Just as in any industry, having an effective marketing strategy that manages to connect with and motivate the target audience is critical to finding and sustaining success in the hospitality industry. But while marketers for most other lines of business seek to sell a more tangible product or service, hospitality marketing and travel advertising are often more focused on selling consumers an experience — and as such, can often require a different approach than the ones seen in most other segments.
If your hospitality-industry business is looking to boost the effectiveness of its marketing efforts, consider these eight hospitality-marketing tactics geared specifically toward generating interest and loyalty among consumers seeking hotels, restaurants, travel destinations and more:
1. Take them on a virtual tour
While photos are a great way to exhibit a hotel’s accommodations and amenities, a 360-degree virtual tour gives potential guests a chance to (at least virtually) put themselves in the property and “walk around” it to get a better feel for its overall atmosphere and ambiance. Further, according to real estate publication Property Week, property listings that include virtual tours get 10 times the clicks that listings without them do — exhibiting the interest-grabbing power that these types of online tours can have.
2. Spotlight your unique features
Of course, letting consumers know what sets your business apart from the competition — your unique value propositions (UVPs) — is Marketing 101. In many cases, an entire segment of consumers are seeking unique offerings such as pet-friendliness, for example. Because of that, prominently sharing such attributes on your brand’s website, in its marketing materials and on its social media pages is a powerful way to move your business into the list of top candidates for these travelers’ business.
3. Get to know your guests better
For any business, better understanding your customers and knowing how to meet their needs while eliminating their pain points is a key to long-term survival and success. And this is especially true in the hospitality industry, where — due to the short-term nature of the offering — the opportunity to earn repeat business and consumer loyalty is stronger than in many other segments. Be sure to leverage the power of analytics, customer surveys, CRM software and other forms of data collection and analysis to gain as much knowledge about your customers and their preferences as possible — and use it to keep them coming back and to attract more customers like them.
4. Tap into text messaging
Hotel guests want a way to get what they need as quickly as possible, whether it’s more towels, housekeeping services, or information about the swimming pool’s or on-site restaurant’s operating hours. And with a text messaging system in place, your property can field all of these requests and inquiries more quickly and easily, all in a format the guests are highly familiar with and accustomed to using. In addition, once a guest signs on to receive text communications from your property, a text message marketing system will allow you to reach him or her directly at any time with welcome messages, reservation confirmations, and even marketing-focused messages like special offers and review requests.
5. Ramp up the reviews
In today’s digitally-driven marketplace, a hotel or restaurant’s online reputation has grown increasingly important. In fact, according to research, 94% of U.S. diners consider online restaurant reviews when choosing a restaurant, and more than 80% of travelers regularly or always read online reviews before choosing to book a hotel. For this reason, it’s crucial for restaurant and hotel brands to ensure that their businesses are listed on the most popular review sites for their category — and essential that any such business’s marketing strategy includes a focus on encouraging satisfied customers to leave online reviews.
6. Launch a loyalty program
Customers who choose your hotel or restaurant regularly provide a great source of recurring revenue — and they’re the most likely of your patrons to become brand advocates, spreading the good word to others about your brand. A loyalty program can encourage and reward this behavior by offering deals, discounts and perks to customers who join the program and visit regularly, and it can help move regulars down the path toward brand advocacy and word-of-mouth recommendations — both of which are especially motivating forms of marketing.
7. Incentivize direct bookings
Direct bookings deliver more revenues for a hotel, so finding ways to encourage customers to book directly through your website or reservation line as opposed to through a third party just makes sense. Whether it’s via lower pricing, special discounts, added perks during the stay or something else, find ways to nudge your guests toward direct bookings whenever possible.
8. Up your off-season offers
With rooms often sitting unoccupied during slow stretches of the off-season, the anticipated vacancies present a golden opportunity for hotels to offer special rates and discounts that attract added bookings and have the potential to expose new customers to the brand. Dig into the data to determine when your property is likely to have space to fill, and dial down the rates to lure in the guests.
Here at The Brandon Agency, our team of seasoned marketing professionals has years of experience boosting bookings and revenues for hotels, restaurants, travel destinations and more. And our sister agency TravelBoom specializes specifically in travel marketing and helping hospitality-industry clients grow using better data, customized insights, and powerful digital and strategic hospitality-marketing tips and expertise. To learn more about how we can help your hospitality brand grow and thrive, contact us today.