Adopting the right hospitality marketing strategy can be crucial for the long-term success of your business, helping you to attract customers, optimise revenue, and build recognition and trust. Achieving this requires you to keep up with the very latest hospitality marketing trends, but there are challenges here too, especially within the context of the COVID pandemic and the associated changes to how hospitality customers think and feel.
In this article, you can find out more about general and COVID-specific hospitality trends for 2022.
- What is Hospitality Marketing?
- Why is Hospitality Marketing Important?
- 16 General and COVID-Related Hospitality Marketing Trends
- 6 Hospitality Marketing Trends Due to COVID
- 10 General Hospitality Marketing Trends
- Connect to Travel Agencies to Increase Bookings
- Want to Learn More About Hospitality Marketing Strategies?
What is Hospitality Marketing?
Hospitality marketing is centred on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and satisfaction. Hospitality marketing takes a look at how different sectors of the hospitality industry (e.g. accommodations, food and drink, tourism and travel) develop marketing strategies to promote their products or services, resulting in an increase in revenue.
Why is Hospitality Marketing Important?
Since the hospitality industry mainly focuses on creating and maintaining positive customer experiences and relationships, marketing becomes an important part of ensuring the industry’s success. If you want to attract more customers to your hotel or travel business, you need to efficiently advertise on different digital channels and be where your niche audience is.
16 General and COVID-Related Hospitality Marketing Trends
Keeping up with the latest trends within hospitality marketing is vital, but it is equally important to understand the context of these trends too. With this in mind, below, you will find a breakdown of trends that are relevant to the hospitality industry as a whole, as well as trends that have emerged in response to the pandemic.
6 Hospitality Marketing Trends Due to COVID
The following are some of the hospitality marketing trends that can be attributed to COVID, or influenced by related changes to customer behaviour. These trends apply to hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and various other businesses.
One of the most significant hospitality trends to be aware of in the wake of COVID is the importance of highlighting safety procedures, hygiene policies and other decisions intended to protect your customers.
This could mean increased cleaning, relocation of tables and chairs to allow for social distancing, enforcement of mask-wearing in certain parts of your premises or by staff members, and expanded use of contactless payments and mobile apps. The key is to make sure these changes are clearly communicated to customers before arrival.
You can learn more by reading the “Hygiene is the New Marketing Message for Hotels” article.
2. Emphasise the Leisure Opportunities
Those in the hospitality industry often attempt to appeal to a range of demographics, including business travellers. However, due to the restrictions on mass gatherings and increased focus on remote work and video calling, business travel has been hit especially hard by COVID and some travel companies are placing a renewed focus on leisure.
If your business is typically focused on business travellers, you may wish to adjust your strategy and embrace some of the hospitality marketing trends that appeal more to leisure visitors. After all, demand for leisure travel still exists and there are opportunities to focus on families, couples and small groups of friends.
Make sure your destination or property is visible on distribution and communication channels that leisure customers use and highlight associated facilities. Check what competitors are doing and take inspiration from leisure-focused businesses. Restaurants and hotels located near attractions can also use this within marketing communications.
Many hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and other hospitality industry businesses primarily appeal to international customers through their marketing efforts. However, with COVID reducing international travel, one of the biggest hospitality marketing trends involves placing a renewed focus on local custom instead.
This may mean prioritising the kind of facilities that will appeal to local residents, such as saunas, gyms, massage services and food delivery. Some companies in the industry are having success through offering food delivery as an experience, combining well-presented food with add-ons, such as candles, music playlists or other freebies.
Cafes, hotels and similar businesses may also be able to appeal on the basis of offering wi-fi for remote work.
4. Find New Hospitality Marketing Trends Through Data
With COVID firmly in people’s minds, it is understandable that those in hospitality management would attempt to predict how it will affect customer behaviour, but this guesswork is no substitute for using data and clear evidence. In particular, you should look into your website analytics and bookings data, and try to pinpoint trends.
Which demographics are still interested and making bookings, and which have fallen away? Which market segments are growing and which are taking longer to return? Is there any relevant geographical data to consider? Once you have insights into how customers are really behaving, you can adjust your hospitality marketing efforts accordingly.
5. Highlight Value and Offer Flexible Cancellations
Another important way to respond to COVID is by focusing on what makes your hospitality business unique. This could be your location, your customer reviews, the design of your hotel or restaurant, the theme of your bar, or the range of facilities you have. Regardless, knowing your USPs makes it easier to sell based on value.
