In our increasingly connected and mobile world, content marketing is more than just a buzzword. It’s an essential element of your hotel’s marketing strategy.
Traditional marketing methods no longer account for the majority of new customers. If you want to stay ahead of your main competitors and grow your market share of visitors, you want to be making the most of digital technologies and modern marketing methods.
Here are my seven top tips for effective content marketing for hotels.
1. Build a brand
Branding is one of the most important ways to distinguish your hotel and its offerings from your competitors.
One of the most important steps in building a brand is understanding your audience – if your branding resonates with them, you’ll have guests for life. The more you understand your customers, the better you can curate relevant content and targeted calls to actions.
In addition to understanding customer demographics – gender, age, location, etc. – you also want to discover who they are and what they enjoy doing. By studying purchasing and browsing habits, spending patterns, lifestyle, hobbies, and values, you can create more personalised, targeted content. Creating multiple buyer personas will help you build your story for effective campaigns.
Branding also involves your visual identity, the logo, fonts, colours, images, etc. that you use throughout your website, marketing campaigns, and so on. These should be consistent and relevant to your target audience. And don’t forget branded toiletries. Many guests take them home and leave them in their guest bathrooms, so if your toiletries are personally branded it’s great free marketing for you.
2. Create a compelling website experience
Most leisure travellers make their final decision on whether or not to book a hotel by visiting its website. So a compelling website is a central pillar of a strong marketing strategy – there’s little point spending money and time driving people to your site, if they’re going to take one look and bounce away.
Focus on providing a user-friendly experience and follow conversion-centred design so you have a strong platform to drive potential customers down the booking funnel.
First impressions are just as important in the online world as in real life, so don’t be tempted to include flashing signs and cool widgets – with the possible exception of price comparisons on booking networks and links to review sites. Do include lots of beautiful, high-quality imagery. But no stock photos, please.
3. Blog regularly
Having a blog, and blogging regularly, is one of the best ways to give your hotel some personality, engage with your customers, and reach a wider audience. It’s also great for SEO (more of that later).
Use your blog to tell stories about your brand – your property, on-site restaurant and amenities. Flaunt any successes you’ve enjoyed, post case studies and document positive customer experiences.
It pays to think local. When people are researching a hotel or while they’re staying with you, they’ll be looking for things to do, places to eat, shop, relax, and interesting things to explore, so ensure you have enough information to promote your destination and encourage visitors to make the most of their stay (which they’ll thank you for in reviews!).
Think outside of the box and post content that reflects your brand and will attract the right audience. If you’re a green hotel, include information on sustainability and environmentally sound business practices. If you’re aiming for the luxury market review the latest sports car, and if you’re a budget brand offer money-saving tips for travellers. Look for influencers and travel bloggers that have a solid reputation and good authority in your niche, and offer them a free stay in return for a story.
4. Engage with your customers on social media
A strong social presence is vital to a modern hotel. There’s a ton of social networks. While it’s not necessary to use all of them (at least to begin with) you should try to claim your name on each.
Ensure you use consistent branding and make sure your tone of voice is consistent across all your networks, especially if you have different staff monitoring different networks. Consistency is vital for maintaining the trust of your audience.
Use social media to create a dialogue with your guests. If they have any queries or complaints ensure these are addressed promptly, and if a customer posts a positive comment or shares a picture from their stay, repost it, thank them, and consider offering a small reward for a repeat visit. Word of mouth is one of the most valuable marketing tools so it’s worth nurturing these very public exchanges.
As with blogging, seek out key social media influencers in your industry and enlist their help in promoting your hotel.
5. Ensure your site is mobile friendly
In a recent article, Net Affinity noted that while mobiles continue to see dramatic growth in usage, with hotel website visits dominated by mobile, desktops remain the largest source of bookings.
This means having a responsive site isn’t a nice bonus; it’s a necessity. If a potential customer arrives on your site and has to pinch and zoom to see your navigation bar, they simply won’t bother.
Without a responsive site, you can kiss goodbye to a growing number of customers over the next few years. However, with a mobile-friendly website you’ll be picking up customers from competitors that haven’t yet made the investment.
6. Embrace video
One side effect of mobile usage is that people have a shorter attention span when browsing, as they’re often on the move. So it’s vital that your content and design immediately grabs their attention. This is where video marketing comes into play.
People are turning to video when planning their trips and deciding on accommodation and activities. Google incorporates video ads in its search results, and marketers are producing short videos for social media ads.
If you’re a small independent hotel, the idea of video marketing can be daunting as it sounds expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. You can even run a contest amongst your guests to create videos of their stay – with a nice prize for the winners – and boom, you have some video content. Remember word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind, so potential customers will lap up the advice of other travellers.
7. Don’t forget SEO
In today’s world, ‘just Google it’ seems like the answer to everything. Most people head online when researching their holidays, so in addition to creating useful, informative content, your hotel content marketing should be SEO optimised so it can be found.
Ensure you’re doing the basics – optimising keywords, meta and title tags, labelling images, etc. – but focus on attracting good, high-ranking authorities to link to your site, such as official tourism sites and well-known travel bloggers.
Your blogging strategy comes into its own here, as it allows you to focus on long-tail keywords, and hone in on other interests your guests may have, such as cookery, gardening, sustainability, etc.
Your social media strategy is also important as Google takes your social presence into account when ranking you. It pays to research hashtags thoroughly and link to useful, high-quality resources.
Content marketing for hotels
Content marketing is central to any successful digital marketing strategy. These are just a few of the tips and tricks you can use to drive more potential customers to your website, and encourage them to stay longer – remember, the more engaged they are, the higher your chances of making a conversion.
Good content marketing isn’t simply about conveying your property’s key features; it’s an opportunity to showcase your destination and demonstrate the value you can bring to your visitors’ travel experience.
If this sounds like a lot of hard work, you can hire people to run it for you. As a travel writing professional and full-time traveller with an insight into the travel industry, I can help you create engaging content for your hotel to tell your story, help you stand out from your competitors and encourage more bookings. Pop over to my services page to see what I can do for you, or contact me here.
What tips and tricks do you use in content marketing for hotels? Can you add anything to my list? Tell me in the comments below.