Digit marketing trends impact every kind of business, so it’s best to acknowledge them, embrace them and then use them to your advantage; especially in the hotel marketing industry. Digital marketing is here to stay, and since it is constantly evolving, it’s important to stay on top of the newest advancements if you want to see your business thrive. Of course, there are some types of businesses that can really benefit from digital marketing. The hospitality and travel industry is definitely one of them.
It comes as no surprise to people in the business of travel that customers’ expectations have gone beyond being simply comfortable. Customers now expect to feel welcome, feel wanted, and yes – even feel cared for. Think about the incredible success enjoyed by West Jet, whose Christmas Surprise video spread tidings of comfort and joy, leaving many in tears and securely established a place for West Jet in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of current and potential customers.
Don’t think you have to invest in updating in your hotel digital marketing strategy? Think again.
Expedia Media Solutions released a study showing that travellers will visit an average of 38 websites before booking online. This means competition is fierce and direct bookings are increasingly difficult to get. As it stands, hotels are shelling out commissions for OTAs (online travel agencies) like Travelocity, RedTag and Expedia to secure reservations. A huge hotel marketing objective for 2014 will be to get the guests without fronting the cash to OTAs.
So how do you do this?
Truth is, there’s no one way to optimize your hotel marketing. To incorporate the most important trends and advancements in hotel marketing, you are going to have to go at it from a few different angles and use a few different tactics. Understanding your customer and their online habits is one very important place to start.
First, of course, you are going to have to identify the trends before you figure out how to address them. We`re here to help you do both.
The Top Six 2014 Hotel Marketing Trends
According to Daily Travel News, it is predicted that 50% of direct online bookings will come from mobile devices by 2017. As it stands, 57% of reservations are made online, with 65% of same day reservations being made from smartphones.
TIP: People use multiple screens to complete the booking process so optimize your hotel marketing for all technologies.
Also make sure your hotel is ready to handle the digital age. 45% of hotel guests will travel with 2 devices. Just 5% less will travel with 3 or more, which means you should make sure your hotel is equipped with adequate bandwidth, accessible plugs and comfortable chairs for time spent working. Offer free Wi-Fi (38% of guests said Wi-Fi was the priority factor when booking and 85% want that Wi-Fi to be free).
Social Media Marketing.
Social media has expanded its influence to the seek and discover stages of travel planning, so hotel marketers in 2014 is definitely going to want to spend significant time pursuing this avenue.
78% of customers were swayed by posts made by companies on social media in 2013 and 72% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend. If you are planning to make the most out of your hotel marketing in 2014, you cannot ignore the importance of social media. We recommend using social media to promote and support your video marketing campaign. Last year, 80% of people who made their travel arrangements online sourced videos prior to making the commitment. (Source: The 2013 Traveler.)
Get with Google+.
Google Plus is more than just another social media platform – it is a way of life for anyone serious about marketing. Hotel marketing is no exception. Google Plus is shaping up to be the social networking for SEO this year. Creating a Google Plus page for your company and encouraging all your employees to create their own profiles will increase your ability to create collaborative content and work on increasing your SERP rank in the process. Google Plus triggers social signals as part of your overall optimization efforts and that is very important when you think of what the Hummingbird update has done to some rankings around the web.
TIP: Don’t limited yourself to Google Plus. Make sure your hotel marketing is geared towards the Google gang, including YouTube, Local and Google Carousel. Google Carousel provides an interactive ‘carousel’ of results at the top of your page that are local and relevant. You can go to any of the carousel results and get more information, like addresses, photos and ratings. It is totally imperative that you embrace the whole Google family to reap the rewards of this hotel marketing trend, and this includes Google Plus, Google Local and Google Now.
Late last year Google launched Hummingbird, it’s latest search algorithm. Along with Hummingbird came an increase in universal secure searches for anyone searching on Google, which expands personal privacy while simultaneously making it incredibly difficult for SEO specialists to determine what search terms are working.
It is expected that Google will encrypt ALL keyword searches by the end of 2014. This means organic keyword data is moot when it comes to securing a solid search engine ranking. It also means you are not going to see as much keyword data provided in your analytics. The ‘not provided’ response will likely be 95% of your feedback from Google Analytics.
Fear not! There are still ways that you can analyze your results.
So, you no longer have raw data on your side, but what you do have is history, and since history repeats itself, it is generally good practice to put measures in place to report on data that has always been successful.
You can also overcome the ‘not provided’ response of secure searches by looking at keywords that people used who were not using Google, using Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, analyzing on-site searches, using Google AdWords, utilizing Search Volume Tools and finally, use the ‘not provided’ data to your advantage by setting up filters in your Analytics to show you the landing page for those unhelpful results. You will not know what keywords the visitor was using, but you may have an idea of what they were looking for in general.
As far as all your hard work building a site rich with organic keywords goes, it wasn’t wasted. There is still some value there. You will just have to revisit and revamp your site to make sure you have not used the same keywords ad nauseam and be sure your title tags are well optimized. Long tail searches are also still in the game but you will need to rethink them for your hotel marketing strategy to also include links on what travellers need and want as opposed to harping on targeted search words, and loading up your pages with those keywords, spamming the search engines.
Make no mistake, content is still very important, but now you need to think about quality, BIG TIME. You need to be the reigning authority on hotel leadership in your area. You want to create valuable, shareable, searchable content.
Semantic searches, as predicted by Google Hummingbird, will take the place of keyword searches, so hotel marketing in 2014 needs to focus on thinking in terms of thoughts as opposed to a specific sequence of words. Semantic searches bring you results based on what you were searching for without confining its results to pages that used the exact same words in the search.
This means you are going to need to understand the meaning behind the words, not just the words themselves. The idea is to provide more specific and relevant results.
For example, instead of typing, “Hotels in Niagara Falls with indoor pools”, the user will ask for what they really want: “Give me a list of hotels in Niagara Falls, Ontario that have indoor pools, complete with pictures.”
Once you have your results, you can ask more questions, like how many of them have 3 or more stars.
The rise of mobile device use has made Google Hummingbird crucial. People don’t want to spend time typing queries if possible. They’d rather just ask their question. Furthermore, people naturally speak conversationally, so it follows that they can easily interact with their tech devices in the same manner. Using conversational searches will help people dig deeper without having to open new searches.
Include meta-search marketing to focus the customer’s attention away from OTAs and on to buying direct from you. Meta-search is a search tool that takes a search request and shoots it off to several other search engines and then brings you back a neatly compiled collection of the best results. This simultaneous search saves time spent navigating several engines on your own. Many hotel marketing authorities, including Eye for Travel, predict meta-search sites will be huge this year.
Hotel marketing can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little research and instruction, you can master the beast and make it work for you. Let us help. Remember: We’ve made staying on top of the latest trends and technologies our business.
Feel free to contact our digital marketing specialists today.PHOTO: flickr