Between mandatory shutdowns and stay-at-home orders along with international travel bans, hotels—and the rest of the travel and tourism industry—face the difficult task of rebuilding as we all attempt to safely reopen our lives in a time of pandemic and uncertainty.
Now, more than ever, good marketing practices are going to be essential in convincing a limited number of travelers to choose your accommodations over those of the competition.
Here are 7 marketing strategies to help put your hotel back on the map.
1. Build Up Your Web Presence
It goes without saying that, if you want to promote your business and welcome people through the doors, a well-made, informative, useful website is mandatory.
In addition to the basics, like your address, phone number and hours, along with your social media profiles, you’ll want to make information on how you’re responding to COVID-19 extremely easy to find.
Oh, and don’t forget: make sure your site is mobile compatible. 51% of global mobile users say that their phone is their only internet device, and 80% of time spent on social media is done via mobile device.
Over time, those percentages are only going to rise as we all become more and more melded with our smartphones. If you’re not mobile optimized, you’re missing out on a whole lot of valuable exposure.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp—if possible, you should be on all of them. Statistics show that as of 2019, 79% of Americans have at least one social networking profile, and 55% of users buy products online after discovering them first on social media.
But simply being on social media is not enough by itself. You need to remain active—and interactive. Show appreciation for positive comments, and reply to any negative comments requesting the customer’s contact info so you can take the conversation offline to apologize, ask for details, and outline how you’ll prevent such situations in the future.
As important as social media has become, there’s still a great deal to be said for good, old-fashioned email marketing when it comes to engaging customers. Of course, all of our email boxes are often stuffed full of unwanted promotions and special offerings. So the question becomes how can you stand out in the crowd and get potential customers to actually open your emails?
The secret is personalization.
For example, if you have an in-house restaurant, solutions like OneDine can integrate with your restaurant’s POS systems to let you accurately identify and capture each guest’s dining experience.
Guests can customize their OneDine profile to reflect their dietary and lifestyle preferences, including their favorite cuisines, dishes, spice levels, and much more. Then, this information can be used to generate personalized, targeted email messages and offers that are relevant to your customers.
5. Online reviews
Online reviews can be a double-edged sword. But you can’t hide from them just because someone might say something bad. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others are becoming more influential every day, and if you encourage your customers to leave an online review, those reviews will encourage more customers to leave reviews. It’s word-of-mouth advertising on steroids, and it can make a real difference in your business.
Of course, as actors, musicians and other artists have known for centuries, not all reviews are going to be good. This is why it’s vital to follow the review sites and, as mentioned above, engage with your online reviewers. Thank the good reviewers and work hard to make things right for those who report a bad experience.
6. Online Travel Agencies, or OTAs
Expedia, Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Priceline. You’ll want to be sure to check out the commissions and models of each before determining if they’ll add value or simply shift business away from your direct sales efforts; but the convenience they offer for consumers can make them a particularly powerful marketing tool.
7. Be unique
Whatever the strategy, the most important thing is that you tell them who you are. Tell your own individual story. Think about what makes your hotel unlike any others that your guests might choose, and emphasize those points. Unique amenities. A stellar location. Ease of social distancing. If you can offer an experience, as opposed to just a room, others will tell your story as well.
And that’s how the real word gets out.