Here are the top Small & Boutique Hotel Marketing Strategies for 2020 that will help your business gain more bookings, increase revenue, improve hotel branding, and guest experience.
There is more and more emphasis on smart marketing strategies in this competitive industry that independent business owners can easily incorporate into their marketing strategies even on a low budget.
With online accommodation providers emerging, such as Airbnb, hoteliers face increasing number difficulties. Especially small and boutique hotels struggle as their marketing budget does not allow them to compete with larger chains.
Let’s see how can you create a good hotel marketing plan and stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of hospitality.
1| Get a Great Responsive Mobile Optimised Website
In the past twenty years, online presence became a crucial element of running a successful business. Everything starts with a website that perfectly meets current consumer demands. It is a game-changer to have a website that is perfectly functional and represents your brand appropriately.
Regardless through which marketing strategy have your potential customers got to your website, the magic happens here. If your website serves well, your visitors will decide to book with you at a much higher rate (conversion rate). Do not forget; your website is the only direct distribution channel online.
It is difficult to compete with giant third party distributors, however, an outstanding website definitely betters your odds. Do not forget to integrate a booking engine. Not just any, a good one. In the 21 st century, people prefer to book quickly, add-on whatever they desire and without having to make phone calls.
Site Ground is the most reliable hosting company who provides safe and fast sites with an amazing 24/7 support.
Divi has fantastic, elegant and fast themes you can use on your site withouth the need of tech or coding experience.
Getting a mobile responsive website is must if you want to improve your Small/Boutique hotel marketing strategies in 2020.
2| SEO – Be Easily Searchable Online
A good website only contributes to smooth operation if you tick a number of boxes. Search Engine Optimization is the Holy Grail of the online world. Many claim to be an expert but few actually master it. It has numerous points where it can go wrong. Without proper SEO, your website will never be found.
If you want to be strongly present online, make sure you are looking after this part. It is imperative your site loads fast enough and your keywords are working for you to maintain smooth operation. Keep an eye on word count and your content has to be rich and well readable. There is much more to it, but get at least the basics right.
Another issue, we still encounter quite often is the lack of mobile friendly websites. Over 80% (and growing) of internet users browse on a smartphones. To ensure you are not loosing out on the majority of internet users, you must have a mobile friendly website.
3| Start a Blog
With more and more focus on what is happening online, this point makes a difference. After you set up your sparkly new website, it is time to fill it with content. In the old times, you had to pay magazines and newspapers to get published. Editorials are still useful, however, for a small hotel, it is going to be difficult to get featured in a worthy media site/magazine.
It is very likely your visitors are still in the decision-making process, despite knowing their destination city. You have the chance to step into the spotlight while your potential guests doing their research online. Most hoteliers stop at their property. We have seen many businesses losing out because of not thinking bigger.
Don’t just promote your facilities. Step outside your property and act as a local guide. Be a trustworthy source of information people go back to. People nowadays expect much more than just great rooms, delicious food and cleanliness.
Good customer service in these days starts way before someone even booked a room. It is your chance to give your property a unique voice and make everyone trust you. Again, SEO is inevitable to be taken good care of.
We recommend Divi theme to all our clients who use WordPress and want to start a blog. It’s easy to use, you don’t need any tech skills and you will get beautiful and professional designs with them. However, their biggest advantage is their 24/7 support where they help you with whatever issue you may face.
4| Get Savvy With Social Media
One of the greatest hotel marketing tools online are social media platforms. If you are not yet using the most popular sites, then it is time to register! You can do so for free. To mention the big ones, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram and YouTube, all allow you to register free of charge.
Once you have registered, nothing is done. You have to get into regularly using it. To fully leverage their features, you should post regularly, be present constantly and update your page with relevant information. Neglecting your social media sites is like neglecting your reception. Nearly all travelers use social media to further research their desired destination and potential hotels before making a reservation.
Stand out with excellent customer service and fresh, attractive content. There are useful tools to make your life easier. If you have no capacity to focus on your platforms or to hire a manager, there are scheduling programs. Still, you cannot leave your sites unattended. Make sure someone is keeping an eye to respond to requests.
Knowing the ins and outs of your social media sites paired with proper management can help you significantly increase direct revenue at a low cost.
The best social media management tool is Tailwindapp right now. They have great prices, detailed analytics, super easy to use even for beginners, and their support is great. They also offer a free version and while the free plan is limited you still get a great insight of the app and can decide if you want to use their paid plan or stay with the free version.
However, their paid plans are amazing and you’ll see fast improvements in your organic reach within a month once you start using it. They also offer free courses and guides to help you get out the maximum of their great app.
5| Your new mantra: Remarket, Remarket, Remarket
Here is a fun and eye-opening fact: over 75% of online bookings are abandoned. You turn around with your eyebrows raised, but yes, it is true. Only one out of four visitors complete a booking online. It may be just a phone call, a pop-up or simply the hope for a better deal that stops potential guests from finishing the booking.
