When guests have positive experiences at your hotel, they can make important contributions to your online hotel marketing efforts. That’s why it’s critical to meet – or, even better, exceed – your guests’ needs, so their memories and stories will drive return visits and recommendations.
Whether you’re aiming to increase your group business or boost leisure bookings, knowing what drives positive memories and avoiding the pitfalls that create less than positive memories enables you to communicate which of your strengths your leisure guests and meeting attendees will value.
1. Give Guests a Story They Can Connect With
Everyone loves a great story and your guests are no exception. An interesting and authentic story that gives your hotel its own personality and becomes part of the guest experience will engage your guests and endear them to you.
For example, let them know what you are passionate about, what you stand for, and give them the opportunity to share that passion. Build on any historic or cultural events relating to your hotel, or the unique ways the hotel reflects the community at large.
2. Connect With Guests on an Emotional Level
Use language on your website and in your marketing materials that evokes an emotional experience and makes potential guests feel excited, reassured, informed and, of course, interested. Allow them to anticipate their stay with excitement, and reassure them that your hotel will meet or exceed their expectations. Be sure to give your guests all the information they need to choose you over the competition, and pique their interest by connecting emotionally.
3. Encourage Sharing
Embrace social media, and make it easy for your guests to share their memories, experiences, and photos of their stay with you. Social media plays a huge role in influencing guests, and that is not expected to change any time soon, so make it work for you. Try offering rewards for guest experience stories and run competitions centered around social media and dedicated hashtags.
Encourage guests to post their comments online by using post-visit communication. Respond courteously, positively, and graciously to all comments on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, and your responses will convey a message that you care and will help increase bookings.
4. Create a Sense of Place
Give guests the opportunity to feel like a local. On your website, include info on nearby restaurants, unique neighborhoods, shopping districts, cultural centers, events, and local history. Provide everything that will encourage guests to immerse themselves in, and feel that they are a part of, the surrounding community. Don’t just offer the regular “touristy” info. Go deep and give them the local perspective.
5. See Your Competition Through Your Guests’ Eyes
It’s important to understand what would make your guests choose your hotel over the competition and convey this via your marketing language and packaging of offers. Identify other hotels your guests might stay at and study their user generated content reviews and feedback. Check them out on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (of course, be sure to read your own reviews as well, so you can compare them to your competitors).
Use this direct guest knowledge to understand revenue opportunities and appreciate your customers’ emotional needs. You can also gain intelligence by interviewing staff who have previously worked for other hotels and by staying at competing hotels and analyzing your stay as a guest.
6. Be Honest
In this brave new world of social media and instant online feedback, “word of mouse” travels quickly. These days, guests have increasing power to influence future business. Be honest. Hospitality marketing is firmly entrenched in a guest-experience-led economy, and so it is crucial to communicate content that is both engaging and consistent across all your marketing channels.
Make sure content accurately describes your property and the guest experience you deliver. Be honest about who are w, and the right guest will find you, recommend you, and return.
Destination travel marketing is caught in a never-ending cycle of rapid change.
Certain “disruptors,” such as user-generated content, mobile platforms, OTAs, and an emphasis on the collaborative economy, have caused major shifts in the digital landscape. DMOs must now take action in order to thrive in the new world of marketing.
Here are four suggestions for dealing with and overcoming the biggest disruptors to destination marketing:
7- Personalize It
Mobile responsive design is here to stay – so how well do you use it? First of all, make sure that every digital touch point you have is mobile optimized, and then personalize, personalize, personalize. Whether it’s a responsive design website, emails, apps, or social channel, make it all about personalization. On a website or in an email, for instance, this can be accomplished by asking consumers their interests in a pop-up, then customizing the content they receive. The more custom content you can deliver, the better.
8- Share It
Research shows that consumers are more likely to trust the opinion of other consumers, people they know, or even travel bloggers over brand advertising. So, to be a rock star destination marketer, you’ll need to create or curate user generated content (UGC). Rather than creating content, efficient, time-crunched DMOs save time by curating and leverage existing content on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Share, share, share!
This is especially true for visually driven UGC, such as on Instagram or Vine, the video-only social platform which is experiencing a huge uptick in usage. To share third-party content with their followers, DMOs can easily re-gram a picture or video on Instagram or re-vine a video on Vine.
9- Picture It
Let’s face it: in the consumer search and booking process, OTAs are running the show and succeeding as tools for finding the best deals once travelers have narrowed down their search to a single destination. On the other hand, DMO websites and other digital platforms are highly instrumental in offering inspiration when consumers are selecting destinations to shortlist, so make the most of that by playing up the experiences your target audience is seeking by making your campaigns as visually robust as possible. Let your consumers put themselves “in the picture”.
Think about crafting a promotion to drive image content creation. For example, HotelTonight created the “Snap Your Stay” campaign to encourage users to take pictures and upload shots of their hotel rooms to receive credits ranging from $5 to $10. As a DMO, you could partner with a hotel, city attractions, coupon service like Entertainment Book, or restaurants to encourage travelers to generate content using specific hashtags.
10- Collaborate On It
Start looking at the collaborative economy as presenting potential for, rather than as a threatening, the DMO model. Learn to leverage the niche travel audiences presented by the peer-to-peer movement as an expanded community. Figure out how your destination can capitalize on consumers visiting sites like AirBnB or VRBO to search for accommodations.
Are there advertising opportunities whereby you can push consumers to your booking engine or accommodation partners? Demonstrate that your destination is an active player in this new travel ecosystem by participating in social media chats on Twitter chats like Travelocity’s #gosmelltheroses or Expedia’s #Expediachat.