Here’s the hard truth: If you don’t know how to market your hotel (or your resort, destination, etc.) online, someone else will snag the dollars you’ve been aiming for. You can’t count on pretty print ads, a great location or even word of mouth.
And the travel industry is changing fast. Without solid hotel marketing strategy, it’s harder all the time to generate the direct bookings. But if you know what you’re doing, this is a great time to be in the travel industry.
Here at The Brandon Agency, we know a thing or two about destination marketing. In 2012 alone we drove more than $500 million in online revenue to our clients. But even if you’re not our client, we’d like to share some actionable tips on how to nail online hotel marketing. To that end, we’ve created a new 16-page guide titled Hotel Marketing Guide: How to Destroy Your Competition.
The first thing we outline in the guide is a fairly simple concept that can make a world of difference in your hotel marketing strategy. It’s this: the marketing funnel you learned about in business school is dead. Today’s consumer purchase process does not move in a straight line from awareness to purchase. Today’s purchase process is not a funnel, it’s a loop.
Here are the steps involved in the marketing loop:
Step 1: Today’s time-starved consumers begin their purchase journey with a smaller initial consideration set. While you do want to be in the initial consideration set when a vacationer begins planning, all is not lost if you aren’t.
Step 2: The next step, the active evaluation phase, takes place largely online, where consumers begin to conduct research on where to stay. Search, social, online travel agencies and online reviews can all help you sneak into the consideration set.
Step 3: Travelers then choose a hotel and book their stay. But at the point of purchase, your hotel marketing journey has just begun.
Step 4: Now, consumers share their opinions about their stay with their own social networks during and after their trip. You need to look at whether you’re facilitating the sharing of these positive experiences.
Tip: Include links in your post-stay follow up emails that guests can use to review your hotel on TripAdvisor. Why? 49 percent of our survey respondents said they read reviews on TripAdvisor before they book a room.
Step 5: After the experience is over, smart hotel marketing strategy is all about maintaining the connection to ensure the post experience evaluation is positive and that you maximize your chance to turn your vacationer into a repeat customer.
This is just a sampling of what you’ll find in the guide. We’re sharing much of the travel marketing advice we give to our clients free in the Hotel Marketing Guide: How to Destroy Your Competition.
To learn how the marketing funnel applies to hotel marketing and see data from a comprehensive survey we conducted with more than 2,000 leisure travelers, download our free Hotel Marketing Guide, and get ready to destroy the competition.