Naturally, you can do your best to somewhat improve those numbers. Still not going to reach 50%. It is just a current consumer habit. So what can you do? Remarket. As mentioned above, these competitive times require different measures. Remarketing is your new hotel marketing tool that will make a difference for you.
This strategic element does lower abandonment rates by prompting recent visitors to complete their bookings. Offer help with the booking, so visitors feel supported and cared for. It is also recommended to offer further discounts, inclusions for visitors who left not long ago.
As we discussed social media management above, for a successful hotel marketer, it is inevitable to follow up on requests there as well. Dozens, hundreds, thousands (depending on your budget) leads go to waste unless you invest time and effort in remarketing.
6| Personalization Marketing
Personalization marketing is the future of marketing for hotels of all sizes. Customers enjoy the feeling of being in the driver’s seat. Make everyone feel the most important by this marketing strategy. It is all simple. Well, it is not easy, but the idea is simple. Create content fitting various interests and requests.
Make your marketing responsive so all the information you gather online can work to your benefit. First, when marketing, create a thorough plan for all scenarios. What may your potential customers want? Break them down to more specific offers and your inquirers will feel you really know what they want.
That will take some research on top of your vast experience as needs and expectations change rapidly. Proper targeting of your potential customers is the first step. If you funnel through a crowd that will most likely be interested, you have an easier job to convert.
7| Promote Yourself With Online Travel Agencies
We can probably guess what you are thinking now. Everyone does that. Well, yes, with the big ones. Surprisingly, there are dozens of OTAs that carry a huge potential but not utilized. If you do a little research, you quickly realize, there are plenty of worthy sites online. To maintain smooth operation and regular business all hotels rely on OTAs.
It is, of course, our aim to create a direct business, however until that side grows, every source is better than empty rooms. You will soon find out, there are agencies, which may not be well known in Europe or in the American continent yet generates billions of dollars a year. There are popular giant sites in other continents or large countries that could bring in significant revenue for you.
8| Provide Incentives to Get People Interested
We come back to keep your head above water in these competitive times. Travelers expect more than just comfort and quality. Your potential guests expect you to run the extra mile for their satisfaction.
That often means a little extra on top of your offerings.
Come up with an attractive package, superb inclusions, and special deals. Depending on the target market, you may be able to increase revenue by a 10-15% discount.
On the other hand, to really stand out, we suggest coming up with experiences that no one can pass by.
We found, that often partnerships are hugely successful. Think outside the box and come up with something none of your competitors do.
9| Build Local Partnerships
Unless you are at a very remote location, you have plenty of opportunities to partner up with other businesses. Even if you are somewhat remote, there are ways to buddy-up. As above mentioned, when creating unique packages and deals, your options widen if you look around your neighborhood. Marketing alongside another business can help you get more exposure for less.
Also, your business may become more interesting for visitors if you find quality partners. As an easy option, if you do not have a spa, partner with an on-call masseur. You can also come up with giveaway promotions. Find tour guides, attractions or unique food/drink outlets to offer something memorable and fun.
10| Use Influencer Marketing
Despite influencers are all over the internet, they are still not fully utilized. We understand there is quite an uncertainty around them. Many of our clients did not believe in or trust this method.
The truth is, you have to understand which influencer is a good match. Do proper research to determine whether they are worth your time and investment. Studies show, consumers, respond much more positively to an influencer’s post than paid ads. It is much more personal. When social media users follow someone for months or years, it feels like taking the advice of a friend. As mentioned, it is crucial to do your research on the influencer.
Make sure they are a good fit for your property and able to bring ideas that make a change. What investments are you looking at? It depends on the influencer, however quite often you can get away with a free stay and various inclusions of your services. Considering you are about to get some superb photos, exposure, and a story, it is definitely worth it.
You can also cosider joining affiliate programs like ShareASale and Awin where influencers, online magazines, and businesses can share your business’ link and get you direct bookings in exchange for a small percentage of the sale (3%-%8).
Many independent hotels are using this tactic to generate more direct bookings however it’s worth to calculate if this is something that’s for your hotel. If you have less than 10/15 rooms and you sell your rooms under $200 then it probably wouldn’t worth to pay ShareASale’s yearly fee.
However, this could be a lucrative and automatic way to get more direct bookings, increase revenue and get free advertisement, reviews, and mentions on hundreds of blogs and sites.
11| Budeting & Taking Courses
It is inevitable to revisit your budget even in the middle of the financial year. After setting a realistic budget, you may have to adjust if things go well or not that great.
You have to look at changes you did not anticipate before, such as some unexpected expenses, extra revenue or a major event being canceled or announced.
There are a number of cuts you can implement when necessary and probably didn’t realize with your plate full at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, we are all humans so something may have been missed.
When it comes to marketing and digital marketing, it is recommended to review costing and results from time to time in order to ensure everything is working in your favor.
Taking courses is also very important. With so much changing so rapidly, it is great to be on top of current trends. There are affordable and some even free online courses on EDX, which can help you or your staff become an expert on the topic. You can, however, earn professional certificates as well from top universities like Harvard and MIT.