups. Digital marketing channels offer targeting options through social media and search that will allow your brand to be the right solution to the right audience.
Build a relevant and engaged database for future marketing
Whether it is social media fans, or an emailing list, the right database can help create a pool of contacts to drive conversions. Acquiring the database can be done through engaging the audience through contests, competitions and other campaigns where people can engage with the brand, while not necessarily buying from your brand right away. The right relationships today will result in conversions in the long run, at an affordable cost.
Drive content from activities and events
Great content is already available – you just have to be able to capture it. From a birthday party in your restaurant, to a celebrity visitor to your hotel, or the blog of a traveler who booked a trip through your brand, there are hundreds of opportunities to create great content and PR. It is important to be able to capture content in the form of testimonials, photographs, videos, and participant profiles so that they can be used for driving credibility and visibility on the web.
Manage discounts and partnerships with online aggregators
Offers and discounts have become a staple fare in the Hospitality industry. This is driven by seasonal demand, competition and pressure from online aggregators like Makemytrip, Yatra, Ibibo and similar companies.
The aggregators spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, and try to recoup that by driving the rates lower and pocketing the difference. It has reached a level where a customer feels that they would get a better deal with an aggregator than to directly deal with the hotel.
The very reason that the aggregator websites are able to send enquiries or bookings, is due to the fact that they do digital marketing online very well. It is time for hotels to protect their business and margins by taking control of their own brand’s digital marketing. Tie ups with aggregators can be one of the marketing channels but the hotel cannot put itself at the mercy of a third party company that looks to sell the enquiries to the highest bidder.
Track online customer journey to match their needs
It is important to track the customer needs so that the marketing message can be tailored to the right audience. For instance if the customers are likely to read Tripadvisor to start with, or the kind of sites that they frequent while making a decision to travel.
Some travelers maybe looking for a nearby airport and an airport pickup, while some others maybe looking for a hotel close to the railway station or their place of visit (which could range from anything like a temple to a place of work or study). The customers maybe coming as part of a tour package, which means a different set of logistics.
On the other hand some customers may have specific requirements like having (or not having) a bar. In some hotels the restaurant maybe the main attraction to the local population, who maybe looking for a place to have good food and drinks, but not necessarily to stay over.
By publicizing major events at the hotel, the hotel can avoid disappointing visitors who find that there is no space for them as there is an event going on. Elderly people on pilgrimage maybe looking for easily accessible rooms, while foreign tourists may want assurances of cleanliness, promptness and help in the form a translator or guide.
For hotels with conference halls and wedding centers, they have to reach a totally different audience to get bookings. By using digital channels, the right content can be shown to the right people, so that they feel more convinced to choose your hotel brand, as it checks the right boxes for their needs. Digital marketing is the only way to have a fine grained multi messaging campaign to a diverse set of customers with different needs.
Match the real world experience with a virtual experience
The visitor to your website would love to experience a glimpse of what your hotel would have to offer, before making the decision to visit. With modern technology this is possible through virtual walkthroughs, interactive experiences, and better visual and graphical design. Even the language can make something ordinary seem exclusive or the regular look unique. Internationalization ensures that foreign or local customers can get information in their own mother tongue.
An immersive mobile experience is useful to attract travelers who are looking for options while on the move. A fast loading time is essential for reducing drop offs because people could not access your website while using a slow web connection while on the go.
All this has a role to play in making the conversion from a website visitor, to a booking. Website design, development and upgrades are a vital piece of your digital brand. Most hotel websites have not been updated in years, when ideally it should be updated every week.
A dead website gives the impression of a dead hotel, which maybe far from the truth.