While many businesses compete based on pricing, the reality is that many customers are happy to pay more for guaranteed quality, excellent service or a unique experience. Think about some of the things you can throw into your offering, in order to make it stand out from what rivals are selling.
It is also sensible to offer a generous cancellation policy, which allows customers to re-book with minimal hassle. The realities of COVID mean short-notice cancellations are inevitable and it is not worth the bad PR to penalise customers.
6. Use Virtual Reality Hospitality Technology
Virtual reality has been one of the biggest emerging hospitality technology and marketing trends of recent times and the coronavirus pandemic has only heightened its uses. Virtual reality tours provide the ultimate means of experiencing a location from afar, recreating the environment in a way that allows for some degree of exploration and immersion.
For leisure customers, this can offer the opportunity to experience a landmark or tourist attraction, or view the inside of a hotel. For event customers, it means the chance to explore wedding or event venues, without needing to physically travel there for viewing. This is especially valuable at a time when travel is restricted.
Most modern virtual reality tours can be viewed using a standard web browser or using a VR headset.
Video: 360 Virtual Tour for Holiday Inn Express Adelaide
Find more detailed information and examples about how virtual reality can benefit your business in the article “How Virtual Reality (VR) can Enrich the Hospitality Industry”.
10 General Hospitality Marketing Trends
Below, you will find information on some of the more general hospitality marketing trends that you need to be aware of. These trends affect hospitality companies of all kinds and are applicable in almost all situations.
1. Improve Customer Experience & Satisfaction With Chatbots
Chatbots can be used to improve the customer experience in a number of keyways and form a big part of many modern hospitality marketing strategies. These bots allow for rapid responses to customer questions, regardless of staff availability, and can provide support for multiple languages too.
This technology can be used during the booking stage, in order to offer support and encourage completion of bookings. Bots may also be able to up-sell and cross-sell, potentially helping your business to maximise revenue.
Read the articles “Reasons Why Every Hotel Needs a Hotel Chatbot” and “What Are the Important Features When Choosing a Hotel Bot?” for additional information.
2. Voice Search
As the next generation of Web users prefer communicating through voice activation, this can be a great opportunity for the hospitality industry. Voice search is a type of voice control and recognition technology that primarily works with tablets, smartphones, and other similar devices. In fact, this marketing trend could soon eliminate the need for Internet users to press buttons or type their search queries online. Hotel guests can book a hotel room via their smartphone by just speaking to the device. They can even control the room’s functions, such as lights, music, or heating through voice search. It is expected that more online marketers will start investing money into this new trend in the near future.
Find more detailed information and examples about how voice search can benefit your business in the article “How Can Voice Control Benefit the Hospitality Industry?”.
3. Customer Experience Marketing
In the competitive world of the hospitality industry, customer experience is essential in gaining loyalty. Keep in mind that providing excellent customer service on its own doesn’t always result in direct profits. It is crucial to develop comprehensive customer experience marketing plans to meet the needs of your hotel or travel company. To generate healthy returns and a steady stream of returning clients, you must compile analytics from online customer testimonials on review websites. This will provide you with a wealth of information about your customers’ preferences, how your company can do better, and which factors will lead to future conversions.
Find more detailed information about customer experience in the hotel industry in the article “Ways to Improve Customer Experience in the Hospitality Industry”.
4. Personalisation Marketing
Personalised marketing allows companies to deliver individualised content to target customers through the use of automation technology and data collection. The goal of personalisation marketing is to engage potential customers by communicating with them as individuals. For hotels and tour operators, it’s important to personalise their services for their guests and clients through targeted emails. For example, targeted emails can be sent to potential customers whenever an upcoming discount is offered by the travel agency or hotel. Personalisation marketing is one of the most direct hospitality marketing strategies you can use to establish a more personal relationship with your customers and encourage them to make a return visit.
You can read more detailed information and examples of personalisation marketing in the article “5 Ways Personalisation Marketing Can Benefit the Hospitality Industry”.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence has the ability to streamline processes and provide valuable insights. Most online hotel room seekers tend to use aggregator websites to book their accommodation through, while some may land on a hotel’s homepage but leave without booking. In most cases, users would prefer to speak with hotel staff without having to enter preferred dates and check-in details, which can be quite time-confusing. By using artificial intelligence chatbots on your website, you can provide personalised service and develop a robust system. Thanks to AI technology, your guests will even be able to place their room service requests through your AI-enabled website, which will surely save your hotel staff time.
Video: Restaurant Table Booking Chatbot
Find more detailed information and examples of artificial intelligence use cases in the hospitality industry in the article “How to use Artificial Intelligence in the Hospitality Industry”.
6. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is fast becoming a great opportunity for hospitality marketers to remain relevant in a highly competitive industry. Influencer marketing is a digital version of traditional word-of-mouth for increasing hotel brand awareness and generating direct bookings. By using this strategy, you can reach a much larger audience and attract more customers to your hotel or travel business through credibility and trust-building among consumers. For example, your influencer marketing campaign can be specifically aimed at young people who are increasingly choosing Airbnb services over conventional hotels. You can engage your potential customers with authentic content that doesn’t sound too brand-oriented.
7. User-Generated Content
User-generated content is created and shared by online end-users. It can come in different forms, such as testimonials, comments, forums, blog posts, and social publications, to name but a few. When a prospective customer looks for your brand’s content online, he or she will normally read the customer reviews about your company on other websites or social media platforms. If you implement user-generated content correctly, you will be able to increase your brand awareness significantly. This strategy will also help you get more room bookings. One effective way is to encourage your guests to share their experiences on social media. To do this, you can run contests, create brand hashtags, or create photo opportunities at your hotel.
8. Augmented Reality
One of the most interesting hospitality marketing strategies is augmented reality. This tool works by altering one’s perception of their physical surroundings through the use of computer technology. Augmented reality allows hospitality businesses to change the way their clients perceive the environment they are in. Hotels, for example, can sell rooms online by enhancing their features through AR. There are hundreds of ways you can entertain your guests through augmented environments, such as allowing the guests to see virtual depictions of their favourite celebrities in the hotel. You will also be able to use this tool to send virtual keys to your guests through their smartphones.
Video: Menu AR – menu of restaurants in augmented reality
Find more detailed information and examples about how augmented reality can benefit your business in the article “How Augmented Reality is Transforming the Hospitality Industry”.
9. Video Marketing
Travel industries and hotels can use video marketing to engage their target audience from YouTube videos, Instagram, or Snapchat, to going Live on Facebook. Gaining brand exposure and capturing the attention of your audience can be done through written content, but in order to engage them instantly, why not give them easily digestible videos about your hotel or resort. For example, you can use video marketing to capture the relaxing moment’s guests can enjoy in your hotel’s facilities. Keep in mind that your videos or photos must be very high quality in order to attract customers.
The range of options available to marketers is almost endless, from live streams of hotel activities, to promotional videos highlighting hotel features, and interviews with customers, sharing their experiences. The growing prevalence of 360-degree video also opens up greater opportunities to fully immerse audiences.
This marketing tool involves targeting potential customers who have already viewed your website or shown interest in your services. Remarketing is a way of re-engaging people who have spent time browsing pages on your website, but without booking a room. You can use this tool to re-connect with those who have visited your site and offer them a discount to encourage them to return. For example, you can set up this strategy through Google analytics by the users’ demographics or interests. It is also possible to filter these searches to collect the information you need about the people who visit your website.
Connect to Travel Agencies to Increase Bookings
Travel agencies are one of the most vital distribution channels within hospitality marketing. In recent years the amount of travel agencies has increased enormously. This enables customers to search online for travel products or services, rather than going to individual company websites. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to partner up with travel agencies.
Have a look at “Connect to Travel Agencies to Increase Bookings” and you will read why working with travel agencies is so important. And you can also access a list of the main travel agencies, ordered to areas of specialisation.
Competition is highly fierce in the hospitality industry and using the right marketing tools plays an important role in helping you succeed. With all the hospitality marketing strategies discussed in this article, you will easily be able to reach out to a wider audience by utilising a variety of digital resources.
Want to Learn More About Hospitality Marketing Strategies?
Marketing plays a crucial role in helping businesses to maximise bookings and revenue. It is the main way in which those in the hospitality industry are able to reach out to potential customers, conveying their unique selling proposition and brand values. In the following articles you find more essential marketing strategies to boost your revenue:
- Essential Hotel Marketing Strategies
- 7 Social Media Marketing Tips to Promote Your Hotel
- The Most Important Online Distribution Channels for Hotels
- 9 Tips to Manage Online Hotel Reviews
- Hotel Advertisement; 10 Effective Hotel Advertising Strategies
- Hotel App: Optimise Your Guest Communication & Experience